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Moderates signal break with Church of Sweden

Moderates signal break with Church of Sweden

Published: 26 Aug 2011 14:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Aug 2011 14:02 GMT+02:00

The Moderate Party has announced that it will not stand in the next church elections which take place in 2013, signalling an intention to cut political ties with the Church of Sweden.

"This is a step taken with respect both to the many conservatives who have a religious commitment and the decision to separate church and state," the Moderate Party wrote in a statement on Friday.

While the party executive has taken a formal decision, the party underlines that "it is very important that those who wish to continue to represent moderate ideas in the church's work are enabled to do so".

This sentiment is supported by party secretary Sofia Arkelsten.

"The Moderate (party) is not standing in the national church elections, but moderates can!" Arkelsten wrote in a Twitter post on Friday.

The party's church consultation group has been given the task of developing a new platform for its commitment to the Church of Sweden, while underlining that there is no longer a religious association within the party.

Elections to General Synod of the Church of Sweden take place every four years and the next elections are due in 2013. Since the 1930s "nominating groups" have typically been directly affiliated with national political parties.

The Moderates are the first major party to take the step for secular reasons, although the Left and Green parties have long operated a system where members are free to form separate associations to compete in the elections.

Furthermore there are also groups with roots in the so-called Free Churches which generally encompasses candidates from the Liberal and Christian Democrat parties.

All Church of Sweden members aged above 16-years-old are eligible to vote for nominating groups and direct elections are held to national national (Kyrkomötet), Diocese (Stift), Community (Samfällighet) and Parish (Församling) assemblies.

Until 2000 the church was considered a state church but on January 1st of that year this relationship was changed with a formal separation of church and state.

With over 6.6 million baptised members, the Church of Sweden is the largest Lutheran church in the world.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:40 August 26, 2011 by nyh2o
way to go moderates!!
15:20 August 26, 2011 by conboy
Interesting why this change now and would this new born conservative scepticism extend itself to the Head of State? The conditions of inheriting the title of head of state are predicated on membership of the church which the moderates are withdrawing from. I wonder whats really going on here?
17:07 August 26, 2011 by rfmann
Isn't it slightly weird that political parties would directly engage in elections in religious sects to begin with? Just sayin'...
18:27 August 26, 2011 by conboy
Maybe as the social democrats drift more and more to the centre right on economic issues the moderates are trying to move slightly to the centre on social issues? Don't know just guessing but the change raises interesting constitutional questions regarding how they politically regard the church whom the head of state has to be a member of according to the Swedish Constitution. Are they for membership of an institution which effectively supplies the head of state or are they not?
16:50 August 27, 2011 by Larry Thrash
If religion is to be out of politics, then politics should be out of religion.
15:53 August 28, 2011 by conboy
religion and politics are inseperable they are part of the human condition however tragic the outcome.
08:27 August 29, 2011 by Lavaux
Religion in politics isn't the issue. Futility is.

The Church of Sweden has so abandoned its traditional roots that it's essentially become a unitarian sect engaged in the cultural businesses of maintaining landmarks and hosting ceremonies. There's no reason for any Moderate to associate with the Church of Sweden because there's no there there. It's an empty husk without moment or meaning.
17:34 August 31, 2011 by Kublai
And this has nothing to do with the fact that there are now members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Swedish government and Moderates party?
04:34 September 5, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
Lavaux: I wholeheartedly agree with you. I am a person with English as my first language. I would like to perfect what you wrote to the following below because I feel so strongly that what you wrote is so accurate. I am a firm supporter of the Moderate party in Sweden. If you do not agree to what I've rewrote, please indicate so:

The Church of Sweden has so abandoned its traditional roots that it has essentially become a unitarian sect engaged in the cultural business of maintaining landmarks and hosting ceremonies. There is no reason for any Moderate to associate themself with the Church of Sweden because there is nothing there: The Church of Sweden is an empty husk without momentum and meaning.
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