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As we pull together Connor’s coming of age process for the coming year, one country keeps popping its blonde head into the frame–Norway. No surprise: Norway is among the least theistic countries on Earth and has the longest continuous history of humanist coming-of-age ceremonies. I mentioned this in passing late last year:

One of the most marvelous and successful [humanist coming-of-age] programs in the world is the Humanist Confirmation program in Norway. According to the website of the Norwegian Humanist Association, 10,000 fifteen-year-old Norwegians each spring “go through a course where they discuss life stances and world religions, ethics and human sexuality, human rights and civic duties. At the end of the course the participants receive a diploma at a ceremony including music, poetry and speeches.” They are thereby confirmed not into atheism, but into the humanist values that underlie all aspects of civil society, including religion.

As for Norway itself, I could go on and on. It is among the nations with the lowest rates of crime and poverty while topping the developed world in generosity and nearly all standards of living. Yet fewer than 10 percent of Norwegians attend church regularly.

I’ll let Russell’s Teapot take it on home:

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[CAVEAT LECTOR: The cartoonist has overreached a bit here. Sixty-eight percent of the Norwegian population self-identifies as nontheistic. A much smaller percentage (around 10 percent) self-identify as atheists. Hat tip to MoL reader Ellen!]

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.