Jehovah's Witnesses Norway will lose state support


Northern Europe


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Norwegian Jehovah's Witnesses will not get their grant from 2021. The Ministry of Children and Families decided so after the community appealed the ruling of the State Administrator in March this year.

"The Ministry of Children and Families concluded that the Jehovah's Witnesses' exclusion practice towards children under 18 and corresponding consequences for children who opt out of the religious community violates children's rights." That is what the Ministry wrote in an e-mail to Vart Land. The decision is now final and cannot be appealed.

In January, the State Administrator of Norway denied the community of Jehovah's Witnesses subsidies for 2021, which amounted to 16 million NOK (approximately 1.5 million euros). The reason for this grant withdrawal was the community's exclusionary practices, Dagen writes.

When a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses decides to step out or loses his or her faith, the Jehovah's Witnesses socially exclude him or her. Members are forbidden to have contact with the person concerned. The State Administrator argued that this practice violates the Religious Society Act, as earlier reported by CNE.news. The State also feared that children are at risk of social isolation. The fact that unbaptised children are exposed to social isolation can be seen as negative social control, the State Administrator wrote in January, according to Vart Land.

The Jehovah's Witnesses appealed this ruling in March, claiming that other courts worldwide have regularly ruled that the exclusionary practice is a legal, religious procedure that "is protected by the freedom of religion and freedom of assembly."

The religious community is disappointed by the decision of the Ministry of Children and Families. They told Dagen they would review the decision and decide what to do next.



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