bership, the total of Swedish residentsnwho are nonmembers has increasednby 25,000 a year the last few years.nIn 1984 there were 7,963,696 statenchurch members and 420,572 nonmembersnin Sweden. That year 13,395nleft and 5,874 joined the state church.nBut even if you leave, you still have tonpay 60 percent of the church tax fornhandling civil registration.nThat most people in Sweden do notnregard the Church of Sweden as anythingnmore than the keeper of vitalnstatistics may be inferred from the factnthat while 93 percent of Sweden’s 8.3nmillion population are nominal members,nonly 2 percent attend Sundaynmorning services on any given Sunday.nChurch attendance in the Stockholmnarea is as low as 0.7 percent ofnthe population. The highest attendancenis recorded in the relativelynsparsely populated dioceses of Vaxjonand Visby with 3.3 percent attendingnthe state church regularly.nThe erosion both of the spiritualnauthority and the moral raison d’etre ofnthe state church has had a number ofncontributing factors: (1) corruptionnamong bishops in allegedly rigged elections;n(2) politicization of both appointmentsnand expressions; (3) splitsnin the clergy regarding controversialnsocial-moral issues such as homosexuality,nabortion, contraceptives, etc.; andn(4) the three double splits regardingnstate church versus (a) confessionalnchurch, (b) the High and Low Churchnmovements, and (c) the exceptionallynsensitive issues over the ordination ofnwomen into the priesthood. (Theynwere first admitted in 1958. Todaynwomen represent about 10 percent ofnthe 3,000 clergy, but as they are 50npercent of the students in the theologicalnseminaries, this portends somethingnfor the future.) Another issue whichncauses controversy and hard feelings isnthe immense wealth of the church andnthe way it is administered. It should bennoted that the church and its employeesnare an important part of governmentnbureaucracy and civil service.nThe church employs 25,000 persons.nThree thousand of these are clergy, ofnwhom 85 percent are members ofnunions with full and recognized rightsnto strike.nPart of the church wealth hasnmedieval origins, such as 4,000 churchnstructures, 2.5 percent of Sweden’snarable lands, and 1.4 percent of itsnforests. Although many Lutherannchurch services may gather no morenthan two dozen worshipers on a Sunday,nnew churches worth about onenhalf billion crowns are built each yearnwhile 1.5 million crowns are expendednannually for the upkeep of those whichnalready exist.nOf the total church of 20 billionncrowns, 15.8 billion are in cemeteriesnand church structures, 1.6 billion innfunds and investments, 1.3 billion innforests and acreage, one billion innschools and foundations, and 120 millionnin corporations such as a publishingncompany and a press service.nThere are many who consider it inappropriatenfor a church to have suchnwealth when so much of the world isnstarving. This is seen as a violation ofnJesus’ words to the rich young man,n”Go sell all that thou hast and give tonthe poor and you shall gain a treasurenin heaven.” Yet others criticize thenchurch for not properly “multiplyingnthe talents” by modern and effectivenmethods of investments.nIf the state church is ever to regainnits voice as an ecclesiastical authoritynon spiritual grounds, it is evident that anspiritual revival must occur like the oneninitiated by Martin Luther. Whennbishops and clergy are appointed fornnarrow political ends or as partisannfavors and when delegates to thenchurch council are selected mostly fornpolitical loyalty, then the politicizedncontent of the message becomes dominant.nIt was not many years ago thatnthe Bishop of Stockholm, IngemarnStrom, said he would rather live in thenSoviet Union than the USA (becausenthe latter was such a commercializednsociety). Last year current ArchbishopnWerkstrom dared to draw some scripturalnconclusions about homosexualitynand other “sins.” The outcry was immensenfrom a prevailingly liberal press,nas well as from some clergy. Threenbishops opposed the primus openly,nand the current Bishop of Stockholm,nKrister Stendahl, had a special worshipnservice for homosexuals which endednwith a riot and police dragging protestingnyoung fundamentalists out of thenchurch. It was Bishop Stendahl whonlately used his pulpit to condemn thosenwishing to leave Sweden as “sinners.”n(Wanting to exercise a fundamentalnright and shelter some economic gainnnnfrom an increasingly rapacious Swedishntaxation authority was considered an”sin.”) These moral protests soundednstrange in view of the bishop’s ownndecades-long tenure at Harvard as anprofessor of theology and his finalnreturn to the U.S. this year “to be nearnhis family.”nWhere does this leave the manynSwedes who are active in their ownndissenting or national churches? Whatnrights do they have, and what is theirnrelationship to the state and the statenchurch? For the purposes of the statenrelationship to the free denominations,nthese are divided into three categories:n(1) traditional evangelical denominationsnsuch as Methodists (6,649 inn1981), Baptists (21,952), SalvationnArmy (36,793), and Pentecostalsn(99,047); (2) “foreign national churches”:nJews (9,300), Muslims, RomannCatholics (105,590), and Greek Orthodoxn(20,000); and (3) so-calledn”cults and sects” in which Sweden’sntwo fastest growing religious groups arenplaced, the Mormons (7,000) and Jehovah’snWitnesses (16,()00).nSince the state has a radio andntelevision monopoly, no religious denominationncan either buy time in thennetworks or acquire it outright. (Thenonly exception is local radio with extremelynlimited frequency.) Onlynonce, for example, has a fairly fullnchurch service from the Mormonsnbeen shown on television. Programs onn”cults and sects” are most often subjectednto “investigative reporting”nwhere the beliefs or theology of thesengroups are given subjective scrutiny.nThe Social Democratic Party has initiatedncampaigns against “sects or cults”nand called for state money for refugeesnand “deprogramming” of young converts,nwith or without their consent.nThe nonstate denominations arenalso suffering other disadvantages. Nontax exemptions or deductions are givennto those who support non-state churchesn(as in the USA or even Denmark).nTheir church properties are often expropriatednby rezoning laws, municipalnprior purchase, or by municipal expropriationnrights. Still they flourish, fillingnan important need which the statenchurch of Sweden is unwilling or unablento fulfill — the spiritual vacuum ofnyoung people hungering for moral disciplinenand spiritual solace. They havenexperienced life in the world’s mostnAUGUST 1988 / 4fn