(Danish: "Folkekirken", literally: "The People's Church" but often translated as "The Established Church")

Lutheran-Evangelical state church of Denmark, with the reigning monarch of Denmark as titular head. Instituted by the Constitution of Denmark (Danish: "Danmarks Riges Grundlov"). In the current constitution (of 1953), the sections pertaining to the Church of Denmark and to freedom of religion are §§ 66-70:

§ 66 : The constitution of the Established Church shall be laid down by statute.

§ 67 : Citizens shall be at liberty to form congregations for the worship of God in a manner according with their convictions, provided that nothing contrary to good morals or public order shall be taught or done.

§ 68 : No one shall be liable to make personal contributions to a denomination other than the one to which he adheres.

§ 69 : Rules for religious bodies dissenting from the Established Church shall be laid down by statute.

§ 70 : No person shall by reason of his creed or descent be deprived of access to the full enjoyment of civic and political rights, nor shall he escape compliance with any common civic duty for such reasons.

Source: Danish Foreign Ministry translation of the Constitution of Denmark.

The Church of Denmark draws its funding from several sources, the most important of which is a tax on members. Other important sources of income are government subsidies, rents on official housing for clergy, payments for gravesites, and interest on investments.

In the year 2000, the budget for the Church of Denmark was 5.3 billion Danish kroner (DKK). Approximately 4 billion came from taxing the membership, another 625 million was government subsidy, and the rest came from the other sources mentioned above.

Expenses in the same year were:

  • Salaries and pensions: 2,976 million DKK
  • Investments: 840 million DKK
  • Maintenance of churches and congregational council offices: 622 million DKK
  • Maintenance of graveyards: 297 million DKK
  • Administrative expenses: 293 million DKK
  • Maintenance of vicarages: 197 million DKK
  • Various expenses: 78 million DKK
  • Election expenses (congregational councils): 17 million DKK

Although the Church of Denmark is a state church, there is also a strong element of democratic rule in its structure. Much authority is devolved into the hands of the local congregational councils (Danish: menighedsråd). These elected bodies (of which there are 2,218 throughout the Church's purlieu) decide local church affairs within each parish. They usually consist of 6-15 elected laypeople, plus the minister(s) of the parish. At the latest election, voter participation was 17.0%, which is more or less usual. This compares poorly with the usual voter turnout in national elections in Denmark, which is normally 75-85%.

Since each parish is different (some, for instance, have much higher maintenance budgets, due to expensive old churches - while others have low income due to few church members within the parish), the tax rate varies. It is usually fixed within each of the Danish municipalities (Danish: kommuner). The lowest church tax in 2002 was in municipalities of Gentofte and Birkerød: 0.42%. The highest was in the municipality of Højer: 1.50%.

The official web site of the Church of Denmark is: http://www.folkekirken.dk

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