Sylvi Listhaug, Norway’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, told state broadcaster NRK that Jesus would have instead supported helping Syrian refugees by funding camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon — as that way the same amount of spending could help more people.
“What Jesus cared about is you should help as many people as possible — and that’s not as many as possible in Norway,” she said.
Listhaug’s controversial statement came as she revealed that she had considered leaving the Church of Norway after the country’s top bishop criticized the government’s decision to cut foreign aid.
“Those who have least should not pay the most,” Helga Haugland Byfuglien, Praeses of the Norway’s Bishop’s Conference, told NTB. “To cut funding for poor people and countries is in our opinion shameful.”
Listhaug said that Byfuglien’s criticism had made her “quite simply extremely upset”.
“What she’s doing is to throwing himself into a political debate, taking sides. The Norwegian Church should be a church for everyone, but now I feel that it is politics and not Christianity which comes first,” she said
She added she disliked the moral certainty of many on the left.
“I react against this tyranny of goodness which rides Norwegian society like a mare,” she said.
Norwegians ridiculed Listhaug over Twitter after her interview using the hashtag #godhetstyranni (tyranny of goodness).
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Børge Andre Roum, the Norwegian green party’s social media campaigner, is even attempting to start a project on Bidra.no, a Norwegian crowd-funding site for charitable projects.
“Be a tyrant,” the (as yet unpublished) fundraising campaign reads. “Give a donation to Sylvi Listhaug.”