Tolerance, intolerance, and fanaticism, W.D. Valgardson's reaction to the religious debate in New Iceland

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Anderson, Erla Louise Colwill
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In the 1870s, religious controversy and its resulting dissent created a division in the immigrant community of New Iceland. The heart of the religious debate centred on Pall porlaksson's orthodox teachings of the Norwegian Lutheran Synod and Jon Bjarnason's liberal views espoused by the Lutheran State Church of Iceland. The debate resulted in animosity between community members to the point that the community split. Although poor living conditions played some role, rancour over religious dissent was the primary dividing force, leading, in 1879, to a migration to North Dakota in the footsteps of porlaksson. This thesis will focus on the writings of Icelandic-Canadian author W. D. (William Dempsey) Valgardson and the religious events that took place in New Iceland long before his birth. It will show how Valgardson, drawing from this religious heritage, creates themes of tolerance, intolerance and fanaticism. Valgardson claims that a moral quality exists in his writing, a concern with Christian and non-Christian behaviour, and the use and abuse of religious power. This thesis will examine these themes in his novel, short stories, and poetry, in light of the historic events of religious strife and bonding in New Iceland.