Managing Religion in a Global World: The United Nation's ruling against Norwegian Religious Education
In 2004, after a group of parents supported by the Norwegian Humanist Association and the Norwegian Islamic Council brought litigation against the state to the United Nations (UN), the mandatory teaching of religious education (RE) in Norway was found to be in violation of the Human Rights Codes of article 18, paragraph 4, of the Covenant by the UN Human Rights Committee. In light of the above, this study asks what role Christianity plays in the state of Norway's discourse of integration, and how this is managed in the face of supranational censure from secularized global institutions such as the UN. This is a qualitative study that critically explores official documents from the Norwegian government and the UN Human Rights Committee. The debate is situated within the theoretical framework of Foucault's (1999) ‘technologies of pastoral power’ which morphed into modern forms of ‘governmentality’, and aspects of secularization thesis in making sense of the potential ‘re/desacralizing’ effect of supranational policing of national religious space. It is argued that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, as a manifestly Western document rooted in liberal individualism and social contractarian theories is poorly equipped in grappling with worldviews rooted in other epistemologies.