Equal Rights for Pain
We need your help!
Do you live in Norway?
We need your help! Smertekirken is preparing an application for state recognition, and we need more members. If you live in Norway and have an interest in spiritual growth, pain rituals, or already know the joy of flying from hooks, please help us and support Smertekirken by joining our community! We won’t make you go to church or ask you to tithe, you don’t have to “hang with us” hang with us, but we need your support so that we can reach our goal!
State recognition will allow us to serve our community better by allowing us to offer more events at the farm and other locales in Norway! How, you ask? Well, every year, the Norwegian government grants support to registered religious organizations. That support is not a pat on the back, they give out money and that is the kind of support that we can really use!
One of the big goals for Smertekirken - Church of Pain is to receive official recognition from the Norwegian government. This involves submitting an application to the government that documents what we believe, how we are organized, and that we have at least 50 members who reside in Norway. We welcome members from all over the world, but we need at least 20 more people living in Norway to join us by the end of 2022 for our application to qualify.
Receiving state recognition will benefit both Smertekirken and our members. Currently, Smertekirken is a registered non-profit organization. The donations that we receive for events and rituals go into Smertekirken’s bank account, but financial contributions from the founders keep things going. This limits the types of ceremonies and rituals that we are able to provide for our members, denies us state support (granted on a per-member basis to recognized religions), and does not extend full legal protection to our members in the practice of our religion. Here are some examples:
Of the rituals that we cannot legally perform, the most currently relevant is a binding marriage ceremony. We currently have a couple who really want to be married in a ritual at Smertekirken, but who we are not able to help because we are not recognized by the state.
The Norwegian government provides economic support to recognized religions based on the number of members that they have. This support would allow Smertekirken to provide more services to our community, such as: organizing rituals and gatherings in other areas of Norway for members who cannot travel to Smertekirken, building more suspension structures (including an inside point for when the weather is challenging), and funding travel and expenses for people who can come and share their expertise at workshops and special events (e.g., meditation, shibari, yoga, firewalking, personal growth seminars, etc.).
Norwegian law protects people from discrimination and harassment based on their religious beliefs. State recognition of Smertekirken will allow us to formalize these protections for our members.
Beyond the aforementioned examples, we feel that official registration of Smertekirken will lift the stigma of not belonging to "a real religion". Our rituals help people, bring people together, and sometimes change people’s lives at a fundamental level. We stand fast in the belief that our religion deserves the respect and recognition that other religions enjoy and that anything less is discrimination.
What does Smertekirken offer members?
Members will get discounts on the cost of private rituals, T-shirts and merchandise, and invitations to members-only events! Members also get to help us make decisions on the direction of Smertekirken going forward. State recognition will enable Smertekirken to provide greater service to our members and help to offset the costs of rituals for our members. Discounts on rituals and merchandise are quite hard for us to do right now, because we carry the cost ourselves. We try our best to keep the cost of rituals low but receiving state support will give us a bit of breathing room and many more opportunities for outreach and growth!
How do you join?
Joining is easy! Simply visit the join section of our website and fill out the member registration form. If you are already a member of a registered religion (e.g., the Church of Norway, etc.) you will need to leave them to join us, but feel free to bring your god with you (so long as they can follow our Terms of Service)! Everyone is invited, regardless of nationality and place of residence, but we need residents of Norway for state recognition.
Tell your friends!
Help us spread the good word! We need as much help as we can get to achieve our goal! Please tell your friends, tell your family, and help us help our community!
If you (member or not) send three new Norwegian resident members our way, we will give you a free private ritual (to use yourself or gift to someone who needs it).
No god? No problem!
We welcome atheists, monotheists, pagans, heathens, shamans, subgeni, sceptics, blasphemers, iconoclasts, discordians, free thinkers, and their extended families to join our community! Do you have a personal bone to pick with religion? Yeah, we get that, but we’re not THAT kind of religion. We believe that the universe and all of nature is divine, and that divinity surrounds and pervades everything, but you are free to follow that idea to the degree that it suits you.
We’ve even heard that some people go to Christian churches, pray, drink the wine, eat the biscuit, and don’t believe the bible is the word of their god...so we know it is possible to take a bit of a religion and not eat the whole apple (as it were)!
In short, whether you believe in a personal (anthropomorphic) god or gods, or the divinity of Nature as a whole (e.g., Spinoza’s god), we welcome you. Our belief is that pain rituals provide us with an opportunity, a gateway of sorts, to commune with the divine. How you conceptualize the divine is up to you.
We realize that, for some people, religion is a very sore subject. We know that religion, while it has been a source of good for many, has also been source of suffering, repression, and violence throughout history. Some people who associate suffering, repression, and violence with religion take the stance that religion itself is evil and refuse to have anything to do with it as a personal, moral stance.
We believe that blaming religion because it has been used to persecute, repress, and kill is a vast oversimplification. It is not religion that has caused suffering and death, it is the people who use religion as a tool to do those things that are responsible for the suffering that they cause in the name of religion. People who misuse spirituality in this way, who divide people based on prejudicial divisions (e.g., skin color, gender, sexual preference, place of origin, and—indeed—religion), hiding behind and using religion as a tool to realize their hate, are the problem.
Allowing these people to use religion as a shield is wrong, as it gives them a chance to deflect responsibility for their actions onto some nebulous higher power. No Nazi who stood trial at the Nürnberg was able to use “The Furor ordered me to do it” as an excuse for their actions, and so it should rightly be for people who misuse religion as well.
We realize that this is a dark subject, and that religion has kept some truly terrible company, but we are not that kind of religion. The fundamental beliefs of Smertekirken/Church of Pain are based on self-awareness, self-growth, physical autonomy, inclusion, community, and respect for the divine force of Nature. People who refuse to respect themselves, others, or Nature are not welcome in our community.
Smertekirken is a religion for people who see the divine force of Nature around them and who seek a deeper connection with it. Our belief is that all of Nature is connected and that that divinity extends to —and through—us and any gods that we may worship. Pain rituals give us the opportunity to transcend the boundaries of our consciousness and experience—if only for a moment—the greater, divine force that we are a part of. Our religion is one of connection rather than separation, inclusion rather than exclusion, and we, through our actions, are responsible for furthering these values. That, for us, is the meaning of religion.
All photos taken by Katarsis Foto at our Summer Revival June 2022