Episode 29: Why is Sweden So Secular?, with Dr. Anton Jansson


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Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world. Around half of the population claims to be non-believers; one survey even found that only 18% of Swedes believed in God. But why is this the case? How does Sweden’s history explain its secular nature? To talk about these questions and more, we are joined by Dr. Anton Jansson, an associate professor and researcher in intellectual history at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Along the way, we learn about the importance of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, atheist intellectuals and organizers, and Sweden’s long history of having a state church. Anton also tells us whether a “true atheist” can pray or shop at a Christmas market.

In the bonus content, available exclusively to our supporters on Patreon, we talk with Anton about perceptions of Sweden from abroad. Is it a social democratic utopia or a potential hotbed of Islamist radicalism? Anton debunks some of these myths.

For more on Anton: ​​https://www.gu.se/en/about/find-staff/antonjansson

Follow Anton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/antnlj

Read Anton’s article “‘A Swedish Voltaire’: The Life and Afterlife of Ingemar Hedenius, 20th-Century Atheist”: https://secularismandnonreligion.org/articles/10.5334/snr.98/

For more on the figures Anton mentioned:

Viktor Lennstrand: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Lennstrand

Ellen Key: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Key

Ingemar Hedenius: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingemar_Hedenius

Follow Nathan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NathGAlexander

Nathan’s website: https://www.nathangalexander.com/

If you find the podcast valuable and want to support it, check out our Patreon page, where you will also find bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/beyond_atheism We are grateful for every contribution.

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