Swedish Prime Minister considers returning to church


Northern Europe


Photo AFP

Churches are essential to society. They form a counterforce against segregation and gang crime. That is the opinion of Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. She even considered rejoining the Church that she left at the age of 18. Still, she does not believe in God.

When she was 18, Andersson left the Church of Sweden because she was not a believer. The Swedish Prime Minister said so in an interview with Dagen. Her convictions have not changed since then. She says that she does not need religion to find meaning in her life. She has always known that her mission is to make Sweden a fairer country "where all children have the opportunity to grow up and develop their abilities, regardless of their conditions."

Yet, she considers rejoining the church because she finds its activities essential and wants to show support to them. "All the activities they have for children and young people, all the music, ecumenical activities, important social work, language cafés and so on", she sums up.

The Prime Minister notices that churches and religious communities are important for many people in Sweden. She says that churches offer society a kind of community, guidance and support. "People who do not usually go to church go there in times of life crises and decisive moments."

In addition, Andersson thinks that churches in Sweden form a strong counterforce against segregation. According to her, the language cafés are an excellent example of how religious people deal with foreigners. "And think of all those who opened their homes to unaccompanied youth. Many of them are active believers. How would we have coped with the refugee crisis in 2015 without them?"

In combatting segregation, the churches also contribute to reducing gang crime. Of that, Andersson is convinced. "Segregation fuels gang crime. People do not feel welcome in society. Churches and congregations are a counterforce to that. Imagine if everyone acted the way many believers do. We would have a better country", she says to Dagen.

Recently, Andersson's government launched a proposal that would make the establishment of new denominational – including Christian – schools very difficult. However, the Prime Minister does not think that conflicts with her positive view on church and religion. First, she says that churches are still allowed to run denominational schools. However, they must keep their denominational teachings outside of the curriculum. In addition, she points out that the ban on new denominational schools does not mean that religion should be labelled as harmful or dangerous.

Pressure at school

At a church event of the Equmenia Church that the Prime Minister attended, attention was drawn to the fact that every second Christian youth has felt violated at school because of their faith. That is reported by Dagen. A report from the Swedish Christian Council showed that one in four Christian students feel discriminated against by their teacher based on their faith. Many of them hide their faith in school because of that.

That is terrible, Andersson responded. "All children in Swedish schools should have the opportunity to grow and develop based on who they are."



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