Here’s some more Scandinavian enrichment news, this time from Denmark. Because it has so many Muslim charges, a children’s institution in Sealand has decided to cancel a traditional visit to a church at Christmas.
Kindergarten drops church visit out of concern for Muslims
“Why should all the other children lose of a piece of Danish Christmas tradition?” asks the cleric.
There will be no story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the three wise men and the bright star the donkey and so on, for the children in the Danish children’s institution Ørnevang in Lillerød, Sealand.
The staff has decided not to participate in the traditional Christmas service in Lillerød Church because a high proportion of children in the institution are Muslims.
“The reason is that we have several Muslim families who do not want their children to go to church. And so we decided to say ‘no thanks’, because we also have our everyday work,” said Susan Lund Andersen, the headmaster of Ørnevang to Jyllands-Posten.
The decision to drop the Christmas church service has caused great annoyance to the vicar of Lillerød Church, who believes that the Christmas worship service is an important part of the Danish Christmas tradition.
Wanted to amend the program
“I was upset and annoyed that they cancelled. They called and asked if I could amend the program so they could participate. I always end the ceremony with the bright blessing of the children, and they wanted me to refrain from that for the sake of the children’s religion,” says vicar Carsten Mulnæs.
He believes that Ørnevang — the institution — has made a bad decision, because now all the kids are unable to attend the Christmas service.
“I believe that children should have the opportunity, because it is a Danish tradition. I know that the institution has a large proportion of Muslim children, but I know that not all families have a problem with going to church. I think a majority of the kids will be cheated,” says Carsten Mulnæs.
It affects integration
The organization Muslims in Dialogue is sorry that the cancellation impacts the children who would like to go to church.
“I think it’s a shame if it affects the children who actually wanted to go to church. But on the other hand, I do not think anyone should be forced to participate who does not want to, whatever religion they belong to,” says Vice President Nihad Hodzic.
The action made Carsten Mulnæs write a reader’s comment in today’s edition of Frederiksborg County newspaper, where he emphasizes the church’s role in integration.
“You can not integrate into nothing. But that is exactly what we risk at that kindergarten: Nothing. It is not respect for Muslims, but disrespect for our own history.”
The service is not crucial
The argument that the Christmas worship service is important for integration does not have a great impact among Muslims in Dialogue.
“I understand that the priest is upset that the institution refuses to go to his church, but I do not believe that it actually works against integration. Personally, I have never participated in a Christmas service, and I do not think that it is essential for integration,” says Nihad Hodzic.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.