Majority of Norwegians Don't Believe in God for First Time Ever, New Study Finds

A memorial service is held at Oslo Cathedral, as Norway marked the fourth anniversary of the 2011 attacks, in Oslo, Norway, July 22, 2015. Norway marked the fourth anniversary of the bombing of government buildings in Oslo, and shooting at the Labor Party youth camp on Utoeya island, killing in total 77 people. | (Photo: Reuters/Torstein Boe/NTB Scanpix)

For the first time ever, the majority of Norwegians do not believe in God, a new study has found.

The study, conducted annually by the Norwegian Monitor/Ipsos Norway, found that among 4,000 participants, 39 percent said they do not believe in God, while 37 percent said they do. Twenty-three percent said they were undecided, according to The Local.

In past years, the survey has found that believers outweighed nonbelievers, or the two groups were equal.

Jan-Paul Brekke, who oversaw the survey through Ipsos Norway, told The Local that the results are vague, as they do not provide an exact definition for God.

"It could be the Christian God, an independent god or one from other faiths. But since we started asking the question 30 years ago, the percentage of those who said they aren't sure has been about the same," Brekke said.

Brekke added that while the survey took a sampling of multiple faiths, it primarily questioned western religions, like Christianity.

"There are quite a few immigrants included [in the survey] but the majority of them come from Western religious traditions. We have only a few Muslims in our material," the researcher said.

While Norwegians' religious beliefs seem to be declining, a poll conducted last year by the Barna Group found that one in four unchurched Americans now identify as atheist or agnostic.

As The Christian Post reported last March, the study found that there are three main reasons non-churchgoing Americans have lost faith in God: they reject the teachings of the Bible, they don't trust their local church, or they've given in to a "cultural reinforcement of a secular worldview."

In recent months, Norway has come under fire and accused of persecuting Christians after government officials removed five children from their parents' custody amid allegations of spanking, although activist groups argue that the family was separated due to its religious beliefs.

Mutliple international protests have taken place after Norway's Barnevernet, or child protective services, removed the five children from the care of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu, who are Romanian Pentecostal Christians.

The couple is currently waiting to find out if they will regain custody of their children, with a ruling expected as early as April.

Peter Costea, the the president of the Alliance for Romania's Families, reported in late February that recently-obtained government documents indicate that officials had been watching the family before removing them from their parental custody in November, expressing concern that the family had "their own faith and way of upbringing when it comes to religion."

"Documents and minutes of meetings have emerged since the abduction showing that as early as Oct. 13, 2015, more than a month before the children were taken into custody, the officials at Naustdal municipality disapproved of the parenting style of the Bodnariu parents; believing it, after questioning the children, to be based on the Bible," Costea wrote in an analysis of the court documents, as reported by The Christian Post.

"They plainly state that Barnevernet 'is worried that this is a way of upbringing which is justified by the Bible.' The authorities pivoted their contemplated removal of the children on the 'attitude' the parents 'have to their own faith and way of upbringing when it comes to religion,'" Costea added.

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