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Christianity in Norway

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Christianity in Norway

The conversion of Norway to Christianity began in 1000 AD. Prior to the conversion Norwegians practised Norse paganism.
The Norwegian Bible, Bibelen.

Christianity is the largest religion in Norway. Norway has historically been called a Christian country. A majority of the population are members of the Church of Norway. One need not go further back than the beginning of the 1900s to find a much more religious atmosphere . At numerous times in history, Norway sent more missionaries per capita than any other country. This changed considerably from the 1960s. Today, only 12% of the population attend church services each month.[1] Citizens born in Norway to one or two Norwegian parents are automatically added to the list of Protestant Christians in Norway, and are required to "sign out" of the church. There are two categories kept in the church's books, "medlemmer" (members) and "tilhørige" (belonging to [the State church]). Members technically have to be baptised, whereas "tilhørige" are to be taken out of the books if not baptised by the age of 18. Norwegian citizens' tax funds are given to the Protestant Church until one registers as a member of another religious group, or as a member of the Humanist association.[2]

In 1993, there were 4,981 churches and chapels in Norway.[3]


Shamanism persisted among the Sami up until the 18th century, but no longer exists in its traditional form. Most Sami today belong to the Lutheran church of Norway.
Heddal stave church from early 13th century

The conversion of Norway to Christianity began in 1000 AD. The raids on Ireland, Britain and the Frankish kingdoms had brought the Vikings in touch with Christianity. Haakon the Good of Norway who had grown up in England tried to introduce Christianity in the tenth century, but had met resistance from pagan leaders and soon abandoned the idea.

Anglo-Saxon missionaries from England and Germany engaged in converting Norwegians to Christianity, but with only limited success. However, they succeeded in converting Olaf I of Norway to Christianity. Olaf II of Norway (later Saint Olaf) had more success in his efforts to convert the population, and he is credited with Christianising Norway.

The Christians in Norway often established churches or other holy sites at places that had previously been sacred under the Norse religion. The spread of conversion can be measured by burial sites as Pagans were buried with grave goods while Christians weren't. Christianity had become well established in Norway by the middle of the 11th century and had become dominant by the middle of the 12th century. Stave churches were built of wood without the use of nails in the 13th century.

By county

Nord-Trøndelag 91.2%
Sogn og Fjordane 90.4%
Møre og Romsdal 90.2%
Nordland 89.9%
Oppland 89.6%
Finnmark 89.2%
Hedmark 89.1%
Troms 88.8%
Aust-Agder 87.5%
Hordaland 87.3%
Sør-Trøndelag 86.7%
Telemark 86.6%
Vest-Agder 85.6%
Rogaland 85.4%
Vestfold 84.8%
Østfold 84.6%
 Norway 84.2%
Buskerud 83.0%
Akershus 81.4%
Oslo 65.8%

Compared with other countries

Church attendance

Norway has one of the lowest church attendance rates in the world. Below is a table that compares Norway with other governmental divisions in regular church attendance. In contrast to 250,000 regular churchgoers in the whole of Norway, 43,500 attend Lakewood Church in the United States each week, and 23,000 attend Hillsong Church church in Australia each week.

The U.S state of Alabama has a population roughly equal to that of Norway, but church attendance in Alabama is as much as 11 times higher than in Norway.

Country Regular church attendance (%) Regular church attendance (number)
Alabama 58%[6] 2,700,000
Poland 56.7%[7] 21,600,000
Texas 49%[6] 12,140,000
United States average 42%[6] 120,000,000
California 32%[6] 11,830,000
Canada 25% 7,800,000
Vermont 24%[6] 140,000
France 15% 9,800,000
United Kingdom 10%[8] 6,000,000
Australia 7.5%[9] 1,500,000
Norway 5%[10] 250,000

Importance of religion

Below is a table that compares Norway with other countries in importance of religion.

Country People who say religion is important[11] Percent Christian of total population (%)
Congo DR 98.5% 95.1%
Philippines 95.5% 92.4%
Brazil 86.5% 90.4%
Iran 82.5% 2.0%
Cyprus 75% 98.1%
Greece 71.5% 98.0%
Ireland 53.5% 92.3%
South Korea 42.5% 34.6%
Albania 32.5% 20.0%
Finland 28% 82.2%
Norway 20.5% 85.6%
Denmark 18% 89.4%
Sweden 16.5% 79.9%
Estonia 16% 27.8%

Public opinion

World Values Survey[12]

Religious Affiliation/Identification 1982 1990 1996 2005
Percent belonging to a religious denomination 95.9% 90.2% 90.7% --
Percent identifying as a religious person 48% 47.5% 46.9% 41.3%
Percent raised religious -- 45.7% 41.4% --
Religious Behaviors 1982 1990 1996 2005
Percent attending religious services at least once a month 15.4% 12.7% 12.5% 10.8%
Percent that meditate or pray 61.6% 64.4% -- 33.2%
Percent active in a church or religious organization -- -- 8.3% 8.3%
Religious Beliefs 1982 1990 1996 2005
Percent believing in God 75.5% 65% 68.8% --
Percent believing in heaven 51.9% 43.8% 46.7% --
Percent believing in hell 23.5% 19.2% 19.7% --
Percent believing in life after death 50.7% 44.7% 47.3% --
Percent believing that there are clear guidelines on good and evil 31.4% 31.6% 29.1% --
Percent believing that politicians who do not believe in God are unfit for public office -- -- -- 3.8%
Percent believing that religious leaders should not influence people's vote -- -- -- 8.9%
Percent believing that things would be better if there are more people with strong religious beliefs -- -- -- 6.2%
Percent believing church gives answers to people's spiritual needs 64.3% 55% -- 48.2%
Percent believing church gives answers on family life problems 36.5% 29.1% -- 16.1%
Percent believing churches give answers to moral problems 47.5% 40.9% -- 28.7%
Percent believing churches give answers to social problems -- 18.5% -- 11.7%
Percent believing that religious leaders should influence the government -- -- -- 79.4%
Percent believing that people have a soul 59% 54.4% 59.6% --
Percent believing in the concept of sin 59.2% 44.2% 45.4% --
Percent believing religious services are important for deaths -- 81.1% -- --
Percent believing religious services are important for births -- 66.3% -- --
Percent believing religious services are important for marriages -- 70.4% -- --
Percent believing in a personal God 39.2% 29.8% -- --
Percent believing in re-incarnation 38.4% 15.2% -- --
Percent believing in the devil's existence 30.2% 24% 28% --
Percent that think that religious faith is an important quality in children -- -- -- 8.6%
Percent that agree: We depend too much on science and not enough on faith -- -- -- 25.8%
Percent that do not trust people of other religions -- -- -- 20.4%
Percent that often think about meaning and purpose of life -- -- -- 20.2%
Religious Experiences 1982 1990 1996 2005
Percent finding comfort and strength from religion 48.5% 35.6% 39.5% --
Attitudes 1982 1990 1996 2005
Percent considering religion important -- 40.3% 38.2% 32.8%
Percent considering that God is not at all important in their life 19.6% 24.8% 22.1% 27.9%
Percent confident in religious organizations 49.6% 44.6% 53.5% 50.5%


Born again Christian[13] 1997 2010
Percent who report Born-again Christian 19% 26%
People who report Born-again Christian 835,000 1,263,000


Statistics Norway

Religion (in 2013)[14][15] Members Percent Growth (2009–2013)
Christianity 4,161,220 82.4% 1.9%
Lutheranism 3,902,031 77.2% 0.2%
Roman Catholicism 121,130 2.4% 111.2%
Pentecostalism 39,412 0.8% −0.4%
Orthodox Christianity 12,959 0.3% 69.1%
Jehovah's Witnesses 12,049 0.2% −19.5%
Methodism 10,715 0.2% −2.4%
Baptists 10,213 0.2% 10%
Smith's friends 7,259 0.1% 7.1%
Seventh-day Adventist Church 4,841 0.1% −4.8%
Other Christianity 40,611 0.8% 7.1%
Total 5,051,275 100.0% 5.3%

The Association of Religion Data Archives

Denomination Percent[16]
Christian 92.0%
Agnostic 3.5%
Muslim 2.8%
Buddhist 0.7%
Atheist 0.6%
Baha'i 0.1%
Neo-pagan 0.1%

Operation World 2001

Denomination Percent[17]
Christianity 93.7%
Protestant 89.4%
Other Christian 2.0%
Independent 1.2%
Roman Catholic 0.8%
Non-religious 5.0%
Islam 1.0%
Buddhism 0.2%



Church of Norway

The Church of Norway (Den norske kirke in Bokmål or Den norske kyrkja in Nynorsk) is the state church of Norway. The church confesses the Lutheran Christian faith. It has as its foundation the Christian Bible, the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Luther's Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession. The Church is a member of the Porvoo Communion with 12 other churches, among them the Anglican Churches of Europe. It has also signed some other ecumenical texts, including the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification with the Roman Catholic Church.

Most Norwegian villages have their own church like this.
A liturgy in Stavanger Cathedral.

The constitutional head of the Church is the King of Norway, who is obliged to profess the Lutheran faith. The Church of Norway is subject to legislation, including its budgets, passed by the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, and its central administrative functions are carried out by the Royal Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs.

The Church has a congregational and episcopal structure, with 1,284 parishes, 106 deaneries and 11 dioceses, namely:

As of 2008[18] Percent
Members 3,874,823 81.8%
Participation in worship services, Sundays and holidays 5,069,341
Baptism 42,599
Confirmation 41,655
Consecration 10,536
Funeral 38,832
Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway

The Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway (Den Evangelisk Lutherske frikyrkja i Noreg in Norwegian) or the Free Church as it is commonly known, is a nationwide Lutheran church in Norway consisting of 81 congregations with 19,262 members in 2009.[19] It was founded in 1877 in Moss. It should not be confused with the Church of Norway, though both churches are members of the Lutheran World Federation. The Free Church is economically independent.

The following numbers is from :[19]

The Swedish Margareta Congregation in Oslo

15,574 members in 2009, up from 7,267 in 2005.

Det norske misjonsforbund

8,497 members in 2009, down from 8,505 in 2005.

The Christian Community

6,779 members in 2009, up from 6,054 in 2005.

The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation

4,237 members in 2009, up from 3,504 in 2005.

Free Evangelical Congregations

3,434 members in 2009, down from 3,653 in 2005.

Christian Centres

3,290 members in 2009, up from 3,264 in 2005.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church Community

3,232 members in 2009, down from 3,410 in 2005.

The Icelandic Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Norway

2,735 members in 2009, down from 3,395 in 2005.

The Christian Community

2,474 members in 2009, up from 2,472 in 2006.



Brunstad Christian Church

Brunstad Christian Church is the largest international Christian movement founded in Norway.




The Methodist Church of Norway had 10,974 members in 2009, down from 11,981 in 2005.[19]

Roman Catholicism

The Catholic Church in Norway is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and the Curia in Rome. Per 15 October 2012 the church had 115, 234 registered members. The number has increased from 59, 350 in 2008 due to high immigration. There may be approximately 170, 000 - 200 000 people of Catholic background in the country, most of them immigrants.[20]

The country is divided into three Church districts – the Diocese of Oslo and the prelatures of Trondheim and Tromsø and 32 parishes. The Bishop of Oslo participates in the Scandinavian Bishops Conference. The Catholic Church in Norway is as old as the kingdom itself, dating from approximately 900 A.D., with the first Christian monarchs, Haakon I from 934.

At first, the bulk of Roman Catholic immigrants came from Germany, The Netherlands, and France. Immigration from Chile, the Philippines, and from a wide range of other countries began in the 1970s. This development has further increased in the last few years with economic immigrants from Poland and Lithuania. Ethnic Norwegian Catholics are now greatly outnumbered by the immigrants, although the former tend to be far more observant and conservative, being a self-selected group largely of ex-Lutheran converts.



Jehovah's Witnesses

[21] A branch office is located in Ytre Enebakk. Jehovah's Witnesses receive public grants in the same manner as other registered religious communities in Norway.


See also


  1. ^ Norsk samfunnsvitenskapelig datatjeneste - Få nordmenn i kirken, men ikke færre enn før
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Hvor mange aktive kristne finnes i Norge?
  4. ^ Statistics Norway - Church of Norway.
  5. ^ Statistics Norway - Members of religious and life stance communities outside the Church of Norway, by religion/life stance. County. 2006-2010
  6. ^ a b c d e "San Diego Times, May 2, 2006, from 2006 Gallup survey". 
  7. ^ "Polish lead EU in Sunday church attendance". 
  8. ^ "'One in 10' attends church weekly [2] publisher = BBC News". 
  9. ^ [3] NCLS releases latest estimates of church attendance], National Church Life Survey, Media release,
  10. ^ NorgeIDAG - Hvor mange aktive kristne finnes i Norge?
  11. ^ GALLUP WorldView - data accessed on 17 january 2009
  12. ^ The Association of Religion Data Archives
  13. ^ Sterk økning i personlige kristne
  14. ^ Statistics Norway – Church of Norway and other religious and philosophical communities
  15. ^ Church of Norway statistics are from 2012.
  16. ^ The Association of Religion Data Archives
  17. ^ Joshua Project - Religions
  18. ^ Kirkedatabasen
  19. ^ a b c Statistics Norway
  20. ^ Andreas Slettholm: Nå er det flere katolikker enn muslimer i Norge Aftenposten, 3 December 2012
  21. ^ Statistics Norway

External links

  • 430 000 members in religious and life stance communities - Statistics Norway
  • Norwegian - Store Norske Leksikon
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