The effects of a separation between a state church and a state : Participation and religious activity in the Evangelical-Lutheran churches in Sweden and Norway

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Statsvetenskap

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to examine the effects on religious participation and activity in a country that a separation between a state and a state church has. To do this I have compared Sweden and Norway. Norway still has a state church whereas Sweden does not as of January 1 2000. I decided to examine these two countries due to their similar backgrounds, geographical location and political systems. What I found when examining Sweden was that the separation did effect the religious participation compared to Norway. But Sweden has seen a decrease in church activities for a long time; the decrease would have taken place even without the separation, since Norway also had experiences this decrease over time. So my conclusion is, if Sweden had continued to have a state church, there would have been a similar decrease. However, it would probably have been smaller, then what have taken place after the separation. The different religious activities I have looked at, baptism, confirmation and marriage, have had different development over the years and have been affected differently by the separation. The decrease in religious activity in Sweden is not only caused by the separation between state and church, it is also a reaction against a changing society. The separation in Sweden lead to a larger decrease compared to Norway. Both the decrease in religious activity in Sweden and the separation was instead a reaction to a changing society, the role that the Swedish church once played has been replaced by other factors. One of the foundations to the political elements in Sweden has with this decrease and ultimately the separation been lost and if this also will have any effect on the involvement in secular organization, voting rates or political participation is too early to tell.

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