матвей кайнер.
laughs but is really sad inside.
The distinctive Swedish blend of hard-to-penetrate cultural codes and claims to a universal culture of reason and rationality was perhaps most clearly manifest in the role of religion in Sweden. Up to the post-war period, Sweden could reasonably be described as a monolithic state-church society with a distinct and visible Lutheran cultural identity. Linked to the ideal of a People's Home was the Lutheran ideal of a People's Church, folkkyrka, originating in Germany in the 1880s and particularly cherished by Christian Social Democrats. The Church of Sweden thus came to be identified with the state and the state identified with the church and protected its interests; the church relinquished its moral and spiritual independence from the state while the state provided it with a de jure monopoly on religious affairs. Prior to 1860, the only organized Christian denomination allowed was the Lutheran. Thereafter you could leave the Church of Sweden only if you joined another Christian denomination approved by the state. Full freedom of religion was not instituted in Sweden until 1951, and the formal separation of church and state in Sweden took place only in 2000.

All this made for a culturally entrenched state religion indivisibly intertwined with the national and social ambitions of modern Sweden. The Church of Sweden not only refrained from challenging the mainly secular foundations of this enterprise but largely served to support and legitimise them. The Church became progressively secularised, if you will, imbued with the emerging tenets of reason and rationality, owing its power less to its spiritual authority than to its role as the official custodian of semi-religious national traditions and specific matters of state (such as population registration). When this increasingly anachronistic position was publicly challenged in the late 1940s it triggered a fierce public debate that lasted several years and in which the church more or less conceded the high ground to its secular critics, or rather, claimed the critics' ground for itself. The church had no argument with secularism, it was said. The reason was not alien to religion but part and parcel of it. The dogmas of the church were no longer seen as incompatible with secular principles. In fact, the debate did not so much pit the tenets of reason against the tenets of faith, as it revealed the tacit cultural bonds between church and state in Swedish society. Religion in Sweden thus became the great invisible in the narrative construction of Swedishness, adding yet another component to its peculiar fusion of tradition and modernity, religion and reason, cultural exclusion and political inclusion. Although the Christian roots of modern Sweden are rarely acknowledged there is no doubt that the self-professed secular nature of modern Swedishness is deeply steeped in a Lutheran tradition of national self-sufficiency and moral rectitude. Beneath the claims to universal tolerance and cultural openness, Sweden remains a society with a historically short experience of cultural and religious pluralism and therefore remains somewhat uncomfortable in confronting cultural and religious difference. A foreign surname and a foreign accent, not to mention foreign social codes and un-Swedish manners might still make a difference between being employed or not.

At the same time Sweden, perhaps more than any other European country, subscribed to an official policy of openness, acceptance, and tolerance towards new immigrants. Although labour immigration to Sweden formally came to a halt in the late 1970s, it was soon to be replaced by a relatively generous policy for the reception and absorption of asylum seekers and, eventually, of their extended families. This has dramatically changed the demographic make-up of Sweden, where 15 percent of the population, 1.4 million, is now foreign-born (as of 2010). In some urban areas, the share of inhabitants with a foreign background is approaching 90 percent. A fairly large influx of non-European asylum-seekers has thus challenged the official policy of multicultural integration by going hand in hand with a growing socioeconomic divide along cultural and ethnic lines. Unemployment and poverty have hit the foreign-born part of the population significantly harder than the rest of the population. So far the narrative of a rational, pluralistic and tolerant society open to all has prevailed over the narrative of a homogeneous society threatened by immigrants feeding off the welfare state, introducing alien religious beliefs and practices while refusing to adapt to Swedish norms and traditions.

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