In the United States, it’s pretty easy to take religious liberties for granted. Throughout the rest of the Western world, Christianity is under attack on all sides.
In Sweden for example, the sitting prime minister recently announced that he will be forcing priests to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, even if they oppose same-sex marriage.
What’s behind this heavy-handed approach, and how does it impact the rest of the world? Could that happen here in America? Here’s what you need to know.
Forcing Their Hand
In a recent interview with Swedish television SVT, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven stated his intention to force all priests in the nation to marry anyone, including same sex couples, despite the moral or religious opposition those priests could hold.
“No priest in the Swedish Church can refuse to marry same-sex couples,” he said.
Lofven further stated that the points of view of the priests did not matter; he feels that only those priests who submit to his ruling and agree to marry same sex couples should be ordained at all. This motion is currently being considered by the Swedish government, and could become law with the prime minister’s vocal support.
The state church has its own form of parliament already committed to performing gay marriages in the country. The Swedish Church is already one of the most progressive, left-leaning in the world; forcing priests to perform ceremonies against their beliefs.
“If you work as a midwife (you) must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else. It is the same for priests who do not want to perform same-sex marriages,” Lofven said, further explaining his reasoning.
While the state church did agree to perform same sex marriages, it was not a mandate; individual priests were not to be forced to perform these ceremonies against their will. The church synod currently allows priests to refuse to perform a variety of ceremonies for any reason. Under current church rules, individual priests can refuse to marry any couple, baptize any baby or even perform a funeral for any stated reason.
Legal, but Not Compulsory – Until Now
Sweden made gay marriage legal almost a decade ago in 2009, but it was not compulsory. Priests initially could decide on their own if they wanted to perform these or any other type of ceremony.
Prime Minister Lofven wants to take away this choice and mandate that all individual priests have to carry out weddings, even if they do not want to or it was against their beliefs. His wish is to extend this mandate to not just the church but to individual priests as well. The ruling party in Sweden, the Social Democratic party supports Lofven’s opinion in this matter.
The assault on Christianity’s heritage is not limited to same sex weddings in Sweden. Eva Brunne, Bishop of Stockholm, created worldwide controversy when she removed crosses from the city’s churches to make them more Muslim friendly. The continued attacks on Christianity, churches and priests in Sweden are alarming to both the clergy and laypeople in the nation.
Coming to a Church Near You?
While the United States does not currently require clergy to marry same sex couples or threaten priests who don’t, there are some troubling developments. Gay marriage has been declared legal by the supreme court, it is not compulsory – yet.
In 2014, a couple who owned a chapel in San Diego was brought to court for failing to agree to marry a gay couple. While the case was later dismissed, there was the possibility of fines and even calls for jail time for these business owners.
Sadly, there is not much Americans can do about the Swedish government stripping away the rights of Christians piece by piece. We can, however, heed the warning from overseas, and ensure such a policy never sees the light of day in our country.
~ 1776 Christian