15,053 left within four days

So it turns out that if you give people the opportunity to opt out of a religion they were “born” into, they take it.

Norway’s state chuch lost more than 15,000 followers in four days after launching an online registration system allowing people to opt in or out.

The Lutheran Church is the country’s largest, with nearly three-quarters of the population registered as members.

Nearly three-quarters of the population – in highly secular Norway. How could that statistic not be an artifact of churchy overcounting?

But officials revealed that many instead used the new process to do the opposite, with 10,854 people de-enrolling from the church in the 24 hours after the launch of the website on 15 August. A total of 15,053 left within four days.

The leading Bishop of the Norwegian churches, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, said: “We were prepared for a significant number of resignations and have great respect for the individual’s choice.

“These signals we take seriously. Our task will be to pass on the Christian message and to convey the important role the church can have in people’s lives.”

Sure, it can. But “important role” doesn’t necessarily mean “in a good way.” Churches can have important roles in people’s lives by making them miserable or by suppressing all their hopes and ambitions and making them feel like inferior beings. There’s that, and there’s also the fact that other institutions and ways of thinking and being can also have important roles in people’s lives – and usually without the coercive aspects of religious institutions. Secular groups and outlooks have the advantage of not claiming to have an all-powerful supernatural being running the show.

6 Responses to “15,053 left within four days”