The Jehovah's Witness Organization has lost the trial vs. Norway

Written by Miss Usato, published March 4th, 2024

On March 4th, 2024, The Jehovah’s Witness organization lost its appeal and is indebted to pay. A long and emotionally taxing trial took place January 8th-19th, 2024, in the Oslo District Court- Norway, and we have been waiting for the verdict. The trial went into depth about how the organization coerces young children into getting baptized, and the aftermath that follows when being excommunicated from the organization. Former Jehovah’s Witnesses played a major part in exposing the harmful teachings and guidelines of the organization’s strict practices. The Oslo District Court made its decision Monday afternoon, March 4th, 2024- the state is acquitted. What did the Organization lose?

  •  Loss of Public support in Norway
  •  State at the Ministry of Children and Families that is acquitted. 
  • Sentenced to pay exactly NOK 1,140,505. (USD 108,091)
  • Loss of 500,00.00 of donated funds for the trial costs on trying to get state funding back

“The State is acquitted” Means that the state has been formally declared not guilty or cleared of charges in a legal context. This all started in 2021 when the Organization realized they were losing its registration as a religious community. So, they filed a lawsuit. This was an emotional legal battle between the organization and the state because it also included  Former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ emotional testimonies of their past as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Below are links to those articles if you wish to read the timeline of events and day-to-day trial of Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. Norway,

From a March 4th 3024 Norway, Vartland article- 

The court considers that Jehovah’s Witnesses “through the guidelines and practice of exclusion, encourage Jehovah’s Witnesses to shun members who are ostracized or withdraw so that with few exceptions they are exposed to social isolation from those remaining in the religious community.”

To summarize the ruling:

The court, in assessing the reasonableness of differential treatment, considers the balancing of rights and interests. It emphasizes that Jehovah’s Witnesses should continue receiving grants and be registered under the Religious Communities Act. The freedom of religion, equal support for all faith communities, and historical practices support this stance. The court acknowledges the importance of state subsidies and registration for Jehovah’s Witnesses. It highlights the impact of exclusion practices on children’s rights and sees no substantial reasons to deem the differential treatment as unreasonable. The court finds that the decisions safeguard legitimate purposes, such as protecting the rights of others and maintaining democratic support for registration and subsidies. The court dismisses claims of interference with religious freedom and property rights, ruling in favor of the state.

In terms of costs, the state is awarded compensation, and the judgment is delayed due to the extensive nature of the case. The publication of the judgment is anonymized for privacy reasons. The State is acquitted, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are ordered to pay the state’s case costs of 1,140,505 NOK.

In deciding the reasonableness of differential treatment, a balance of rights and interests is crucial. It must be determined if such treatment is necessary for legitimate purposes. Various factors suggest that Jehovah’s Witnesses should maintain grants and registration under the Religious Communities Act. The key factor is the right to freedom of religion, allowing them to express their beliefs. Additionally, equal support for all faith communities is mandated by the Constitution. Although exclusion is a known practice, it’s integral to religious teachings. The global consistency of their beliefs and the assurance that loss of registration won’t alter their practices further emphasize the importance of state subsidies, which constitute a substantial portion of their income from 2021 to 2023.

Statements from the verdict
Picture of Miss Usato

Miss Usato

Aiding Transparency to Watchtowers teachings. If you have additional information about this topic or would like to reach the author- Please email [email protected]

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