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Swedes depart church in droves

TT/The Local · 27 May 2010, 08:44

Published: 27 May 2010 08:44 GMT+02:00

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The Church of Sweden has experience a steep and continual decline in the number of confirmations, worshippers and members since 2004, but until now baptisms and weddings have helped to boost church attendance figures, and revenues.

"We have left the homogeneous society," said Jonas Bromander at the Church of Sweden to the newspaper.

The church was long the venue of choice for Swedish wedding couples but the figures, presented in the church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning, show that the proportion of weddings performed by the Church of Sweden has now fallen from 53.9 to 40.9 percent from 2004 to 2009.

Even baptisms, long a popular symbolic gesture of church membership among Swedes, have also declined dramatically in popularity, dropping from 68 to 56 percent over the five year period.

Over the ten years since the church was separated from the state, the proportion of the population retaining a membership of the church has fallen from 82.9 percent to 71.3 percent, with 73,400 people leaving the church in 2009.

Jonas Bromander forecast that the fall in the faithful would continue and settle at around 60 percent in ten years.

"This is the time curve in a situation that is very much shaped by our history. We see similar curves for all the churches that are associated with a majority culture and where religion has become something that we face as an active choice," said archbishop Anders Wejryd.

Story continues below…

Even if the decline appears set to continue, Wejryd considers the church's confirmation work.

"I am extremely happy that each autumn we are able to scrape together 40,000 young people. There is no other organisation that is able, not within sport not a political party youth league," he said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:47 May 27, 2010 by PonceDeLeon
Allowing confirmation without actual Church attendance is a sham. By definition confirmation, an opportunity for a person to confirm the vows to Christianity made by their parents, should be more than a time to collect gifts.

A good percentage of children here are confirmed only because their parents bribe them with gifts. Just keeping up with the Svenssons. "Scrape together?" Wow!!

I am sure many are confirmed because the are devoted to Christ and see this as another step forward in their faith. Within matters of faith statistics are irrelevant. In a secular society one would expect the these findings. Many young people today believe that their lives are just matters of chance.
14:00 May 27, 2010 by tigger007
good comment@PonceDeLeon!

swedes nor the rest of scandinavia has a true belief in god,some just go thru the motions when it comes to church life.where i come from we were told to love,respect,and fear god. the ones that do will have true blessing from god. i noticed that alot of scandinavians read the bible like a regular book( which you can't do that)you will never get a true understanding of the bible. you have to study the bible for years to understand it's true meaning.
14:25 May 27, 2010 by Serendipitiz
It's about time that people came over to the scientific, rational, logical, Darwinian side and left behind this fairytale for good.
17:34 May 27, 2010 by jpen826
God created Man, and Man returned the favor.
17:41 May 27, 2010 by wubba

You sound like a propaganda tape.
17:52 May 27, 2010 by ooh456
If God really existed and wanted to be worshipped in churches.... she definitely would have gotten better PR people by now.
18:39 May 27, 2010 by voiceofreason
Acts 14:17

Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Deuteronomy 29:29

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
18:55 May 27, 2010 by Mr Gee
"Jonas Bromander forecast that the fall in the faithful would continue"

Unfortunately for the church, the reality is many churchgoers are not actually "faithful". Many attend only because of social expectations/pressures/conventions.

Society is not as deferential as years sgo. There is more independence available to younger people from older generations and public figures.

I welcome today's world more than the earlier, stifling society.
19:48 May 27, 2010 by voiceofreason
@Mr Gee

I take your statement to mean that the younger people don't need the accumulated wisdom of past generations, the norms and laws that have been tried and tested.

That sounds to me like pride which definitely leads to a great fall. No one is more prone to error than one that has no counselor.
22:40 May 27, 2010 by coot
I knew there would be a debate about God in the comments, but that isn't really the point. It is only recently that the Church of Sweden is not the official state-sanctioned church. Of course that change is going to result in reduced membership. It has in every other country that has stopped having an official church.

If people felt that they needed the church, they would stay. Obviously, they don't.

Of course, if you still participate in the church, their absence doesn't take anything away from you.
22:51 May 27, 2010 by vladd777
I am truly sad for the young people in Sweden.

But there are thousands of prayer warriors in this country who pray for non-believers on a regular basis and God does hear and answer heartfelt prayers.

May your hearts and minds be opened.
22:56 May 27, 2010 by jeb500
There is a relationship between education and religion. The more educated people are, the less they believe in the supernatural things, like religion. If you want to increase the number of churchgoers, just stop funding eduction and bring education levels back to where they were in the1400s and 1500s.
09:22 May 28, 2010 by Da Goat
The trouble is this church has disconnected with God They no longer Know who HE is....this church is become just a big club, if you lose your connection to the Power your lights go out, any child can tell you this.

the Swedish church has plugged into secularity and democracy and now has lost its way and will as they are now realizing, the lights are going out!!!

If you let any tom dick or harry drive the church (like the recent homosexual debacle showed) it will go the wrong way ...... oh do I really need to point that out too!
10:48 May 28, 2010 by Mr Gee
@ voiceofreason

"the accumulated wisdom of past generations, the norms and laws that have been tried and tested".

I agree with you; the information needs to be there to provide some guidance; a framework in which to operate (at least initially) or to refer to.

I don't mean to suggest that the "norms and laws" are not needed. I guess your reaction comes from the fact that you're a good conformist - but there's nothing wrong or right about that. It's just somewhat stifling being surrounded by people who operate and also expect others to follow the same norms.
18:57 May 28, 2010 by wenddiver
Loved the comment about the educated. If it wasn't for the Church most Universities would never have been founded or Staffed. We are walking away from the Great Western Culture that has done more to improve peoples lives than any culture in history..

Welcome to the new dark ages, where the ignorant give each other degrees and worship themselves or the ignorami of the moment on the TV.
01:32 May 30, 2010 by Frank Lee
I'm reminded of an argument Camille Paglia (an atheist) has made: once a culture stops contemplating the mysterious and honoring (or at least acknowledging) its past, the art of that culture goes slack. But in Sweden's case, of course, the vacuum of nonbelief will be filled by another belief, one that forces conformity not only upon its adherents, but also upon everybody else as well. I dare not say which faith I mean for fear of being censored--it's happening already!
06:01 May 30, 2010 by wikblom
Religion is poison and is at the root of most of the evil in the world. My ancestors left Sweden many generations ago for America because of religion, inter alia, and found it to be just as insidious in the U.S. It is nothing but fantasy and fiction and even if you posit a creator, there is no evidence that he has anything to do with our world or intervenes in it. Prayer and religious ceremony is nothing but a superstitious ritual observed by ignorant and uneducated people. There is no credible evidence to support it. It is all make-believe.
08:23 May 30, 2010 by wenddiver
Did they look like the guy with saran wrap around his legs in the Folk costume contest? If so , might be good for the Church of Sweden.
16:32 May 30, 2010 by Linda Rivera
To wikblom:

It is true that religion has been used as a tool for great evil. Killing in the name of God. All those who kill in the name of God, hate God and hate God's Laws! God commanded: YOU SHALL NOT MURDER.

God's requirement for ALL humanity is KINDNESS:

And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Bible, Micah 6;8

In amazing kindness, Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, rose again on the third day and offers heaven and forgiveness of our sins as a free gift, paid in full at the cross, to all those who repent, trust Christ as Savior and follow Him.
23:11 May 30, 2010 by wxman
Nothing new. My US immigant grandfather was born in 1901, and never attended church that I recall, even though he was a declared Lutheran.
07:45 July 7, 2010 by Gabriel1
It seems to me that this article and others like it, plus my understanding of current Swedish spiritual life gained as an IKEA co-worker suggest one thing: the need for a powerful, credible, wholesale re-evangelization of Sweden. This leads to another conclusion that will bewilder most Swedes, but upon reflection seems patently obvious: only the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the original and first Church of Sweden, will be able to carry this forward, purposefully, powerfully and effectively. Now being purged of sexual criminals from within, the one Church of Christ is being reformed and made Holy but Her founder, for just such missionary action. Move over Martin Luther, the Church of Saint Erik and Saint Birgitta is returning. It is about time.
11:49 July 10, 2011 by Stephen Olof Wikblom
I do agree with most of what my distant relative says about religion.

However, the art of praying and the disciplines surrounding the hightening of our inner powers has had much scientific scrutiny.

Prayer does work,

the Placeabo effect is real and fire walking is done every day by trained individuals.

There are many more wonders that man is capable of.

What I am trying to state then is that there is more to being human than meets the eye.

True, Religion since ancient times and even now is a perverted putrid curse that is more about control of the masses by the elite, but there are many parts of the various doctrines which are real wisdom.

It is therefore the challenge by those who must for some reason (perhaps through ignorance or lack of education) have a belief (which includes me), to read between the lines and seek out the truth amongst the lies and mis truths.

Stephen Olof Wikblom, Sheep Shearer, Australia
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