Religión y Creencias

Religion of Spain and Sweeden

(Sept. 2000)


The religion of Spain, as everyone knows, is Catholicism, and practically everyone there is a Catholic. The variety is Roman Apostolic. We are not sure of when christianism came to the Iberian peninsula. Some authors say it must be Saint Paul or Saint James the pionners, in the 1st century, but nobody can prove so. It took very much time for Spain to become Catholic: the Roman Empire time lasted very long and its earlier christianization came from the eastern part of that Empire. It wasn´t until the Concilium of Toledo (s. VI) when the Visigothic king Reccared became a Catholic, from the Arrianism. Aside from the Catholics (90%, theorically), the Muslims (300,000) and the Protestants (Evengelists, Mormons, Lutherans, Baptists, etc: 250,000), there are a few thousand Jews (15,000), mostly Sephardic, who left the countries of North Africa to settle in the larger urban centers like Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Cordoba. Recently, a synagogue was inaugurated in Majorca. Spain also has some atheists. Most Catholics do not attend weekly worship services every week (75%).

Christianity came to Sweden in 829 A.D. with a French Benedictine monk by the name of Ansgar. Ansgar arrived at Birka to spread the gospel. Later, British and German missionaries came, but it was not until the 11th century that a systematic revolution took place and the country was Christianized. The town of Uppsala was made the seat of the archbishop in 1164, and eventually the first archbishop was appointed. The country began to practice the Protestant religion in the 16th century under the leadership of Gustav Vasa, who later became the head of the church. When the Lutheran Reformation took place, there was no immediate breakup of Catholic practices in Sweden. After the breakup of the Scandinavian union, Gustav Vasa wanted to take away catholic power in Sweden. He introduced the teachings of reformation leaders such as Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthen. Protestant revivals soon began.

In 1527, with the parliaments approval, Vasa declared the church of Sweden independent from the Catholic church and consficated its property. In 1544, Sweden officially became a Lutheran nation under the Lutheran Church of Sweden. Today 92% of the population belongs to that church. Although most of the population belongs to the Lutheran church, many do not attend weekly worship services today. Main religions in Sweden are: Roman Catholic (1.5%), Pentecostal (1%). The rest constitutes 3.5% of the total.



The Constitution provides for freedom of religion. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion and its institutions receive official funding. The government signed an agreement with the Vatican in January 1979 entitling the Catholic Church and its religious orders to set up schools. Under the Constitution and other legislation, the freedom of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions is assured. In September 1992, the Spanish government passed legislation which affirms the legal equality of all religions and allows schools to provide religious instruction to Protestant students. The Constitution provides for equal rights for all citizens and an ombudsman, called the “People's Defender,” investigates complaints of human rights abuses by the authorities. He operates independently from any party or government ministry, must be elected every 5 years by a three-fifths majority of Congress and is immune from prosecution. He has complete access to government institutions and documents not barred by reasons of national security.

Minority religions have encountered considerable discrimination, including arbitrary arrests of members of new religious movements and prolonged detention of their children. In 1994, the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance reported that twenty-two children belonging to members of the religious group known as The Family were held in child welfare centres for more than a year after the arrest of their parents. In May 1992, a Barcelona judge ordered the acquittal of the adults and the children returned to them. The government appealed. In June 1993, the Barcelona Provincial Court upheld the acquittals, stating that it does not and cannot judge beliefs except where they give rise to a closed, dogmatic and disciplined community which is harmful in character. The acquittals were upheld by the Supreme and Constitutional Courts in October 1994.

The Constitution provides for equal rights for all citizens and an ombudsman, called the “People's Defender,” investigates complaints of human rights abuses by the authorities.

Spain has a penal code which makes incitement towards another on the basis of religion illegal.

Article 14 of the Constitution states that:

“Spaniards are equal before the law, without any discrimination for reasons of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion, or any other personal or social condition to circumstance.”

Article 16:

“(1) Freedom of ideology, religion, and cult of individuals and communities is guaranteed without any limitation in their demonstrations other than that which is necessary for the maintenance of public order protected by law.

“(2) No one may be obliged to make a declaration on his ideology, religion or beliefs.

“(3) No religion shall have a state character. The public powers shall take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and maintain the appropriate relations of cooperation, with the Catholic Church and other denominations.


The Swedish Constitution protects religious freedom. Although the Lutheran Church is the state religion, both the Church and the government have agreed that this relationship will end in the year 2000. Minority religions are usually treated equally to the established ones in Sweden. The Constitution forbids selective legislation or discrimination against non-traditional religions. In the 1970s the Church of Scientology brought two cases against Sweden before the European Commission of Human Rights, which expressly ruled that the Scientology Church is a religious community entitled to the protections which flow to such communities under the Convention. These cases also established for the first time the rights of a Church to bring a legal action to defend the fundamental religious rights of its parishioners.

Article 2 of the Swedish Constitution states that “opportunities should be promoted for ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities to preserve and develop a cultural and social life of their own.”

Article 1 of Chapter 2 of the Constitution, called Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, also states that:

“(1) All citizens shall be guaranteed the following in their religions with the public administration...:

“(6) Freedom of worship: the freedom to practise one's own religion either alone or in company with others.”

Penal law in Sweden states that one who “threatens or expresses disrespect against a folkgroup or any other such group of persons because of their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin or faith, is sentenced for agitation against a folkgroup.”

Enviado por:Francisco López
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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