by Edd Doerr
Norway's July 22 terror attack was twice as lethal as the 9/11 Twin Towers attack in the US. Huh? Do the math. The 9/11 attack killed one out of 100,000 people in the US, while the Norway 7/22 attack killed one out of 50,000 Norwegians. Norway's population is smaller than that of either Maryland or the DC metro area.
The 9/11 attack was perpetrated by foreign terrorists, Norway's by a domestic fundamentalist loony, a guy who reportedly tried to start a Tea Party movement in Norway and who is similar in various ways to some of the loonies running loose in the US.
Norway is a fascinating country. In my travels in the country I have never seen the kind of poverty so visible in the US. I was surprised to learn how terrorist Breivik was able to obtain weapons.
While Norway has a "state church" (Lutheran) and a church tax, it also has the largest organized humanist movement in the world, the Norwegian Humanist-Ethical Union (Norsk Human-Etisk Forbund), which receives its due portion of the national church tax.
As Norway has a strong Lutheran identity historically, "confirmation" of 14-15 year olds has long been a universal. About 60 years ago the Norwegian humanists started the "civil confirmation" tradition, with several weeks of classes followed by the confirmation, usually is some civic building. While I was in Oslo about eight years ago for an International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) board meeting, my wife and I were privileged to attend the 50th anniversary humanist confirmation ceremony, held in the magnificent Oslo city hall (where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies are held), About 200 teenagers were "confirmed" in an impressive ceremony at which Levi Fragell, long time IHEU head, delivered an address. About 16% of Norway's 14-15 year olds opt for the humanist confirmation.
Norway is clearly one of the most humanist countries in the world, a good model for the US to emulate.