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The Fleeing Finns
October 18, 2010 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Record-breaking numbers of Finns leave the national church of Finland following a gay rights panel discussion on TV.

Last Tuesday, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE aired a panel discussion on gay rights (full Finnish-language broadcast without subtitles), including the rights of same-sex couples to marry in church and to adopt children together, both currently denied under the Finnish law. The conservative, anti-gay stance expressed by some notable representatives of Christian views in the panel has turned into a veritable PR disaster for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

What the media was quick to label a "mass exodus" has further multiplied over the weekend, facilitated by an online service through which registered members of the Church can submit their resignation.

Graphs showing the number of Finns leaving the church in the days following the debate (Google translation, but you'll get the idea).
posted by sively (61 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Would it be accurate to say that the church is finnished?
posted by fuq at 5:54 AM on October 18, 2010 [31 favorites]


Hockey is so popular in Finland that even their graphs look like hockey sticks.
posted by NoMich at 5:55 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


fuq: So glad I refreshed before posting ;-)
posted by i_cola at 5:55 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


The unfortunate problem is that the numbers are misleading because most people normally leave a church by walking away and simply not going back. Many of those resigning may have even long ago abandoned the church and are just now getting around to telling the church.

So while I enjoy the story's vahingonilo immensely, I know in my head and my heart that it is mostly spin by the side I consider myself on.
posted by srboisvert at 6:02 AM on October 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am reminded of another recent discussion about a Jewish community newspaper which refused to publish an announcement of a same-sex union and which generated controversy as a result. My point of view is that while it would be nice for religious communities to be accepting of gay people, there is something homophobic built in to most religions, and I will quote from one of the above linked articles, "Räsänen repeated her view that the bible defined homosexuality as a sin." So, as many Finns are choosing to do, we have the option of dispensing with religions rather than seeking their acceptance of a persecuted minority group. Religion has long had the luxury of being able to dictate terms to society, but those days are over, at least in some countries; in Iran and many other countries, Islam still reigns supreme, along with its homophobia and mysogyny.
posted by grizzled at 6:03 AM on October 18, 2010


The unfortunate problem is that the numbers are misleading because most people normally leave a church by walking away and simply not going back. Many of those resigning may have even long ago abandoned the church and are just now getting around to telling the church.

So while I enjoy the story's vahingonilo immensely, I know in my head and my heart that it is mostly spin by the side I consider myself on.
posted by srboisvert at 2:02 PM on October 18 [+] [!]


I see this point, but I think that it's only partially true. It is likely that many people who have resigned in the last few days were no longer active members of the church, however there is a great deal of difference between simply "walking away" and resigning. The latter sends a message, which is "I do not want my name to be associated with your church any more". That's an important message, whether coming from an active member or not.
posted by jonnyploy at 6:13 AM on October 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


On Saturday, the Bishop said tax losses to the church due to resignations could even top two million euros annually.

It sounds like there might be some monetary consequences of registering your disaffiliation with the church.
posted by nomisxid at 6:14 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


On Saturday, the Bishop said tax losses to the church due to resignations could even top two million euros annually.

Not enough. Let's make that, oh, say, monthly and I think we're making good progress.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:15 AM on October 18, 2010


It sounds like there might be some monetary consequences of registering your disaffiliation with the church.

Yes, there very much is.

From Wikipedia article about European Church taxes:

All members of either the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church (the two state churches of Finland) pay an income-based church tax of between 1% and 2%, depending on the municipality. On average the tax is about 1.3%.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:30 AM on October 18, 2010


I'm unfamiliar with Finnish politics. Can someone explain the cause and effect a bit here?

It reads to me as if Räsänen is a Christian Democrat party leader rather than a church leader per se. And Archbishop Mäkinen sounds as if he takes an more moderate view than Räsänen does.

So why, exactly, is Räsänen seen as a church spokesperson, and the backlash is against the church rather than against her political party ?
posted by tyllwin at 6:30 AM on October 18, 2010


What benefits do tax-paying Church members get? Can you not go to services unless you're an official member?
posted by swift at 6:46 AM on October 18, 2010


As mentioned previously.

Still ... a topic worth discussing further.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:50 AM on October 18, 2010


So while I enjoy the story's vahingonilo immensely, I know in my head and my heart that it is mostly spin by the side I consider myself on.

Other than the loss of cash, in the form of tax revenue. This will hurt them.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:04 AM on October 18, 2010


That is awesome! Go Finns.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:14 AM on October 18, 2010


The unfortunate problem is that the numbers are misleading because most people normally leave a church by walking away and simply not going back. Many of those resigning may have even long ago abandoned the church and are just now getting around to telling the church.

I don't believe this, as the article says the church is estimating a loss of 2.2 million euros annually. If these were people already gone, the church would not be worried about a revenue hit. But they clearly are worried.
posted by spicynuts at 7:17 AM on October 18, 2010


This brief article on the church tax sheds a little light on what's going on.

Is this tax a voluntary form of support for education and community social services?

If someone could explain how the revenues are spent, that might explain this to those of us who don't know that much about it.

It seems possible that the declining economy might factor into this, but I'd want a knowledgeable Finn to say so, rather than this ignorant American.
posted by warbaby at 7:27 AM on October 18, 2010


Man, I wish I could opt out of my taxes going to subsidize religion in the US. Faith-based initiatives my ass. Hate-based is more like it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:28 AM on October 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


My point of view is that while it would be nice for religious communities to be accepting of gay people, there is something homophobic built in to most religions, and I will quote from one of the above linked articles, "Räsänen repeated her view that the bible defined homosexuality as a sin."

I think you're conflating "religion" with "religious institutions." There is nothing inherently anti-gay or bigoted about any specific religion, only the way religions are interpreted by some religious institutions and practitioners. It would be a mistake to assume that the opposite is not true as well, namely that religion can be a source of acceptance and tolerance.
posted by ekroh at 7:31 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem for the church is that if the gender neutral marriage law gets accepted, the church will have an internal fight in their hands between people who want to block gay marriages from all churches by not accepting any changes in their ceremonies to accommodate that, those who want to allow gender equal marriage in their church and those who want to make gender equal marriage an official part of the church services. As long as the question is open in parliament, the church can play nice for all sides (except this huge media fail at Tuesday: nobody who aligned with the church in the discussion was for gender neutral marriage).

As the church has a right to make marriages official, it is currently under same legal requirements as other state services, requirements that require equal treatment. If the marriage becomes gender neutral, they fear that they too will be pressed to treat people equally. One option they have been suggesting is that they revoke their official status as providing legally sanctioned marriages and give that back to state and concentrate on the spiritual side. For countries where state and church have been separate this may seem an obvious choice to make, but many here fear that it would make the remains of the church turn into more conservative and selective about people they care about. Being a state church gives a nice constant pressure to accept all people that are the state.
posted by Free word order! at 7:32 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is this really a PR disaster? This interview has led to a huge jump in the public's understanding of influential church members' positions on a key issue. Surely that's what any ideology-based institution wants: for people to understand its core values, so interested parties can think about them and sign up if they appeal.

The idea of any ideological group (religion, political party, whatever) deliberately hiding important parts of their key members' ideals in order to swell their numbers and bank accounts seem a little... well, evil and cultish. And I'm sure the Finnish Church is neither of those things, so it should be happy that these values are getting their proper exposure and people are making informed choices. Right?
posted by metaBugs at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


ekroh, yes, it is religious institutions, rather than religion per se, which have a history of promoting homophobia and other unfortunate attitudes and practices. But I would add that religion is, for most people, defined by religious institutions. Most religious people believe what they are told to believe by religious authorities, rather than figuring things out for themselves. However, you are free to form your own religious interpretations if you so desire, and to make your religion into a source of acceptance and tolerance, and if you do, I approve. It is also possible to arrive at acceptance and tolerance without a religious rationale. I personally find it to be very practical for human beings to cultivate social cooperation rather than conflict.
posted by grizzled at 7:50 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would it be accurate to say that the church is finnished?

Something something more like Hell-sinki.

Look, I'll come in again...
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:55 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know it's probably unfair and cynical of me, but I wasn't in the least surprised that the the Churches stated concern was with their revenue stream before the spiritual wellbeing of the leaving members.
posted by quin at 8:12 AM on October 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


The whole Church Tax issue makes me go 'huh.' You actually have to pay an additional income tax to be a member of this church? And all you have to do to get out of paying this tax is formally withdraw from the congregation? I'm surprised they have any members.

Actually this makes this feel more significant to me rather than less. The people resigning in protest may have "no longer been active members in the church," but they were willing to pay an extra 1.3 percent income tax for no other reason than to avoid doing what they've just done. If that's the case, then that suggests a greater rather than a lesser commitment to their values and how the church reflects them.
posted by Naberius at 8:12 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thanks to Metafilter and srboisvert, today I learned a new word: vahingonilo

Never mind that a) it's Finnish b) I have no Finnish friends with whom I can use this word c) I don't know how to pronounce it anyway and d) we have a perfectly good loan-word in English from German for the same concept - it's still cool that I learned a new word.

For me, it's probably a hapax legomenon.
posted by kcds at 8:16 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised at the mass exodus. Surely you had to know the leaders of the church were not hunky dory about the abomination that is man laying with man, and would have had the good sense to leave before it was on the telkkari.
posted by unigolyn at 8:28 AM on October 18, 2010


The membership in the Lutheran Church has gone down quite rapidly over the past decade (see table) or so and this year seems to break all the records.

Lot of people used to stay for 3 main services -- christening, wedding & funeral, but this is eroding and making leaving church fully easier. Lutheran Church's share of all weddings was 79,9% in 1990, now it's only 56% (link in Finnish).

I resigned myself at the age 18 as I didn't want to pay the tax for my meager summer job earnings.
posted by zeikka at 8:30 AM on October 18, 2010


those who want to allow gender equal marriage

Does this imply that the current Marriage ceremony is unequal between the genders?


FWIW, anecdotally, some time last year I recall asking about the high proportion of my colleagues wearing rings, having children and calling their partners their wives, yet not being legally married and the answer I was given (which is hazy through time) was something to the effect of that it required being a member of the church and it took a long time and was expensive and so until it was really required (one couple, for eg, got married before the husband moved to the US to ease the spousal visa requirements for his family) many of these young people just didn't bother to go through the rigmarole.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 8:47 AM on October 18, 2010


That's awesome news. Good job Finland. Now if only this habit would spread.
posted by dazed_one at 9:16 AM on October 18, 2010


I'd love to see some true anti-hate propaganda utilising religious imagery, e.g. giant billboards showing a beatific Christ pointing out his sacred heart with the caption, "Actually I don't care if you're gay, I love you". Or a music video of a white madonna seducing a black Jesus. Wait hang on
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2010


I think you're conflating "religion" with "religious institutions." There is nothing inherently anti-gay or bigoted about any specific religion, only the way religions are interpreted by some religious institutions and practitioners.

Quoted for truth.

It would be a mistake to assume that the opposite is not true as well, namely that religion can be a source of acceptance and tolerance.

As a member of the local Unitarian Universalist church, I can say firsthand that not only is this true, but that the UU folks are accepting and tolerant to a degree I actually find somewhat cloying. Still, it's nice to see a religious organization on the other end of the spectrum.
posted by davejay at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd love to see some true anti-hate propaganda utilising religious imagery, e.g. giant billboards showing a beatific Christ pointing out his sacred heart with the caption, "Actually I don't care if you're gay, I love you". Or a music video of a white madonna seducing a black Jesus. Wait hang on

How about one of those black and white billboards that claims to carry a quote from God, only this one says "Remember that I love everyone, including those people you keep persecuting. -God"
posted by davejay at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think you're conflating "religion" with "religious institutions." There is nothing inherently anti-gay or bigoted about any specific religion, only the way religions are interpreted by some religious institutions and practitioners.

It's an emergent property of religion. Controlling a populace via their sexuality is such an elegant, efficient way to go about it that it pops up again and again. All part of God's plan, y'understand, but damn annoying for those of us living down here on Earth.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:15 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


First I've heard of a church tax. Is this a widespread thing in Europe? Might explain why the US shows up as being a lot more religious - we don't have to pay a tax to go to church.
posted by jetsetsc at 11:25 AM on October 18, 2010


Right now I'm picturing this in terms of that crazy Finn from Scandinavia and the World, and I have to say, it's making for some pretty odd mental images.
posted by Kalthare at 11:34 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The whole Church Tax issue makes me go 'huh.' You actually have to pay an additional income tax to be a member of this church? And all you have to do to get out of paying this tax is formally withdraw from the congregation? I'm surprised they have any members.

I don't know about Finland, but in many places you always have to pay the tax. It goes to the church with which you're affilliated (one of two in Finland), if you're not affiliated with a church it goes somewhere else, I seem to recall that in Iceland it goes to a University fund or something like that.

Many Europeans have religious identities without really being religious, so they might go to a few services a year, have their kids Christened and be married and buried in Churches without really being aware of what the official church doctrine is. When unpleasant aspects of this are revealed the reaction tends to be "I'm a member of an organisation that believes what? Surely not!"
posted by atrazine at 11:36 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


jetsetsc: "First I've heard of a church tax. Is this a widespread thing in Europe? Might explain why the US shows up as being a lot more religious - we don't have to pay a tax to go to church."

Here it is called a tithe, but it is the same thing in a libertarian sense.

And you have clearly never been to a Southern Baptist church and had the plate passed to you.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:40 AM on October 18, 2010


In some weird countries you have to pay a special tax if you own a fucking television!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:44 AM on October 18, 2010


(I just realized I should have mentioned that a decent amount of Scandinavia and the World is NSFW. Sorry!)
posted by Kalthare at 11:51 AM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here it is called a tithe, but it is the same thing in a libertarian sense.

Well, except that it's not administered by the state and there is no state religion. America is well fucked in a host of ways -- especially when it comes to post-PATRIOT civil liberties -- but at least when we argue about the separation of church and state we're arguing about whether it's okay for people to say "under God" in public schools, and not whether the government can take 2% of your income and give it to the Pope.
posted by The Bellman at 11:51 AM on October 18, 2010


I would be willing to shoulder an additional, reasonable, tax burden if I could actually fuck my television.
posted by Naberius at 11:52 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Naberius, meet Videodrome. Videodrome, Naberius. I'm going to stand way over here and watch.
posted by The Bellman at 12:07 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Bellman: "
Well, except that it's not administered by the state and there is no state religion.
"

That is what I mean by libertarian, that there is no government involvement with it. I would say it is "voluntary", but the churches I have seen you are not really accepted if you do not tithe sufficiently.

And there is a good number of people in this country who think that the state religion is Protestant Christianity. Hence the furor over a supposedly Muslim President.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:08 PM on October 18, 2010


Religion is typically a very private thing in Finland, and it hasn't mixed directly much with politics. Most people belong to the church, but attend it only on christenings, weddings and funerals. Most political candidates do not advertise their spiritual leanings in elections. The position of Päivi Räsänen, the chairwoman of the CD, is a special one in Finnish politics, and people are definitely confusing her as a spokesperson of the Lutheran Church. But according to her, 90% of the voters of CD are Lutheran, so it's not completely unfounded association. Quite amazingly, Räsänen has denied any responsibility for the fleeing, asserting even that people may well be resiging the church because it is being too gay friendly (there was also a single pro-gay priest in the show, and some bishops have not dismissed same-sex marriage outright).

A clear majority (54% for, 35% against) of general public supports the gender-neutral marriage law. 80% belong to the Lutheran Church of Finland. 0.5% of the membership has resigned in five days, and the pace is getting faster, not slowing down.
posted by ikalliom at 12:12 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously? I'm the first MeFite here who has dierct experience with the Finnish church tax? Whoa. Thought there were more suomalaiset (Finns) than that (I"m not a Finn, just lived there for two years).

Yes, there are the two church taxes in Finland, and you have three choices when registering to pay taxes (yes, government taxes, it shocked me too): one of the two churches, or something else I've forgotten. The Wikipedia article on the Lutheran church in Finland points out, in all truth: "[...] the church retains the allegiance of a large majority of the population, a special role in state ceremonies and the right to collect church tax from its members in conjunction with governmental income taxation."

So this is a Big Thing. Especially in these numbers. I'm quite seriously bouncing around going HYVÄ SUOMI!!! it's such an awesome and eloquent thing for them to do. Yes, this will hurt the church badly, financially speaking.

HYVÄ SUOMI!!
posted by fraula at 12:13 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Policies Discussed

According to Björn Vikström, the Bishop of Porvoo, there is so much confusion among members of the church, that the religious leadership would do well to take a clear and public position on the matter, preferably before its general synod in November. Vikström says the matter has been discussed.

In religious circles there is now regret that individual opinions and the position of the church have been conflated in public discourse. Four clerics interviewed by YLE said that they didn’t recognize the position of their own church during the discussion programme.

“In my opinion matters have been confused to the point where some party’s member of Parliament has been interpreted to be the voice of the church. In reality, the church has a much more diverse, warmer and more tolerant voice towards sexual minorities also,” explained Wille Riekkinen, Bishop of Kuopio
. via YLE
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:21 PM on October 18, 2010


The Evangelical Lutheran church has indeed a legal position as one of the two national churches in Finland (the other one being the Finnish Orthodox Church, tiny in numbers) and has the power to tax its members, as well as all corporations. The everyday culture, on the other hand, is very secular, meaning pretty much nobody under 75 goes to church, well, ever. Unless someone they know is getting married, buried or having their baby christened. Nevertheless, nearly 80% of people are still officially registered as members of the church, even though it means paying an extra tax. Go figure.

The church itself isn't as progressive as, say, the Lutheran Church of Sweden, but it has nevertheless ordained women for nearly 25 years, the official rhetoric tends to be mild and inoffensive, and there are some very progressive voices within the church as well.

The question of marriage is a particularly sore point for the church and I believe it's partly realpolitik: they're very aware that a large number of younger people remain nominal, taxpaying members because they want to get married in church. If marriage rights are extended to everyone regardless of gender (right now we only have registered partnerships for gay couples), the church is left with unappealing alternatives: marry everyone and anger their tiny faithful core, open the can of worms that a discriminating system would bring along... or give up their right to perform weddings with legal standing. And my guess is that they worry that in the latter case - if the church wedding becomes a purely symbolical ceremony after the "real" civil one - it'll lose a large chunk of its appeal, and people will have one less reason to remain members. The church is really, really worried for its own future.

I watched the debate, although I had to skip a few parts because I needed to stop yelling at the screen. It is just sickening to watch a person look someone in the eye and tell them calmly, with a hint of what looked like heartfelt pity, that their loving relationship is a sin in the eyes of God. You're just not often confronted with that in Finland, where religion is mostly regarded a private matter and most people who consider themselves Christian still have a very, very liberal interpretation of the Bible.

And I can only assume that the wave of resignations that debate launched were inspired by the same, visceral reaction I had: HELL NO. Päivi Räsänen is no spokesperson for the church, but the other "Christian" views were appalling as well, and I didn't see the bishop disagree with her either. If I'd been a never-gave-it-much-thought kind of member of the church up until then, I would've rushed to hit that eject button so hard.
posted by sively at 1:00 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Indeed, belonging to the church in Finland is very much about having a church wedding, which is still considered important, although a minority of the younger generation believe in a personal, acting God or a literal interpretation of the Bible. For these people, the same-sex marriage law is a political question, not a religious one. For the hardcore christian members, it's both (if they even make a distinction). It's a very difficult issue for the church to resolve without alienating a lot of people.

Politically, there's also other kinds of breakdown behaviour going on in Finland. People are loudly questioning whether the welfare state has a future, as social inequality is sharply on the rise. The right-wing-populist party Perussuomalaiset ("True Finns" or "Basic Finns", a more literal translation), originally more or less a protest party with 1% support, have ten-folded their numbers in polls are becoming something similar to Sverigedemokraterna in Sweden. Traditionally the political discussion in Finland has been highly univocal, but now we're starting to disagree about things. And I fear the discussion will be much like that gay rights TV panel last week: not very civil.
posted by ikalliom at 2:07 PM on October 18, 2010


(I just realized I should have mentioned that a decent amount of Scandinavia and the World is NSFW. Sorry!)

The fish, mostly.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:14 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, Scandinavia and the World is brilliant.
posted by ikalliom at 2:32 PM on October 18, 2010


This puts the lie to all the Catholics who claim there's nothing they can do about their repellent hierarchy.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:29 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen one subject come up in many online discussions regarding 'Homoilta' and the reaction to it; specifically Päivi Räsänen's condescending tone. Everyone else at least seemed to treat it as a serious debate, but throughout the session it appeared like she merely found her opponents amusing.

It looks like people don't take that sort of thing as acceptable.
posted by Anything at 3:30 PM on October 18, 2010


Being a state church gives a nice constant pressure to accept all people that are the state.

I think that depends both on the society and on the individual who leads the church. The late archbishop of Athens was a power-hungry homophobe who initially made some progressive noises towards young people ("come as you are"), but spent most of his time trying to extend the church's influence, trying to build a new cathedral —while 20% of the population was below the poverty line— and cancel the building of the first mosque, playing intra-church politics and denigrating homosexuals. On the other hand, his successor is a mostly ok guy.
posted by ersatz at 4:31 PM on October 18, 2010


The website where you can separate from the church has a semi-live counter of people who have left the church since the debate. The number is now upwards of 25,000; and from their statistics (newsrelease) it appears that an increasing amount each day are separating.

Tuesday 21:00 - 24:00 222
Wednesday 2633
Thursday 2032
Friday 3473
Saturday 4545
Sunday 5738

According to YLE, the debate has been highly watched (nettihitti 'internet hit'). The first part received 100,000 views online, and the second 64,000; TV watchers were reported to be many more: first part 415,000 and second: 309,000.
posted by taursir at 5:31 PM on October 18, 2010


Oops, I almost forgot the pretty graphs of the church carnage.
posted by taursir at 5:39 PM on October 18, 2010


I am afraid the topic is more far reaching than covered above:

1) As stated, pro-gay marriage people are leaving the church, as they consider the church far too conservative and old-fashioned. As the majority of church members are participating only by paying taxes, getting married, and having their funeral service, the numbers are high.

2) Another angle is that also hardcore conservatives are leaving, as they think that women as priests and gay marriages have turned the church if not into Sodom at least into Gomorrah.

3) Further, mainstream people are also leaving, as the church cannot make its mind and decide what values it supports. Those people feel that the church does not have anything to offer them. At the same time, the poor segment of the Finnish society is doing worse and worse, and the church has not really taken a strong stand against that.

As an outcome, I would consider this as a larger crisis of Evangelic Lutheran Christianity.

The weirdest part of the discussion is still to come! The Northern countries have changed rapidly from uniform cultures with single-spelled values into more multi-cultural societies. It would be reasonable to ask:

1) Why this discussion is still taking place between Christians and "legal society"? The same discussion should include also Muslims and Orthodox-Christians.

2) Why both pro-gay rights and Christians still try to establish a uniform culture, in which different opinions and life-styles are not acceptable? This is something, the gay marriage discussion on Finnish TV was all about. Each party wanted single-mindedly to rule out the other.

To highlight my point: Any religion, personal opinion, or code of ethics is not to be allowed to discriminate against those citizens who do not share the values of the religious community. Instead, everyday society should be based only on the existing laws of the country.

There would be a simple solution to the problem:

- establish the "registered relationship", as the only legal form of marriage
- limit Christian marriage only for religious purposes.

As gay people can always come up with their own churches, everybody would be happy. It may turn out that majority of the Finns would go to those churches anyway.
posted by Doggiebreath at 5:44 PM on October 18, 2010


But I would add that religion is, for most people, defined by religious institutions. Most religious people believe what they are told to believe by religious authorities, rather than figuring things out for themselves.

Sure. But that doesn't mean that we have to accept that religious authorities will always appeal to homophobia, any more than we should believe that approval of slavery and racism is inherently built into religious institutions.

The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, for example, is one of many religious authorities who are worth listening to on this subject.
posted by Meghamora at 6:07 PM on October 18, 2010


For me, it's probably a hapax legomenon.

Yup, me too.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:01 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


- establish the "registered relationship", as the only legal form of marriage

Ahh, yes, the good old, "Your relationship is second-class unless you can find an approved religion to sign off on it", so we can move discrimination from the gays to the non-religious.
posted by rodgerd at 12:51 AM on October 19, 2010


Ahh, yes, the good old, "Your relationship is second-class unless you can find an approved religion to sign off on it", so we can move discrimination from the gays to the non-religious.

The state has always (or for very long time) been able to declare marriages without any religions intervening. It is just that we have in addition gave two of our traditional religions a right to make marriages legal without separate legal paperwork. We non-religious already wield the power here, or so it has always felt to me. The church has just lately become a major drag and we are deciding if it is time to cut the cord.
posted by Free word order! at 1:51 AM on October 19, 2010


Yes, when there's free word order, there might as well be freedom from churches too?
posted by taursir at 5:06 PM on October 19, 2010


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