Court case Jehovah's Witnesses Norway kicked off

29-03-2023

Northern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Norwegian Jehovah's Witnesses distribute leaflets to spread their faith. Photo Facebook, Jehovah's Witnesses Examiner

Norwegian Jehovah's Witnesses are in court this Wednesday and Thursday. They are fighting the government's decision to remove their registration as a religious community.

The case is between the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Ministry of Children and Families, Dagen reports. The Oslo district court is to rule whether the religious community should retain its status as a religious community and the right to seal marriages.

The State Administrator in Oslo ruled that the Jehovah's Witnesses should lose this registration and right for their exclusion practice. According to the Administrator, this practice violated the Religious Communities Act, as reported earlier by CNE.news.

The religious community shuns members when they leave the group. That means that family members and friends are forbidden to contact them. The exclusion practice can also be applied to baptised minors if they break the community's rules. The State Administrator argued that these practices violated members' freedom of religion and harmed children's rights by socially isolating them.

In reaction to the ruling of the State Administrator, the Jehovah's Witnesses decided to sue the state, Dagen writes. They requested the district court to postpone the implementation of the Administrator's decision, so they could retain the right to marry couples as long as the court had not spoken out a verdict. The district court agreed to that. However, if the community loses the ongoing court case, they will immediately lose their registration and the right to seal marriages.

Pressure

The ruling body of the Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide is the Supreme Council. It consists of nine members. At the end of last year, one of its members, Anthony Morris, published a video in which he condemned the ruling of the State Administrator in Norway and said that the community would not budge on its exclusion practice. "In the future, various governments will challenge our freedom to worship. They may try and pressure us to change our view of Scripture. But we certainly won't do that", he said in the video message.

In addition, he announced the opening of a new office in Europe that is meant to "defend the right to practice the faith."

However, in January, Morris resigned as a member of the Supreme Council. The Jehovah's Witnesses have not made the reason for this public.

Chain

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