Cleaning company refuses to wash the windows of a Norwegian church
The windows of a church building get dirty, just like the windows of any other building. However, a Norwegian cleaning company refuses to wash them. "We want to remain neutral."
The conflict started in April when the congregation prepared for spring cleaning. The General Manager of the Hafrsfjord Parish of the Church of Norway, Eli Dorthea Taunton, e-mailed the cleaning company Ren Glede Renfold with the request for a price quote for the windows of the parish building next to the church, Dagen reports.
The same day she received a reply, and the answer was no. In its response, which is published by NRK, the company explained that "for the sake of some of [the] employees, [it] wants to remain strictly neutral both religiously and politically." Therefore, it declined the job.
Taunton tells NRK that she finds the reasoning of the company strange, "especially because we did not ask them to participate in any religious activities or events."
The General Manager herself used to be a customer of the company without any problems. Now, she canceled her own membership as well, Vart Land writes. "I'm a Christian", Taunton explained, "so they can clean my private house, but not where I work? I thought it was problematic that they selected customers according to certain criteria. I, therefore, do not wish to support them by being a customer of theirs."
She reported the case to KA, the employers' organisation for church businesses. The KA, in turn, filed a complaint against the cleaning company. It did so at the board for discrimination of religion and way of life.
KA department director and lawyer Ingrid B says to NRK that businesses cannot discriminate against customers on the basis of faith. She refers to the Act on Equality and the Prohibition of Discrimination. "If such practices are allowed to spread in secret, it will affect both denominations, other faith and life-view communities and a number of other value-based businesses. We do not want such a development."
Taunton points out that the implications of the refusal of the cleaning company are not large, as she can find someone else to do the job. "But refusing on the basis of a religious point of view is not fine."
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