It's been strange to see how the Norwegian Church handles their members lately. As the government pays money to the Church and to other faith-based organizations based on their memberships, it is perhaps no surprise that they try to keep their members, but there is a fine line between being just greedy and being ridiculous, and at times they have sadly crossed that line.
The first problem is of course that people become members of the church at birth, even if they're not baptised and even though not both parents are members. If one parent is a member of the church, the child will automatically be as well, even though the other parent is a member of something else.
The main problem, however, has to do with the way the Church's membership records are kept. Some years ago, they created a new database in a way that seems designed to inflate the membership: they started with the whole population and then subtracted everyone they KNEW were not members. This, of course, meant that every single error in the Church's collective recollection was an error in their favor. There are lots of examples of people who cancelled their membership years ago (with proof to show for it), who were still in the lists.
Then there are all the examples of people who have tried to cancel without being successful. One strange quirk is that the Church demands to see a copy of the certificate of baptism when you want to withdraw. In what other organizations do you have to PROVE that you are a member before they agree to remove you from their rolls?
I do have a theory why it is so difficult and takes so much time to get away from the Church. Of course there is a lot of paperwork to be done. First, they have to file the "Cancellation of Reservation Form" for the everlasting place in heaven that you had a reservation for. What is more, they have to file the "Reservation Form" with attachments for your place at the pyres in Hell. (The attachments includes your a summary of your behaviour, which translate into the temperature at which you will be tortured.)
No surprise that it takes quite a long time to "let my people go"...