Non-Religious Fanatics (BJ) PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iceland Review   
Friday, 30 December 2011 11:00
benedikt-dl When I lived in the US I generally liked people. They were open, easy to get to know and the ones I knew were rather liberal and open-minded. The only thing that I never understood was religious intolerance and the insistence on owning guns. Even relatively pleasant people talked in phrases: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” (To which I would reply, if only mentally: Then you will only be shot on the remote chance you meet an outlaw, not by your relatives or friends).

 

It seemed strange to me that TV preachers, who spoke as if they were on the verge of insanity, would have influence over politicians, even presidents. I was sure that the religious people were generally not better than the rest of us. I didn’t mind them believing whatever they wanted, as long as they left me alone.

 

Now we have the reverse happening here in Iceland. Morgunbladid has uncovered a conspiracy on behalf of a group of non-believers called Vantrú or Disbelief. They decided to wage “Holy war” (yes they did add a smiley!) on a teacher in the theology department at the University of Iceland.

 

The story started in September 2009 when a student from outside theology attended a course taught by instructor Bjarni Randver Sigurvinsson. He was encouraged to attend by the then chairman of Disbelief who told other members of the society on their intranet: “I suspect this will be a goldmine.”

 

The student gave an imprecise account (according to Morgunbladid) of the course and sent a slide show to the chairman. Disbelief decided to issue a formal complaint to the ethics board of the University based on this inaccurate account. Morgunbladid says that five students who also took the course said that the teacher was objective and if he was critical of anyone it was the (Lutheran) Church of Iceland.

 

A new chairman of Disbelief sends this message out: “Dear comrades. At 15:00 hours today we declared holy war on Bjarni Randver and theology at the University of Iceland.”

 

I will not go into the case in detail. The ethics’ board seems to have come close to censuring Bjarni Randver before a group of teachers came to his defense and stopped the case as an insult to academic freedom and freedom of speech. Let me recount some of the declarations by Disbelief members:

 

“We will fight on the web, in the newspapers, with letters and even in the media until we have achieved complete victory.” About another individual, seemingly unrelated, someone suggests bullying him too: “Go for it. We can’t leave such a jerk untouched in our bullying.”

 

On Sigurbjörn Einarsson, former bishop of Iceland who died at the age of 97: “Approximately one year since ... this ****head, fart, diffuse and bad tempered old man, special admirer of the dark middle age and champion of the cause for those holy days, rude chauvinistic scumbag and psychopath died.”

 

The article continues and turns into a play in which the current bishop, Karl Sigurbjörnsson, is added and their relationship is said to be sexual. Many of Disbelief’s members talk about those who discuss religion with children as pedophiles.  

 

The Morgunbladid journalist, Börkur Gunnarsson, talked to many members of Disbelief and they see nothing wrong with this: “We did not bully Bjarni. We only wrote 30-40 articles against him.”

 

What worries me is not that these people choose not to believe in God. That’s their choice. The frightening thing is that they use the some methods that many religious fanatics have used through the ages. They have succeeded. The political majority in Reykjavík has stopped school children from going to church before Christmas. The Gideon’s people can no longer distribute the New Testament in schools. How absurd is that?

 

Iceland is a western society, based on Christian mentality. Children can only benefit from knowing this part of our heritage. We have a state church and 80 percent of the people choose to belong to it.

 

Religious nuts are bad. Non-religious nuts are worse. Most of them are well educated, but they choose to work in a “non-religious” sect bullying everyone who is against them. Mankind has tried that and it did not lead to anything good.

 

 

The author is not a member of the State church, but he goes to church on Christmas Eve, occasionally reads the Bible, but more often the heathen Hávamál and Völuspá.

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 30 December 2011 23:24
 

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