“A large portion of our readership would be offended by an ad of this kind which deals with open homosexuality,” editor-in-chief Elisabeth Sandlund told Kyrkans Tidning, the Church of Sweden’s official weekly newspaper.
The summer camp, which takes place at the end of August, is organized by the National Association of Ecumenical Christian Groups for LGBT-people (Riksförbundet Ekumeniska grupperna för kristna hbtq-personer, Riks-EKHO).
To reach as many potential participants as possible, EKHO has chosen to advertise in Christian newspapers across the country.
“We know that the need for a camp for free church youth is very large,” said Erik Andersson, who is responsible for the camp and a member of EKHO. “Openness is not as big in the free churches and young people in the Church of Sweden have it better when it comes to LGBT issues.”
Through the work that EKHO carries out, Andersson said that he knows that there are many free church youth who want to meet others for a weekend where they can talk about identity, sexuality and Christian faith.
Dagen has a circulation of about 19,000 and is published four times a week. It was founded by Lewi Pethrus, a Pentecostal minister who founded the Christian Democratic Coalition (Kristen Demokratisk Samling), the predecessor of the current Christian Democratic Party.
An ad in Dagen would be a way to reach these young people because the newspaper is in many congregations and free churches. A front-page ad, which had EKHO asked for, would be highly visible.
“We thought and hoped that we would get the ad in because the issue of homosexuality is not as sensitive anymore,” Andersson told Kyrkans Tidning.
In response, Sandlund said that 30 years of struggle in the churches is worthwhile and that a publisher can say no without mentioning reasons. She also referred to the newspaper’s policy, such as saying no to alcohol.
“There are various considerations to make,” she told Kyrkans Tidning. “I have to take in the considerations of the readership before advertising money. An ad about open homosexuality does not fit in Dagen.”
She added, “It is not a human right to have an ad in a newspaper. We have our limits.”
Sandlund said that she wrote to EKHO and explained to them the reason for the newspaper’s editorial policy.
“I fully understand why EKHO reacted. However, Dagen has declined other ads in the past and this was a matter that was taken in consultation with others,” Sandlund told Kyrkans Tidning.
She added, “As well, you have to wonder how many young people will go to the camp because they saw an ad in Dagen. Our readership consists mostly of older people.”