17
The Church of Scientology
in Sweden

Henrik Bogdan


New Religious Movements in Sweden

In September 1998 the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs published a report on new religious movements (NRMs) in Sweden, titled I God Tro—Samhället och nyandligheten (In Good Faith—Society and the New Spirituality).1 The report was 378 pages long, and its primary object was to ascertain the extent to which former members of NRMs needed help from the government when leaving their groups. Although the premises for the report were implicitly negative regarding the effects of membership in NRMs, the authors showed an awareness that general information about NRMs in Sweden was polarized between criticism from the anticult movement and an apologetic approach from the members themselves. It was furthermore stated that research into NRMs in Sweden was largely nonexistent, and that the few scholars dealing with NRMs agreed that more research needed to be done in this particular field. One of the main conclusions of the report was the suggestion that a governmentally funded association for information about and research into NRMs should be created, the so-called Kunskapscentrum för Livsåskådnings-och Trosfrågor (KULT). Although this laudable enterprise never materialized, the report itself was nevertheless an important step forward for official recognition that NRMs are an established and integrated part of the Swedish religious landscape—a landscape that has changed drastically over the past decades with new actors competing against traditional institutions such as the Swedish State Church (on January 1, 2000, the Church of Sweden was separated from the state). One of the more well known new actors is the Church of Scientology, which has been active in Sweden since 1968.

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