Mission and Religious Freedom

Mission and Religious Freedom

20 -21 September 2023 Fjellhaug International University College invites you to a research symposium at our campus in Oslo. This Symposium aims to focus on the interrelations between Christian mission and religious freedom, both from a theological perspective, as well as from a human rights perspective.

Organized Christian mission in its contemporary expressions is dependent in some way on freedom of religion or belief. Restrictions of this freedom, its violation, e.g. in the form of discrimination and persecution, might force a high price on the participation in the missio Dei both for the agents as well as for the recipients of this mission. Denial of access to countries or specific peoples to foreign Christian workers, prohibition and sanctions of inviting others to leave the majority religion or official world view, the outlawing of the Christian faith altogether or any of its particular expressions, prohibition of the importation, dissemination, acquisition or possession of the Bible or Christian media or its censure, the banning of manifestations of the Christian faith from the general public, – these are but some examples of obstacles in the way of Christian mission. Often those who respond in some positive way to Christian mission, risk all sorts of state or social sanctions and at times even their lives. These realities for missionaries and converts should be of no surprise, as Jesus clearly warned about the cost of discipleship when training and sending his disciples and the New Testament records are full of examples of this reality. This mirrors the fate of Old Testament prophets.

Furthermore, Christian mission as a servant of the missio Dei needs to respect the religious freedom of those whom it invites to follow Christ if it is to be true to its Master. Christian mission betrays its character if it were to violate religious freedom. This calls for a self-critical examination of attitudes, positions of power, and methods by the agents of mission, both in past and present. The ethical criteria would be similar as for the transmission of religion, which take place within the framework of the community of descent. In the course of the history of the church, at times some hybrid expressions of Christian mission have been conflated with the spread of political rule using all sorts of coercive means.

In addition, culturally insensitive or unwise forms of mission might provoke unnecessary social hostilities or state sanctions and ensuing violations of religious freedom.

Finally, religious freedom requires religious mission in order to come into being and is permanently dependent on it. Religious mission contributes to the establishment of religious freedom by providing a faith alternative beyond that handed down from the community of ancestry or imposed by political hegemony. Without such an alternative, there would be no freedom, as there is no choice if there is but one option.

Janet Epp Buckingham (Director of Global Advocacy for the World Evangelical Alliance,

Professor of Political Studies at Trinity Western University, Ottawa.)

Berit S. Thorbjørnsrud (University of Oslo, department of Cultural studies and Oriental Languages)

Christof Sauer (Professor Fjellhaug International University College)

Frank Ole Thoresen (Rector, Fjellhaug International University College and Associate professor


Other researchers are encouraged to present papers. The symposium welcomes research related to this topic from both various theological disciplines and other fields of research.

Wednesday, 20. September

10.00-10.30 Arrival and Coffee

10.30-11.00 Welcome and overview by Robert Lilleaasen (head of research FIH)

11.00-12.00 Plenary paper “Mission and Religious Freedom” by Janet Epp Buckingham

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.00 Plenary paper “Mission hostility index” by Christof Sauer

14.00-14.30 Coffee Break

14.30-16.15 Papers

17.00-18.00 Dinner

Thursday, 21. September

08.00-09.00 Breakfast

09.00-09.30 Morning Prayer (optional)

09.45-10.45 Plenary paper “The church’s possibilities and limitations on the Arabian Peninsula” by Berit S. Thorbjørnsrud

10.45-11.15 Coffee Break

11.15-12.15 Plenary paper “Between Freedom and Conformity. Freedom of Religion and Beliefs in a Post-Revolutionary Tunisia” by Frank Ole Thoresen

12.15-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.30 Papers, parallel session (classroom 2)

13.00-14.30 Papers, parallel session (classroom 4)

14.45-15.00 Closing Plenary

You can find the call for papers here. The deadline for turning in a paper proposal is 1. July 2023.


The symposium will take place at Fjellhaug International University College, campus Oslo, Sinsenveien 15, 0572 Oslo, Norway.

Symposium Fee

There is no fee for the symposium.

Fjellhaug offers meals that can be bought separately:

Lunch 80nok

Dinner 120/150nok (without/with dessert)

Breakfast 50nok


A few rooms are available at Campus Fjellhaug. With single occupation the rooms (including breakfast) cost 850nok, and doble occupation 1150nok.

Several hotels in different price ranges are available within reasonable travel distance, for instance:

Quality Hotel Hasle Linie

  • 10-15 minutes walk to FIUC
  • 10 minutes walk to T-bane
  • Standard single room including breakfast NOK 1390,-

Radisson Red Oslo Økern

  • 10-15 min walk to FIUC
  • 8 min walk to T-bane
  • Standard room including breakfast NOK 1500,-

Quality Hotel 33 Økern

  • 8 min walk to T-bane
  • Approx. 18 min trip to FIUC
  • Standard room for 2 including breakfast NOK 1930,-
  • Single room including breakfast NOK 1190,-

HI OSLO Haraldsheim

  • 23 min walk to FIUC
  • Approx. 13 min walk to Sinsen T-bane
  • Single room including breakfast NOK 860,-
  • Room for 2 (with shared bathroom) including breakfast NOK 875,-
  • Room for 2 including breakfast NOK 1060,-
  • Premium room for 2 including breakfast NOK 1095,-

Thon Hotel Storo

  • 5 min walk to Nydalen T-bane
  • Approx. 20 min trip to FIUC
  • Standard room including breakfast NOK 1195,-


Please register using the link above or this QR-code:

QR-code for symposium registration
QR-code for symposium registration

Registration deadline is September 18th 2023.

Practical information presenters

Each researcher is given 15-20 minutes to present his/her paper.

The presentation will be followed by responses and comments in plenum. Depending on number of participants and papers each paper is given between 30 and 45 minutes. If there are many papers some of the paper sessions will be divided in groups.

An abstract of the paper will be made available for the symposium participants.

The presentation and the responses will be in English

Big screen and sound system are available. Presenters can use their own PC.

The presenters are free to publish their papers where they find it expedient.

The symposium will primarily be for researchers; academically interested practitioners are also invited.

Questions, please contact forskning@fjellhaug.no