In an interview with Helsingin Sanomat, Professor Nissinen said, "By selecting Greta as an honorary doctor, we are expressing our desire to be as brave and impactful as she is." The honorary degree was granted to a total of 30 individuals from various parts of the world this year.
In a statement, Nissinen said that 2023 marks the "centenary of the passing of the Freedom of Religion Act in Finland," and that "Taking this as inspiration, we have chosen Freedom as the theme of the conferment ceremony at the Faculty of Theology."
"The theme encompasses religious freedom, human rights and the state of the world, topics manifested in the selection of individuals due conferral of honorary doctorates and heard in the speeches given at various stages of the conferment festivities," he added.
Thunberg first rose to prominence in August 2018 when she was 15 years old and began protesting outside of the Swedish Parliament over the issue of climate change. Her protests would take place on Fridays when she would skip class.
Thunberg has called for governments to make bolder moves on the issue of climate change and she often travels to countries on a yacht to advance her cause.
Twitter users suggested that Thunberg being given an honorary doctorate in theology showed that climate change is a religion.
"Fair enough. She has done great things for her religion," wrote Deacon Calvin Robinson.
"Of course Greta Thunberg is getting an honorary doctorate in theology. Because what she’s selling is a religion," wrote Claremont fellow Megan Basham.
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