The claim: Iceland has declared all religions to be mentally ill
Iceland declared itself Christian nation since around 1000 ADand most of the people who live in the island nation are religious.
Still, some social media users claim the Icelandic government is attacking believers.
“Iceland declares all religions mentally ill,” reads a screenshot of a headline in a June 22 Facebook post.
Another message with the screenshot circulated this month in a group of 20,000 members before the group changed its settings to block public access amid requests for reports from USA TODAY and other fact checkers. The claim has circulated online for years, including in a Facebook post from January 2020.
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But the allegation comes from a satirical website, and the Icelandic government has not made this claim.
USA TODAY has reached out to users who shared the claim for comment.
The screenshot shows the title of the satirical article
The screenshot in the June 22 post and the now private group is from a satirical article posted on the multi-faith blogging platform Patheos.com in January 2020. The article, which was removed during reporting for this fact check, included a link to another page of the site which said “the story you were reading is satirical” and described the website as similar to The Onion, a popular satirical outlet.
Blog author Andrew Hall said he often uses the name “Andrew Kanard” in posts because “duck doesn’t just mean duck but also an unsubstantiated rumor or story”.
The Facebook post is an example of what could be called “stolen satire”, where stories written as satire and originally presented in this way are captured via screenshot and reposted in a way which makes them appear as legitimate news. As a result, readers of the second generation post are being misled, as was the case here.
Over 60% of Icelanders are members of the national church
The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the national church of Iceland and is “supported and protected by the state”. Icelandic government website said. More than 60% of the country’s population belongs to the national church, according to a June report by the US State Department.
The Icelandic government website further states that everyone in the country, regardless of religion or lack thereof, is “equal before the law”. Additionally, the country’s penal code sets out fines and potential jail time for hate speech, which includes “mocking, defaming, disparaging, or threatening any person or group based on of religion,” the State Department report said.
This sentiment was expressed in 2019, when a government statement says the country wanted to “resolve issues related to incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence against people on the basis of religion or belief”.
Our opinion: False
Based on our research, we rate the claim that Iceland has declared all religions to be mentally ill FALSE. The claim came from a satirical website. Iceland has made no such declaration. Additionally, the Icelandic government supports a national church and religious freedom.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Britannica, accessed June 29 National Church of Iceland
- Government of Iceland, accessed June 22 Religion and non-religious beliefs
- Government of Iceland, accessed June 22 Prime Minister’s Office
- Patheos, accessed June 22, Is it satire?
- PolitiFact, June 28, 2022, No, Iceland has not labeled religions as ‘mental disorders’
- State Department, June 2, 2021 International Religious Freedom Report: Iceland
- Full fact, February 27, 2020, Iceland has not declared all religions to be mentally disordered
- BOOM, January 26, 2020, Has Iceland declared religion a mental disorder?
- Government of Iceland, March 5, 2019, Iceland Declaration on Freedom of Religion
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