The building of the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court, where the hearings were held

Opinions from Outsiders

Sweden and Norway Recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses as a Religion That Contributes to Society

Sweden,   Norway

On November 24, 2019, the Sweden Ministry of Culture concluded that Jehovah’s Witnesses “contributed to maintaining and strengthening the fundamental values upon which society is based.” It allows them to receive state funding for religious communities. The same happened in Norway a month later.

In 2007, the Swedish authorities decided to arbitrarily remove Jehovah's Witnesses from the list of such organizations because they do not vote in elections. However, the Supreme Administrative Court declared this decision inconsistent with the law on three occasions. Finally, on October 24, 2019, the Ministry of Culture confirmed that Jehovah's Witnesses meet all the requirements for religious organizations that receive state grants for public benefit activities under the Swedish Law on the Support of Religious Communities.

A similar thing happened in Norway, where the state regularly provided grants to all religious organizations, but denied it to Jehovah's Witnesses because of their position of political neutrality. However, on November 18, 2019, after further study of the situation and decisions on a similar issue by public authorities in Sweden, Italy and Germany, Oslo County Governor Valgerd Svarstad Hoagland issued a statement: "Voting in elections is a fundamental right of Norwegian citizens, but not an obligation. Refraining from this right seems to be part of the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses." Believers will be entitled to receive state grants in accordance with the Norwegian law "On Religious Communities".

In Europe, Russia, and elsewhere in the world, Jehovah's Witnesses strive to be guided by the "golden rule" of Jesus Christ: "In all things, as you want people to do to you, do you also to them" (Matthew 7:12).