ALMOST 1 per cent of the Icelandic population have flocked to a new religion, which presents its followers with an ancient range of Sumerian deities, and a tax rebate.
Over 3,000 Icelanders have been attracted to the movement, Zuism, which was founded in 2013, in just the last fortnight. The fledgling religion was at risk of being disbanded for inactivity when a group of activists for tax reform took it over and pledged to pay members back the mandatory religious levy.
All residents are expected to register their religion with the state and pay an additional tax to support their parish. The vast majority are Lutherans, but there are over 40 institutions which qualify, and unless a religion is specified, atheists and agnostics will effectively pay a default sum to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. In 2016 taxpayers can expect to pay around 10,375 krona (£53).
Officially the movement is a religious one focused on devotion to the four main gods An, Ki, Enlil and Enki, the respective gods of heaven, earth, sky and water.
Their website states: “The religious organisation of Zuism is a platform for its members to practise a religion of the ancient Sumerian people. Zuists fully support freedom of religion, and from religion, for everyone. The organisation’s primary objective is that the government repeal any law that grants religious organisations privilege, financial or otherwise, above other organisations. Furthermore Zuists demand that the government’s registry of its citizens’ religion will be abolished.”
Zuism, it adds, ‘will cease to exist when its objectives have been met’.
Critics have urged the movement to disband as a religious institution as very few among the members really believe in the ancient Sumerian texts, while Zuists have fired back that this appears to be the key criteria for religions anyway.