Full text: Iceland 1930

From the first the Icelanders have been an almost homogeneous 
people as regards church and religion, and religious controversies may 
be said to be unknown in the country. Most of the colonists were 
heathens who brought with them the ancient Scandinavian faith, the 
Asatri, as it was called, while a few of those who came from the 
western islands were Christians. But even as early as the colonization, 
doubt in the old northern deities had begun to reveal itself, and in 
the year 1000 Christianity was established as the official religion in 
Iceland and accepted by the general public without the least blood- 
shed. Lutheranism, when introduced in the 16th century, was not sub- 
mitted te quite so peacefully; neither was it universally accepted by the 
people until the last catholic bishop in Iceland, Jén Arason, had, with 
two of his sons, been beheaded (1550). But the new faith, though 
forced upon the Icelanders, gradually took deep root. 
The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the Established Church of Ice- 
land. There has, however, during the last fifty years been full reli- 
gious liberty. Sectarian bodies are few and inconsiderable, the total 
number of dissenters at the census of 1920 being 463, or !/2 per cent. 
of the population. Of these, 204 did not belong to any religious deno- 
minations. Only the Roman Catholics and the Adventists have formed 
congregations; their ministers have received recognition by the govern- 
ment, and thus acquired the right to solemnize marriages and perform 
other clerical offices which are valid according to Icelandic law. Be- 
sides these there were in 1920 three free (Lutheran) congregations in 
the country, with a total of 7243 members, or some 8 per cent. 
of the whole population. Though holding the same doctrines as the 
Established Church, they have separated themselves from it; they are 
entirely self-governing bodies, having their own churches and paving

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