Many Swedes pride themselves on having a religiously diverse and tolerant society. According to the CIA World Factbook, 60.2% of the population identify as Lutheran (i.e. the Church of Sweden), 8.5% identify with some other religion (including Roman Catholic, or Baptist Christianity as well as Islam, Judaism and Buddhism), while a further 31.3% of the population do not identify or did not specify a religion.1 While Christianity continues to be the largest religion in Sweden, membership to other religious organisations is growing, primarily because of the increasing immigrant population.
Christianity in Sweden
Christianity has a longstanding presence in Sweden. From the 11th to the 16th century, Catholicism was the main religion of the country. The Church of Sweden (a part of the Lutheran tradition in Protestantism) emerged as a national church during the Protestant Reformation and has remained dominant ever since.
Although over half of the population (60.2%) identify with the Church of Sweden, church attendance is considerably low. Most Swedes who are active Christians usually attend church for significant rituals and ceremonies, including baptisms, marriages and funerals. For some, the Church of Sweden provides a cultural identity and thus may be nominally Christian. According to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, three-quarters of Swedes show low levels of religious commitment and 65% seldom attend religious services.2
The number of members in the Church of Sweden have declined throughout recent decades for various reasons, such as members leaving the church and the low numbers of the younger generation joining the Church. Nonetheless, there are still some Swedes who identify as Christians out of faith.
Secularism and Religious Tolerance
For centuries, the Church of Sweden had state support and was connected to the Swedish national identity. However, in 2000, a complete legal separation of church and state was instated, making Sweden officially . Ideas of secularism can be found in Swedish society. For example, many Swedes consider religion as a private matter. Some find it distasteful to boast or overemphasise one’s religious affiliation. Instead, it is common for Swedes to keep the topic of religion to themselves. Nonetheless, Sweden’s society is marked by great pride in religious diversity, tolerance and acceptance for all worldviews, particularly in light of the increasing migrant population and the growth of many religions.
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