eurel

Sociological and legal data on religions in Europe and beyond

Tweeter Rss

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Other dispositions

Individual religion as a factor to take into legal account

A general principle in Swedish society developed during the 20th Century has been that religion should be regarded as a private matter. No special recognition should be given to religion as a (...)

A general principle in Swedish society developed during the 20th Century has been that religion should be regarded as a private matter. No special recognition should be given to religion as a factor to take into account in public contexts. The public sphere should be a secular non-religious arena where all people are treated equally and are expected to accept the same social rules regardless of gender, ethnicity, cultural background or religion. This secular and religiously neutral public sphere has, however, slowly but continuously altered in character. The Swedish society has become more aware of the existence of immigrant cultures and the ways in which some of these regard the religion of individuals as a matter that has to be taken into account in public contexts. This changing attitude has been caused by increasing immigration in parallel with a general cultural shift from values stressing societal homogeneity and collectivism to subjective values stressing and respecting individuality, plurality and diversity.
However, when it comes to public holidays the effects of increasing plurality and the disestablishment of the Church have not yet caused any official changes and no Christian holidays have been made “secular”. Neither has any holidays been officially added from other religious traditions, although they are increasingly noted and made visible in public spaces such as the media and schools, an example being the Islamic Ramadan.
The general view is that religious observation belongs to the private sphere and so far no legal exemptions have been made with reference to religious belonging, with the exception of one case. This concerns members of the Jehovah Witnesses who in 1966 were totally exempted from the obligation to participate in military service.

16 May 2014

Blasphemy

On the matter of the legal protection of religion, Sweden historically had a specific blasphemy law protecting religion as such. It was introduced by King Erik XIV in 1563 and followed by (...)

On the matter of the legal protection of religion, Sweden historically had a specific blasphemy law protecting religion as such. It was introduced by King Erik XIV in 1563 and followed by different Acts on this theme until 1949, when it was replaced by an Act on «Peace of Faith» which was a milder form of restriction. In 1970, this Act was abolished and a new Act was introduced on «agitation against a specific group of people» (SFS 2002:906). This Act is focused on minority groups of a specific “race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation”. Thus, it is not the religion as such that is protected, but the group of people adhering to the religion. Religious faith is paralleled here with e.g. ethnicity or sexual orientation. This act has mostly been used in cases concerning agitation in relation to Jews and homosexuals. There is presently no act prohibiting blasphemy in the Swedish Law.

16 May 2014