On Wednesday it was reported that following her election as the next Estonian head of state, President Kersti Kaljulaid had turned down the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church's (EELK) offer to organize a service of thanks in her honor, as they had done for the two Estonian presidents before her. Kaljulaid said that she respects people's freedom of religion, but she herself isn't much of a churchgoer.
"I respect people's freedom of religion," Kaljulaid explained on social media. "I respect the work congregations do in assisting society's weaker members. And I respect people's wishes and traditions in including the church in their everyday activities. If I am invited to church for a wedding or a funeral because those arranging it wish it so, then of course I will go.
"When soldiers that fell for Estonia are commemorated at St. George's Church on Veterans Day, then I will go there. But for me to go to church on national holidays as well as on religious holidays wouldn't be sincere, as attending church has never been a part of these holidays for me.
"I don't have anything against a single church operating in Estonia; among people close to me are members of the St. John's congregation as well, for example. This is those people's free choice and this has never caused any tension or disputes in our family. This is how we honor each other's freedom to believe that which is important to them. We seek comfort from whence we find it — who in church, who at the seaside, who in the forest. This is everyone's freedom. And this I consider most important of all."
Editor: Aili Vahtla