Skip to content
The article is more than 8 years old

Lutheran church loses members over archbishop's support for marriage equality

Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran church began to hemorrhage members Friday afternoon. More than 2,600 members quit the church following comments by Archbishop Kari Mäkinen praising Finnish lawmakers’ decision to revise laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Kari Mäkinen
Image: Yle

According to founder of the "Leave the church" (Eroa kirkosta) website Petri Karisma, there was a spike in church resignations as soon as parliamentarians voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

Karisma speculated that the majority of disaffected church members held conservative values. He added that the majority indicated that they were giving up membership because of comments made by Lutheran Archbishop Kari Mäkinen in support of the vote result.

“Nearly all of the feedback has been about this,” Karisma explained.

More than 2,600 quit in one day

The site curator said that about one-third of people who used the website to resign from the church gave a reason for doing so. He estimated that normally between 150 and 200 people leave the church on a daily basis. On Friday afternoon 170 resigned before the parliamentary session began, and just after 5.00 pm that number had climbed to 929. By 7.00 pm it approached 1,500. The total number of people to leave the Lutheran church during November 28 was 2,612.

“The church no longer functions according to the Bible,” said one former member.

“I left the church because Archbishop Kari Mäkinen’s blessing for gay marriage goes against the word of the Bible,” said another.

“The Archbishop’s comments and attitude to same-sex marriage,” still another cited as the reason for resigning.

On Tuesday Mäkinen posted comments in Facebook in which he defended moves to revise marriage laws to make them gender neutral. On Friday afternoon, the Archbishop once more took to social media to applaud the decision to adopt marriage reform, saying that it was time for a "fundamental examination" of the concept of marriage.

In November last year the church saw a similar spike in resignations when Christian Democratic Party chair Päivi Räsänen compared abortion to “butchery” in a speech and suggested that the Bible should take precedence over the rule of law in situations where they conflict. At that time some 960 people left the church following her comments.

Edit: The total number of people to leave the Lutheran church during Friday, November 28 was 2,612.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia