Priests of Viking gods given right to conduct weddings

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The Independent Online

Priests of Odin, Thor and other Norse gods are to be given permission by the Danish government to conduct legally recognised weddings.

Tove Fergo, the Minister for Ecclesiastic Affairs and a Lutheran priest, said yesterday: "To me, it would be wrong if the indigenous religion of this country wasn't recognised."

Under Danish law, the state Evangelical Lutheran Church has sole authority to give official status to other religious communities. The 240-member Forn Sidr, which worships Norse gods, sought recognition in 1999. Last year, an Ecclesiastic Affairs panel of scholars recommended that Forn Sidr, which means "Old Custom" in old Norse, be approved, but only if its rituals were clearly detailed in its by-laws.

Tissel Jacobsen, president of Forn Sidr, said: "We described our four annual heathen rituals - spring and autumn equinoxes, and the summer and winter solstices, and our marriage ceremony." About 1,000 people worship the ancient gods.

Ms Fergo said she would give final approval "in a few days", adding: "It was not up to me to evaluate whether they are telling the truth or the quality of their religion."