Solheim wants to learn more about religion and development

Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim is launching the project “Religion and Development”.

The aim of the new project is to learn more about the role of religion in Norway’s cooperation with poor countries.

“There are many reasons why religion is important for development. Religious communities and their leaders play an important role in almost all the countries Norway cooperates with,” said Mr Solheim.

The project was launched today at a seminar on religion and development arranged by the umbrella organisation Norwegian Missions in Development.

“The Foreign Service and all those engaged in development assistance must make a greater effort to understand the role of religion. This is important in order to understand the societies we are working in,” said Mr Solheim.

A tendering round will be held to determine the organisation that is to head the project. A broad-based group will be responsible for quality assuring the process.

“I encourage everyone who is interested to participate in the debate. All ideas for the project are welcome,” said Mr Solheim.

Norway supports several Christian organisations that are working in poor countries, but not missionary organisations.

“We must treat people of other religions and beliefs with respect. Freedom of religion is an important human right. At the same time it is important to bear in mind that religions and beliefs can pose an obstacle to development,” said Mr Solheim.

Source: Ministry of the Environment and International Development

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