Religious Freedom and Religious Persecution


A research project initiated by Fjellhaug International University College

The research project “Religious Freedom and Religious Persecution” is initiated by Fjellhaug International University College (FIUC) as an institutional research project with contributors from various disciplines and research institutions. The project focuses particularly on freedom of religion or beliefs, persecution and migration, and adjoining topic such as change of faith, plural societies and tolerance. The goal is to develop theology of freedom of religion or beliefs and persecution and contribute with research-based knowledge with relevance for legislation and international relations in relation to migration, societal security, solidarity in a globalized world.

In a time characterized by globalization, migration, technological changes and political unease, Scandinavia, Western Europe and the rest of the world face societal challenges that requires knowledge on complex processes of change. Religion is an important part of this picture, and knowledge on religion in terms of individuals and society will be crucial in order to meet these challenges. FIUC and partners want to help meet these challenges by doing research on freedom of religion or beliefs.

Challenges in relation to freedom of religion or beliefs are from a Norwegian perspective twofold. First, Norway as a profiled country within the field of Human Rights, has a responsibility (together with the other countries) to raise questions on religious discrimination and persecution in both national and international settings. Secondly, many immigrants entering Scandinavia and Western Europe arrives from countries in which the freedom of religion or beliefs is limited or countries where belonging to a particular religion or leaving a majority religion is dangerous. Research can contribute with knowledge and understanding that might help governments dimension and initiate action in a resource effective manner.

Religious discrimination and persecution is first of all a challenge to those experiencing it firsthand, in their own lives. In addition to the research that might help Scandinavian, Western European and the international society meet this Human Right issue in a good way, we will help develop theology for those living under religious discrimination and persecution. Research can contribute with theology for those individual Christians and Churches experiencing persecution, and secondary theology of freedom of religion or beliefs and religious persecution for the Church in Scandinavia, Western Europe and globally.

FIUC has since it was established in 1898 trained students aiming for international ministry (work), primarily within the field of theology, with a particular focus on cross cultural contexts and religious and worldview encounter. Scholars affiliated with FIUC have the last couple of years published research on religious freedom, persecuting, discipleship and ecumenism.