Trond Giske, Norway’s Church and Cultural Affairs minister, presides over the church-state debate. Giske, who spoke to William Stoichevski on behalf of The Lutheran in May, hopes to put a church model to a parliamentary vote by mid-2008.
Stoichevski: How is an independent church seen attracting and retaining members?
Giske: It would still be the same church. I don’t think there’ll be a big membership slip. We saw after the split in Sweden that there wasn’t a big falling-off.
Will the state still pay for salaries, upkeep and global mission work under the more likely models?
The commission said the state should give funds, but there might be a membership fee. My view is … the state should fund various religious activities … not just for the Norwegian church.
Can the church exist as a place people only visit for specific rituals?
Not all attend for just specific rituals. Many are active in the work of their church. Of course, when 85 percent of [Norway’s] people are church members, the percentage of active goers is less than if, say, 20 percent were members.
Will there be an attempt to redefine the church’s identity?
In religious matters, the church has self-rule. I don’t think the profile of the church would change. … You might have the potential for infighting. It’s a broad-based church representing the views of a majority of Norwegians, and not having the state as a [support structure] could influence certain groups.
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