The Father of the Happy Danes
More than any other individual, living or dead, N.F.S. Grundtvig is said to have influenced Danes' ideas about what it means to be Danish today. Grundtvig was not only a prolific preacher, writer and poet, he also pioneered Denmark's education system and his many hymns are a sung in Danish schools, at birthday parties, weddings, baptisms and social gatherings every day. Anna McNamee explores how this pastor – who was once claimed as a champion for anti-elitism, egalitarianism and a laid-back attitude to life – is now being heralded by politicians on the far right as the father of Danish nationalism.
Denmark and its citizens consistently feature at the top of international polls measuring the happiness and best standards of living. However, increasingly over the last decade, the country has experienced growing tensions among recent immigrants, minority and "mainstream" communities.
Today, Denmark has some of the world's toughest restrictions on immigration. The recent election saw a surge in popularity for the far right Danish People's Party who campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform and in September the Danish Government responded to the refugee crisis by placing ads in Lebanese newspapers aimed at deterring refugees from travelling to Denmark. Grundtvig’s motto was “human first, Christian next” - Anna asks how this is being interpreted in today's Denmark.
Produced and Presented by Anna McNamee