By Grace: Recognition of Religious Minority Associations in Denmark from the Reformation until 2018

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
Author: Margit Warburg
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  • Institute of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen
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In Denmark, the recognition of religious minority associations dates back to absolutism in the late 1600s when it was exerted by royal grace. However, the legal basis was not established as foreseen in the constitution of 1849, and recognition continued to be an ad hoc administrative act, which was modelled over the acts of grace during absolutism. By tradition, the cases were handled by the bishop of Copenhagen. After a criticism of this practice, the government established an expert committee in 1998 to take over the work of the bishop. In the absence of a dedicated law, the committee developed rules for recognition. The considerations and experiences of the expert committee are discussed in light of theories of contemporary public governance and with a view to the ‘by grace’ principle of absolutism. The article also discusses the preparation of the first law on recognition of religious minority associations from 2018.

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