Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, Norway will implement a separation of church and state policy, a course of action that was initially settled on in a parliamentary vote eight years ago.
According to ChristianToday.com, the Evangelical-Lutheran church and the country of Norway have maintained a nearly 500-year relationship, going back to the Reformation period.
The implementation of the separation of church and state policy will mean that the 1,250 priests and bishops of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church will no longer also serve as government officials.
Although this decision is sure to have pronounced implications, some believe not enough will actually change.
Although the church in Norway will no longer be referred to as “the state’s public religion,” the new resolution maintains that "the Church of Norway, an Evangelical-Lutheran Church, will remain Norway's national Church and will be supported as such by the state.”
Kristin Mile, the secretary general of the Norwegian Humanist Association, spoke to Norway’s Dagsavisen newspaper and explained: "As long as the Constitution says that the Norwegian Church is Norway's national Church, and that it should be supported by the state, we still have a state Church."
Mile further noted that the new resolution actually connects government more closely to the church because it mentions a particular denomination, and not just a religion.
Whether the resolution will have any impact on church attendance in Norway is another question. Since the number of church members was previously a major factor in state funding, many churches falsely reported the size of their congregations. The church’s separation from the state will presumably put an end to this practice.
Norway has an extremely low church attendance rate: only five percent of Norwegians attend church.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: December 28, 2016