The Swedish flag 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Church of Sweden works in a peculiar way. Between 1536 and the year 2000 it
was a state church, run by the Swedish state. The separation between the Swedish
state and the Church of Sweden was never quite complete.
the Swedish church is independent but there are laws in Sweden that still
regulate the Church of Sweden. The Swedish government agency responsible for
collecting taxes collects the fees members of the Church of Sweden have to
The Swedish state still funds the Church of Sweden because a lot of
their buildings are a part of the Swedish cultural heritage and need
All Swedes still pay a burial tax that goes to the Church of
Sweden because the Church of Sweden has a responsibility to bury all Swedes,
except in the cities of Stockholm and Tranås.
Perhaps the strangest thing
about the Church of Sweden is that it is run by the same political parties that
have mandates in the Swedish parliament. There are actually “church elections”
held in Sweden every fourth year. The biggest party in the Swedish parliament,
the Social Democratic Labour Party, is also the biggest party in Kyrkomötet, the
council that takes all the important decisions regarding the Church of
There is nothing wrong with having a democratic church, specially
when the majority of Swedes are members in the Church of Sweden. But in recent
years some political parties in Sweden have used their influence in the Church
of Sweden to enforce some aspects of their foreign policy that are too radical
to get through in the Swedish parliament.
Today the Church of Sweden is a
big critic of Israel and high-ranking bishops refer to the Israeli presence in
the West Bank as a “sin” and an “abomination against God.” On their website the
Church of Sweden recommends that their congregations “suspend investment, impose
sanctions and boycott companies and products from the Israeli settlements in the
occupied Palestinian Territories.”
THERE IS clearly nothing spiritual
about the views of the Church of Sweden regarding the Israeli-Palestinian
It is politicians who are using one of Europe’s biggest
churches as a weapon against Israel. Sadly enough the anti- Israel rhetoric in
Sweden often spearheaded by the Social Democratic Labour Party has infiltrated
the Church of Sweden in a nasty way.
In the recent “church elections”
that took place in September this year, we as a part of the Swedish NGO
Perspektiv På Israel (PPI) tried to highlight how an important spiritual center
for the Swedish people is being misused. PPI wrote a report, made a short
information video on Youtube, made an inquiry regarding the parties’ stances in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and spread information in social
What we found out was that none of the parties that are carrying
on the anti-Israel agenda in Kyrkomötet actually tells voters what their stance
is in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These politicians are creating an
anti-Israel church behind the backs of the members of the church. We also found
out how proud the Swedish politicians in the Church of Sweden are to admit that
the Kairos Palestine document, an anti- Israeli propaganda document, has been
used as basis for making the decisions on how the Church of Sweden is dealing
So called pro-Palestinians who politicize big European
semi-state churches that have a lot of resources is nothing new. It has happened
in Scotland and Norway. Now it is happening in Sweden too. It is a way for
anti-Israeli forces to legitimize an anti-Israeli mission.
But in Sweden
they are doing this in stealth mode. Swedes are smart people.
were aware that one of their biggest institutions was being mishandled by
politicians to pursue an agenda that has nothing to do with the Church of Sweden
or Christianity, they would react. Therefore it is important to talk about this
and ask relevant questions.
Why doesn’t the Church of Sweden criticize
Iran or Saudi Arabia? Why does the Church of Sweden have its crosshairs on
Israel, the only Jewish state in the world? And why has the anti-Israel
sentiment been eating its way into even traditionally pro-Israeli parties in the
Church of Sweden and forcing it to become anti-Israel? Questions like these will
force the politicians behind the Church of Sweden to stop transforming a
spiritual center for the Swedish people to a political center against Israel.
It’s up to all of us to demand of these so-called pro- Palestinians to play a
fair game and have a honest debate instead of covertly stealing a church from
Perspective on Israel/Perspektiv på Israel (PPI) is a
network founded in August 2013 in Sweden with the aim of counteracting the
distorted anti-Israel message that is spread in the Swedish media and political
parties. Read more at: www.perspektivpaisrael.se.Tobias Petersson is a
Swedish free-lance writer. Nima Gholam Ali Pour is a political commentator in
Sweden and has a master’s degree in International Migration and Ethnic Relations