A widely shared satire piece mistaken for news has sparked major debates after it claimed that the lawmakers in Iceland have passed a law that declared all religions to be mental disorders.
The article published in Patheos.com, which claims to be an "online destination for credible and balanced information about religion" said - Iceland is now declaring all religions to be psychological disorders.
"The Alþingi (the nation's parliament) voted overwhelmingly in favor of the statute 60-3. The three politicians who voted against the decree reportedly believed the measure didn't go far enough, " the article said.
The article instantly sparked a major debate among social media users. Some who supported that stance observed that "These people [religious ones] are most dangerous for the existence of the mankind."
Another social media commented: "Ha ha ha, I would say it would be those Parliamentarians who have mental disorders, like why do that to religious people who turn to religion to help them become kind to one another? Religious beliefs even help people deal with mental disorders...and that's a fact."
With the debates getting heated, some keen readers, who figured out that the article was indeed a satire intervened and said: "Not sure to whom this is addressed, but it should be clear this is satire. It declares itself such. It's funny because it's hyperbolic truth. It takes a commonly held opinion and vaults it into governmental policy. Iceland is probably used because it is one of the most irreligious countries extant."
Since its publication, the satire has been widely shared on social media. But many do not know that the article is not a factual recounting of real-life events.
The article is part of a satire column "Laughing in Disbelief," written by Andrew Hall as a satire.
This is how Hall describes his column: "Under normal circumstances, my humble blog is similar to The Onion. As many of you know, The Onion publishes satirical stories poking fun at everyday problems everyday people face as well as pointing out the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful. Think of Laughing in Disbelief as The Onion on drugs. Like meth. Or bath salts."
Also, a fact that most readers missed that Iceland's Prime Minister is not Andrew Kanard but Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Government restrictions on religion have increased markedly in many places around the world, not only in authoritarian countries but also in many of Europe's democracies, according to a report surveying 198 countries, reported Associated Press.