Norway finally scraps its blasphemy law
Back in 1933, Norwegian writer Arnulf Øverland – pictured above addressing Christian students in 1962 – was the last person to be prosecuted under Norway’s blasphemy law for giving a lecture titled ‘Christianity, the tenth plague’. He was acquitted.
However, blasphemy remained a “crime” in Norway – until this week, when it was reported here that Norway had scrapped the law in a direct response to January’s brutal attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The proposal to rush through the change was made by Conservative MP Anders B Werp and Progress Party MP Jan Arild Ellingsen, who argued that the law:
Underpins a perception that religious expressions and symbols are entitled to a special protection. This is very unfortunate signal to send, and it is time that society clearly stands up for freedom of speech.
The decision to push through the change was attacked as “cultural suicide” by Finn Jarle Sæle, editor of the Norwegian Christian weekly, Norge IDAG.
In 2012, the year in which Norway officially separated church from state, the country was found to be one of the eight best nations in which to be an atheist.
There’s a strong correlation between the happiest countries in the world and the least religious countries in the world, and along with Sweden and Denmark, Norway rates at the top of both list …
People likely look to religion less when they want for less, for one thing, but it also may be that atheism flourishes in nations where people demonstrate high levels of commitment towards a socially just government and shared economic benefits.
If you have faith in your nation and your fellow citizens, putting faith in religion as well might just seem rather pointless.
• The picture above shows Arnulf Øverland delivering an amended version of his “Christianity, the tenth plague” in 1962. Photo: Aage Storløkken, active/NTB Scanpix.