Iím Registered Where?

Iceland Review
September 4, 2010

If youíre registered to live in Iceland, chances are you are registered to put a portion of your tax money to the National Church of Iceland.

If you are not Christian you can specify that you would rather that the portion of your tax that goes to the church is directed at another institution of faith like, Neopaganism, Serbian Orthodox, Buddhism or Islam (incidentally there is no option for Jewish people as there is no synagogue here).

If you donít want your tax money to go to any religious establishment you can specify that you donít want to be attached to any religion at all.

If you do that, the portion of your tax money that would otherwise go to a religious establishment, will be moved back into the governmentís overall tax fund and the cash will go elsewhere like, schools, rebuilding roads and all those other little crevices our tax money scurries off to.

There is a possibility that some of the money will find its way back to the church as the National Church of Iceland is subsidized by the government but itís a small chance. In all likelihood itíll probably just go to Icesave or something.

See, I had no idea about this whole tax situation because nobody told me (therefore I felt compelled to write about it in case other people didnít know either).

I get the impression that if you donít want to be registered to the National Church of Iceland you have to somehow find out about this little tax quirk (I overheard a conversation about it), then find the necessary paperwork, then print it out, fill it out and mail it to the necessary people.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this is the government trying to slip religious support under the radar but the practical realist in me knows that this is a consequence of administrative convenience.

Itís probably just easier to tick everyone under the National Church of Iceland box than ask each individual who moves what their religious preference is. Itís not like they are fussy once you hand in the paperwork, everyone is welcome to change their tax settings, no questions asked.

Iíve been back home in Iceland for a year now, and although I have no money to be taxed (thanks largely to my status as a broke and jobless masters student), this week, because I finally found out about this, I got the paperwork and I filled it out and can say that I am now deregistered from the National Church of Iceland.

Fiscally this has no effect on them as I am economically challenged anyway. Money aside, however, I feel sort of like I blew a trumpet at the town square and screamed: ďI abandon thee!Ē at the entire church establishment. It feels like Iím making a loud statement but thatís a matter of awkward timing more than anything else.

The National Church of Iceland has been having a rough time of things lately, ever since a number of women have come forth with stories of sexual abuse. I believe all the women who have come forward without hesitation and my heart goes out to them.

In response to the allegations the National Church has been running some serious damage control, and I respect their efforts to acknowledge and show remorse for the women abused by members of the church (even if they are over ten years late).

There is an official investigation in the works, meetings with the women who came forward, and the University of Icelandís Theology department held a week-long series of lectures confronting the topic: ďThe Church and Sexual ViolenceĒ.

I didnít primarily deregister from the National Church of Iceland because of what happened to these women. I wouldnít be surprised however, if several others did so.

I did it simply because Iím an atheist. Also, religious institutions make me really uncomfortable (before you point out how totally Lutheran that is, know that I am aware).

Donít get my discomfort wrong, Iím not uncomfortable with having faith in a higher power, and Iím certainly not uncomfortable with other people believing in whatever they want but I am going to live a moral and happy life without the church and without my tax money being assigned to fund them.

If you live in Iceland and you want to swap the religious institution your tax money goes to for another religious establishment, or if you want to deregister completely you can find the necessary information and obtain the right forms by getting in touch with the National Registry of Iceland.

Nanna Arnadottir Ė


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