Christianity is a universal religion, therefore Christianity in Sweden should have many similarities with Christianity in other countries.
If Christianity in Sweden begins to embrace a doctrine that has nothing to do with the universal world religion of Christianity, Sweden has then invented a new religion.
If you look at how Christianity has developed in Sweden today, it seems that this is what Sweden is about to get.
Stefan Swärd is an influential Christian pastor in Sweden with a background in the Evangelical Free Church in Sweden. In an op-ed from September 2014, Swärd describes Christianity the following way:
"When congregations in Sweden meet in diversity and integration and integrate Africans, Chinese and Latin Americans, they express the very essence of the Christian community's being."
"As Christians, we should work for a generous refugee policy. We will work so our churches and congregations become good examples of functioning integration, where people of different backgrounds can come together in a common life."
In December 2014, he gathered 380 Swedish ministers from the Pentecostal movement, the Evangelical Free Church in Sweden, the Uniting Church in Sweden, the Salvation Army, Word of Faith Movement and the Swedish Alliance Mission, as well as several other churches, to sign a petition, which declared, among other things, that these denominations do not believe that Sweden applies a refugee policy that is too generous. This was written before the migration crisis in 2015, when Sweden already had the most liberal immigration policy in Europe and gave all Syrians permanent residence in Sweden.
To those concerned about the future of Sweden, where many new migrants might not be able to be assimilated or might not want to be assimilated, Swärd is regarded as misusing Christianity to argue for a liberal immigration policy.
In his recent book, Jesus Was Also a Refugee (Jesus var också flykting), Swärd and his co-author, Micael Grenholm, try to answer the following question: "What does God think about the global refugee crisis and Swedish migration policy?" The answer that the book gives is that there should be no immigration restrictions at all and that rich countries have to open their borders simply because they are rich countries.
Swärd and his coalition of ministers are not an anomaly in Swedish Christianity. They represent the norm for what much of Swedish Christianity preaches nowadays. Antje Jackelén, the archbishop of Sweden's largest denomination, the Church of Sweden, said in an interview from January 9, 2016 that Jesus would not approve of the Swedish government's new restrictive migration policies, which the government was forced to implement because of the migration crisis. Archbishop Jackelén stated:
"The Bible is full of stories of refugees. Jesus himself was a refugee in his infancy. To protect the stranger, the one who is not protected, runs like a thread through the Old and New Testament. There would probably be no approval from Jesus for the government policy."
On the basis of what many Christian leaders in Sweden say, Jesus seems to have been interested in migration policies, and he seems to have thought that they should be liberal.
According to the Church of Sweden, there are even clear political positions that God has on how immigrants should integrate into a new country. Archbishop Antje Jackelén, for instance, said in an interview from September 2014 that if one requires that immigrants assimilate into the country after their arrival, it is contrary to a Christian view of humanity. Is that statement based on the Bible, or is it based on the political agenda of the Swedish liberal establishment? Antje Jackelén leads the church in which 63% of Sweden's population are members. Her message is that Jesus has clear political positions on both migration and integration policies.
Christian leaders in Sweden have re-made Christianity into a religion that serves the political agenda of an establishment whose extreme liberal ideology lacks popular support. Left: Sweden's Crown Princess, King, Archbishop Antje Jackelén, and the Queen pose after the archiepiscopal ordination of Jackelén on June 15, 2014 (Image source: Church of Sweden). Right: Influential Swedish Christian pastor Stefan Swärd co-wrote the book Jesus Was Also a Refugee, which advocates for a policy of no immigration restrictions; rich countries have to open their borders simply because they are rich countries.
After the June 2016 terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, in which ISIS sympathizer Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub, another influential Christian pastor in Sweden, Stanley Sjöberg, wrote on his Facebook page that homosexuals should be more low-key, not to provoke Muslims. After his statement about the Orlando massacre, Sjöberg told a Christian magazine:
"But I believe that we must adapt to the multicultural way when we've brought several hundred thousand Muslims here. I believe that politicians and serious thinkers agree with me that we cannot just continue with our culture, with Pride festivals, or to drink in public. We in Europe are forced to step back to show a little more considerate attitude to the environment."
The Church of Sweden has actively tried to influence Swedish politicians to support a liberal immigration policy. When the Swedish parliament was going to vote on restrictive migration policies in June 2016, a bishop of the Church of Sweden in the Diocese of Västerås pleaded with MPs to vote against the proposal. When the media asked him why he should interfere in political matters he responded:
"It is obvious to me. Otherwise I would not carry out my duties as bishop unless I committed myself to the vulnerable."
There are lot of vulnerable people in Sweden. 225,000 retirees in Sweden lived in poverty in 2014, and all estimates shows that this number is going to grow rapidly. So why is the Church of Sweden obsessed with vulnerable people who come from other countries?
It seems to have become part of Church of Sweden's mission -- and Christianity in Sweden generally -- to make the country implement a liberal immigration policy.
But is this really the mission of the Church and Christianity? What happened with spreading the Word and letting people know that Jesus is the truth, the way and the life?
It is not even certain that Christian leaders in Sweden care so much about Jesus and his opinions. After a French priest, Jacques Hamel, was murdered by ISIS sympathizers in Rouen, France, on July 26, 2016, an initiative started in Sweden where Swedish Christians took "selfies" with a cross to show solidarity with persecuted Christians. The initiative, called "Mitt kors"("My cross"), was started by three priests from the Church of Sweden. The Church of Sweden, however, criticized it. Gunnar Sjöberg, Head of Communications for the Church of Sweden, wrote on his Facebook page:
"I really do not know about that. This thing about Christians suddenly wearing a cross as a sign for or against something. It is actually nothing new, but the call seems seditious and un-Christian in the conflicts that already exist."
So now, according to a senior official in the Church of Sweden, the call to wear a cross to show solidarity with persecuted Christians is "un-Christian".
That the Church of Sweden distances itself from people who carry the cross caused Ann Heberlein, a doctor of theology and lecturer at Lund University, to write,
"The leadership of the Church of Sweden no longer wants to lead a Christian community; they want to lead a general ethical association for humanistic values of the most vulgar kind."
The Church of Sweden's attacks on the "My cross" initiative continued until one of the priests who had started it publicly left the Church of Sweden. In an article, Johanna Andersson, the priest who is resigning, writes:
"Church leadership has for several weeks been running a campaign against us who started the group 'My cross.' In this campaign, I have been discredited, called 'questionable', 'unclean', 'agitator', 'un-Christian' and attributed xenophobic hidden agendas."
The question, therefore, is whether some Christian leaders in Sweden really care about Jesus and Christianity or whether they are using Jesus to convey a political agenda which includes a liberal immigration policy and multiculturalism.
While the Church of Sweden opposed a campaign that tried to use the cross to show solidarity with the persecuted Christians, Archbishop Antje Jackelén co-authored an op-ed in one of Sweden's largest newspapers with four other Swedish religious leaders, including Mahmoud Khalfi, chairman of the Swedish Imam Council, who has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
There are many examples of how Christianity in Sweden has gone astray and become something else. One might describe Swedish Christianity as a new religion that worships multiculturalism and leftist values in general. In Swedish Christianity, Jesus has been reduced from being the son of God, to an activist fighting for multiculturalism and open borders.
In 2013, the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League had an advertisement for elections in the Church of Sweden, in which they declared that "Jesus was a Social Democrat." Meanwhile, there are Christian leaders who claim to know exactly what Jesus thought about the current government's immigration policy.
This is the state of Swedish Christianity today, and it is not certain that Christians around the world would recognize the religion in Sweden called Christianity. Christian leaders in Sweden have taken Christianity and made it into a religion that serves the political agenda of an establishment whose extreme liberal ideology lacks popular support among the Swedish people.
If the Swedish establishment wants multiculturalism, then Christian leaders will declare that God says multiculturalism is good. If the Swedish establishment wants a liberal immigration policy, Jesus says that he has always been for a liberal immigration policy, despite the fact that he was born more than 2000 years ago. Swedish Christianity has become a mixture of madness and deception.
In Malmö the Church of Sweden publishes a local magazine called Trovärdigt. In the latest issue, you can read that a priest, who serves at St. Peters church in Malmö, said,
"The rainbow in the Pride Flag is also a sign of the promise between God and man".
Really? Not even the most radical gay activists believe that the rainbow in the gay pride flag is a sign of the promise between God and man. For many influential Christian leaders in Sweden, it does not matter what it says in the Bible anymore. In fact, if you take a step back and look at the overall picture, it is clear that many Christian leaders in Sweden do not worship God; they worship the romanticized, multicultural utopia they want Sweden to become. These Christian leaders betray not only the Swedish people, but they also betray the God that they promised to serve, by making Christianity into a bullhorn for the liberal elite who hold political power in Sweden.
One can have different interpretations of what Jesus did or what opinions he had, but we can all agree that he did not serve the Emperor or other earthly rulers. Too many Christian leaders in Sweden have become the servants of earthly rulers by conveying the message of the political establishment in Sweden.
Nima Gholam Ali Pour is a member of the board of education in the Swedish city of Malmö and is engaged in several Swedish think tanks concerned with the Middle East. He is also editor for the social conservative website Situation Malmö. Gholam Ali Pour is the author of the Swedish book "Därför är mångkultur förtryck"("Why multiculturalism is oppression").