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Soutien de l’État aux communautés religieuses minoritaires

Faith communities other than the Church of Sweden which are seen as contributing to the building of society and the maintenance of fundamental common values are supported financially by the Swedish state. This national state support is regulated by two acts and one regulation ; the Act on Faith Communities (SFS 1998:1593), the Act on support to Faith Communities (SFS 1999:932) and the Regulation on State Subsidies to Faith Communities (SFS 1999:974).

The overarching aim of financial state support to faith communities is to create opportunities for them to maintain long-term religious activity in the form of religious services, counselling, teaching and care. The support in the form of grants is handled by the Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities (SST) which is a state authority under the Ministry of Culture. It has a board of nine members and an advisory group made up of 24 representatives of different faith communities. The board is appointed by the government and consists of faith community representatives nominated by the advisory group. This means that the decision-making body of SST is a state authority, gathering representatives of the receiving organisations of the state grants which it distributes.

In order for an organisation to receive support, a number of specified criteria have to be fulfilled (SFS 1999:932 ; SFS 1999:974 ; SST Tillämpningsföreskrifter 2018). The faith community has to a) contribute to maintaining and strengthening the fundamental values of society ; b) be organisationally stable and have a life force of its own ; c) serve at least 3,000 people in Sweden and manage activities in several locations in the country (if it serves fewer people, it must then be part of an internationally active faith community of substantial importance in order to qualify for support) ; d) be organised as a registered faith community or a registered non-profit association with leadership in Sweden ; e) be financed mainly by members living in Sweden ; f) own or rent premises for its activities.

The meaning of the fundamental values of society is elaborated in the government’s bill to parliament on state support to faith communities (Regeringens proposition 1998/99:124). This bill states that these standards concern democratic values and the equal worth of all humans, including equality between women and men. This means working against discrimination of people based on sex, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, language or religious belonging, handicap, sexual orientation or age. It also means encouraging ethnic, language and religious minorities to maintain and develop a cultural and religious life of their own. It also states that in order to be eligible for grants, a faith community should encourage its members to take part in the life of society and clearly distance itself from antidemocratic social currents.

There are currently 47 faith communities receiving state grants, which are of three different kinds : 1) Organisational grants enabling provision of religious services, pastoral care and education, 2) Project grants of three kinds ; a) for the building of new premises or to adapt premises for handicapped people, b) for the cost of education abroad of pastors, imams, etc. aimed to serve a faith community in Sweden, c) for the initial work to establish a faith community of recently arrived immigrants, 3) Grants directed to support specific activities that the state wishes to subsidise, e.g. hospital chaplaincy and theological training at certain theological colleges.

Figures from the year 2019 show that 8 million Euro were distributed in state support to minority faith communities. The major part consists of the organisational grants which are distributed according to an estimate of the number of people that the respective faith community serves ; a figure which may include more people than the actual members. In 2019, organisational and project grants were distributed (in thousand euros) to the Pentecostal parishes in cooperation (1000), Equmenia Church (900), the Roman Catholic Church (900), Inter Act (Evangeliska Frikyrkan) (370), seven Muslim organisations (1300), National Evangelical Missionary Society (EFS) (250), eighteen Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches (1150), Swedish Alliance Mission (163), Mandaean Community (80), Buddhist Cooperative Council of Sweden (76), eight minor Christian denominations (176), Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities (55), Salvation Army (55), Alevi association (28), The Adventist Church (23) (Nämnden för statligt stöd till trossamfund, SST. Utbetalda statsbidrag 2019).

D 4 mars 2021    APer Pettersson

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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