During the recent election campaign, thousands of Norwegian believers fasted and prayed to ask God to intervene on behalf of their country.
The result is unique to modern Europe: more than half of the new government's 19 ministers, including Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, are born-again Christians.
"There has been no such thing as a government with a born-again majority in Norway ever, at least not in modern times," says evangelical leader Trygve Brekke, senior pastor of the charismatic Christian Service Church in Stavanger.
The previous Socialist government favored abortion rights and homosexual marriage. The Bondevik cabinet, in office since October 21, is a coalition among the Christian Popular Party of Bondevik, the Center Party, and the Left Party. Bondevik says the politics of his cabinet will be grounded in the "Christian inheritance" of Norway. In his inaugural speech, Bondevik—a Lutheran pastor who has declared that "God is my strength"—said the "erosion of morals and foundational values" must be halted. A new commission will be assigned the task of reversing "destructive trends."
"There is presently a strong interest, and not only among Christians, in re-establishing foundational values," Brekke says. Erling Rimehaug, political editor of Norway's Christian daily Vaart Land, says the commission will deal with matters such as "greed, tax dodging, sexual abuse, violence, the erosion of family life, and extreme youth cultures."
Brekke is heartened by the new Christian majority. "I expect it to change the direction Norway is going," Brekke says. "But it won't happen overnight, and it is important that the churches keep on praying. If the churches pressure Bondevik to push controversial issues with no chance of getting a majority vote, they will achieve nothing but his fall."
Rimehaug also says the new prime minister will not campaign for an untenable cause. "The Christian Popular Party is committed to changing the abortion laws, but no government proposals have been announced since the Parliament majority is clearly against it," Rimehaug says.
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