Permission for cross on Norwegian church


Northern Europe


The opening of the new church in Skien this summer. Photo DELK Telemark, Kristelig Pressekontor

The Skauen Church in the Norwegian town of Skien has received permission to continue illuminating the controversial cross on top of its tower.

Earlier this week, the municipality to which the Evangelical Lutheran church belongs decided to grant the congregation dispensation from the general “provisions on signs and advertising facilities.” In practice, the congregation can keep the illuminated cross on their church, Christian press agency KPK reports.

Complaining neighbours

The church building is new, as it was inaugurated in August last year. Since then, there has been a dispute about the cross on top of the church. The symbol has several mounted strips with LED lights.

This created controversy, as some neighbours complained about the brightness of the lights. Even though the church dimmed the LEDs, some neighbours sent a formal complaint to the Skien municipality. One of them said that the cross is “annoying” because it is located near a residential area with diverse views. “It seems provocative because it is dominant and lights up 24 hours a day.”

Benefits cross outweigh costs

In December, the Skauen congregation had to apply for dispensation from the municipality to be allowed to keep the illuminated cross. Legislation concerning signs and advertising forbids light ads to be erected except “in areas regulated for shops and areas that the municipality has approved. Lighting advertising that is a nuisance to homes is not allowed.”

In the case of the cross on the Skauen church, the municipality now ruled that the building is far enough from residential homes. In addition, the cross has a moderate size compared to the building and the surroundings. The decision reads that the dispensation can lead to advantages and disadvantages, but the benefits outweigh the costs.

“It is natural for a church building to profile itself to its surroundings. The cross is slender and not dominant on the facade”, the decision says. The municipality acknowledges that the lighting can be a nuisance to the surroundings but thinks the advantages are more important, “especially when the distance to neighbouring buildings is over 100 metres.”

The congregation, which belongs to the small conservative Lutheran denomination DELK, is delighted with the dispensation. Priest Fred Arve Fahre says that the decision was as he expected and hoped for. “We are relieved and grateful that the municipality has done what we believe is a very sensible assessment. Hopefully, we can now close this case, focus on what is happening inside the church, and invite people to see what is happening.”

Even though the municipality has decided to grant permission, this decision can yet be appealed.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.