Norwegian church receives request for removal crosses


Northern Europe


Norwegian chapel and cemetery. Photo Facebook, Dango Cellan

A local branch of the Human-Ethical Association (HEF) finds the crosses on chapels and cemeteries threatening. Therefore, it asked the Church of Norway to remove them.

According to the HEF in the letter it sent to the church council, the use of symbols, such as crosses, can be experienced as “obtrusive and threatening for those who do not belong to a chosen way of life”, Dagen reports, based on various Norwegian media. Therefore, the HEF wants the church to make chapels in Løten, Tangen, Vallset, Romedal and Vang neutral.

The manager of the HEF team, Magne Kvalbein, says that the chapels should also be suitable for non-religious ceremonies. He points out that the law requires so. He argues that the use of symbols is outdated from a “time when the Church of Norway had sole control over the management of burial grounds.” Today is a different age, in his opinion. Therefore, the administration must also reflect the multicultural society with a different view of life, Kvalbein stated, according to the local newspaper Glomdalen.


Mona Myrvang Nygaard, leader of the Løten church joint council, says to Vart Land that the church is not going to remove the crosses, but that the joint council will discuss the request. Nygaard does not see the need to comply with the request because people who find crosses offensive can use different premises for ceremonies.

Also, the bishop of the Hamar diocese, Kirsten E. Almås, does not favour removing the crosses from chapels and burial grounds. She says she supports the statement that everyone should have a space for ceremonies that fits within his worldview but argues that removing symbols from traditional buildings is “unwise.” That is reported by Vart Land, based on an article from Østlendingen. According to Almås, removing symbols does not solve the underlying problem of a shortage of ‘neutral’ burial grounds.

The National Human-Ethical Association head, Christian Lomsdalen, also says that this is not mainly about the offensiveness of crosses but more about the need for neutral ceremony premises. He thinks this case is just a local frustration but points out that it is part of a bigger picture.

The national HEF communication manager Marit Øimoen said on Twitter that the request of the local branch of the HEF is not the national policy. “We work to put in place dignified ceremony rooms that are neutral. We do not work to remove the premises of other religious and life-view communities.”


Christian Democrat Olaug Bollestad responded Vart Land that crosses and other religious symbols are “harmless.” He says that the HEF has a wrong understanding of them. “Norway is open-minded, not ideologically neutral.”



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