Freedom of Religion but with Exceptions. Opportunities and Difficulties for non-Lutherans in Denmark, 1840-1900

From the Reformation in 1536, Denmark was a confessional Lutheran kingdom. Already in the seventeenth century, however, Reformed and Roman Catholics were given permission to assemble, under certain conditions. From 1840 there were spiritual revivals in Denmark and people from these movements pushed for greater freedom. Believers gathered in conventicles, and some of them became Baptists, in contravention of Danish law. The Baptists and the Lutheran pastor N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) advocated religious freedom, which came in 1849 with the Constitution when democratic elections and freedom of religion were introduced – though not equality between all religions. After 1849, it was possible for the Baptists to work freely, for the Roman Catholics to expand their work, and for new movements such as the Mormons to conduct mission work. However, the Lutheran church remained an established “Folk church” with a wide range of privileges, and thanks to some significant revival movements within the Folk church, 99 per cent of the Danes still maintained their membership in the Folk church in 1900.