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Ex-dean: 'blow up unused Swedish churches'

The Local/gm · 2 Oct 2011, 14:29

Published: 02 Oct 2011 14:29 GMT+02:00

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H.B. Hammar, former dean and associate professor of ethics, writes in an opinion piece in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, that as so many churches are used rarely if ever across the country, pulling them down entirely would cause less uproar than selling them on for speculative redevelopment.

The figures are alarming, he writes.

The number of confirmations has dropped from around 80,000 in 1970, to some 35,000 today and over the same period, regular church visitors on a Sunday have slipped from nine million to about 4.6 million.

Today, says Hammar of the 3,384 churches in Sweden, many are used at most, once a month.

This leaves many lying empty and in great need of repair. With paying members of the church decreasing by the year, there is a clear economic crisis looming, argues Hammar.

The choices left are to carry on regardless, ”mothball” those hardly ever being used, sell them to raise funds for the church, or finally, the best option according to him, to tear them down.

Hammar emphasises that he would not wish to pull down churches surrounded by cemeteries, but others could give way for other communal activities.

Story continues below…

”To pass on the inevitable decision to future generations is an expression of cowardice. To dare to tear them down is to show courage. A church where they willingly come together to worship does not risk becoming a ruin," Hammer concludes.

The Local/gm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:30 October 2, 2011 by jan.petras
Good idea.
16:47 October 2, 2011 by hilt_m
I would think selling them for re-development would be better.
17:37 October 2, 2011 by Belize
They can be restructured for other uses. Homeless shelters come to mind. Why demolish perfectly good buildings when they can be used or other purposes.
17:40 October 2, 2011 by tadchem
This sounds like a textbook case of senseless destruction. Habitable structures large enough to accommodate scores of people are valuable resources. A little imagination would torn them into community assets. Razing them would only provide gratification for the god-haters, provocation for devout, and publicity for vainglorious academics.
17:51 October 2, 2011 by occassional
That is one of the best ideas in a while. Blow 'em up.
18:03 October 2, 2011 by Chickybee
As long they are not converted into mosques!
19:16 October 2, 2011 by Opinionfool
What will they do if having blown up the churches there is then a reawakening of religious belief in Sweden? Rather than worry about the emptiness of the buildings why aren't these people out there preaching and passing on their message. If it's what they claim it to be (good news) then everyone else should want some too.
19:45 October 2, 2011 by Douglas Garner
It should not be terribly difficult to consider churches the way excess property is reviewed by any multilocation business. Consider the potential for future use, anticipated cost for maintaining a property in comparison to disposing of it. If the property is in an area with growth potential, but it is desirable to minimize maintenance expense, tear it down or lease it out temporarily. If the building is in an area with decreasing population... sell it and let the new owner deal with the existing building.

There are other potential problems and expenses to be considered such as removal of asbestos, black mold, etc. Just as there are potential liabilities to owning vacant buildings... vandalism, squatters, injury, further declining value...
19:56 October 2, 2011 by GLO
WOW! This is a big part of every local History.Do what you want with them, do not tear down these important buildings. The day may come you wish torevisit your faith. God will always be there even if you are not ready.
20:34 October 2, 2011 by joshr
"The number of confirmations has dropped from around 80,000 in 1970, to some 35,000 today and over the same period, regular church visitors on a Sunday have slipped from nine million to about 4.6 million."

That's really impressive, given that the population of Sweden in 1970 was about eight million. Were they importing Finns and Norwegians just to go to church?
20:59 October 2, 2011 by Cornelius Hamelberg
And if Jesus comes tomorrow, what will Hammar say in repentance?. " I recommended that we demolish your houses of worship?"

Why not transform them into day care centres, or community centrers at least temporarily?

"or finally, the best option according to him, to tear them down."?

In my view, "to dare " to tear them down is not "to show courage." It is a sign of despair replacing, faith, hope and charity.

Is it any wonder all the talk about "Europe, Globalization & the Coming Universal Caliphate."? These are the times when churches and church-going numbers are down whilst Muslims and mosques are on the rise, being born, sprouting, mushrooming everywhere. Change. Changes in religious fashion. Perhaps you don't notice it but Islam is visibly filling the vacuum for many of Sweden's inhabitants who would like to have religion as part of their lives. As Sheikh Othman Al Tawalbeh preaches nowadays, "Ramadan is part of Swedish culture and we want to tell everybody about it,"

No more pork. No more bacon or ham. And never again al-cohol.

Many years ago a Malaysian prince bought a church - The Priory, 277 St Ann's Road, Seven Sisters, London, and the new owners converted it into a mosque although they retained the Church spire and the cross at the top of the Church. Looks like a Church from the outside but is mosque inside:


Sweden needs a new Lewi Pethrus. Until he comes along in the meanwhile they could import a few charismatic Pastors from Nigeria, to retrieve some of the lost sheep of the House of Sweden.
21:30 October 2, 2011 by engagebrain
The high roof suggest - badminton courts.
21:36 October 2, 2011 by truthworthy
Or how about selling or giving for free to Muslims. So we can make sure it stays as house of God and lively. I think the best idea maybe to handover to Muslims or share with them.
22:30 October 2, 2011 by Svensksmith
Don't be giving the terrorists ideas about blowing stuff up.
05:39 October 3, 2011 by bells on the knight
to deny christianity in a christian country leaves excess room for muslim expansion and he consequenses have to be bitterly regretted.
06:46 October 3, 2011 by cattie
"pulling them down entirely would cause less uproar than selling them on for speculative redevelopment."

To spell it out of the few who have not read between the lines. Demolishing the old churches woul cause less uproar than their purchase and conversion to mosques."

We would not want to have it in the swedes faces too much that their lack of natural increase is resulting in their natural replacement.

Go quietly church of sweden.
07:21 October 3, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
What a sad commentary on a nation that is headed for total anarchy and destruction. Of all the institutions that offer some form of hope for Sweden, a bulwark against other alien religions and philosophies, Christianty is chosen to be "blown up," out of sight and out of mind, in an irreligious, materialistic, and conveniently disposable society. Why not just remove the cross from your flag and be done with it, Sweden? What significance does a golden cross on a sky-blue field serve anymore? You are a nation of non-believers, of persons who are no longer Christians, and who have allowed themselves to be inundated with non-Christians. And you think that agnosticism and atheism are the answer? I do keep Sweden in my prayers.
08:23 October 3, 2011 by prince T
Dont blow them up turn them into mosques because they are growimg. Dont blame the muslims for take ur land later.
08:57 October 3, 2011 by Rick Methven
The churches that are not being used any more tend to be the Gamla kyrka ( old original churches in more remote rural areas that have no real value for development either for housing or any other purpose ( including a mosque for those who are paranoid on the subject).

A lot are 1,000 years old or more and should be protected as ancient monuments
08:57 October 3, 2011 by Kevin Harris
Did the ex Dean really say 'blow up unused Swedish churches' as quoted in the Local's headline? There is no mention of exploding churches later in the text. Maybe they left that bit out.

Surely The Local would not misquote the ex Dean just to excite the trolls? That would be extremely shoddy journalism.
09:59 October 3, 2011 by Da Goat
opionionfool is correct !

It is not the empty buildings that are worrisome it is the EMPTY PEOPLE that worries me !

it is the people that make the church not the buildings! It is an act of terrorism to blow up churches Mankind will be hurt!

It is time to turn back to The Creator God!

and what Cornelius said when Jesus returns, what will that apostate dean say then?
10:02 October 3, 2011 by sebwojo
the resion i dont go to those church they left God and they a preaching politics not what is in the bible privetise those church. we pray in cominity halls paying alot of money in order to preserver our faith.give a chance to the free churches infact all churches with church gowers have acepted changes in there houses of worship
10:54 October 3, 2011 by karex

If that is the way church deans reason, no wonder the church-going population is decreasing! No need to demolish anything, as many have commented before, there are so many things the buildings can be used for! Sell to private enterprise (I bought a vicarage because of this), sell to the local community who could use the buildings as meeting houses, shelters, etc. . The great majority of these buildings has tremendous historical value.

How many old manor houses and castles are torn down? They are used for other things!
12:28 October 3, 2011 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Kevin Harris@20,

Here are Hammar's exact words in translation:


As you know, until recently, new born babies were automatically registered as belonging to the Parish in their vicinity - unless of course they happened to be called Muhammad or Khadija. Not any more. Dwindling Church membership is also directly linked to people's reluctance to pay the Church tax for which reason many have formally left the State Church. I'm sure that if membership of the Church would grant privileges such as paying less taxes, then people would return to Church membership in masses.

Like selling souls for silver and gold.....
12:39 October 3, 2011 by nolikegohome
sell the wood for the fire places
12:49 October 3, 2011 by anonymous4
If I had the money, I'd buy all of them and turn them into places which would benefit all Swedes, NOT MOSQUES. Retirement homes, apartments, recreational facilities, high priced wedding chapels. Does Hammar believe that no Swedes will return to their religion? Does Hammar think that Sweden's land is endless and will never become overpopulated and overdeveloped? The possibilities of redeveloping these churches for Swedes is endless.
12:50 October 3, 2011 by Douglas Garner
"Wherever two or more are gathered together in My name" defines a Christian church. There are many churches in rural Sweden which only hold services a few times per year... for traditions sake. Many, many more that hold mass once a month and share priests with other parishes.

The Swedish church should be able to provide much better service and support to its parishioners without the seldom used buildings while maintaining geographically selected buildings of the greatest convenience and facilities. Plus, consider the costs that will be associated with bringing old churches into compliance with the new handicapped access regulations!
12:58 October 3, 2011 by Jes
Cornellius Hamelberg suggests that Sweden should import pastors from Nigeria to retrive a lot of lost sheep

This is already happening . In Gävle , 3 Nigerian preists started a catholic parish in that city . Every Sunday , the small church is about 85 full of all races and tribes from all over the world . One of the charismatic Nigerian priests preaches comfortably in English , Swedish , French and a little Spanish .

It is the same in Uppsala , and other big Cities . There are catholic priests from India , Polland , etc serving their church in Sweden . While everyone is busy talking about Islam , the catholic church is quietly growing in Sweden , thanks to imported man power

I attended a sad funeral where the main preacher was a youthful Pastor from Congo . I was impressed by the way he moved his congregation by his well presented sermon . He preached in French mixed with English that was heavily loaded with an accent . His interpretor would have been been mistaken for a photo model - beautiful , charming , and very fluent in Swedish , though she was an immigrant from Burundi. The African song and music was also something to behold . I thought that attending church was not so boring afterall ?

So , the shame is not that Swedish churches are empty ; it is that an associate professor of ethic`s idea of progress is to throw in the towel . Why , for incitence doesn`t Mr . Hammar suggest the a spritual revival approach to this problem ? Why does he not call upon those who lead the Swedish church to find a way that will make the christians of Sweden to not abondon the church ? Is it because of a "Hammar" always thinks of hitting down stuff ?

Hammar should be talking of repairing not pulling down the church. To use his term , it is an expression of cowardice for a professor of ETHIICSto suggest that churches are not needed anymore.

He should borrow some wisdom from Cornellius Hamelberg and try to find out why Swedes don`t go to church anymore . Removing taxes would be one of the things to consider
13:46 October 3, 2011 by RobinHood
Excellent idea!

There are loads of other ancient Swedish buildings that ought to be blown up as well. There are pointless rune stones standing about taking up space for a start. Ales Stenar in Skåna should make way for a villa with pleasant sea views; the rubble will make excellent hardcore. Gotland will need a whole truckload of dynamite to drag its dowdy medieval image kicking and screaming into the 21st century where it belongs.

Let's extend this to other countries: stonehenge, the taj mahal, the forbidden city, notre dame; economic deadwood, nuke em all.
14:34 October 3, 2011 by anonymous4
If Sweden hadn't granted asylum to so many Muslims for the almighty kronor, this problem would most likely not exist.
21:01 October 3, 2011 by prince T
@annoyn. What has muslim got to do with empty churches. The faultnlies on the doors of swedes dat abandoned God for liberal lifestyle. People dat will not let go of their values took advantage of swedish foolishness
21:37 October 3, 2011 by sebwojo
we pay 9000 par month in a local hall in stockholm to get where to pray from plse hire us those churches but we cant go to church which even there leader dont know what they a doing
01:35 October 4, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Turn them into Assisted Suicide Centres.
03:15 October 4, 2011 by Stephen Sweden

there is a hostel in Stockholm. It was once a prison but has been converted. Man and his muscle has built ,amongst many concrete buildings, churches. To waste the initial efforsts to transport, lift and build would be to forget the hard labour put into sturdy building. Many fabricated buildings today fall apart after ten years or so. Convert the buildings you have or reuse the materials. Sweden invented dynamite and with the NP current wouldn't some foundation stones for a school,activity centre, club, whatever for the poor make more sense. Saving money man.
13:11 October 4, 2011 by Indignerad
What the hell are you people talking about? How did Muslims even enter into this in the first place?
13:16 October 4, 2011 by burito
Maybe the CROSS from the flag should go too,but the question is what should replace it(maybe a half mooooon?)...........
15:12 October 4, 2011 by Hagrid

Or better yet, abortion clinics.
20:49 October 5, 2011 by Value
Dear atheistic morons, blow them up and elect Kim Jong Il as a president of the Swedish Communist Republic.
21:09 October 5, 2011 by codingartist
Better idea - how about we shoot this Dean and the others like him who worship things like Political Correctness and Climate change, in-place of worshiping God? Leftism is the biggest threat to humanity. Stand up to this foolish, Godless, jerk.
21:23 October 5, 2011 by Value
@codingartist I completel agree with you (except for killing, though). As long as there still are some intelligent people like you, it means that Sweden still has a future.
08:29 October 7, 2011 by Marc the Texan
I would never blow up these historic buildings. OK so you're not religious, big flying whoop! No reason to blow 'em up. If you can't think of a good use for them, then sell to someone who can.
22:19 October 7, 2011 by dizzymoe33
Turn them into housing for the homeless or student housing if they are close to any colleges.
03:30 October 9, 2011 by Bushyblondehead
Sweden is in need of some men of God to wake this country citizens up, I think they mostly have fallen asleep!
00:00 October 11, 2011 by Value
@Bushyblondehead: I agree, 100%
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