Ulf Kristersson proposes that the Church of Sweden must contain all religions
Do away with Christianity and turn the church into a multi-religious meeting place. That was the future vision of Ulf Kristersson (of Moderaterna, liberal conservatives), the Swedish Minister for Social Security, during the recent brainstorming day ”Se Framtiden” (“See the Future”). The Swedish Archbishop, however, was skeptical.
Some 250 persons had gathered on February 6th at the conference center Norra Latin in Stockholm to discuss visions and challenges for the Church of Sweden. During a panel discussion, a variety of ideas were presented, proposing what the Church of Sweden can do for its members, in order to put an end to the ongoing flight of members from the Church.
During the previous decade, Church of Sweden has lost approximately one percent of its members, some 60,000, annually. This flight of members has also led to a significant decline in income for the Church. Many congregations in Sweden face significant changes in order to operate in a future with falling revenues, while at the same time ever more people ask the Church for help.
The proposal from minister Ulf Kristersson was quite a bit more radical than most others.
“The Church of Sweden must be a bridge builder, creating space to meet and bringing everybody together,” thought Kristersson, referring to the new multicultural and multireligious Sweden. Kristersson’s vision implies that Swedish churches should make the Christian faith just one of many in its activities, and in the future actively work to encompass all religions.
Archbishop Anders Wejryd responded skeptically to the proposal from Moderaterna. The Archbishop thought that the Church of Sweden is a fine meeting place already, and that the Church of Sweden cannot be conceived of as being non-Christian.
The question remains, however, just how much the Archbishop will be able to control developments. The proposal from Kristersson remains interesting seen from a larger church political perspective. For the multireligious idea is shared by social democratic church politicians, who have long aimed to apply the values of their political party to the Church of Sweden.
For the Swedish church election taking place in September this year, for instance Olof Burell, spokesman for the church policy group of the Swedish Social Democrats, went on record stating that the Social Democrats aim to get as many social democrats as possible to vote in the church election, while at the same time seek not to make other voters aware of the election. This in order to ensure that the Church of Sweden, in theology and activity, will be in line with social democratic ideology.