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State of belief

Zuism, a religion based on ancient Sumerian beliefs, has become the fastest growing religious group in Iceland. But the thousands of residents now raising its banner have joined for an earth-bound reason.

Zuists want to abolish state funding for religious groups in Iceland. As things stand, all Icelandic citizens are required to pay a congregation tax (sóknargjöld) which goes to a religious organization of choice. If the person is not religious, the payment goes to the state. The organization promises to give the cash it receives back to its members, saying that anyone over the age of 16 registering with the religion would get a refund for the so-called parish fees.

The Zuism Association of Iceland was established two years ago, but had only three members on board until last month, when more than a thousand people registered. Most Icelanders support the aims. A Gallup survey published in late October shows that more than 55 per cent of people there are in favor of the separation of church and state (an increase of almost five percent on the previous year).

'The religious organization of Zuism will cease to exist when its objectives have been met,' says the church's website.