Priests Peter Englund and Helena Myrstener from the southern, heavily migrant-populated Swedish city of Malmö have said Swedish people should stop celebrating “National Day”.
They claim that “nothing good has come out of nationalism or patriotism” and the day has been “exploited by right wing populist forces” in an editorial for left wing Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
“The nation-state is a way to organise and administer but nothing to revere,” the pair wrote. National Day, which occurs June 6 every year, replaced Whit Monday becoming the official Swedish national holiday in 2005.
According to Englund and Myrstener, patriotism is a “poison” writing: “Patriotism has its roots in the patriarchal thinking that celebrates traditional masculinity as strength, competition, inequality, and reduces men to soldiers, and women to mothers. It goes without saying that this does not create good conditions for a world without borders.”
The best way to be proud of being Swedish, according to the authors, is to celebrate the right to vote and enjoy the various parks and nature in Sweden.
Englund and Myrstener also say the church should not be involved in civic holidays and say the Swedish Church has become too “synonymous with being Swedish”. Calling the Christian faith “radical”, “nationalism and patriotism must be swept away and replaced with internationalism and solidarity”.
In September this year, the Swedish Church will have elections to what is known as the “parliament” of the church. The two priests slammed the anti-mass immigration Sweden Democrats accusing the party of wanting to use the church to “consolidate a political ideology”.
The reaction to the article has been overwhelmingly negative with a poll on the paper’s website saying that 82 per cent of readers fundamentally disagree with the priests.
Last year, Tobias Andersson, the National President of the Sweden Democrat’s youth wing, the Young Swedes, slammed the church for having a “lack of Christianity”.
Andersson’s comments came after the lesbian Bishop of Stockholm Eva Brunne called for the removal of crosses in a church in her diocese in order to allow Muslims to pray there instead. Bishop Brunne defended the move saying it would make people of other faiths feel more welcome.