Outdated language used to justify corporal punishment of children is set to be removed from new translations of the Christian Bible in Norway.
Church leaders have given the green light to the proposal, put forward by the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children, to replace the word "chastisement" with more appropriate language reflecting its original and intended meaning.
Ombudsman Reidar Hjermann found that children subjected to physical harm, who had contacted his office, believed violence may be authorised by the Bible.
But a statement issued by the Bishops' Conference of Norway read: "Today the word "chastisement" has acquired a meaning that differs from its original intended meaning. In modern Norwegian usage, the word "chastisement" is virtually synonymous with corporal punishment. "Today this word is unsuitable for reflecting what is involved when the Bible speaks of parents' responsibility to raise and guide their children." It is hoped the move will spark a raft of similar revisions in other countries.
Peter Newell, Coordinator of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, said: "This is a very positive move by Norway's Bishops' Conference. "Too often we come across the bible being used to justify violence against children, although increasingly the established churches are joining the movement to prohibit and eliminate all forms of violence against children, including all corporal punishment".
Meanwhile, Chris Dodd, Coordinator of the Churches' Network for Non-violence (CNNV), said: "Jesus gave children status and respect and said they should be treated as human beings. Norway's Bishops' Conference affirms children's human dignity and makes it clear there is no place in Christian parenting for corporal punishment."