A record number of Finns have left the church after a controversial TV debate about gay rights. The mass exodus from the Evangelical Lutheran state church took place last Wednesday afternoon via an online service.
According to the Eroakirkosta website, which facilitates withdrawing from the church, a total of 2,633 turned their back on the institution in a single day. This figure was 1,500 higher than the previous daily record of quitters and more than the entire number of resignations for the whole of July. The previous daily record was set at 1,049 on December 31, 2008.
Eroakirkosta information officer, Heikki Orsila, put the spike down to a YLE current affairs programme, Ajankohtainen Kakkonen, which was aired the previous night. On the show, which was entitled Homoilta (Gay Night), a panel discussed gay rights issues, including the controversial question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in church.
The panel included Christian Democrat Paivi Rasanen, who was fiercely critical on the issue of gay marriages and same-sex couples’ adoption rights. According to the website, half of Tuesday’s 372 resignations were received during the programme.