Report: Stricter criteria for state support to religious communities in Sweden needed

Daniel Lindvall (right) is the principal secretary of the inquiry. (Brett Ascarelli/Radio Sweden)
The democracy criterion in Swedish law, used to determine if religious organizations are eligible to receive state support, needs to be clarified, according to a new, government-commissioned report.

The report recommends amending the law so that it clearly states several grounds on which the state can deny support to religious organizations.

For example, if the organization engages in violence or discrimination, the state would be able to deny it funding. The current wording of the law is too vague, say the authors of the report, presented on Tuesday by the government’s specially appointed investigator, Ulf Bjereld. He is a political scientist as well as the chair of the Religious Social Democrats of Sweden.

Radio Sweden spoke to Daniel Lindvall, the principal secretary in the inquiry, and to Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, about the suggestions that were put forward, and what makes this area of governance so tricky.

The Act on Support to Religious Communities, which currently regulates eligibility for state support, was passed in 2000, when the Swedish Church separated from the state. State support to religious organizations can take the form of grants and free help with collecting membership fees.

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