Religion and education in Norway

Authored by: Ingvill Plesner

The Routledge International Handbook of Religious Education

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415536301
eBook ISBN: 9780203106075
Adobe ISBN: 9781136256424


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The introduction of a new model for religious education in Norwegian public primary schools in 1997 caused a major controversy in public and political discourse. The subject as well as the legal provisions of the Education Act concerning its aims and content have been changed several times since, most recently in 2008.For example, the name of the subject has been changed from“Christian Knowledge with Orientation on Religion and Life Stances” 1 to “Christian, Religious and Life Stance Education,” 2 to the current “Religion, Philosophies of Life and Ethics.” 3 These changes of the course’s name indicate how the role of Christianity in the subject has been changed, though it is still supposed to have a main emphasis on Christianity and in particular on its significance as “a cultural heritage.” 4 The changes can be seen as responses from the Norwegian authorities after severe criticism from national experts on freedom of religion or belief and from international monitoringbodiesclaiming thatthelimitedrighttoexemption fromthesubject causedviolations of the equal right to freedom of religion or belief, and—more specifically—the particular the right of parents and legal guardians to decide the child’s religious and moral upbringing. 5

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