Ex-dean: ‘blow up unused Swedish churches’

Ex-dean: 'blow up unused Swedish churches'
As the number of churchgoers in Sweden dwindles ever further, a former dean has suggested the best thing to do with the almost unused buildings is demolish them.

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.

”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.

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