December 12, 2023
By Brandy Burningham
We have all been taught throughout the years in freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Freedom to assemble and worship is a huge part of that, but not if you live in Norway.
Norway has some major issues with interfering in the religious freedom of its citizens. Organizations with Christian views about sexuality and relationships will not be given grants from the government in Kleep, Norway. If these organizations want grants, they have to allow people who are cohabiting , have a different sexual orientation or, wish to change their gender, to hold positions of trust within the organization. (Christian Network Europe [CNE News], 2021). The city insists this is not attacking religious freedom. Yet, this requirement is a major problem for religious organizations that oppose cohabitation and same-sex marriage (CNE News, 2021).
The government claims this is a great misunderstanding about the nature of religious freedom. Yet this policy is imposing requirements upon these Christian organizations that go against what they believe and puts constraints on their religious freedom rights and how these organizations choose to move forward. This is quintessentially a breach of freedom of religion and liberty. What is so ironic about this situation is that the city of Klepp was chosen as the most Christian city in Norway (CNE News, 2021).
There are also issues of the Norwegian government cutting the funding of religious organizations. Things like cutting funding for Jewish nursing homes (CNE News, 2021). The grants will be reduced down to zero in three years. The Jewish nursing homes serve food that is kosher, and every Friday evening they celebrate the Sabbath (CNE News, 2021). These practices enable people to be cared for while practicing their religion. The funding cuts make it very difficult for the owners of these homes to build more. It is ironic that Norway is cutting funding when it is on the cusp of needing more nursing homes, due to the aging of its population. (CNE News, 2021). Norway is cutting funding on the generation that is the most vulnerable(CNE News, 2021) .
Jehavah’s Witnesses have completely lost funding from the Norwegian government. Norway claims the funding is being taken away because of the Jehovah Witnesses practice of shunning (Introvigne, 2022). This occurs when a member loses their faith, or is not practicing anymore. The interesting thing, Jehovah’s Witnesses know from the onset what behaviors will put them in a position of being shunned; so it’s not like they are blindsided (Introvigne, 2022). A professor of religious studies in Oslo, Norway stated, “The ruling can have consequences for a whole range of other faiths” Introvigne, 2022). He is not the only one who is concerned about the impact these types of laws and policies will have on other religious communities as well (Introvigne, 2022).
Lastly, in Norway, parliament has voted to ban niqabs and burqas in schools and universities. If an employee dresses in this type of religious attire, they would be at risk of losing their job, and students would be at risk of expulsion (Sharman, 2018). Norway has also made the ban be in effect in school clubs before and after school. Many people believe it to be strange, unnecessary, and dramatic (Sharman, 2018). The student union stated, “It is not in line with the principle of an equal right to education” (Sharman, 2018). This ban violates women and girls’ rights of freedom of religion and expression. Norway claims it is not against any religion, but the Muslim religion is the only one that wears burqas and niqabs (Sharman, 2018).
As you can see Norway has overstepped its bounds in regard to religious liberty and freedom.There is a great need for citizens to stand up against this kind of government overreach and we need countries to show strength and solidarity with the religions of the world.