There has been a huge debate this week about whether a group of Christian elders should be allowed to continue meeting at a library in Lindsnes. The reason is that it is not clear how the Library Code should be interpreted, and the Library has chosen to interpret it in the strict sense of the word.
We have asked the Minister of Culture about the case of Lindesnes. We believe that this case points to a fundamentally important question about how to interpret library law. It cannot be that one should interpret this in the strict sense and the result be less, not more expressive in the public domain.
The list is long
Unfortunately, this can also be read in a larger direction, and in recent times there have also been many cases indicating that the space for the Christian outlook on life in our society has become smaller:
- Volunteer work for children and youth under the auspices of Christian organizations and congregations is deprived of municipal support, because local politicians believe that their teachings are not politically correct.
- As many as 1 in 3 Christians are discriminated against because of their faith in the context of work.
- Prayer houses are being harassed for their belief in violating Corona rules.
- Student Parliament that refuses to rent conference centers to give lectures because of the owners’ Christian views on life.
- School management denying the Christian school team and offering cakes so that no one is “lured” into fidelity.
- Oslo schools wishing to terminate their cooperation with NLA University College due to the wording in their value document.
- Young Muslims and Christians refuse to share their faith on social media
Now it must be said that many of these have regressed from their decisions, but the list is unfortunately (very) long. This is not just a problem for believers, it is a challenge for society as a whole. In an age when we strive for diversity and inclusion, it is strange that this does not apply to believers as well. Our country will be poorer if we push those who believe behind the curtains.
Dag Wollebæk finds in the Department of Social Research, for example, in a Report from 2013 That a strong organizational life is absolutely fundamental to maintaining trust in modern societies, and that Christian and non-Christian organizations have a role here, among other things, is that participation in one organization begets participation in another.
Neutrality does not exist
I am very critical of our pursuit of a so-called neutral society. Norway is a diverse country in which people from different religious, political and social backgrounds live. If we want to ensure the best possible community and community, we depend entirely on the ability to facilitate that we have meeting places where we meet like-minded people, at the same time that we have common arenas where we can meet equal parties.
Our country will be poorer if we push those who believe behind the curtains
– Uluj Polystad
The first is no less important than the last. And the first does not rule out the second – because none of us are impartial. We all have a view of life that we take with us in society. The pursuit of neutrality is like the pursuit of a utopia. A society that has space for everyone is a good society for everyone.
The foundation of liberal democracy is that we must be tolerant of those with whom we strongly disagree. According to the Library Code, the focus should be on quality, variety, and timing. A society focused on diversity and inclusion needs more meeting places that protect both an individual’s opportunity to share existential things with like-minded people and places where we can meet across races, beliefs, and opinions—no less.
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