Norway state religion history / News / The Foreigner

Norway state religion history. INTERVIEW: In a historic move, the Norwegian Parliament voted to abolish the state church through a Constitutional Amendment, Monday. The Foreigner spoke with the Director General in the Church of Norway National Council, Jens-Petter Johnsen, who said the Church of Norway ''warmly welcomes'' the decision for two reasons. ''First, this is an important and necessary reform of the state. The freedom of faith and equal rights for all is fundamental in democracy,'' Johnsen said.

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Norway state religion history

Published on Monday, 21st May, 2012 at 18:30 under the news category, by Geetika Nautiyal.
Last Updated on 21st May 2012 at 18:51.

INTERVIEW: In a historic move, the Norwegian Parliament voted to abolish the state church through a Constitutional Amendment, Monday.

Rigmor Aasrud
'We are now a multi-cultural and multi-religious society,' the minister saysRigmor Aasrud
Photo: ©2012 Geetika Nautiyal/The Foreigner


The Foreigner spoke with the Director General in the Church of Norway National Council, Jens-Petter Johnsen, who said the Church of Norway ''warmly welcomes'' the decision for two reasons.

''First, this is an important and necessary reform of the state. The freedom of faith and equal rights for all is fundamental in democracy,'' Johnsen said.

''For the same reason, the state cannot govern a church. With these changes, the Church of Norway will be able to choose its own leaders, bishops and deans. We welcome this as well, '' he added

Church leaders were present in the Parliament to witness the constitutional amendment that comes as a result of an agreement signed between the government and the Church in 2008. The Parliament adopted the Amendment with an overwhelming majority of 162, with only three votes against. 

In effect, the change means that the state relinquishes any control over the Church of Norway. However, the Church will continue to be funded by the government.

Minister for Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs, Rigmor Aasrud, explained, ''The government used to appoint bishops and deans, we are changing that. In the future, the government will not have this power and instead, it will be done by the elected bodies of the Church. This will be the most visible change.''

''Some wordings in the Constitution will be changed. We will take out the part which says that the Norwegian society belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and replace it with a paragraph that says that the Norwegian society relies on humanism and Christian values. But for normal people who go to church, they will not find any differences,'' the Minister declared.

Ms Aasrud goes on to say that decision was backed by parties across the political spectrum and that it was necessitated as ''Norway has changed over the years.''

''Earlier, we were a society where almost everyone belonged to the Christian Lutheran Church. But there has been a change in the population and 20 per cent of the people do not belong to the Norwegian Church anymore. We are now a multi-cultural and multi-religious society and thus, it was not wise that the state should have its own church. That was the reason for this amendment. We have over the years built a democratic structure in the Norwegian church to prepare for this,'' she said.

The move also means that no official state religion would be in place in Norway, either, and is designed to make the Church more open, democratic, and inclusive. Moreover, the amendment would remove the present requirement for 50 percent of government ministers being members of the Lutheran Church, an information officer at the Parliament informed The Foreigner last week.

According to Statistisk Sentralbyrå, close to 78 percent of Norwegians were registered as members of the Church of Norway at the end of 2010, although the membership has seen a dip over the past decade.

Earlier this year, a priest in Drammen lashed out at council proposals to make the multicultural municipality more “religion neutral”.



Published on Monday, 21st May, 2012 at 18:30 under the news category, by Geetika Nautiyal.
Last updated on 21st May 2012 at 18:51.

This post has the following tags: norwaystateandchurch, norwaylutheranchurch.





  
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