A group of Danish atheists has gone beyond questioning the existence of God by launching a campaign to encourage the faithful to leave the Church of Denmark—a move that has been worrying leaders of the church.
The Danish Atheist Society has placed large advertisements on the sides of public buses and has set up a website, www.udmeldelse.dk, which are both aimed to give short and easy instructions on how to withdraw from the Church of Denmark.
The website also automatically forwards the necessary paperwork for leaving the church to the parish priests who process these documents—giving another level of convenience to individuals who want to quit.
In an interview with the newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, Anders Stjernholm, a member of the atheist group, said the campaign is gaining traction, with up to 3,000 online users having used the website, which highlights how each member can save 133,000 kroner or over $20,000 in their lifetime if they leave the Church of Denmark.
"We are satisfied with results so far. The bus campaign invites a discussion about faith, while the [website] withdrawal campaign is aimed at the many Danes who have long thought about leaving the church but have not done so because it is too much trouble," Stjernholm said in a report on thelocal.dk.
Thomas Frank, Dean of Viborg Diocese, acknowledged how the atheist group's campaign is already having an unprecedented effect on church membership.
"Every single withdrawal means something for us as a church. It is concerning that it is so easy these days to click ourselves away from each other online," Frank also told Kristeligt Dagblad.
"I have nothing against campaigns that encourage discussions about faith, but providing tools for withdrawal such as Atheist Society's website is, for me, wrong and ill-mannered," he added.
The Church of Denmark has already seen declining membership over the years. During the first quarter of this year, it has less than 4.4 million members or 76.9 percent of the population. Ten years ago, the church had a membership of 83.1 percent of the Danish population.