Dopsed i förändring : studier av Örebro pastorat 1710-1910

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


From the time of the establishment of Christianity in Sweden to the middle of the Nineteenth Century all childeren were baptised. In Örebro, in central Sweden, the baptism custom was subsequently broken and weakend. Örebro is in many ways an extreme case. In 1910 only 82 percent of children were baptised. The old dodparent custom was almost extingct in 1910. The dissertation shows the course of change and the underlying causes behind it. The source material has been drawn from birth and baptism registers for the benefice of Örebro from 1710 to 1910 which have been entered in three databases. One database consists of 7,157 children, another covers 184 families, while a third covers children baptised in Örebro Methodist congregation between 1869 and 1910.

With the introduction of Christianity in Sweden came a gradual integration fo the Crristian and social spheres in society. This integration reached its peak in the canon law of 1686. To be Swedish and to be baptised were one and the same thing. The first moves towards a separation between the religious and the social show themselves during the first decades of the Eighteenth Century. By the midNineteenth Century the separation was a fact, at least in relation to baptism. For many centuries baptism had had a strong official-social function. This was definitely ended in 1887, when the paragraph concerning compulsury baptism was made obsolete. From the Reformation onwards there was an aspiration within the church that baptism should be celebrated publicly, in church, with a congragation present. This proved to be impossible to put into practice. Children were baptised as soon as possible after birth. There was a great fear of leaving children unbaptised. Baptism was therefore normaly celebrated privately, thus reducing the official-religious function. Baptism and godparent customs were strongly socially differentiated during the entire perion of study. During the second half of the Nineteenth Century, baptism and godparent customs remained largely unchanged among the upper classes, while the age of baptism rode dramatically and godparents were no longer appointed in the broader social layers. A contributory factor to parents still baptising their children in 1910 was the relatively strong private religious function of baptism. The priamry cause of the weakening of the custom of baptism was the demystification which took place during the last decades of the Ninetiinth Century and not, as is often maintained, the influence of the Baptist movement. The magical conceptions surrounding baptism, which had been present had, even in the broader layers of the population, been conisigned to the world of fable.


  • Ingegerd Sjölin
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


  • religious change, godparents, Örebro, Methodists, Baptists, Baptism, infant baptism, Theology, Teologi
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1999 Apr 23
  • Lund University Press
Print ISBNs91-7966-562-4
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1999-04-23 Time: 14:15 Place: Carolinasalen, Lundagårdshuset External reviewer(s) Name: Brohed, Ingmar Title: Prof. Affiliation: Uppsala ---