Executive Summary

The constitution prohibits religious discrimination and protects the right to choose and practice or change one’s religion. A hate crime law punishes some expressions of disrespect for religious beliefs. The government presented an action plan against anti-Semitism which includes anti-Semitism as a separate category of hate crime in police statistics. The government returned to their Pentecostal parents five children of whom it had taken custody in 2015 on abuse charges for spanking, which the parents had said were based on religious bias. The government provided security at Jewish facilities in Oslo and funded programs to combat anti-Semitism and increase religious tolerance. The government proceeded with the transition of the Church of Norway, an evangelical Lutheran Church, from state church to self-standing entity, while continuing to provide certain benefits solely to that church. The government also provided financial support to other religious and humanist communities. In October the government released an action plan, developed with the Jewish Community (DMT), the country’s largest Jewish organization, other religious groups, and civil society, to combat anti-Semitism. The Ministry of Culture (MOC) provided funding to a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), religious umbrella organizations, and individual religious and humanist or “life-stance” organizations to sponsor programs to combat anti-Semitism, increase interfaith dialogue and cooperation, or promote freedom of religion or belief.

In 2015, the most recent year for which data were available, police reported 79 hate crimes categorized as religiously motivated. The Oslo Police District reported that most of the religiously-motivated hate crime incidents in their district, the majority of which consisted of assault and hate speech, targeted Muslims. The DMT voiced concern about continued anti-Semitic attitudes it said were primarily evident online and on social media.

U.S. embassy staff met with officials from the MOC for updates on the process of separating the Church of Norway from the government and to discuss the ministry’s role in supporting religious umbrella organizations and activities to promote interreligious dialogue. Embassy representatives also met with faith groups and NGOs to discuss religious freedom. The embassy hosted religious celebrations with members of different faith communities, government officials, and NGOs to promote religious tolerance and understanding.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future