Baptisms in Church of Sweden Dwindle Amid Growing Multiculturalism
Over the past 20 years, the Church of Sweden has lost over 1.6 million members. Within the church, there is a growing concern that declining membership will hamper the church's activities in the future.
Fewer and fewer Swedes choose to baptise their kids in the Church of Sweden, and after nearly two years of pandemic, the number of baptisms has fallen to a record low, continuing the adverse trend of recent years.
The pandemic and the restrictions have meant that the number of baptisms fell at a record pace after 2019, but the number of baptisms had been falling for a long time even before the pandemic. Since 2010, the number of baptisms has fallen from 58,731 to merely 28,429 in 2020.
“Of course we have fewer baptisms here in the church. I notice in my family and friends that the for the younger generation baptism is no longer a given,” Stockholm Parish Dean Marika Markovits told SVT, commenting on the decline.
Within the church, there is concern that declining membership will hamper the church's activities in the future.
The Church of Sweden is worried that the number of baptisms will continue to fall over generations because baptism is the foundation of church membership. Over the past 20 years, the Church of Sweden has lost over 1.6 million members, SVT estimated.
“For the Church of Sweden, a large loss of members means that we will no longer able function in the same way that we do today,” Marika Markovits said.
18 May, 06:41 GMT
Historian of religion David Thurfjell of Södertörn University argued that the declining number of baptisms may be partly due to the fact that the perception of religion has changed since it ceased to be mandatory to be a member of the Church of Sweden, and Sweden has developed into a more multi-religious country.
“Being a state church Lutheran and a Swedish church member has been challenged by other views on what religion is, where religion is a stronger identity. We have changed the view of what religion is, to the point that it must be something more intense. So it is a major statement in our religious landscape today,” Thurfjell argued.
Despite a significant yearly loss of members (up to 1-2 percent annually), with 5.7 million members, the Church of Sweden remains the largest Christian denomination in Sweden, the largest Lutheran denomination in Europe and the third-largest in the world.
As of late 2020, it accounts for 55.2 percent of the Swedish population, down from 95 percent in 1972. Part of the explanation for this is the demographic change of recent decades, as immigrants and their descendants now account for about a quarter of the Swedish population of over 10 million.