Row over Swedish school ban on mentioning Jesus at Advent

A Swedish ban on mentioning Jesus in school Advent services has been attacked by Government ministers – with one calling it “ridiculous”.

Last week the National Agency for Education in Sweden said end of term services in church were allowed, but prayers, blessings or declarations of faith were prohibited.

However, Education Minister Jan Björklund said “pastors should be able to read the Christmas gospel, refer to the Bible, and explain why we celebrate this Christian holiday”.


He criticised the agency’s interpretation of the law, and commented: “If this ridiculous debate continues year after year, I’m ready to review the Education Act”.

Social Minister Göran Hägglund said he was “tired” of having the discussion, commenting: “The National Agency for Education is straining out gnats and swallowing camels.”

Mr Hägglund said Swedish students have bigger things to worry about than “singing O Holy Night one time a year”.

No prayer

Writing about the decision before the Ministers’ intervention, Anna Ekström and Claes-Göran Aggebo from the national agency said: “The law stipulates that Swedish schools are non-confessional”.

“That school is non-confessional means that there can’t be any religious elements such as prayer, blessings or declarations of faith in education”, they commented.

They added: “The agency has decided that it is possible to have an end of term service in church and that a pastor can be in attendance.

“The demand is that there should be no confessional element.”

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