Denmark Religion

The official religion in the country of Denmark is Evangelical Lutheran, as stated in Paragraph 4 of the Danish Constitution. There are also other religions recognized by the constitution. About 75 percent of the Danish population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran religion, while a few percents are Muslim and Roman Catholics.

In our article, we tell you about the story and Religion in Denmark that is still present today.

Religion in Denmark – Evangelical Lutheran Church

Here is some basic information on the Evangelical Lutheran doctrine and practices. Lutheranism, as it is also known, was founded by Martin Luther, who was a priest in the 16th century. Among the central beliefs in Lutheranism involve good works, grace, and faith as a means of salvation. According to surveys, about 5 percent of the Evangelical Lutheran population in Denmark is able to attend the weekly religious services. In the capital city of Copenhagen, about 66 percent of residents are included in the Lutheran membership.

State supports Religion in Denmark

The National Church, also called Church of Denmark, is supported by the Danish State. One interesting fact is that the Danish Monarch is required to be a member of the state church according to the Constitution of Denmark. The recognized state church is the the most popular among religions practiced in Denmark – the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. The state church is officially sanctioned by the government although this does not mean that the state is under the church. 

The Danish High Mass Tradition

In the Evangelical Lutheran religion, there are two sacraments recognized, as compared to seven in the Roman Catholic faith. Lutherans perform baptism and the Eucharist, which are included in the High Mass. The weekly High Mass includes readings from the Old and New Testament of the Bible, as well as hymns and praises. There are also other rituals performed like confession, confirmation, and marriage, but these are not included as sacraments under Lutheran faith.

religion in denmark danish prayers during mass

The practiced religions in Denmark

Even if the most part of Danish population doesnt practice religion, the Denmark most Practiced Religions is Christianity and Islam.

Residents of Denmark belong to different faiths with Christianity as the most prominent. This is specifically in the form of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. Islam comes in second due to immigration that started sometime during the 80s, you can read my article on Denmark Immigration in 2016. Danes are generally secular though which explains why church attendance is low.

Nowadays beliefs in Denmark

According to a poll conducted in 2010, a large percentage of Danish citizens believe that some sort of spirit or lifeforce is out there. The percentage though of Danes who believe that there is a God and the extreme opposite who don't are almost equal. Having or not having a religion in Denmark is considered a non-issue thus the fact that most Danes are technically agnostic presents no problem at all.

Is there Freedom of Religion in Denmark?

This has not prevented various Denmark religions from being practiced in the country. These include Lutheranism, Baptist Church, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Neopaganism. These are relatively small groups though. In as much as having no religion is a non-issue, what religion one belongs to is likewise not a main point of contention. There is absolute freedom to practice one's faith.

Churches and religion in Denmark

Aside from its adherence to Christian practices, the country is abundant with churches that serve as popular tourist attractions, primarily because of the beautiful architecture and religious significance of the buildings with the history of the Danish.

The gothic Aarhus Cathedral

One of the oldest churches is the Cathedral Church in the city of Aarhus, which was completed in the 13th century. The original building features Romanesque designs, but was later on restored in Gothic style after it burned in the 1400’s. The Aarhus Cathedral is dedicated to St. Clemens, who is also the patron of sailors.

The Roskilde Domkirke

Another notable church that is visited by tourists is the Roskilde Cathedral, with Gothic and French inspired architecture. This building was completed in the late 1200’s, and became a mausoleum for the Danish royal family. You can visit the Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde Denmark. Many other notable churches still stand today in various cities in Denmark.

religion in denmark grundtvig's church copenhagen

Top 3 Religious Treasures in Aalborg

Denmark boasts of not only historical landmarks but religious sanctuaries as well that date back to the ancient times. Denmark has some very beautiful religious buildings, such as The Monastery of the Holy Ghost. One city in this Nordic country where visitors can go on some guided tours is Aalborg.

1. The Monastery of the Holy Ghost

The Monastery of the Holy Ghost is one religious hidden gem that travelers to Denmark should explore. This is considered among the oldest and well preserved structures in Aalborg built in 1431. It is situated in a remote area and used to house monks and nuns. Today, though, the place serves as home for the city’s senior citizens.

Among other things, the monastery features frescoes at the Chapter Hall dating back to AD 1510. It’s also worth noting that the place used to be the site of a cathedral school for about 300 years and it’s also here where Denmark’s first resistance group called the Churchill Club was founded during the Second World War.

Aalborg Monastery

2. The District of Our Lady

Another option is to take a guided walk of the District of Our Lady. This will take visitors to the Church of Our Lady which was put up in the eastern part of Aalborg during the early 12th century. The structure was originally an abbey church which was later transformed into a convent. Nuns used to live here during which they were believed to have studied Aalborg’s oldest and loveliest art known as the west portal of the church. This portal is said to have been instrumental in introducing Christianity to the Northern Jutland.

Church of Our Lady Aalborg

3. Budolfi Kirke

Still another district worth visiting is that of St. Botolph (Budolfi Kirke) named after the Church of St. Botolph. A tour of this district will inform participants of the history of Aalborg notably that of the Renaissance structure of Jens Bang’s House of Stone which is just next to the City Hall. This place features a collection of pharmacist’s tools, gallipots and medicines that date back to 300 years ago.

St. Botolph's Church (Budolfi Kirke)

The Old Norse Religion in Denmark

There is a small percentage of the population in Denmark who still adhere to the Old Norse religion, much like other nations in Scandinavia like Greenland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. The Norse religion was established in the middle ages by the Vikings. Some of the supernatural beings that belong in the myths of the Norse are Thor, Odin, Loki, Tyr, and Freyja.

church and religion in denmark

Denmark’s oldest Story: the rune stone

A trip to any country’s historical sites is always an enriching and exciting experience. It’s one way of getting to know the area’s history and culture.

When in Denmark, touring the oldest areas is a must. There are lots of interesting old places and relics to see and explore in this Scandinavian country that visitors should never miss. 

Jelling Stones: Denmark’s Birth Certificate

The Jelling Stone is one proof of Denmark’s oldest history that you can visit. Known as the country’s birth certificate, this rune stone was erected in 965 AD by Harald Bluetooth in memory of his parents, the former King Gorm and Thyra. On the stone, Harald who died in 987 AD inscribed the words “made the Danes Christian.” Also on the stone is an image of Jesus Christ standing on one side and lion with a snake coiled around it on the other side.

The runic stone situated in Jelling is called as Denmark’s birth certificate owing to the fact that the country’s name was carved on it and it was the first proof of the change in religion among the Danes. It is on this stone that Denmark’s name was mentioned for the very first time.

There are actually two carved rune stones in Jelling. It is the larger one, however, that was erected by Harald in honor of his parents. The smaller one was raised by Harald’s father, the former King in memory of his wife, Thyra.

These stones now stand on the churchyard of the Jelling church. The place was recognized by UNESCO as a heritage site in 2008.

Thai Population & Buddhism in Denmark

Denmark is a melting pot of various cultures not only from the West but even from Asia. Some of you may be surprised to know that a Thai community exists in the country. An estimated 7,700 Thais are currently living in Denmark and about 95 percent of them are Buddhists. Approximately 80 percent of the total Buddhists in the country are immigrants from Asia including their families.

Buddhism as an on the rise Religion in Denmark

The good news is that these people from Thailand love living in this Nordic country. They have blended quite well in their community. In fact, they have set up a Thai temple in Watpa, a suburban street in the quiet village of Dragor on Amager. The temple known as the Sunnataram Copenhagen Meditation Temple is already 17 years old and the Thai Theravada monks there are happy providing spiritual nourishment to the community.

religion in denmark buddhism community

The Thai Meditation Center and the Monks

The monks are appreciative as well of the help they get from their local community. Members of the meditation center contribute by helping maintain the temple’s garden and fish pond. They see to it that the flowers and grasses are well trimmed because the monks are prohibited from engaging in any activity that involves cutting.

Members of the Thai meditation center have grown in the past decade from 1,250 to already 2,000 today. The temple has also attracted more tourists including student groups from Sweden and visitors coming from Thailand. Around 30 to 100 tourists visit the place on weekends alone.

This coming October 17, the Thai monks will hold a special ceremony with the attendance of the Thai Ambassador. The occasion is the presentation of a ceremonial robe to the monks.
Denmark first welcomed Buddhism back in the 19th century when literary works inspired people to adopt the religion’s spiritual ways. Today, Buddhism is the country’s fourth largest religion.

Anecdote on Sport & Religion in Denmark in 2009

Maybe the chairman of Denmark's football federation was upset that they ended up on 15th place, but he clearly was not amused by the Federations Cup final between Brazil and the USA in 2009. After Brazil won the exciting match 3-2 and its players consequently joined to give prayers of thanks to God, the chairman called for a ban of religious displays of belief at football games.

football and religion in denmark

DBU Secretary-General Jim Stjerne Hansen was not impressed by the Brazilians show of faith. He stated:

Personally I do not think that sport and religion should be mixed to such a degree that we more or less see a manifestation of a religious stance. Just as we reject political manifestations, we should also say no to religious ones. There are too many risks involved in clubs, for example, with people of different religious faiths.

High-profile players such as Kaka were shown wearing undershirts after the match that said “I belong to Jesus”, while several other players wrote “I love God” and “I love Jesus”. One Brazilian was more mundane and wrote “I love my wife” on his undershirt.

Conclusion to Religion in Denmark

Denmark is well-known for its many celebrations that hold religious and cultural importance. There are religious events that are celebrated in Denmark, but not because of their holiness or significance to the doctrines, but because of their special cultural meaning. An example of this is the most important holiday of the year for the Danish, which is Christmas. Every year, tons of tourists flock to Danish destinations to celebrate the Yuletide season.

Find out the Danish town to spend your next Christmas or simply learn more about the Christmas tradition there.

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