Swedish priest may lose job for opposing same-sex marriage


Northern Europe


Clerical collar. Photo iStock

Several voices in the Church of Sweden argue that priests who do not want to seal a same-sex marriage should be fired. To that end, they will propose an addition to the Church Ordinance, the regulations of the Church of Sweden.

The proposal is the initiative of the Social Democratic Group, which is part of the church leadership. Social Democrat Jesper Eneroth argues that anyone who discriminates based on gender, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation is not fit to be a priest. That is reported by Vart Land. Eneroth has asked the church board to investigate the possibility of implementing such a rule.

In the church‘s parliament, the proposal is supported by the Centre Party, Vänsteren and Open Church. Together, these groups form a majority. However, delegates at the church meeting are not bound by their party's stance. They can vote freely, and thus the proposal may be rejected.

However, before the Swedish Church meeting votes on the proposal, a teaching council has to look at it. That does not have a binding vote. If the commission rejects the proposal, the church meeting can still pass and implement it. To do so, 75 per cent of the delegates have to support it.

Kyrkans Tidning reports that the teaching council has objections to the proposal but does not reject it altogether. According to the council, there are already possibilities for bishops to intervene if they think a priest discriminates.


The motion would be a betrayal of the church meeting, representatives of the Swedish Frimodig kyrka, a liberal nomination group of the Church of Sweden say. That is reported by Dagen. When the Church of Sweden allowed marriage for same-sex couples in 2009, it also established that priests were allowed to refrain from ordaining such a marriage. “It was then promised that those with a classic view of marriage have jurisdiction in the Church of Sweden, but now they want to expel them. Many would experience it as a huge betrayal, not worthy of a Christian Church”, Torkel Lindahl from Frimodig kyrka says.

Furthermore, the Evangelical Lutheran Mission, which is connected to the Church of Sweden, opposes the proposal, because it would “force many priests to go against their faith and conscience.”

No debate yet in Norway

In Norway, the debate on priests who refuse to ordain same-sex marriages does not play a role yet, Vart Land writes. Therese Egebakken, a board member of the Free Church, is glad about that. The Free Church is a conservative network for members of the Church of Norway who have a traditional view on sexuality and marriage. Egebakken: "The first thing I think about the proposal is: Is it really true? It is incredible." According to Egebakken, the decision is undemocratic. She thinks that same-sex marriage is a matter of faith. "If this is adopted, it will really be a restriction of freedom of religion."

In Norway, the so-called Marriage Act regulates that priests have the freedom to refuse the blessing of same-sex marriage.



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