You know you’ve been in Sweden too long when….
you walk down the street and you hear a chink-chink-chink noise behind you. Without even looking back, you know that the person behind you is carrying a couple of wine bottles in a colourful plastic bag from Systembolaget.
When comparing religious/traditional values with secular/non-traditional values, Sweden always comes out of research as amongst the most secular, non-traditional countries in the world. The low voting frequency in the recent Church elections reflects this. Basically, many people in Sweden don’t want religion to have anything to do with politics and Sweden is one of the few countries in the world that has separated religion and politics from each other.
This is clearly shown in the latest outrage to appear on social media in Sweden – the appointment of the new Employment Minister, Elisabeth Svantesson. Ms Svantesson comes from the Swedish Conservative Party – the Moderates – and has recently been given this high profile position in the Cabinet. Where this becomes interesting is what is causing the outrage. It seems that Ms Svantesson holds a religious belief and belongs to a radical Christian organisation which, amongst other things, condemns abortion and homosexuality.
Voices have been risen for her immediate resignation.
This is so different from most other countries around the world. Take a country like the USA -nobody gets to become President there without mentioning God. Many countries are theocracies, where the political leaders and the religious leaders are the same. In most other countries, believing in a religious deity is an advantage, if not a necessity, for a public figure to be taken seriously.
But in Sweden, believing in a God is a rarely an advantage for a public figure. They are often ridiculed and their credibility is challenged by the general public and the press.
And this makes me think…..just when did religion become a liability in Sweden?
Yesterday, I went to see TV celebrity and academic Fredrik Lindström in his one man stand-up show called ”Swedes are also Humans” where he talks about Swedes and Swedish Culture from an inside-out perspective.
One funny thing he talked about was the Swedish pastime of ‘att passa på’. This translates roughly as ‘taking a chance, grabbing the opportunity’. Fredrik Lindström claimed that Swedes love to ‘passa på’, especially when it comes to sitting outdoors. The slightest bit of nice weather and Swedes ‘passa på’ and sit outside, even it requires a woolly jumper, a thick blanket and an infra-heater. This is quite unlike people who live in sunnier climates. He even said that Swedes are provoked by other Swedes who don’t ‘passa på’ and who choose to sit indoors on a sunny July day to watch re-runs of Falcon Crest on TV4Gold.
You probably had to be there to find it funny…..So, maybe you should ‘passa på’ and go see the show. He’s touring around the country.