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Debate in Sweden about Covid-19 passports in churches

Indoor church gatherings with over 100 participants can only allow people who have been vaccinated. The Swedish Evangelical Alliance says it restricts religious freedom.

FUENTES Dagen, CNE.news AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus STOCKHOLM 22 DE DICIEMBRE DE 2021 12:00 h
A church building in Stockholm, Sweden. / Photo: [link]Spayla[/link]

In Sweden, church services are not exempt from following the new restrictions imposed by the government on all indoor gatherings with over 100 people.

The measure has opened a conversation about the balance between safety and personal freedoms, in similar terms as recent debates in Switzerland, Italy, Austria or Greece.

The deputy general secretary of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, Jacob Rudenstrand, wrote in an article published by newspaper Dagen that he believes “no one should have to be checked by the eye of the state when approaching God”.

He agrees with the Christian Council of Sweden in that requiring a vaccination proof to join a religious meetings is a “restriction of personal integrity disproportionate to the constitutional protection of religious freedom”.

The leader of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance complains that “back in May, Minister for Digital Affairs Anders Ygeman assured churches that vaccination certificates would not be required for church services or other religious gatherings. Today, we know that promise didn’t last very long”.

In Sweden, writes Rudenstrand, the fact that religious freedom is not mentioned in the pandemics law shows that “little thought has been given to this fundamental freedom”.

“Homeless people, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, mourners and other vulnerable people often come to churches”, notes Rudenstrand. Refusing their entrance or telling them to go to another church should not be an option. Asking the Christian communities to limit the number of worshippers is “unlikely to be welcomed by the country's churches the closer we get to Advent and Christmas”.

Citizens can be “in favour of vaccine Passports” and still seeing that the “de facto restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms that they represent in principle”.

The evangelical representative ends by underlining that Sweden celebrates the 70th anniversary of religious freedom next year.


Other voices

Not all Christians in Sweden see it like the Evangelical Alliance. Some believe being unwilling to get the Covid-19 vaccine also means to “face the consequences of that choice”, says another columnist on Dagen. “It is not reasonable that other worshippers should have to take responsibility and be forced to stay at home because of the risk of possibly ending up next to an unvaccinated person in the pew. The elderly and those at risk have already taken responsibility and lived in isolation at the beginning of the pandemic”. Smaller gatherings, multiple gatherings, outdoor meetings and online services are always an option as well.

Meanwhile, the Lutheran Archbishop Ante Jackelén, has said the Church of Sweden opposes “these inconsistent rules”, according to statements collected by Christian Network Europe (CNE).  “We will continue to protest against vaccine passes. We are annoyed that church activities are compared to sports events and concerts, which are incomparable. People’s religious practice is fundamental and must be protected in another way”, she said.




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MIEMBRO DE: Evangelical European Alliance (EEA) y World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)

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