Norway Mandated Shunning Court Case

Norway: Jehovah’s Witnesses Lose to the State—Mandated Shunning Means No State Subsidy


BREAKING NEWS: The Norway state subsidy is to be withheld from Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watch Tower), as the Oslo district appeal court upholds their previous decision, deeming it valid. The court acquits the State, citing “serious violations of the rights and freedoms of others” in the exclusion practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Last year, it was announced that Jehovah’s Witnesses would lose both the 2021 state subsidy and their registration as a religious community due to their practice of mandated shunning, particularly of children baptised into the organisation. Disagreeing with the decision, Jehovah’s Witnesses pursued legal action against the State, which extended to the subsequent rejections of state aid in 2022 and 2023.

In the latest appeal hearing, the court ruled in favour of the State, ordering Jehovah’s Witnesses to cover court costs exceeding NOK 1.1 million. Furthermore, the court has dismissed Jehovah’s Witnesses’ demand for a total grant of NOK 35 million, attributing the subsidy revocation to negative social control and hindrance of free expression within Jehovah’s Witnesses, as assessed by the Ministry of Children and Families and the State Administrator.

Judge Ole Kristen Øverberg concluded that, except in rare situations, Jehovah’s Witnesses foster social isolation among disfellowshipped or disassociated members through their practice of mandated shunning.