Norway's Jehovah's Witnesses sue the state


Northern Europe


Photo JW.org

Jehovah's Witnesses in Norway are suing the state following a decision to strip the faith group of its registration as a religious community.

According to the Witnesses, the state administrator's decision "is based solely on a prejudiced and erroneous interpretation of a religious teaching". They call the authorities' decision "discriminatory" and claim it "conveys a message that there is something seriously wrong with Jehovah's Witnesses". Furthermore, this decision affects the lives of the more than 12,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Norway" and stigmatises "a religious minority that was brutally persecuted during the Nazi regime, and which is still persecuted in countries such as Russia."

However, the State Administrator stresses to the Christian Norwegian daily Vart Land that no one has deprived Jehovah's Witnesses of the right to be Jehovah's Witnesses and practice their faith. "But we have deprived them of financial support and registration, because we believe that their exclusion practices are on a collision course with Norwegian law."


According to the Norwegian State Administrator, the exclusion practice of Jehovah's Witnesses is against the law and violates the members' right to free expression. "We also believe that they violate children's rights by allowing the exclusion of baptised minors, and by encouraging members to socially isolate children who do not follow the religious community's rules", the Administrator stated, according to Vart Land.

Without registration as a religious community, Jehovah's Witnesses can no longer make claims for government subsidies. They also lose the right to marry couples.

However, this decision "is not based on any judgments or any evidence whatsoever of alleged violations of other people's rights", the Witnesses write in a press release. They therefore sent a lawsuit against the State Trustee in Oslo and Viken to the Oslo District Court on Friday. "Due to the importance of the question, and the time aspect, we have decided not to complain to the Ministry of Children and Families, but to bring the decision on refusal of registration to the courts."



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