A Sportful History of Christianity: The Case of Twentieth-Century Sweden

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Abstract

The sport movement was consolidated in Sweden during the first years of the twentieth century and grew rapidly from the 1920s and onward. Preceding and during these events, the Church of Sweden – the Lutheran state church – was losing its axiomatic position within Swedish society and church attendance was decreasing. In this situation, many perceived the sports movement as a rival to the church or even saw sport as a new religion. However, as the sport movement grew, prominent representatives within the Church of Sweden and other Christian denominations adopted a more pragmatic view of the sports movement in order to appeal to people outside the ranks of the church, especially male youth. The sport field soon became a missionary field. The aim of the current essay is to account for the collaborative as well as the sceptical voices not only in the Church of Sweden, but also within the substantial Swedish revival movements, i.e. the Pentecostal movement and the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden. Further, these events will be analyzed from a gender perspective, discussing what was simultaneously perceived as a secularization and feminization of Swedish Christianity.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
JournalThe International Journal of the History of Sport
Volume35
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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