These four religious organisations in Norway lose money because of grant cuts


Northern Europe


Bible school in Norway. Photo Facebook, Bibelskolen i Grimstad

Last week, the Norwegian minister of Finance, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, presented the government's proposal for the state budget of 2023. It seems that organisations religious convictions are especially negatively affected.

The newly presented budget is the first of the current government. It is the first time Norwegians can see what the priorities of their government are. Now already, the Christian Democratic KrF heavily criticises the plans.

1. Christian schools

The Christian Democratic Party (KrF) in Norway organised an emergency meeting with leaders of Bible schools and independent schools this Monday. The Norwegian government proposes cutting grants to private schools, amounting to 40 million NOK (about 3.8 million euros). The Christian Democratic Party wants to know the consequences for educational institutes.

The government wants to save money on private schools to strengthen the public school system, Vårt Land reports. For example, the government will save 10.3 million NOK (about 10 million euros) on the so-called 6a schools, of which 20 out of 28 are Bible schools. The schools will go from 75 per cent of government funding to 65 per cent.

KrF leader Olaug Bollestad said in a written statement that she wants to clarify the consequences of the grant cuts in practice.

The Lutheran Fjellhaug Bible School's principal Jon Georg Fiske writes to Vårt Land that the grant cut will pose a "significant financial challenge" and that the students are the victims because school fees will increase. He adds that the school receives a consistent number of applications every year, showing that young Norwegians desire to study at the Bible school. "It is sad that the government will deprioritise such training as the Bible schools provide."

Education minister

Education minister Tonje Brenna was also invited to the emergency meeting this Monday. KrF leader Olaug Bollestad said that she hopes that the minister will see which consequences the grant cut has for independent schools and Bible schools and their students. "The Labour party and the Center Party weaken parental rights and make it more difficult for parents to choose an independent school for their children", she said.

2. Jewish care home

The only Jewish care home in Norway risks losing its government grants. According to Ervin Kohn, a board member of the facility, this will put the existence of the old people's homes at risk.

Next year, the Norwegian government will grant the Jewish care home organisation 6.5 million NOK (600.000 euros). This year, that amount was still 9.2 million NOK. The plan is that the government grants will be down to zero in three years.

The Jewish care home organisation, Jødisk bo og seniorsenter, owns six nursing homes. Residents are served kosher food there, and the Sabbath is celebrated each Friday evening.

Kohn was unpleasantly surprised by the announcement of the grant cut, he says to Vårt Land. "This is new for us. The Jewish housing and the senior centre currently have plans for a much0needed increase of the nursing homes. They are now in danger", he says.

According to Kohn, the government is taking away support for the most vulnerable generation of a vulnerable minority. He points out that the Norwegian government has an obligation to the older generation and is bound by two international agreements, for example, the Terezin declaration. That agreement indicates that elderly Holocaust survivors need social help and medical follow-up.

The Christian Democrats in Norway are very critical of the proposed grant cuts. "I find this both sad and petty. It is heart-breaking that the government choose to cut to a minority which is at the same time the most vulnerable, she says. "This is only a small amount on the state budget, but it is clear that it is a lot of money for the Jewish housing and senior centre."

3. Seventh-Day Adventists’ care home

Also, the Seventh-Day Adventists will lose support for their care homes and day centres. At Mosserødhjemmet in Sandefjord, run by Seventh-Day Adventists, they are also surprised by the proposal. "If we lose support, we risk that other municipalities will skip our nursing home when seeking a house for residents because they do not get a discount", Anita Hagler, manager of the care home in Sandefjord, says. In addition, the loss of state support may result in the closure of the day centre that the nursing home set up six years ago.

Mosserødhjemmet has 56 residents and is run according to the principles of the Adventist faith. For example, vegetarian meals are served every day, and the Sabbath is celebrated weekly.

Economic situation

The Secretary of State, Karl Kristian Bekeng, explains that the cuts in funding are due to the economic situation. "We cannot get important efforts strengthened without clearer prioritisation. The grant is limited in relation to the expenses the municipalities have for operating the institution, and a gradual winding down over three years has been proposed", he says.

4. Pro-life organisation

Also, abortion organisations are impacted by a loss of funding. That is reported by Dagen.

Menneskeverd, a pro-life organisation, is one of the victims of the grant cut. Its Secretary General, Morten Dahle Stærk, responds that the organisation is surprised because they experienced that the political support for their work was essential and that people “wanted to prioritise funds on this item.” He says to be disappointed because the organisation is booking success in the field.

Until now, Menneskeverd had the label of a sexual health organisation, allowing it to receive a special grant. However, this label has been removed, meaning the organisation will have to apply for it. “We worry that we will receive a lower amount or nothing at all”, Dahle Stærk says.

The Christian Democratic Party criticises the cut in grants for pro-life organisations. “They carry out significant preventive work. That this now has to be cut is disturbing”, board member Ida Lindtveit Røse says. “One of the most important abortion prevention measures is to ensure that economic conditions do not make it difficult for women to take care of a child”, she adds. “In sum, this is weakening the abortion prevention work.”



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