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Sweden Democrats decry secular school song

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 4 Jun 2010, 13:20

Published: 04 Jun 2010 13:20 GMT+02:00

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"The last day of school celebrations are an important part of Swedish cultural heritage and we thus argue that the country's schools should be required to arrange celebrations in church," said Erik Almqvist at the Sweden Democrats to The Local on Friday.

Almqvist said that while the proposal is intended to give parents and children the right to demand a church service and the singing of Christian psalms, it is not a religious matter and has to do with Swedish tradition.

The party decries the trend in recent years for Swedish schools to offer a broader range of end of term services, many of which it complains are not held in churches.

The Sweden Democrats argue that "many children and parents" are disappointed by being obliged to sing traditional, and more contemporary, songs in the open air or in school premises, but underlined that there are no plans to force children to participate.

"We argue that schools, either alone or together with nearby schools should be obliged to try to also arrange a traditional end of term later the same day if at least ten percent of pupils and their parents express a wish," said party leader Jimmie Åkesson in a statement on Friday.

Story continues below…

The Local asked Erik Almqvist if the right, which the party would consider incorporating into school guidelines or Swedish law, would be extended to children and parents of other faiths.

"Yes of course, they can also go to church," he said, while ruling out that traditional Swedish end of term sing-songs could be extended to other places of worship, such as the mosque or the synagogue.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:22 June 4, 2010 by eppie
Swedish nazis....I hate swedish nazis

These guys are better of moving to Iran...they do sing alongs there at the end of term.
15:22 June 4, 2010 by nevon
lol sweden democrats. Taking on the 21st century one issue at a time!
15:45 June 4, 2010 by jazzIIIlove
far-right Sweden Democrats? seiously?
15:57 June 4, 2010 by WelshSwede
I thought swedes never liek change, Jeez I hate the Church!

Leave it as it is! Soon they'll say they're not allowed to get drunk on this day!
15:57 June 4, 2010 by calebian22
Yes how silly it is to want to continue Swedish traditions! How revolting! They must be Nazis!
16:09 June 4, 2010 by Streja
That picture is completely wrong for that article. The article is about skolavslutning, which takes place in June up until 9th grade.

The picture shows student caps, worn by 19-year-olds for Studenten, that takes place when they gradute from Gymnasiet. Studenten has never been celebrated in churches. It has never been a tradition.

Who chose it? The Local needs a picture of young kids singing in church in June, not caps that have no relevance to the story.
16:13 June 4, 2010 by Kaethar
This article does not touch on the reason behind this "secularization." Most Swedes will tell you that singing 'Den blomstertid nu kommer' when school ends is not seen as religious at all. The reason some schools have stopped doing this is because incompetent school heads "don't want to offend minorities." Most immigrants actually want their kids to take part in these Swedish traditions so they'll feel a sense of community with the rest of society. It's the politically correct school heads who are the problem. When children are no longer allowed to take part in these traditional festivities parents will often blame the immigrant, not realising that it's PC-ness that is the root of this evil. Although I for the most part do not agree with SD's politics this I do agree with.
16:30 June 4, 2010 by Audrian
There is a concerted attack on social democracy. The recent wave of privatization drive and the creeping of the church into secular schools is an affront to what Sweden had been standing for over half-century.
17:35 June 4, 2010 by AndreaGerak
I wonder why I associate this story to when I was in school in Hungary, back in the communist era and we were obliged to sing the national anthem of Sovietunion, the Internationale and such...
17:36 June 4, 2010 by Puffin
What about those schools that have a long standing tradition of not being in church? At some schools it is not a tradition and the school would not fit into the church and parents would be excluded - will they be forced to give up their tradition?
17:41 June 4, 2010 by Kaethar
@AndreaGerak & Puffin: Can you two read? They just said that schools should be made to organise a church celebration if more than 10% of people in the school want it. The other 90% can do their own thing, but if 10% want a traditional celebration the school should be obliged to organise this. What's the problem exactly? As it is now it is forbidden in many schools for classes to attend church. How's that for freedom?
22:18 June 4, 2010 by wenddiver
@Kaethar- God your right on this one!!!!!

How does it impose on anybody else if 10% WANT IT to schedule a traditional sing along, that is completely voluntary to go to.

Oh that's right any time the Majority does anything not approved by leftist then they have to crush the Freedom to do it. There is only one type of thought and it is their form of thought, dictated by the faceless bureacrat, with no appeal.

Who is the extremist again???

Don't be sheep, Swedes should do it just to make the haters mad.
22:25 June 4, 2010 by engagebrain
It is important to keep a clear separation between religion and the state.

Once one religion gets a toe in then demands from the rest for inclusion will be hard to resist.

Since there is no obvious yardstick that the state can use to approve religions it is better to include none and make religion an act of consenting adults and hijacked children.
22:57 June 4, 2010 by Elton John
Kaethar: Why should schools follow 10%? Is this some sort of reverse-democracy?
09:07 June 5, 2010 by Puffin

Segregated skolavslutning sounds completely stupid - that 10% should be given such power is barmy - skolavslutning is non-religious and is a time for the whole school to gather and celebrate at the end of the school year it is not something that is religion specific - the idea that 10% can decide to hold alternative events and split school unity is about the worst thing that I have ever heard.

It sounds as though it will mean that the chaotic scenes that have occured this week in Sälen where there has been all out war between factions of parents and resulted in the head being threatned by a group of parents who did not get their way....

I have sat through a good many end of school events:

- by far the worst was a 'traditional' church service where we were forced to sit through a long religious sermon, ultra religious hymns and a long 'sermon' by the head teacher - what made the experience EVEN worse was that the church was too small to fit the whole school - so there were separate services for years F-class-year 2 and years 4-6. At the time I had children in years 2 and 4 - so were forced to sit through 2 completely identitical services - the priest and head teacher gave exactly the same sermons twice - the atmosphere was tense as there were not seats for all parents and many babies were screaming after so long - having sat in church from 5.30pm-8.45pm I was ready to go and kill myself ......

- the best end of year services was at an open air heritage museum with a group of disbled kids from a särskola (special school for special needs) - we sang all the traditional songs in very traditional surroundings among the 200 year old wooden houses in a wonderful and happy atmosphere.

The important thing about skolavslutning is the school unity - segregation on religious lines would be a bad thing
14:02 June 5, 2010 by Jes
Waht`s the problem !

In Sweden , churches are no longer places of worship , but just old buildings where various ceremonies take place as a mere tradition .

The biggest handicap that Sweden has is lack of communication . Nobody wants to stick their neck out and take the responsiblity of explaining things in a clear way .This is the cause of confusion in otherwise well organised society .

I agree with the remark that most immigrants are not bothered by attending functions in churches . It seem that a few Swedes don`t know that most of these immigrants ( except extremists ) actully come from countries where traditions are part of life . Its therefore patronizing to insinuate that ending this church ceremony is to respect their ideological space . The opposite is true : most immigrants like attending ceremonies regardless of location .

Also , its absurd to suggest that singing hymns is necessarily a bad thing . Children sing a lot love songs , some with vulgar rylics ; but that does not suddenly turn them into sluts , or does it ?

I have met a lot of immigrants who wonder why burials or weddings are so private in Euorpe. Besides , most non-christian immigrants can tell the difference between going to church to pray and going there to cerebrate the end of a school year .

My suggestion is that the tradition stays , with an a clarification that its neither religious nor obligatory .
14:35 June 5, 2010 by Kaethar
@Puffin: It's only segregated now - it never was before. Before everyone would join in and sing Den blomstertid nu kommer at graduation. It used to be a song all Swedes knew. But since certain school heads labelled these traditions "racist" now no one is allowed to follow them. I can tell by your post that you're not Swedish and have no clue what a traditional Swedish end-of-primary-school celebration entails.
15:02 June 5, 2010 by kokoloco
The best "We are the world" song

16:39 June 5, 2010 by Jes
You are wrong @Kaether !

Puffin is Swedish . Look , he has told you that he was ready to kill himself after sitting is church for 2 hours . Do you know of any other country where people do that ?

Come on , help and direct him to the highest bridge - - -!!
23:01 June 5, 2010 by Rahelli
church song its good idea
23:54 June 5, 2010 by wenddiver
Who is Sweden run for, her native people or people who don't want to be Swedish? If the Swedish 10% want to practice their freedom, then who is anybody else to stop it????? As long as that 10% (and we all know it will be much higher) are free they should be able to determine what their children do on graduation day.

The left should stick to what they are good at, Stealing Swedish workers money through taxes, to give away to foreigners, not messing with childrens song, really it's beneath them..
06:02 June 6, 2010 by JoeSwede
The idea sounds really good. More flexibility in celebrating graduation sounds good. Since their seems to be a relatively small amount of religous schools, allowing the celebration adds to the individual religious celebration at a significant milestone in life. If the 10% doesn't materialize then it's not important and will not be done. But I can imagine in small communities that this will add to life and that is what it is all about.
12:45 June 6, 2010 by soultraveler3
I don't like the idea of the church having anything to do with the school.

If people want to have a religious ceremony when their children end school they should, by all means, organize one through the church. I don't think the church would turn anyone away from an event like that even if they didn't normally attend.

Tradition is another thing though, it needs to be perserved.

The school heads that are so afraid about being PC should wake up and look around them. I know and go to school with many refugees who have children in swedish schools and have never heard any of them object to swedish tradition being in swedish schools. It's quite the oppisite in fact. All of them I've spoken to want their children to be more immersed in swedish society and tradition than they are.

The schools still do Jul, Påsk, Lucia Day etc etc. Those seem way more religious to me than celebrating end of school. Why not sing those traditional songs and eat goodis and bullar surrounded by pretty red swedish houses at the local park?

The celebration Puffin went to for special needs children sounded wonderful and I doubt that it offended anyone.
17:22 June 10, 2010 by rumcajs
If I was in let's say Iran and the school celebrates a tradition like this but with a Muslim religious song, I might not be 100% cool with that cos they are kids.

I wouldn't make a big deal, but no, I wouln't be 100% cool.

For me is acceptable if the kids from other religions (or without one)are not forced to join.
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