Public religion in a local context. An empirical study of religious leaders in minority and majority faith communities in Østfold, Norway
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This is an empirical study of the publicness of religion. Its focus is on religious leaders in the local context of Østfold, Norway, and seeks to explore the role of religious leaders and their faith communities in their local communities. A main theme of this study is to explore religion in an increasingly multireligious context, and it employs the concepts of civil society, the public sphere, and social capital as its theoretical lens. The empirical basis of this study is nine structured or semi-structured interviews with local religious leaders representing eleven faith communities. On the one hand, I argue that religious actors and faith communities are visible actors in civil society and the public spheres of their local communities. On the other hand, interreligious dialogue seems to be problematic among minority churches in Østfold. While religious leaders in this region are outward looking and active in their local communities, the majority of them have conservative views on social and political issues of gender and gay-lesbian rights in relation to employment in religious organizations.