When Gry Nygård was expelled from Jehovah’s Witnesses, she lost all family and friends. After three years, she is now one step closer to her sons.
Originally published on nrk.no by Trine Rognli and Torkil Stoltz
“People say it has rained all day, but I have only seen the sun,” says Gry Nygård.
The decision to uphold in the Court of Appeal was celebrated with cake together with those in primary care at a nursing home.
For the first time in a long time, Nygård dares to hope for contact with the family.
“I’m one step closer to my children. They are the most important thing for me, and it is for them that I do not give up,” she says.
“Impossible to describe the loss of the children
In 2018, Gry Helen Nygård was expelled from the Ski congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This happened after Nygård told the congregation about what must have been a rape while sleeping.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe she was guilty of gross sexual immorality and expelled her from the congregation and the denomination. With this, everyone turned their backs on her, and Nygård lost all relationships. Including friends and family members.
“It is impossible to explain how much I miss my children. Being deprived of the opportunity to have contact with my children is the worst and most difficult thing to deal with here,” she says.
Nygård may see her children at the local store, but she is not allowed to contact them.
“They are both adults and manage on their own, but not being allowed to be a mother and not being allowed to make contact with my own sons is indescribably painful. I also think a lot about the fact that they have lost me and how difficult it is for them,” says Nygård.
Fighting to get into the fire
It has been three years since Nygård contacted a lawyer, and the case of expulsion was taken to the conciliation board. There she prevailed, but then Jehovah’s Witnesses sued Nygård.
In February 2020, they met in Follo District Court where Nygård lost. Nygård appealed the case to the Court of Appeal, which came up in January this year. This is where she has now prevailed.
Nygård’s lawyer, Håkon Mathias Sterling Danielsen, says that the case is unique in a world context.
“There is no similar case where someone wins against a church in this way. Gry could not have gotten a better result in the Court of Appeal than she has now got,” says Danielsen.
The lawyer expects an appeal from Jehovah’s Witnesses, because the congregation has spent a lot of resources on the case so far.
“I dare not speculate on what the Supreme Court will do, but it may be that this is in principle enough for them to say something about it,” he says.
“Can not lie”
In a supplementary answer to NRK, Jehovah’s Witnesses write that they will now review the judgment carefully. The religious group maintains that there is nothing automatic in the judgment leading to Nygård being reinstated as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and writes:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses’ views on expulsion are based on the Bible. This position has been recognized by Supreme Court courts worldwide.”
Nygård has lost family, friends and her entire social platform. But Nygård has not lost faith. She says that the practice of expulsion is something she basically does not mind.
“The rule is actually very strict, and it takes a lot. In situations where expulsion takes place, it is preferably a person who has chosen not to live by the rules and norms required by the religion.”
She says that in her case, this choice was taken from her.
Jehovah’s Witnesses write the following to NRK:
“Expelled persons who reject unrighteous conduct and who show a sincere desire to live by Bible standards are always welcome to become Jehovah’s Witnesses again.”
“This means in my case that they think I should admit and distance myself from something I have not done. But I can not lie,” says Nygård.