Criticism on Swedish school with Bible verse on facade


Northern Europe


The school in Kjula. photo Google Street View

A Bible verse on a small sign at a school in the Swedish town of Kjula is being questioned by an anonymous contributor to the school.

In classic character, the sign says, “God’s fear is the beginning of wisdom”, quoting Psalm 111.

Apparently, that message irritated an anonymous contributor, who in June felt compelled to complain in local newspaper Eskilstuna-Kuriren.

According to the writer, his daughter will soon start school in Kjula. “When she comes to school, every day, she will read what is written on that sign. Our family is a modern, thinking and knowledge-hungry family, and like most other people, we know that there exists no god. To then be able to read this quote daily is an insult to science and our intelligence”, writes the contributor. The writer goes on with questioning whether it is appropriate for a municipal school to stand for a quote “taken from the Middle Ages.”

According to Swedish daily Dagen, it is not entirely uncommon for contributors to criticise religion in its local newspapers. However, it happens not often that the school principal responded in the newspaper as well and went along with the request.

“I have full respect and understanding for the desire to preserve the sign, but it is not compatible with the Education Act to have it up in premises intended for teaching”, says Hans Stockselius in the Eskilstuna-Kuriren. According to Stockselius, the sign will be saved as a historical artefact.

A close-up from the message on the facade. photo Google Street View

However, the principal’s interpretation of the Education Act is opposed. Municipal councillor Arne Jonsson from the Swedish Centre Party believes that the principal alone does not have the mandate to decide on such a matter, but that it is a matter for the culture committee.

The chairman of the municipal board, Jimmy Jansson of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, agrees with Jonsson. “If this building is not suitable for schooling, then you have to build a new one. But you cannot take away from a building its history. Our entire society is incredibly characterised by Christianity”, he tells Dagen.

In a Facebook post, Jansson appeals to the school management and the parents to stop arguing and reflect on the sign’s history. Just because someone is angry is not a good way to have a democratic dialogue, he says.



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