STOCKHOLM – The Church of Sweden voted during its latest meeting in November against the Sweden Democrats’ initiative to drop adhan or ‘call to prayer’ in the Scandinavian country, the Day Christian newspaper reported on December 10.
“The Islamic call to prayer is a different opportunity for more people to meet the love of Allah and God in our country,” thinks Artemis Lumarker from Open Church, a nomination group within the Swedish Church, who was among the majority of the church’s committee members who voted against the Adhan ban.
Prior to the Church’s committee November meeting, the Sweden Democrats (SD), who had 24 mandates, suggested that the Church of Sweden should have a critical attitude towards Adhan in the north European nation.
However, this Islamophobic political motion was voted down by a large majority at the Church’s committee as 206 voted against while just 26 for the ban.
The Church of Sweden’s committee is the highest decision-making body of this Evangelical Lutheran national church. A former state church till 2000, headquartered in Uppsala, with 6.0 million baptized members at year end 2017 it’s the largest Christian denomination in Sweden.
It’s also the largest Lutheran denomination in Europe and the 3rd largest in the world after the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Muslim East African country of Tanzania.
The Church of Sweden is known for its liberal position in theological issues including the relationships with other religious groups and homosexuality.
Despite a significant yearly loss of members (lately 2% annually), its membership of 5,993,368 people accounts for 59.3% (yearend 2017) of the Swedish population.
Lumarker expressed that “it’s amazing that more people could encounter the love of Allah and God, and what we get out of the meeting with each other. The SD is trying to dehumanize other people like Muslims.”
The Adhan is the call to announce that it is time for a particular obligatory Salah (ritual prayer).
The Adhan is raised five times a day.
The main driver of spreading Islam in Sweden is immigration since the late 1960s. A 2017 Pew Research report documents the Muslim population at 8.1% of the total population of Sweden of 10 million (approximately 810,000).