Church of Norway open to cohabiting homosexual employees


Northern Europe


The Norwegian church is known for its progressiveness. Photo Facebook, Den norske kirke

The Synod of the Church of Norway has decided that people who live in a same-sex relationship should also be able to work for the church. Dioceses are no longer able to use cohabitation as a reason for rejecting an application.

A large majority voted in favour of removing the clause from the church order that enables dioceses to reject applicants who live together with a spouse of the same sex. In total, 86 per cent supported the removal, and 24 Synod members voted against it on Sunday. That is reported by Vart Land.

The Church of Norway finally recognises the value of employees and job seekers who are married to someone of the same sex, Gard Sandaker Nielsen writes in a press release. He is the leader of the Åpen folkekirke. Sandaker Nielsen believes that the removal of the clause is necessary "for the church to be a good and responsible employer for all employees." At the same time, it is "an important signal to all LGBT people who want to work in the church. You are wanted and warmly welcome, just as you are", he believes.

Equal views

According to the adopted proposal, the matter of employees in a same-sex cohabitation is only an issue of employer practice and not about doctrines. However, those who voted against it see the matter as theological as well. They argue that the decision violates the church's principle of having "two equal views" on same-sex marriage, Vart Land writes.

Until now, dioceses had the authority to decide whether cohabitation played a role when hiring people. In practice, only the Diocese of Stavanger refuses to hire same-sex cohabitants to work for the church.


Priest representative Kathrine Skjerdal was one of the opponents of the proposal. She tells Dagen that she wants the proponents of the proposal to realise "that their yes makes their Christian siblings, who have a different theology of the Bible and tradition, to feel more alienated in the church over time."

Delegate Markus Westermoen also criticises the decision. "My view of the Bible is closely related to who I am. When we make decisions that contradict my Biblical view, it hurts", he says to Dagen. He points out that it will be illegal for conservatives to follow their conscience if they do not want to hire someone who lives in a same-sex relationship. "That is impossible for me not to do."

Westermoen emphasises that the problem does not really exist in practice. "We have not had any homosexual cohabiting applicants for ordained positions," he says to Dagen. He sees the acceptance of the proposal, therefore, as something that only "creates bad feelings for everyone." Westermoen fears that people from the Stavanger diocese, which refuses to hire homosexual cohabitants, will lose trust in the church. "People wonder if the Synod has not read the Bible."



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