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Les Témoins de Jéhovah obtiennent un million d’euros de financement et de compensation de l’État

  • January 2022

After years of debate Jehovah’s Witnesses have for the first time received Swedish state grants as a religious community, according to the principle that grants are distributed to minority religious communities in Sweden (the majority church, the Church of Sweden is not included in the system for state grants).
Jehovah’s witnesses have applied for state grants several times since 2007, but the government has always rejected the applications. According to the law on state support to religious communities, the community must, among other things, "Contribute to maintaining and strengthening the basic values on which society is based" in order to receive funding for its activities. Whether Jehovah’s Witnesses do so or not has been disputed for twelve years. The government argued that their members are not encouraged to participate in political elections, or to take on political roles and duties. Thereby, Jehovah’s witnesses were regarded as not encouraging their members to take part in the life of society. Added to this, their attitude to general principles concerning health and medical care was also mentioned, as members of the Witnesses refuse blood transfusions. Another argument was the difficult situation for ex-members, who in some cases are isolated from the members.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have twice appealed the decision to the Supreme Administrative Court, which after a long process decided that the government’s justifications were not sufficient to prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from qualifying for government grants. The community received the first grant of 200 000 Euro for the year 2021. Additionally the Chancellor of Justice has granted 850 000 Euro damages for the years when their applications for grants were rejected. So they have received altogether just over 1 million Euro. "This is an acknowledgment and a victory in principle," said Raymond Beaini, elder brother and spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
There is consequently a conflict between the government and the Supreme Administrative Court regarding the view of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The court’s decision to approve financial support has been questioned by previous members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have left the movementand denounce its lack of democratic values. Therefore, the debate on state grants to Jehovah’s witnesses will probably continue ("Efter tolvåriga tvisten : Jehovas får miljonbelopp i skadestånd", SVT Nyheter, 9 January 2022).

D 26 janvier 2022    APer Pettersson

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