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Watchtower loses State funding in Norway

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Kingdom Hall in Heggedal in Asker / illustration photo. (Kjell Kvamme)
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Originally published on statsforvalteren.no on January 27, 2022 and translated using Google.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are denied state funding for 2021

The state administrator in Oslo and Viken denies the religious community Jehovah’s Witnesses state grants for 2021 on the basis of society’s exclusionary practice.

After receiving warnings from previous members regarding exclusion and expulsion of members, the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs has asked the State Administrator in Oslo and Viken to review Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own statements and publications. In this review, the State Administrator has uncovered several violations of the Religious Communities Act.

Right to free registration

The exclusionary practice means that members are denied contact with unsubscribed members. This will also apply to members who have voluntarily left the faith community. In practice, this means that those who sign up can not have contact with family and friends in the congregation. In our opinion, this hinders the right to free withdrawal, and is in violation of the Religious Communities Act § 2.

Exclusion of children

The faith community also allows for the exclusion of baptized minors. This means that children can be excluded if they break the rules of the religious community. We believe this is negative social control and violates children’s rights. Unbaptized children who break the rules of the religious community may be exposed to social isolation. This is also perceived as negative social control and violations of children’s rights. Such treatment of children is contrary to the Religious Communities Act § 6.

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The State Administrator’s discretion – the supervisory authorities may refuse grants

Jehovah’s Witnesses have on several occasions defended the practice of exclusion. The faith community has detailed rules for how members should practice exclusion and social isolation towards these groups. The rules are communicated to members via books and study articles, among other things. We have considered the offenses to be systematic and intentional, and have therefore chosen to refuse subsidies. This is in line with the Religious Society Regulations § 11 third paragraph. Read more in the attached decision [Original text is written in Norwegian].

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Feature Photo – Jehovah’s Witnesses are denied state funding for 2021

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Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

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