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Scandinavian American. [volume] (Seattle, Wash.) 1945-1958, August 01, 1948, Image 7

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87093436/1948-08-01/ed-1/seq-7/

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THE SCANDINAVIAN AMERICAN
Church-State Relations Are
Under Debate In Scandinavia
Church-state relations in the
Scandinavian countries are under
increasing scrutiny by religious
and political leaders.
Recent developments in Norway;
Denmark, Sweden. and Finland in
dicate that the churches in these
countries are seeking greater inde
pendence from the state. The trend
is especially significant in view of
the fact that in each country the
Lutheran Church is the official
state church.
In Norway. far-reaching changes
in the internal administration of
the state Lutheran Church have
been recommended by a special
governmental commission set up
in November, '1945, under the
chairmanship of Bishop Eivind
Berggrav, primate of the church.
The commission's report is expect
ed to form the basis of a new law
by Parliament to be made effect
ive next year.
Church Council Proposed
One of its most important rec
ommendations concerns the estab
lishment of a church council, to
consist of 25 members. the major
ity of whom will be laymen. The
council will include nine clergymen
and two theological professors, but
only three of Norway’s eight Lu
theran bishops will have seats.
The council will meet once a year
and ‘will be the supreme body of
the Norwegian church in all spir-
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itual and internal matters. It will
have the right to be heard by the
King in all disputes involving rit
ual questions. and will be consulted
before any laws are introduced in
Parliament affecting the spiritual
life of the church.
According to Norwegian chur'ch
leaders. the proposed new law will
climax more than 100 years' strug
gle for church reforms. and will
mark the beginning of greater and
more active participation by lay
men in the church‘s work.
Dunes Set Up Committee
In Denmark. a special commit—
tee has been set up by the parlia
mentary group of the Conserva
tive Party to study church—state
relationships.
Headed by F. Fibiger, former
Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs,
the committee includes a profes
sor of theology and two clergymen.
All are active politicians.
Informed circles in Denmark
believe the committee will intro
duce a bill next autumn providing
for greater independence of the
church from the state. The bill is
expected to assure the church au
tonomy on all matters except fi
nancial ones, which still would be
determined by Parliament and the
Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs.
A major proposal of the com
mittee. it is anticipated. will be
that a church council, similar to
the one recommended in Norway,
be established.
Formation of the committee was
seen by religious leaders as the di
rect result of a new Danish law
permitting women to be ordained
as ministers.
Opposition Aired
When the law was passed. objec
tions were raised by a large group
of clergy and laymen who regard—
ed the act as contrary to ecclesi
astical tradition.
During hearings on the bill. op
ponents charged that left-wing
parties in Parliament showed no
compunction about passing laws
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dealing with internal affairs of the
church without consulting the Con
gregational Council. composed of
elected ecclesiastical representa—
tives of the congregations.
In Sweden, the church-state is
sue is centered on differences of
opinion regarding religious train
ing in public schools. Divergence
in policy on religious instruction
was highlighted recently when the
Parliamentary Commission on Ed
ucation submitted its report to the
government.
Religious Travhing
The commission majority called
for retaining religious teaching and
morning prayers in public schools,
but a minority report urged re—
vision of religious practices, includ
ing substituting “some other form
of assemblage" for morning pray
ers. The minority criticized com
pulsory attendance at morning
prayers as an infringement of re
ligious freedom.
Church and secular history would
be related in the school program,
according to the report, and both
“free church" history and “state
church" history would be taught.
The reform program also would
include the teaching of some he
liefs of other religions, and the
value of non-Christian heroes
would be recognized.
Objectors to’the present relig
ious-teaching system in Sweden
point to its narrow confessional
tendencies whereby state Luther
anism is taught even to free church
children.
Education Local Point
The report will be acted upon by
Parliament next year. after church.
parent, teacher. and other groups
in the country have studied it.
As in Sweden, religious educa‘
tion is the focal point of relations
between church and state in Fin
land. Intended to further religious
education in both churches and
schools, a Board of Christian Edu
cation has been set up in Helsinki
by the Lutheran Church in Fin
land.
The new organization is expect
ed to play an important role in de—
feating the efforts of radicals who
are seeking to abolish or reduce
religious instruction in Finnish
public and high schools. In addi
tion, the board will devote special
attention to the problem of im
proving religious teaching methods
in the schools.
Indicative of the trend away
from imposing the state religion
throughout the country was the
approval given recently by Fin
nish Government authorities to
plans for the establishment of a
self-supporting Roman Catholic
junior high school in Helsinki. The
school is intended principally for
children of English-speaking par
ents. but will also admit Finnish
children.
As in other Scandinavian coun
tries, Lutheranism is the national
religion of Finland. but there are
about 3.000 Roman Catholics. serv—
ed by three churches and five
priests.
More than 15 millioxi kronor's
worth of motion picture theatre
tickets were sold in Stockholm in
1947. as compared with 134 million
kronor a year before.
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Swedish Parties
Appeal To Voters
STOCKHOLM, August 16 (By
airmail) >~The Swedish election
is now in full swing. The Liberals
and the Conservatives play leading
parts as critics of the Government
and the Social-Democratic Labor
Party which it represents. A some
what milder form of opposition is
offered by the Farmers' Union.
The Communists are being fought
by all of the four major parties.
and not the least by the Social
Democrats who hope to take votes
from this faction. The elections
will be held on Sunday. September
19.
In their election manifosto the
Social Democrats assert that tho
balloting will decide whether “the
democratization of society in so
cial. economic and cultural re-
spects which has long been going
on under Social-Democratic lead
ership is to continue undisturbed."
The People‘s Party or Liberals, on
the other hand. accuse the Gov
ernment of “trying to escape the
responsibility for the many serious
blunders committed during the last
few years," and of “refusing to in
form the people of the significance
and consequences of the socialist
policy which the Social-Democrats.
according to their so-called pro
gram of principles, pursue." The
Conservatives, in the opening sen—
tence of their platform. say that
it is time for the people to speak
up. ~
The Social»Democratie election
program does not mention any
plan for socialization. In a recent
address the Prime Minister. Tage
Erlander. who also is leader of the
Social-Democratic Patty. said that
if the Social-Democrats stayed in
power they would probably in
crease public influence in the fields
of banking and insurance. He also
expressed himself in favor of a
more active housing policy on the
part of the Government as well as
the municipalities.
In the 1944 elections. the Social-
Democrats lost 19 seats. so that
they now hold exactly one-half of
the total. or 115. The Conserva
tives have 39, the Farmers 35. the
Liberals 26. and the Communists
15. In the municipal elections in
1946. the Liberals polled more
votes than any other party except
the Social Democxats.
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Great Economic
Expansion Noted
In North Sweden
STOCKHOLM. "Poor Norr
land." as the north of Sweden was
formerly called, has become the
economic backbone of the country,
said Mr. Elof Lindberg, Governor
of the province of Visterbotten.
when recently demonstrating to
the press some phases of the rapid
development at present going on in
that part of the country. Norrland
today produces forest products of
all kinds. steel, copper. arsenic,
etc. Farming,r is booming. and even
tomatoes and strawberries are now
cultivated around the Arctic
Circle, where they are made to
ripen in the 24-hour day-night of
the Midnight Sun.
One of the largest of the new
projects under way is the extension
of the state-owned Norrbotten.
Ironworks at Luleé, which aims at
an annual production of some 400.-
000 tons in 1951. This plant in
cludes a foundry which already
supplies some 25 per cent of the
country's requirement of cast pipe
‘fittings. The production of the Lu
3191:. works is based entirely on the
ihigh-grade iron ore from the Lap-
Hand mine fields
The Boliden Mining Company is
another major industry in North
Sweden, producing copper, lead.
gold. and arsenic. the latter used
extensively for Wood impregna
tion The company is now extend
ing its copper and lead works and
building a new research laboratory
at an estimated total cost of somo
$2.800.000.
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7

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