Gud välsigna Sverige?

Would you believe that a Swedish politician has suggested that their prime minister should end all of his speeches with “God bless Sweden” (translation)? It’s got to be a joke. She explicitly points to the US as a model — why any country would want to emulate the United States’ greatest flaw, its ignorant religiosity, is a mystery to me.


  1. inkadu says

    Is this a reaciton to anything?

    The United States is reactionary. When we’re fighting Nazi’s, we drop the mandatory pledge. When we’re fighting godless communism, we reinstate it.

  2. Mark says

    As a Swede I’m so glad you posted this. I can’t believe 20% of my countrymen are this fucking stupid. This really ruined my day.

  3. says

    I’ve never understood this “God bless America” meme. Is the idea that God wasn’t going to bless America, but then he sees your bumper sticker so he says to himself, “What the heck, guess I’ll throw them a blessing”? Or is He like, obligated because a politician makes the ritual incantation? And if God does bless America, what exactly will happen? How will we know it? What will be the specific benefits, anyway?

    Just askin’.

  4. says

    Mark. It’s really not that bad. She’s an anomaly, even for the Christian Democrats.

    Still, someone should put Göran I’d-like-ten-new-nuclear-reactors Hägglund on the spot about this.

  5. says

    Kobra (@2):

    You really think the fact that officials often end speeches with “God bless America” is our No. 1 flaw?? Over, for instance, waging illegal war or allowing tens of millions to go without healthcare?

    Largely due to conversations I’ve had here at Pharyngula, I no longer think the GbA thing is a completely harmless affectation… but it hardly rises to the level of our biggest flaw, given some of the awful policies we’ve pursued.

  6. says

    I can’t help but thinking that you got a pretty weird picture of how things are in Sweden. We got all the things you guys have, it’s just not the majority view.

    And the beer isn’t that good either!

  7. says

    Hrmmm… re me (@14), on re-reading the OP and comments, I see it’s actually our religiosity that’s being called our biggest flaw, rather than simply the rhetorical fillip of “God bless America.” That’s certainly a more reasonable case to make; forgive my hasty and incredulous response.

  8. Mark says


    Well, you have had your hope slightly fading for the last 8 years as has America slowly started to abandoned the western project. I voted in the poll to see her getting squashed, and there it was 20% in favor.

    @#13 Maybe, but I’d be very surprised if he did anything at all about it. I will celebrate if they lose their seats in the Riksdag.

  9. ArcticSwede says

    There, just wrote my first Angry Mail to a parliamentary politician!

    It felt very satisfying, actually. I told her to keep her faith at home and get off the backs of everyone else in our country. That must be the dumbest political statement I’ve heard for a while. No surprise it’s from the backwards-striving conservative, ignorant and outright delusional Kristdemokraterna (“Christian Democrats”). The latest political poll showed that they would only recieve about 4% of votes if the election was now. The limit for a party to be represented in Riksdagen (parliament) is also 4%. Hopefully they’ll be tossed out coming September 2010. The other parties can stay, just as long as Kristdemokraterna don’t.

  10. IST says

    @ Bill Dauphin> I’d agree that the illegal war might be a larger problem than the GbA affectation, but for the fact that it’s frequently used as an excuse for all the other problems. Palin and W’s attitudes towards the Iraq war are pretty solid evidence of this, combined with the fact that alot of our population fell for that reasoning hook, line, and sinker.

  11. Valor Phoenix says

    Bill Dauphin @ 14:

    The point is that such a meme is kept in mind. It would be like beginning every political meeting with “What would Old Testament Fire and Brimstone God do?”

    – Send teh Gays to teh concentration camps(blocked by gay liberals)

    – Nuke Muslim Arabia land into radioactive glass and claim their oil in teh name of God and Country(blocked by commie pinko liberals)


    I could come up with more extreme parodies of fundamentalist republicans, but it’s wearying. I don’t know what the secularist equivalent would be, perhaps ending things with “Let Reason and Love Prevail.”

  12. says


    I live here too, but my written Swedish is crap. Could you fire over your letter so I can use it as a template? I know enough adjectives and nouns to personalise it.


  13. patrick says

    > #5

    Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

    (V for Vendetta)

  14. says

    IST (@19):

    By now you’ve probably seen my “oopsie” second posting. That said…

    [GbA is] frequently used as an excuse for all the other problems

    …I’d suggest that religiosity is more often an excuse (i.e., cynical political cover) for bad policies than an underlying root cause of them… but I’d also entertain the notion that that’s a distinction without a difference.

    Do people who are secular authoritarians gravitate to religion (monotheism specifically) because they find its magical authoritarianism appealing, or does the appeal of religion’s magical authoritarianism lead people into secular authoritarianism? Perhaps the harm is the same either way?

  15. says

    PZ, I do not agree that one stupid Christian Democratic politician speak for the whole of Sweden. I am confident that you will find more atheists than Christians in Sweden; also I think you will find more atheists in Sweden than most other countries on the planet.

  16. CSBSH says

    “It is important that the leadership confess their faith”, she says. What a moron. For example, our prime minister is probably an atheist (he doesn’t believe Jesus was some god’s son, at least). I really hope her party, the Christian Democrats, is voted out of the Swedish parliament in next years’ election.

  17. MuNgLo says

    Oh man. I almost did a nono in my pants until I got the story straight.
    As have been pointed out very well before its just her own little opinion. Chances of anything like that happening I’d say be infinitesimal.
    Still I have to smile a bit. It is stupid stuff like this that really comes around and bite them later on. Them as in her party.

    By now I’ve gone from panic to a dumb grin of self-righteousness.

  18. says

    Hey! Hey! Sweden can just back off. God’s ours; the whole world knows he’s American. They’ve got their own imaginary sky-daddies. Let them beg Odin for blessings or Swedish Fish or meatballs or what-have-you.

  19. Gustaf Sjöblom says

    She is a representative of the Swedish Christian party and a complete loon.

    She also has the nerve to call sweden a christian country. That should be a giveaway.

    The christian party will hopefully not reach the 4% of votes needed to stay in the parlament next time around.

  20. ArcticSwede says

    @ Brian (#22)

    Here’s what I wrote. Managed to keep from calling her and her ilk for superstitious fools and from using cursing. But feel free to insert any suitable swear words you find suitable ;) It’s not that angry, but I might send her another one later. Need to collect my words for it first.

    Jag kunde knappt tro mina ögon när jag läste på DNs nätupplaga att du tycker statsministern ska säga “Gud välsigne Sverige”. Du vill alltså avskärma alla som inte är troende kristna, dvs anhängare av andra religioner såväl som icke-troende personer. Dessa utgör med största sannolikhet majoriteten av Sveriges befolkning. Statsministern, eller någon annan politiker för den delen, ska inte missionera och försöka tvinga på svenskar en tro.

    Låt din tro stanna hemma och låt bli att trycka den på alla andra! Att se USA som en förebild är ganska ogenomtänkt av dig. I USA är det så att om man inte “bekänner” sig som kristen så har man ingen reell chans att bli vald till något högre ämbete.

    Att införa bön och predikan i svensk politik medför inget gott, utan bara att man avskärmar sig från de som vill att politiken ska förbli sekulär och inte diskriminera andra efter deras tro. Sverige är inget “kristet land”. Bara för att man tvingas in i svenska kyrkan vid dopet (något man knappast styr över själv om man döps som nyfödd) så betyder det inte att man går på alla vidskepelser och fantasier som kyrkan predikar!

    Henrik Wiberg

    (One usually end letters with “Mvh”, meaning something like “With kind regards”. With “Uvh” I meant “Without kind regards”. )

    She also said that our laws are based on christian values. I sure hope not, since those include killing people for lack of faith, justifying mass murder and incesticide. (All in the Bible). Our laws are based on common sense (some of them at least) and that existed long before someone fantisized about some invisible friend in the clouds looking after them. I had sent the mail before reading that part, otherwise that would have been in my reply as well.

  21. Mark says

    Still, in both the major Swedish newspapers 20-25% are in favor, so this will probably not have any effect on the next election. Also come election, the smaller parties at risk tend to gather their flock, I’m afraid we will be stuck with them.

  22. says

    Well, one thing I love about my country (Sweden) is that although we do have a number of bat-crazy elected officials (like the one mentioned here), a proposition like this has as much of a chance to be accepted as changing the yellow cross on our flag into a yellow svastika…

    Now pardon me while I go bang my head against the wall for 30 minutes to erase the knowledge of the fact that this person gets about twice the salary of our professors, with guaranteed no-conditions income for years after being booted out of the Parliament in the next election.

  23. Hampus says

    … I did not know about this. I did not know about her. I was quite happy not knowing about her. That’s it then, isn’t it? We need to blow up Riksdagshuset.


  24. Erik says

    Maybe the Swedes should adopt the habit of the Dutch Queen, who, IIRC, ends her speeches with “Ik heb gezecht”, which roughly translates to “I have spoken”.

  25. Aesthetics Bear says

    PZ, to clarify whether or not “it’s got to be a joke”.

    It wasn’t intended as a joke.
    But it still has us all laughing over here.

    Since it’s still fairly extreme for KD (“Christian Democrats”, as stated above) to be this vocal and this… well, ax crazy, I dropped by their student’s union spokesman at Södertörn University Collage in Stockholm today. He estimated that about 10% of their party is the reactionary clique that supports nonsense like this “God bless Sweden”-debacle. So if their political party has about 4% of the popular vote, and 10% of them advocate this nincompoopery… Well, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

  26. Thinker says

    Just a few days ago, I wrote on another thread that we swedes were lucky that our politicians wouldn’t even think of ending a speech with a “God bless Sweden!”.

    What a FAIL!

    … or do you think she reads Pharyngula and is just out to get me?

  27. xebecs says

    She explicitly points to the US as a model — why any country would want to emulate the United States’ greatest flaw, its ignorant religiosity, is a mystery to me.

    It’s just that they envy our power. We can crash the world economy, and they can’t.

  28. IST says

    @ Bill Dauphin> I read it after your reply to me, but yes.

    I’d be inclined to think that the magical authority draws megalomaniacal shitheads of all forms… I just think it’s easier to pull off if you have religious authority to tap into, although I can’t prove that well.

  29. shonny says

    Holy shit!
    Here in Norway we have a party called Kristelig Folkeparty (the christian people’s party) which is about as backward as the Swedish Kristendemokraterna, both parties for the religious retards.
    Just hope the Norwegian godbothering-party doesn’t get any silly ideas. We already had one idea from the peasant’s party who suggested that blasphemy was to be banned again, but that one was fortunately buried.

    To use the US as an example for ANYTHING within the political arena, or when it comes to foreign aid, – or peace-keeping, the Scandinavian countries are way, way, way ahead, and it is the US that should follow FDR’s advice: “Look to Norway!”
    Or in this case: “Look to Scandinavia.”

  30. Arne says

    Isn’t this very typical of christians in a position of establishment (in this case parliamentarian in the Christian party in the governing coalition). The unthinking arrogance to ignore that the majority don’t believe in her God.

  31. Holbach says

    A much better and sensible ending:

    “And thank you United States, for keeping your imaginary god out of Sweden”.

  32. Erik J says

    The KDs have always been a bit kooky. Luckily stuff like this will never get through on account of Swedish politicians’ (Reinfeldt especially) need to satisfy everyone at all times.

  33. Dutchdoc says

    #37: “Maybe the Swedes should adopt the habit of the Dutch Queen, who, IIRC, ends her speeches with ‘Ik heb gezecht’

    IF she would say something like that it would be “Ik heb gezegd”.
    But she doesn’t. That royal arrogance has LONG been banned from public speeches.

    Whether or not she invokes God in her yearly speech for the opening of the “Staten General” depends on the government in power at that time. For a long time there was no menioning of God in those speeches, but it’s back right now, thanks to the Christian Democratic government.

  34. MacThistle says

    Please, Sweden. Do not single out our worst features to emulate. Perhaps you could just take comfort in knowing that, on some levels, we are already pretty much the same. From the same page, further down (Google’s translation):

    It makes the Swedes to the bathroom
    We read the newspaper and use the toilet as an excuse to get a break from work. In addition, we become angry if talettpappret is over. It shows statistics from the SCA.

  35. Gustav Nyström says


    Not only am I not the only swede who read Pharyngula, i’m not the only student at Södertörn University Collage, who do.

    I’m probably the only one who finds this intresting, so carry on with the thread.

  36. (No) Free Lunch says


    Your beer might not be as good, but you’re close enough to Belgium and Germany to get good beer if you want it.

  37. says

    “Or is He like, obligated because a politician makes the ritual incantation?” – Something somewhat like this actually operated in ancient Rome; there was a concept of legal agreements with deities, and some of the language of religious ceremonies connected with state events (the inauguration of consuls, say) was deeply legalistic.

  38. Xeno says

    First, nothing will come of this. We are just too far removed from blatant religiosity for this to be acceptable.

    On the other hand, I’m still baffled that KD (the Christian Democrat party) still has a place in government. Sure, they are mostly neutered compared to their cousins in other countries, but the anachronism pokes you in the eye like a ghoulish skeletal finger when casually browsing Swedish politics. (Yes, I did recently watch the Evil Dead trilogy, why do you ask?)

    I have to say though, as surprising as it seems, KD was the party to propose a complete separation of the judicial parts of marriage, and the religious parts (as a counter to a ruling meant to increase gay rights). I agree completely with that idea, so obviously I had to visit our socialist funded hospitals to have my jaw restitched to my skull after hearing about it.

  39. Gliptic says

    Our prime minister is also an atheist. So much for leaders to “profess their faith” as she says in the article.

  40. JemyM says

    The difference between US and Sweden.

    In US a suggestion like this end up in a public debate and might even suceed.

    In Sweden, the majority of the Swedish comments, blogs and forums that have spoken about it, declare her a raving lunatic out of touch with reality and the country she lives in.

    It should be noted that she’s a “Christian Democrat”, a party who seem to fall out of government next election due to lack of votes (less than 4%). The vast majority of leading swedish politicians are atheists even when they keep themselves positive to christian heritage and tradition.

  41. daniel levi says

    This is really funny because Fredrik Reinfeldt, our prime minister left the swedish church as a teenager and I really doubt that he is religious in any way ^^

  42. AmyD says

    re #11 cervantes:
    I don’t think that anyone but children say “God Bless America” in order to obtain divine favor for our country. I would say that it is 60% showing off your religiosity, %40 in-your-face to non-believers. In some cases, like when Obama uses it, its to say, hey I’m one of you. It’s a group identity thing and it sucks. I find it telling that the phrase “one nation, indivisible” has been divided by “under God.”

  43. Sili says

    Well, the Danish queen :curtsys: does end her New Year’s Address with the words “God preserve Denmark”.

    Of course she’s the nominal head of the CoD, so it makes a bit of sense in her case. And she’s implicitly forbidden to express anything smacking of a (political) opinion.

    So the mere fact that she can mention God, must mean that religion has no political purpose. Right?

  44. KrrCan says

    I’m from Sweden, saw this article today, and spent some time researching this dumb nut’s previous suggestions, they are all totally insane. (Increasing public funding for hospital chapels for example)
    I’m rather ashamed to have this clown as one in the riksdag, fortunately enough, her ideas is not heard by anyone.

  45. Menyambal says

    Well, it’s good to know there are some crazies in Sweden. Everyone that I have met from there has been wonderful to talk and work with, and I was starting to feel jealous.

    I found and wore my Swedish Rescue Services Agency shirt today, out of some twisted sense of solidarity. The flag still looks lovely, but the Räddnings Verket logo is getting a bit stretched these days.

    Good luck to you.

  46. Anonymous Coward says

    >waging illegal war
    Every war is illegal. In no country on earth is it legal for armies of other countries to mess about, shooting people and destroying buildings and such. But there is a difference between legal and right.

  47. says

    ArcticSwede @#33:

    Good letter!

    I can’t believe this came from a Swedish politician. You Swedes are supposed to be the most sensible ones out of the Nordic countries (No disrespect to the other Nordic countries of course, I’d live in any of them). When we fight stupid creotards and godbots on the Faroe Islands, we look to Sweden as an example of how things should be. This saddens me. Thank Pasta the Nordic countries are still awesomely secular.

  48. Liberal Atheist says

    She’s a Christian Democrat, which explains why she’s so annoying with her beliefs. Can you believe we actually have a political party called The Christian Democrats? It’s one of our greatest embarrassments as far as I am concerned. But I fear that we do have a sizable minority of delusional fools, excessively conservatives, and such people.

  49. Liberal Atheist says

    And my greatest embarrassment personally is my tendency to slaughter and abuse the English language. Oh well, it’s before breakfast… that’s my excuse.

  50. says

    Just a quickie on KD falling out of parliament: they will probably be replaced by Sverigedemokraterna (Democrats of Sweden, a racist/populist party). Just face it: there’ll always be enough votes to keep at least one extreme right-wing party in parliament, so would you rather see KD or SD? I know I’d pick KD over SD any day of the week – their marginalized opinions are a lot less offensive than SD’s.

  51. Prometevsberg says

    Well, probably the religiouds result of this proposal would be the opposition parties praying that the prime minister do something as stupid as that. One nordic politician that has used the phrase “God bless(name of country)…” was the recent and exceedingly unlamented ex-prime minister Geir Haarde of Iceland. It did not do wonders for his popularity rating,to say the least.

  52. Prometevsberg says

    For the swedes

    Riksdagsledamoten Else-Marie Lindgrens (KD) uttalande i Radio Sjuhärad, om Gud och Reinfeldt, fick mycket stor spridning på bloggar och i riksmedier under tisdagen. Idag hör ni henne utveckla sina tankar, efter klockan tre i Sjuhärad direkt.

    The local radio station, where the KD representative made her wievs known, is letting her further insert foot in mout at 15.00 local time. The poll on the radio station is running 88-12 against her.

  53. Xeno says

    @Markus Saers #75
    I contemplated mentioning this in my original post. Interesting to see that other people have realised this also. While I hesitate to think that the core voters of KD, being supposedly of a Christian mindset, would be easily swayed to voting for a blatantly racist party as SD, the fascist rhetoric they spew has become better and better, focusing on “traditions” and “core values”.
    We also risk losing more than one party in the next election season, some speculating that a “worst case scenario” would reduce us to a two-party system (or worse, a three party system with the fascist SD as a tie-breaker). Thinking about that made me sympathise with disenfranchised American voters.

    @Prometevsberg #77
    Thanks for the link! I’m eager to listen to more home-spun insanity.

  54. Bezoar says

    That’s funny. We have had two Swedish exchange students and I had asked each how they view religion in their society. They both said that it’s no big deal in their country. It isn’t god first and family second like here. I’d be very surprised if that EVER passes.

  55. Owlmirror says

    “Or is He like, obligated because a politician makes the ritual incantation?” – Something somewhat like this actually operated in ancient Rome; there was a concept of legal agreements with deities, and some of the language of religious ceremonies connected with state events (the inauguration of consuls, say) was deeply legalistic.

    That reminds me (having just finished The Bible Unearthed) that portions of Deuteronomy that set out what the Israelites were supposed to do and what God was supposed to do based on that had language that was very similar to Assyrian vassal agreements … let me see if I can dig that up again…

    OK, found the text I was looking for:

    “Scholars have pointed out that the literary form of the covenant between YHWH and the people of Israel in Deuteronomy is strikingly similar to that of early seventh-century Assyrian vassal treaties that outline the rights and obligations of a subject people to their sovereign (in this case, Israel and YHWH). Furthermore, as the biblical historian Moshe Weinfeld has suggested, Deuteronomy shows similarities to early Greek literature, in the genre of blessing and cursing, and in the ceremonies for the foundation of new settlements. To sum up, there is little doubt that an original version of Deuteronomy is the book of the Law mentioned in 2 Kings. Rather than being an old book that was suddenly discovered, it seems safe to conclude that it was written in the seventh century BCE, just before or during Josiah’s reign.”

    More here:

  56. Eleonora says

    See it from the other side. 80% of the population says it’s a idiotic idea (and that’s in a poll made by a newspaper which readers are generally positioned not that high on the social, educational and intellectual scale – in the overall population I would guess that rather some 98% would agree that this is completely idiotic).

    I’m a swede living in the US. If we posted the opposite suggestion here that the president should no longer say god bless America – do you think 80% of the Americans would agree?? Hardly so by having at least 80% saying no to national god blessings Sweden has still come a long way :)

  57. Bezoar says

    In POST #79 I referenced a Swedish exchange student’s comments about religion in her country. Here is her response after I sent this article from PZ:

    That was an interesting one… First, I thought it was a joke.
    Because that would be hilarious if our prime minister would say
    such a thing. It would just now work in our country. People
    would laugh out loud..! The link that you sent was to one of
    Swedens biggest news papers (the web version) though; Dagens
    Nyheter (DN) = The News of the Day. The article said that there
    was this (to me unkown) politican of one (and the only)
    Christian party we have in our country, and she had said;

    “It would be great if he would say that, since we are still a
    Christian country.”. Weeell……yes we do have Christian
    traditions, but how many of the Swedes would actually say that
    they are believers..? Not many. And for her using the word
    “still”…that to me indicates that she knows that many Swedes
    are not believers, actually. What a surprise……

    To me that is a joke, but to the woman who said that comment
    it wasn’t. :o)