"The Catholic Danger”: The Changing Patterns of Swedish Anti-Catholicism 1850-1965

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In the 1860s, Sweden’s harsh religious legislation was liberalised. The Dissenter Act legalised conversions to other Christian denominations, but it put in place many obstacles to leaving the established church, and many of the legal restrictions were obviously anti-Catholic in intent. Anti-Catholic sentiment was also expressed in conjunction with the legislative proposals and parliamentary debates on the question of religious freedom that preceded the Religious Freedom Act of 1951. The fact that full religious freedom was introduced so late stemmed largely from fears that the Catholic Church would grow strong under the protection of a more liberal religious legislation. The article addresses anti-Catholic rhetoric in Sweden from the mid 1800s to the early 1960s with focus on the debates in the media and in parliament. It is found that there was a shift in the perception of the ‘Catholic danger’. At the beginning of the period, anti-Catholicism was prompted by a desire to shield Protestant religious unity; later the objective became more and more secular. Even if the Lutheran heritage still played an important role for the Swedish cultural identity, common values were no longer motivated by religion, but purely by politics and ideology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Anti-Catholicism in a Comparative and Transnational Perspective
EditorsYvonne Maria Werner
ISBN (Print)978-90-420-3707-6
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History

Free keywords

  • Swedish cultural identity
  • Lutheran heritage
  • Anti-Catholicism
  • Catholic Danger


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