Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pagans in Iceland object to missionaries in schools

The Pagan Society in Iceland, Ásatrúarfélagid, has objected to the State Church offering school children social support in form of so-called “soul watch interviews.”

The interviews are part of an initiative called Vinaleid (“Path of Friends”), which is open to all school-age children.

The program enables students to visit the deacon in the local church to talk about their problems, and do not need allowance from parents to do so, as reported in Fréttabladid.

Jóhanna Hardardóttir, a pagan priest on Kjalarnes peninsula, southwest Iceland, told Fréttabladid that she has noticed considerable discontent among parents with Vinaleid.

She says children who are not raised Christian feel misplaced, which, she believes, could lead to bullying. In Hardardóttir’s opinion, social support should be in the hands of “professionals, not missionaries.”

Viktor Gudlaugsson, principal of elementary school Varmárskóli in Mosfellsbaer, southwest Iceland, told Fréttabladid that he had not noticed any dissatisfaction with Vinaleid, which has been offered in his school since 1999.

Gudlaugsson says Vinaleid is only one of many ways for children to seek help with their problems – there is also a psychologist and a tutor working at the school – and no one is obligated to take part in it.

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