Shorn of tax support, Sweden church slips

Now member-supported by church fee
Since the separation of state and church in 2000 when church revenues were untied from general taxation, the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden has lost more than 200,000 of its members.

“In the short-term, we are talking about relatively low losses, possible to handle. One percent fewer members per year during the last three years is not alarming,” said Gunnar Nygren, financial controller at the Swedish archbishop’s office. “But in the long-term, say ten years, we will face serious consequences,” he cautioned.

The Church of Sweden is now member-supported by a church fee equal on average to 1 percent of a member’s income. The fee finances about 80 percent of activities in 2,200 parishes. The system is seen by some as a demand for payment, leading them to leave the church for financial reasons.


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