• Sweden's news in English
 

'It can't be wrong to sing O Holy Night': minister

Published: 27 Nov 2012 07:10 GMT+01:00

"There's no reason to protect our children from our traditions and our cultural heritage," Social Minister and Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund told the TT news agency.

Hägglund's comments come in response to guidelines issued by the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) designed to help school principals find a balance between Sweden's secular and religious traditions.

"The law stipulates that Swedish schools are non-confessional," the agency's Anna Ekström and Claes-Göran Aggebo wrote in an article in Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Sunday.

"That school is non-confessional means that there can't be any religious elements such as prayer, blessings or declarations of faith in education. Students should not have to be subjected to religious influence in school."

But Hägglund disagreed, arguing there is nothing wrong with having Swedish school children sing traditional hymns during Advent services or at graduation ceremonies, another annual occasion which prompts questions about how much religious influence should be allowed in Swedish schools.

"I'm tired of having this discussion two times a year. It has to be okay to sing a hymn in connection with something as solemn as a graduation ceremony," the minister told TT, going on to invoke a Biblical citation from the book of Matthew.

"The National Agency for Education is straining out gnats and swallowing camels."

According to Hägglund, Swedish students have bigger things to worry about than "singing O Holy Night one time a year".

"If the National Agency for Education now interprets the Education Act so strictly, I think we ought to consider changing the law and make an exception for these types of traditional ceremonies," said Hägglund.

Education Minister and Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) head Jan Björklund agrees.

"You should absolutely be able to sing hymns in church at school graduations; pastors should be able to read the Christmas gospel, refer to the Bible, and explain why we celebrate this Christian holiday," Björklund told TT.

He added that the agency's interpretation of the Education Act "set boundaries which are too strict", arguing that Advent services are "part of our cultural heritage".

"If this ridiculous debate continues year after year, I'm ready to review the Education Act," said Björklund.

TT/The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

08:40 November 27, 2012 by skogsbo
I wonder if all those who think it wrong won't be with their families at Xmas and will be hard at work on the 24,25 and 26th... I very much doubt, it's all very selective and sad. A mosque can tannoy out, but kids can't sing? The kids who don't want to be involved can go and read some other religious book in the library! All is equal then.
08:55 November 27, 2012 by Kevin Harris
What is the only country in the world where it is illegal to sing hymns in a church?
09:21 November 27, 2012 by Achilles7
Sweden now prides itself as being seen as a type of ultra-liberal, post-modern utopia, void of any real culture of its own but rather universally embracive of everyone and everything. The result is a confused mess, where nobody really quite feels like they belong, and nobody knows quite who they are and where they are.

Sweden, you are a great country with a lot to be proud of. Grow some balls and assert your culture before it's too late.
09:43 November 27, 2012 by Keith #5083
The thing that is absurd here is not 'protecting children from indoctrination', that is admirable enough, what is absurd is that the school has 'advent' services!

Trying to seperate religion from the term 'advent' is like trying to seperate mustard from korv (sausage).

So just allow participation to be optional, a personal choice, just like 'is it mustard or ketchup you want on it?'

Incidentally, support Malala :-)
09:46 November 27, 2012 by Achilles7
Sweden now prides itself as being seen as a type of ultra-liberal, post-modern utopia, void of any real culture of its own but rather universally embracive of everyone and everything. The result is a confused mess, where nobody really quite feels like they belong, and nobody knows quite who they are and where they are.

Sweden, you are a great country with a lot to be proud of. Grow some balls and assert your culture before it's too late.
10:20 November 27, 2012 by RobinHood
'It can't be wrong to sing O Holy Night'

Oh yes it is Mr Hägglund! And it is your government that has allowed this loopy law to stand. Call yourself a Christian Democrat? Just plain old Democrat would be a better description. A proper Christian Democrat would have rewritten the legislation years ago.

As for the priests, who have for years been giving church services to schoolchidren, without singing hymns nor mentioning the Saints, Jesus nor God. Shame on you. What would Jesus, the Saints and Martin Luther have done? Christians have a long tradition of standing up to religious oppression - and suffering for it. A bunch of sandal wearing, bearded education professors from Uppsala are nothing compared to the Romans. This Christmas tell them where to stick their wierdo religious phobias, wish them a merry fxxcing Christmas, and give an old-school fire and thunder service about the fires of Hell. Then have a cup of tea and wait for the police to arrive.
10:49 November 27, 2012 by gumbojinx
As a child I went to a catholic school, despite the fact that my family were not religious. The school also educated some Jews and Muslims. The school still continued with it's tradition of catholic services but those children of other religions were given the option to opt out of these services. I don't really understand why this is not an option in this situation.

I do agree with others here who state that trying to take religion out of advent is an absurd proposition.

The school also offered the option to opt out of religious studies, though I didn't opt out as they offered comparative theology, which at the time I found interesting.

I see no reason why children of different religions cannot be educated side by side, but with just a little common sense.

Personally though I would rather see education and religious education kept seperate, especially if that religion believes in 'intelligent design' over evolution.

Just to state it again though, taking religion out of a religious festival is absurd....
15:21 November 27, 2012 by Jes
Only an uncouth wicked wonker would find a problem with singing a hymn . If it is alright in Sweden to screen " Fråga Ola" pornographic show at 10 , why is it so terrible for some children to be provided with the opporunity to sing a religious song ?

Also , I think that the fellows from Skolverket are simply displaying their personal complexities
15:43 November 27, 2012 by bob_arctor
If our religious minister is tired of having this debate twice a year, maybe he should consider the fact that there is separation of church and state in this country. The fact that some people just wont give way to reason (and the needs of the children) reveals something larger: Sweden is not as progressive as it usually is portrayed as.

/Currently supporting the rights of my children to go do something more constructive instead of being herded into the past
01:13 November 28, 2012 by JoeSwede
the idea is that twice a year, kids are shown traditional Christian singing. I think that is reasonable given that taxes are so high that parents find it difficult to send their kids to a Christian school. Also for those that aren't very religious, twice a year is fine so the only ones offended are those that want a strict line between church and state.... but even there the church has been stripped of its power and influence by the Swedish state so there is no line to draw.
02:05 November 28, 2012 by Enjoyourlife
Soon they would convert your children to islam
09:48 November 28, 2012 by smilingjack
11

no they will educate children that everything written in religious texts is rubbish. we all evolved and werent created.

they will push medieval fairy tales back where they belong - in the houses of those silly enough to believe in them and out of society as a whole. that includes christianity, judaism, islam, buddhists, mormons and scientologists. its all lies and has no place in an education system.

its been a hard slog but in australia my children have finally been isolated from those lunatic christians endlessly trying to shove their fairytales down our throats. it took the threat of legal action against our secular PUBLIC school and gates on our property with a bugger of lunatics sign. no we DO NOT want to hear about easter or christmas. They are the chritians fairytales. not ours.
11:06 November 28, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
What a shame that Sweden, once known for things such as its beautiful people and

Lutheran traditions, now imports tens of thousands of ugly people and its main religion is Islam.
14:05 November 28, 2012 by Jes
What "ugly" people ; like Zlatan you mean ?
11:03 November 29, 2012 by clearandpresenttruth
Ahh, Swedish Integration...

The Svensk kultur is sadly vanishing, no thanks to the religion of peace.
Today's headlines
Greece crisis
Stockholm stock market falls after Greek vote
Stockholm's stock exchange. File photo: TT

Stockholm stock market falls after Greek vote

UPDATED: Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has raised concerns about Greece’s future, while Stockholm's stock market has fallen as economic jitters are felt across Europe. READ  

Lisa Holm murder
Sweden to pay tribute to murdered schoolgirl
Lisa Holm. Photo: Swedish Police

Sweden to pay tribute to murdered schoolgirl

Thousands of mourners are expected to pay their respects as murdered teenager Lisa Holm is buried in Sweden on Tuesday. READ  

One dead after shooting in central Sweden
Swedish police are investigating a shooting in Örebro. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

One dead after shooting in central Sweden

One of three men hurt in a shooting in central Sweden has died from his injuries, the regional police in Örebro said on Monday. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Swedes should vote at 16, says top feminist
Gudrun Schyman in Visby this week. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedes should vote at 16, says top feminist

UPDATED: The co-leader of Sweden’s Feminist Initiative Party has proposed lowering the nation’s voting age in a key speech. READ  

Rude name stops house selling for 1,000 days
The property in Snorrslida, Sweden. Photo: Dansk Ejendoms Consult

Rude name stops house selling for 1,000 days

A home in southern Sweden has been on the market for more than 1,000 days, with many suggesting its rude-sounding name could be the reason it has failed to attract buyers. READ  

Swedish boy, 11, nets lost engagement ring
The ring found by Casper Kjellström. Photo: Private

Swedish boy, 11, nets lost engagement ring

A Swedish mum has told The Local of her 11-year-old son's joy after he was able to reunite a Swedish man with his lost engagement ring. READ  

Rain puts dampener on Swedish holiday period
Lightening struck early on Monday. File photo: TT

Rain puts dampener on Swedish holiday period

After one of the hottest weekends of the year in many parts of Sweden, cooler temperatures and storms are arriving in Scandinavia. READ  

My Swedish Career
‘Sweden has the best infrastructure I’ve known’
Hamed Koramyar at Sweden's political festival, Almedalen. Photo: The Local

‘Sweden has the best infrastructure I’ve known’

Hamed Khoramyar worked for household names in Iran for more than a decade, but forged a new career as an IT entrepreneur after fleeing his home country and seeking asylum in Sweden in 2010. READ  

Swedes on cusp of snail control breakthrough
Snails are enjoying a bumper year at Swedish gardeners' expense. Photo: By macrophile on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Swedes on cusp of snail control breakthrough

Since the spring, frequent rain has ensured prime conditions for one of the gardener’s biggest enemies - the snail. Swedish scientists, however, may have found the ultimate deterrent. READ  

Almedalen 2015
BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Eight
Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Eight

The Swedish Liberal Party tried to score some new support after a year of plummeting in the polls, with leader Jan Björklund taking centre stage on the final day of Almedalen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching: July 3rd-5th
National
Scary taxis lure Nordic Noir freaks to Sweden's capital
National
Oasis star calls Zlatan 'idiot'
National
Learning Swedish: different rules for expats and refugees?
Sport
IN PICTURES: Thousands welcome home Sweden’s heroes
Blog updates

3 July

Editor’s blog, July 3rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello from the Swedish island of Gotland! The Local’s editorial team has decamped from our Stockholm headquarters..." READ »

 

2 July

Som eller att (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Almedalen: The Local's guide to Sweden's power players week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your July summer snaps
Sport
Sweden celebrates greatest sporting victory in decades
Gallery
People-watching: July 1st
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
National
Swede battles slug invasion
Sponsored Article
What can we learn from Swedish women's sex habits?
National
VIDEO: Is this herring tasting clip an 'insult to Sweden'?
Gallery
Property of the week: Visby, Gotland
National
Sweden set for sunniest week of year
Gallery
People-watching: June 26th-28th
Features
The Local's essential guide to who's who in Swedish politics
National
More Swedish military exercises as Russia aggression fears grow
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Travel
Why Swedish camp sites are set for a bumper summer
National
Swedish summer's really on its way (at least according to forecasters)
Gallery
People-watching: June 24th
National
Why are southern Swedes angry about becoming 'Danish' again?
Society
Lifestyle: When to catch your favourite features on The Local
National
Is Sweden one of the world's most peaceful nations?
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Travelling to Sweden's secret islands
National
One in ten Swedish cats homeless
Sponsored Article
'I constantly evolve my Swedishness'
Gallery
Property of the week: Värmdö, Stockholm
Society
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
National
Swedish royals' dream honeymoon
National
Swedish hospital opens first centre for male rape victims
Gallery
People-watching: June 20th-21st
Photo: TT
Lifestyle
Midsummer: The Local's guide to Sweden's craziest festival
Sponsored Article
Murder, myth and magic: Travelling to the birthplace of Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th
Sponsored Article
Gallery: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
Society
Seven alternative names for Sweden's Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf
National
FBI returns stolen Swedish books
National
Want to smell like Zlatan?
National
Royal joy over birth of new prince
Gallery
Property of the week: Brantevik, Simrishamn
National
How racy graffiti inspired a teacher's high school sex class
Gallery
People-watching: June 12th-14th
National
As it happened: Prince Carl Philip marries Sofia Hellqvist
Technology
Is Stockholm the world's creative capital?
National
Timeline: Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
KTH President: ‘Sweden’s success is because of its size’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: New royal couple Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Features
Ten Swedish festivals to discover
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,236
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se