20:25 GMT12 April 2021
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    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (200)

    A Swedish church has included praise of immigration in its controversial Christmas sermon, which triggered strong criticism from fellow Swedes.

    Policeman, criminologist and journalist Fredrik Kärrholm visited the beautiful Yttergran Church in Uppsala Parish on Christmas Eve and was not impressed with the sermon, which, according to his description, mostly consisted of "political propaganda" for increased immigration.

    By Kärrholm's account, the priest preached against measures to restrict immigration to the Nordic country and condemned Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson's recent claim that Sweden has received too many migrants, advising refugees to seek asylum elsewhere in the EU.

    Kärrholm argued this was "extremely sad" and urged the church to become "depoliticized."

    ​Nevertheless, Kärrholm expressed his admiration for the Yttergran Church, which stems from the 1100s and boasts medieval frescoes by Albertus Pictor.

    ​This is not the first time that the Church of Sweden, led by Archbishop Antje Jackelén, has engaged in promoting immigration. Last year, the church launched a "Christmas petition" advocating for a more humane asylum policy, which gathered over 80,000 signatures. The petition, which among other things called to eliminate practical obstacles for the reunification of migrant families, was presented to then-Immigration Minister Morgan Johansson in February 2017. In December 2017, the Church of Sweden reiterated its call, saying it was still a topical issue.

    In 2017, the Church of Sweden sparked controversy through its practice of harboring undocumented migrants wanted by the authorities. Additionally, "paperless immigrants" are known for coming to the church for assistance in the form of food handouts, medicine and shelter. The police, who organized raids against the church, argued that no one was exempt from Swedish law except for foreign embassies. Linköping deacon Anna Ramén retorted that the sheer fact that people are deprived of their human dignity was incompatible with the Christian faith.

    By its own admission, the Church of Sweden spends SEK 60 million ($7 million) annually on efforts to ease the plight of refugees both at home and internationally.

    ​The sermon nevertheless stirred mixed reactions from Swedes.

    "Unfortunately, that train has passed the station a long time ago. When Jackelen & co engage in politics, there will be one embarrassment after another!!" Patrik Färnlöf tweeted.

    READ ALSO: '100% Guarantee': Systematic Trade in Fake Asylum Stories Revealed in Sweden

    "So glad that I left the church 20 years ago. Things have only turned for the worse since," Eva Eriksson tweeted.

    User Alfstweets argued that it was "particularly strange" given that the majority of those who come to Sweden as refugees are Muslims, possibly alluding to Jackelén's motto, "God is greater," which many find echoing Islam's "Allahu akbar."

    Earlier this year, Fredrik Kärrholm wrote an opinion piece in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, highlighting a "destructive culture" spreading in Swedish suburbs, which he described as a mixture of Arab and Swedish culture with US hip-hop overtones, arguing it should become more Swedish.

    READ MORE: Oh, Lord! Church of Sweden Drops Male God For the Sake of Inclusion

    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (200)


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