• Thomas Ruseng Jakobsen
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
The Danish national church has throughout the years been an important part of Danish cultural heritage. In my thesis I explore how the Christian faith was integrated with and evolved alongside the Danish historical societies, in order to analyse and discuss the contemporary national church position and privileges in the contemporary society and its relationship to the state and people. The Danish national church has in recent years been challenged by the contemporary religious evolutions of areligious practice, the prevalence of secularisation and the rise of organised atheism. Thus, it has to implement, react or evolve to meet these changes, due to a regression in church membership on a national basis.
The purpose of the thesis is to explore how the church has evolved in contemporary Denmark, due to the central role Christianity had in the creation of Danish national identity. Which is done through cultural heritage theories and theories on religious evolution. Focusing on the church’s history, how their rituals have evolved, how they react to change, how the church’s authority has changed over the years and how people use the church physically.
My thesis finds that the overall church membership is a driving factor in the modern changes that happen within the national church. The changes differ vastly on regions, where the larger cities have an easier time maintaining their memberships while membership is falling in the smaller parishes. This corresponds to the way the different churches adapt to the changing situation. Where the smaller parishes adapt with a more religious conservative approach and focusing on the church’s Christian heritage. While the larger city parishes adapt by including new rituals and are trying to meet the younger generations with somewhat unorthodox methods.
When the small-town parishes, according to my sources, adapt more conservatively to the changes and focus on their Christian cultural heritage. While the parishes around larger cities adapt by focusing on more contemporary society and engage with them on the modern people’s premises. This leads to an observed divide inside the national church which can be furthered if the unity of the church, and the church’s role in Danish cultural identity is further challenged. Which in turn fuels a feedback mechanism that furthers a need in the church to use and create a cultural identity.
The thesis is not a complete study of all Danish national churches but is more akin to a proof-of-concept study, where I examine some of the important changes in church culture and perception of the church identity. Thus, the changes are small in sample size and used to illustrate possible adaptations to a changing religious culture in Denmark. The changes are in my opinion early adaptations to a slowly changing large scale change of the Danish national church. They are examples of how the church has to adapt to preserve itself in contemporary Denmark.
Publication date1 Jun 2023
Number of pages70
ID: 532398063