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Religion in Sweden

By 11 February 2019 No Comments

Religion in Sweden has for centuries been dominated by one form of religion and by one faith community: Lutheran Christianity represented by the Church of Sweden, the Evangelical Lutheran state church. In the beginning of the 20thcentury, with the growth of so-called free churches, the state church started to lose its dominance and in the year 2000, the Church of Sweden separated from the state, becoming a national church of Sweden. Lutheran Christian heritage is still quite visible in society foremost through culture and public state holidays whereof six are Christian in character.

Religion in Sweden today is characterized by reconfiguration. On one hand, there is the obvious decline in the long-term majority religion and on the other hand, there is a rapid growth in religions new to the society. Sweden is a country among the countries in the world that pioneered secularism and its society is organized chiefly in nonreligious terms. Membership in the Church of Sweden, the largest Lutheran denomination in the country as well as in Europe, has in last decade decreased by a million, from almost 7 million members in 2007 to almost 6 million members in 2017.

However, more than 7 million people in Sweden today are members of a faith community. Statistics for 2017 show that Christian orthodox faith communities are the fastest growing Christian communities which have about 140 000 members. Among non-Christian faith communities, Islamic faith communities are the largest with about 130 000 members. The growth of these communities is sustained by the immigration. Today about a quarter of the population in Sweden are immigrants or have immigrant parents.

Just as in other western countries in Europe, secularization of the society did not develop as predicted by some studies in the 1960-es. Sweden today is a diversified society with vibrant religious communities, a society in whose public sphere religion takes a prominent role.

BlaženkaScheuer, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology, Lund University