Last year 80,000 people cancelled their membership – the highest ever, according to Swedish Radio’s Ekot programme.
One of the main reasons people give when they leave the church is the cost, which is based on individual earnings. Across the country the average membership charge – which includes the “funeral charge” – is around 1% of earnings but in some parishes it can be as high as 2%.
As Sunday’s Church Election approaches, the Moderates have proposed a ceiling on the charge in an attempt to minimise departures.
But the Social Democrats’ leader of the Church Assembly, Olle Burell, believes increased equality in the pulpit would help to keep the flock together.
“The church’s own research clearly shows what we have long known – that the continued opposition to women priests is a major reason why people are leaving the Swedish church,” he told Ekot.
All of the church’s 7.2 million members who are over the age of 16 have the right to vote in Sunday’s election.