The purpose of the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities Bergen (Samarbeidsrådet for tros- og livssynssamfunn Bergen, STL Bergen) is to foster mutual respect and dialog between religious and life stance communities, and work towards equal treatment of religious and life stance communities in Bergen, Norway.
Eighteen communities are members of STL Bergen, representing Bahá’ís, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Holists, Humanists, Muslims and Sikhs. Each group is allocated three council members. The annual meeting appoints a board, which again employs a secretary.
The member communities are:
- Abu al-Fadel Islamic Cultural Center
- Bahá’í Community
- Bergen Hindu Sabha
- Bergen Humanist Association
- Bergen Mosque
- Bergen Muslim Society
- Bergen Singh Sabha Gurdwara (Sikhism)
- Buddhist Federation
- Catholic Church
- The Christian Community
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Church of Norway
- Holistic Society
- The Islamic Fellowship Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
- Thai Buddhist Association
- United Methodist Church
The council meets about six times annually, with the various member organizations hosing the meetings. STL Bergen also hosts public dialog meetings, typically combining lectures and dialogue. Topics range from political faith policy and religion in schools to gender equality and hate against religious minorities. The inaugural meeting in October 2014 gathered 170 people—the largest inter-religious dialog gathering in Norwegian history.
Norway has been dominated by a Lutheran state religion for centuries. Even though the Church of Norway is in the process of being separated from the state, there still remain close bonds between the majority religion and public institutions. In STL we believe that a religious aspect to public services is a positive contribution to society, but at the same time the services must be constructed in such a way that they are available to all citizens, irrespective of their faith or lack thereof. The most important such areas are at hospitals, nursing homes, in prison and in the military. STL Bergen organizes a contact list which hospitals and nursing homes can use to get visits from pastoral care people from our member organizations. We have close contact with the graveyard authorities and push to allow for religious minorities to perform their burials in line with their needs.
Tranquility rooms are spaces within public places where people can retreat for short periods for contemplation, prayer or meditation. In Bergen there are such spaces at both hospitals and at four campuses, as well as on being built at the airport. STL promotes the rooms and aids in their design.