Separation between Church and State enters into force today in Norway

Measure was approved by the Norwegian parliament unanimously in May, eight years after agreement reached in the House. Country has Protestant majority

The Lutheran Church of Norway will no longer depend on direct form state from Sunday, culminating a process started in the last decade and transform this Nordic country lay in an official way.

The more than 1,700 pastors and other ecclesiastical posts will cease to be state-appointed civil servants, who will no longer direct the Church in the last instance, a task that will now be the Ecclesiastical Council elected by its own members.

King Harold V will not be the supreme authority of the Church, and the formal obligation of half the government to profess the Protestant religion will also disappear.

The measure was passed by the Norwegian parliament unanimously last May, eight years after the majority of the House reached an agreement that was consolidated with the introduction of several amendments to the Constitution in 2012.

Considered by the Norwegian Lutheran Church itself as the biggest organizational change in its 500-year history, the change will place it on the same level as Sweden, which already approved at the beginning of this century the separation of the State, something that has not yet occurred in Denmark, another country Nordic majority.

Although the two institutions are formally separate and the Protestant is no longer the official religion, the Lutheran Church will still be considered “the Norwegian National Church and will be supported as such by the state,” according to the Constitution after the latest changes.

This formulation was criticized, however, by several voices of the society of this Scandinavian country.

“This is not a real separation. Parliament has taken a step forward this time, but not long enough, “Kristin Mile, the secretary general of the Norwegian Humanist Association, criticized this week in Oslo.

The Lutheran Lutheran Church will continue to be state-owned in practice and will link the Norwegians with a particular confession.

For this reason the Norwegian humanists aspire to eliminate it in the future, recognizing that there is still insufficient parliamentary support, as was evidenced last year when only three smaller political forces – liberal, socialist and green – backed a more ambitious law.

“The situation is not yet ripe. The big parties seem to have a great deal of anxiety over the majority when it comes to this issue, but I can not imagine that the current legislation is in effect in 20 years, “said Mile.

What the new reform has not prevented for the time being is the continued fall in the membership of the Lutheran Church, a phenomenon similar to that experienced in recent years in other Scandinavian countries.

The National Lutheran Church lost a record 15,486 members in 2015, and now covers 3.76 million people, 72% of the population of Norway.

Those belonging to other religious denominations – Islam and Catholicism, for the most part – totaled 622,000 members, 11% more than in the previous year, which now with the new reform will translate into a greater economic allocation by the state.

The Norwegian authorities have, however, allocated 1.9 billion crowns (about 715 million reals) to the Lutheran Church for the coming year, 3.3% more than in 2016, as they feel they need more money to start their Stage as an independent institution.

 

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