God, Norway, and Canadian Oil Sands

Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer translated an article about the politicization of the church in Norway. He includes this introductory note:

It’s no secret that the church has been under the thumb of the parliament (Labour Party and various other socialists) for several decades now — and it shows.

The separation of state and church which took place recently is only a symbolic act. The Labour Party still controls the Church, after having appointed priests and bishops that are loyal to the party and who share its political views.

You’ll notice that opposition by high-minded folk to the extraction of oil from Canadian oil sands is as strong in Norway as it is in North America. This is true even when the Norwegian government has a direct interest in the extraction, which demonstrates the ideological motivations behind such opposition.

Below is the translated article from Dagbladet:

Mr. Borten Moe criticizes the Church

Minister of Oil and Energy Ola Borten Moe SP [the Agrarian Party] doesn’t think highly of the church’s opposition to Statoil’s oil sands project in Canada.

What about the investments in other companies? Maybe there is a reason why religion should focus on religious issues, and politics on political issues, he writes in an op-ed in Stavanger Aftenblad [regional Norwegian newspaper].

According to Mr. Borten Moe the Church has in recent years shown “an increasing eagerness” in commenting on political issues, in other words blurring the borders between business and religious matters. He vociferously defends Statoil and stresses that the world need more fossil energy in order to succeed lifting people in developing nations out of the grips of poverty.

Supports Borten Moe

The FrP’s (Progress Party) spokesperson on climate and energy, Per-Willy Amundsen wholeheartedly supports Borten Moe.

“Unfortunately we see the leadership of the Church intervene in controversial political matters far too often. Senior leaders in the Church who dish out moral condemnation in political matters evoke unpleasant associations from the past and with religious leaders representing belief systems they should feel very uncomfortable being compared with,” Amundsen says.

The head of the Church Council, Svein Arne Lindø, dismisses Mr. Borten Moe’s accusations.

“The fact that the church takes an active stand in ethically relevant matters is nothing new. The Norwegian Church’s views on business and progress are deeply rooted in the belief in God,” Lindø says.

Important to take responsibility

He rejects the Minister’s claim that the church should refrain from engaging in politics.

“The struggle for indigenous rights, climate justice and the protection of what God has created is not a political matter, but rather a matter of ensuring that the policy is ethically defensible,” he says.

“Our commitment is about making the right political choices based on ethics that take into account our fellow human beings and the environment,” the head of the Church Council says

The opponents of Statoil’s oil sands project only received 2.14 percent of the overall vote and lost the battle at Statoil’s general assembly on Tuesday. This has prompted the Norwegian Church to sell all of its shares in the Norwegian oil giant. The Enlightenment Fund, which manages the portfolio of the Norwegian Church, will commence the sale of the church’s Statoil shares next week.

4 thoughts on “God, Norway, and Canadian Oil Sands

  1. Ola Borten is the grandson of former Prime Minister Per Borten, same political party.

  2. This is the problem with Protestant and “state” churches; morality and what is seen as “truth” becomes fluid and very relative.

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