Norway flourishes as secular nation
By MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER
Added: Wed, 03 Oct 2007 23:00:00 UTC
Rev. Rick Mason notes that atheism is on the rise. He blames Christian fundamentalism. Certainly the ineptness, dishonesty and lack of ethics of the overtly God-fearing Bush administration may be turning people off on God.
A case study shows what this could mean for America. Norway has embraced secularism at the expense of its Christian roots. A 2005 survey conducted by Gallup International rated Norway the least religious country in Western Europe.
In Norway, 82.9 percent of the population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (they are automatically registered at birth and few bother to be unregistered). However, only approximately 10 percent regularly attend church services and identify themselves as being personally Christian.
A 2006 survey found: 29 percent believe in a god or deity; 23 percent believe in a higher power without being certain of what; 26 percent don't believe in God or higher powers; 22 percent have doubts.
Depending on the definition of atheism, Norway thus has between 26 percent and 71 percent atheists. The Norwegian Humanist Association is the world's largest humanist association per capita.
And what has secularism done to Norway? The Global Peace Index rates Norway the most peaceful country in the world. The Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, has ranked Norway No. 1 every year for the last five years.
Norway has the second highest GDP per capita in the world, an unemployment rate below 2 percent, and average hourly wages among the world's highest.
David N. Miles
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