The Danish Parliament begins a new season every year on the first Tuesday in October. On this day it is a tradition to start the day with a service in Christiansborg Castle church.
This year, Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs Mette Bock (Liberal Alliance) chose to ask Pastor Morten Kvist to preach at the service. Kvist is the Pastor of a free congregation that is affiliated to the Ev-Lutheran Church in Denmark and by choosing Kvist, Bock has faced a lot of criticism. Many left-wing politicians chose not to participate due to Kvist’s comments about human rights and LGBT rights.
The comment were made back in 2008 when Morten Kvist protested that two homosexual couples were accepted as foster families for placed children, warning against “human rights fundamentalism” in an interview in Politiken.
“To put it bluntly: What about the pedophiles – do they have rights, too? The pedophiles have a strong urge to be with kids. Should they be allowed that,” Kvist asked.
Faced with Kvist’s comments, some politicians from The Alternative and The Socialdemocratic Party announced that they were not attending the service; the entire Socialist Party boycotted the service.
As chairman of the Socialist Party Pia Olsen Dyhr explains:
“It has actually been a difficult decision for me as a Christian not to attend the service. I really think it is important to hang on to good traditions. But […] the opening of the Parliament should be a festive day that unites us – not a day that divides us. And that is what this pastor does,” Dyhr says referring to Kvist.
“As a preacher he has a particular responsibility, and when he questions the rights of gay people and their ability to take care of children – and even brings pedophilia into the comparison – then he is out of line and is not qualified to preach on a day with such proud traditions,” Dyhr says.
Mette Bock dismisses the criticism and says that the question is about spiritual and intellectual freedom. The pastor should be allowed to preach whatever is on his heart: “the only thing that is controversial in this case is that the left-wing spokesmen want to cross-examine pastors about their political views before you invite them to preach,” she says.
“That is really politizising the sermon and mixing politics and religion. Our whole society was built on the exact opposite,” says Mette Bock.
Bock further explains that she does not in the least share Kvist’s views about LGBT rights. The reason she invited Kvist to preach was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the law that allowed the free congregations to be affiliated to the Ev-Lutheran Church in Denmark. The law made it possible for free congregations, such as Kvist’s congregation in Herning, to be recognized as an independent congregation within ELCD, provided at least 50 people would join to pay the expenses of the pastor’s wages and the operations of the church.