Enshrined in Sweden’s constitution is the right to religious freedom. This is a right which is observed at all levels of national operations in Swedish society in order to provide Swedish citizens with comfortable and fair environments in which to practice their respective religious beliefs. Over the years, the freedom of worship has evolved considerably to catch up with the ever-changing religious landscape in the country. The worship of pagan gods was practiced in the early 11th Century before the introduction of the Christian faith through the Roman Catholic Church. Gusta Vasa, the King in the year 1530, proclaimed that the Lutheran Church would be the recognized state religion, which heightened the level of religious intolerance in Sweden. The diverse religious groups in Sweden have brought about the incorporation of other practices in the Christian faith, as evidenced in the Christian holidays where other religious traditions are welcome in the society
Lutheran Church of Sweden and other Protestant Christians
In earlier times in Sweden, the citizens who outright rejected the Lutheran faith would face serious punishments that could include such extreme measures as deportation from the country and even the death penalty. With a population of more than 6 million members, the Lutheran Church of Sweden prides itself to be among the three largest churches in the world. In more recent times between the years 2005 and 2015, the church has suffered a significant loss of more than 730,000 church members, which accounted for 11% of the entire church population. To counter this high number of loss, the Lutheran church has tried to alter some of their core beliefs on issues touching on abortion, gay practice, and gender equality. All the Lutheran in Sweden with other forms of Protestantism accounts for 55% of the total population.
Irreligion in Sweden
Across the whole world, one of the countries where it is most acceptable for one to be practice atheism is Sweden due to the high level of acceptance there for those who profess a lack of belief in established religious systems. Fueling this trend is the general thinking in the Swedish society that religion only exists for ceremonial roles. The opening of a purely atheist cemetery was done to cater for the growing numbers of atheist in the country. Atheist accounts for 34% of the total population in the country.
Since the year 2007, the number of Muslim members of the Swedish population has recorded an increase from 250,000 to 340,000, a growth from a 1.8% to a 4.3% share of the general Swedish population. Most of these members reside in the nation’s major cities which have significantly impacted the society and way of life in the country. After Christianity, Islam is the second official religion in Sweden with close to six major mosques used by the members. The introduction of ‘basement mosques’ has helped the faithful Muslim practice their religion without any interference from the awful weather. With the high number of the atheist in the nation, there is low tolerance for the public wearing of hijab by the Muslim women. Currently, Islam constitutes 5% of the Swedish population.
Roman Catholic Christianity
With the great shifts being observed in progressive religious circles in Sweden, the Roman Catholic Christians' practice has remained more constant. Five centuries ago, there was an experience of a widespread Protestant reformation making it difficult for the prosperity of the Roman Catholic Christianity. One of the main reasons for the increase of the country’s Catholic community is credited to immigration which has entirely altered the religious landscape opening avenues for more diversity.
Departure from Fundamental Lutheran Beliefs in Swedish Society Today
Despite Sweden being among the nations with the highest prevalence of atheism, it is a country that is far from an irreligious society. It is evident that most of the liberal Christians in Sweden are creating gray areas in their religious practices, and openly adapting to the secularized society. All of these alterations are ultimately compromising the original fundamental religious beliefs that were once widely accepted in the predominately Lutheran Sweden of years past.
Religious Beliefs In Sweden
|Rank||Belief System||Share of Contemporary Swedish Population|
|1||Lutheran Church of Sweden and Other Forms of Protestant Christianity||55%|
|2||Atheism or Agnosticism||34%|
|4||Roman Catholic Christianity||2%|
|Neo-Paganism, Eastern Religions, and Other Beliefs||3%|