“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7:7)
When it comes to religion in Copenhagen, all you have to do is look. It may not be easy to find. In fact, if you don’t look for religion, you’ll barely notice that it’s even there.
That’s because no matter where you are – America or Denmark, Georgetown or Copenhagen – religion is about making a choice. You can choose to be religious and make it the center of your life, or you can choose to have nothing to do with it. Except in extreme circumstances, no one will ever force you to go to church or believe in God. For all those public displays of belief that we see in Ray Lewis, Tim Tebow, or the Muslim community marching through the streets of Norrebro to commemorate Hussein’s martyrdom, what it all boils down to is a personal choice to participate in the religious community, and to affirm (or reject) a connection with God.
For all of the supposed “irreligiosity” of Copenhagen, I have both sought and found thriving religious communities here. In the past month, I have attended 3 different services: a Danish one next to my kollegium, a Ukrainian one near Nyhavn, and an English one in Norrebro. They have varied in size and style, but each is an active, energetic religious community. Ash Wednesday Mass was packed yesterday in Sakramentskirken. It was so busy that people were standing in the aisles to receive ashes. It was probably the most diverse congregation I’ve ever seen – there were DIS students, Danes, Koreans, Africans, Hispanics, Indians, and others. It felt like the whole world had piled into this little church. It felt good.
So yes, there is religion in Denmark, even if you have to do some Google-searching and bus-riding to find it. It may not be overwhelmingly present. You may not see it out on the streets or on bumper stickers. You may not talk to many Danes or students that profess a belief in God.
But if you look for it, you’ll see it’s there.