As numbers of active parishioners continue to decline across Sweden, the Church of Sweden has been forced to permanently close 104 churches, as some speak of repurposing the buildings for other uses including mosques.
Last year saw the largest number of churches shut down with the small nordic nation losing 10 of its national churches in 12 months, but the trend of church closures shows little sign of abating in the near future, Swedish tabloid Corren reports.
Markus Dahlberg, who heads cultural heritage in the Church of Sweden, commented on the closures saying, “It is something we will [have to] live with for a long time to come.”
Dahlberg listed several reasons for the surge in church closures, including an overall decline in church membership, a decline in attendance of services and a trend of rural individuals moving to larger cities.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 14, 2018
A report released last year claimed that the Church of Sweden could lose as many as a million members within a ten-year period, with örje Holgersson, chairman of the church council of Lima-Transtrand in Västerås, stating that fewer parishioners meant less money to spend on the upkeep of churches.
The Church of Sweden currently has around 3,000 churches across the country and while it receives 460 million Swedish krona (£37m/$48m) per year for the upkeep of church buildings, the money does not come close to covering the actual costs, accounting for just a quarter of the money required.
While some of the closed churches have simply been demolished, others have been repurposed into housing, sold to other Christian denominations or made into museums. When asked if the churches might be offered to Muslim groups to turn into mosques, Dahlberg claimed he did not know.
Senior members of the clergy of the Chruch of Sweden have expressed a fondness for Islam in the recent past, with Stockholm lesbian Archbishop Eva Brunne even offering to convert parts of churches into Muslim prayer spaces in 2015 and later claimed she had more in common with Muslims than conservative Christians.
Swedish Bishop Claims He Is ‘Looking Forward’ to Hearing Muslim Call to Prayer in Sweden https://t.co/h3kJOmb02U
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 15, 2018