As a followup to my recent post about how Americans feel a need to exaggerate their religiousness while Europeans are ashamed of their religiousness, I ran across this article from the Danish national broadcast network's website. The original article is in Danish, although you can run it through Google Translate to get an English translation, albeit with some awkward constructions here and there. The title of the article is "God is naughtier than sex", and it describes a Danish man who wrote a children's Bible. Here a cleaned up text of the Google Translate version of the article:
"If I had said something about my marriage or my sex life to the reporter from a newspaper, then it would almost be less taboo than my disclosure that I believed in God." Such is what Sigurd Barrett experienced, when once during an interview he answered "yes" that he believed in God. The day after he could read in a double spread in the newspaper : "Sigurd believes in God!"I think that this once again illustrates the point that just as there is a kind of cultural stigma in the US against not being religious, there is an opposite stigma against being religious in many parts of Europe. By calling attention to this, I am not implying anything about whether being religious is good or bad--but I do think the cultural difference is interesting, and it says less about whether the people in a country as a whole are actually more or less religious than it does about how people in a given country want to present themselves. This also once again raises the question--why do Americans frequently want to make themselves out to be more religious than they are, and why Europeans frequently want to make themselves out to be less religious than they are?
Sigurd Barrett finds that Danes are reluctant, almost afraid of the Christian faith, even though 80.9 percent of us are still members of the Church. This is partly why he agreed to make a children's bible. Not because he wants to proselytize or moralize, but because he wants it to be possible to talk about God without people responding nonsensically.
Not least, the kids need to be able to talk about God. Sigurd Barrett believes that it is our duty to speak with them about what faith is. And they should not be scared about wanting to talk with and about God:
"If we as parents put a lid on this impulse of fear to indoctrinate or brainwash our children, I mean really, we deprive them of the opportunity to found a spiritual dimension to their understanding of themselves. Praying a prayer is not an extreme or fanatical action. It is a natural desire to communicate with a higher power," he says.