Church of Sweden decline mainly due to loss of belief in God

The Church of Sweden has experienced a massive exodus of its members in the last two years, and the main reason for this trend is the people's loss of belief in God, according to a report.

(Régine Fabri / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)Uppsala cathedral reflecting in river Fyris. 9 October 2013.

Based on the official internal church report Members in Motion, the Church of Sweden has lost 85,848 members in 2016 and 93,093 in 2017. The main reason for why the members opted out of the flock was because they had stopped believing in God amid the public controversies and the financial irregularities that the church has been facing, Sputnik News relayed.

"The absolutely dominant reason is that one simply does not believe in God," Church of Sweden press officer Martin Larsson told the Nyheter Idag outlet. "Then it's only natural to believe one should not be a member either."

The report said that the largest drop in membership was seen among younger men residing in big cities. It also showed that 40 percent of the members who exited from the Church of Sweden left because of loss of faith while 20 percent cited economic reasons. There were others who indicated that their membership with the church was no longer meaningful.

The mass exodus in 2016 was reportedly sparked by revelations alleging that officials used church funds for expensive trips abroad. A representative from the church said the media coverage of the issue may have also played a role in the decrease of its members, The Local Sweden reported.

Pernilla Jonsson, the Swedish Church's head of analysis for their department of research, said the figures they had obtained confirmed their initial suspicion that the decision to leave had involved a long process for most of the members. She explained that these people's relationship with the church was not strong enough or they were reminded that they were part of the church when the public controversies surfaced.

Larsson mentioned 2016 radio and tabloid reports which revealed that the Church of Sweden was experiencing financial irregularities. Last year, the organization caused some controversy over its policy of protecting illegal migrants. It also sparked some discussions when it decided to do away with the concept of God as a male entity.