The Swedish Humanist society protested the current visit of Pope Francis in Sweden. Hours before a sermon held by Pope Francis at the Cathedral of Lund, Sweden on October 31, activists posted a poster containing ten theses on the Cathedral door, mimicking Martin Luther’s protest 500 years ago. The poster was swiftly removed by church officials, but contained a call for reforming the Catholic church regarding:
Equality for Women
Equality for LBTQ persons
Freedom of religion for children
Full right for women to decide about their own bodies
A stop for the opposition to contraceptives
Every human’s right to euthanasia
All child abuse to be reported to the authorities
A stop for blocking certain scientific research, especially stem cell research
A stop for the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope
Each person’s right to define their own moral code.
‘Under the current rules, the Vatican declares something a ‘miracle’ if more than 50% of all experts (several dozens) vote in favour,’ the Dutch (Protestant-leaning) newspaper Trouw reports. ‘That bar will be raised to 66%.’ Apparently, the pope still doesn’t realise you can’t just suspend the laws of nature by majority vote.
Interestingly, the paper adds that ‘the number of miracles was already declining in recent decades – possibly because doctors can explain more and more’, implying that declaring something a ‘miracle’ may be nothing more than an argument from ignorance.
Both the Norwegian and Danish national churches have lost a lot of members over the last couple of months. In Norway this started with a web service that facilitated for anyone to leave the church and in Denmark a secular campaign over the summer has driven many to cancel their membership.
Now the turn has apparently come to Sweden. In Sweden the national church has been separated from the state since 2000, but still has some special privileges. The most important one is that the membership fee, which used to be a tax, is still collected via the income tax return. The membership fee is based on your taxable income and averages at about 300 euros per year.
Just like in Norway, the Swedish church recently published a webpage where you can easily leave the church, the only thing required is the digital signature according to a system used by all Swedish banks . Earlier you would have to acquire a physical form to sign and send back to your local church administration centre. Apparently this new way of leaving is a service that people appreciate, because after less than two weeks about 10000 people have decided to opt out of the church.
With Norway and Denmark losing tens of thousands of members over the last couple of months, and now the same in Sweden, it seems we are witnessing a crisis for the old national churches in Scandinavia.