The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
In addition to the Church of Sweden, 22 recognized religious groups raise revenues through the Commission for State Grants to Religious Communities, a governmental body under the authority of the Ministry of Culture. Member contributions are made through the national taxation system. Among the religious groups receiving contributions are the Swedish Missionary Church, Roman Catholic Church, Swedish Alliance Mission, Baptist Union of Sweden, Salvation Army, Methodist Church in Sweden, Pentecostal Church, the Jewish Central Council, the Islamic Cooperation Council, and the Evangelical Church.
Recognition or registration is not required to carry out religious activity. Faith communities are taxed similarly to non-profit organizations. Religious groups that want to receive government aid may apply for it. In reviewing such applications, the government considers the number of members in the group and its length of establishment.
If a person believes he or she has been discriminated against for any reason in the private sector, in the government, or by a government agency or authority, that person can file a complaint with the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO). The DO will then represent the individual in the event of legal proceedings. The DO received 121 complaints related to religion and religious beliefs during 2011, the latest available figure.
Hate speech laws prohibit threats or expressions of contempt for persons based on several factors, including religious belief.
According to law, animal slaughter must be preceded by stunning and/or the administration of anesthetics to minimize the animal’s suffering. The Muslim community is split over whether certain anesthetic methods conflicted with halal requirements. The Jewish Community reports that the strict laws effectively prevent the production of kosher meat, and as a result, most halal and kosher meat is imported.
The law stipulates that male circumcision may be performed only by a licensed doctor or, for boys under the age of two months, in the presence of a person certified by the National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW). The NBHW has certified mohels (persons trained to carry out circumcision according to the Jewish faith) to perform the operations but requires that an anesthesiologist or other medical doctor accompany them. Some Jews and Muslims state that the law interferes with their religious traditions.
Individuals serving in the military are given the opportunity to observe religious customs. The military offers food options complying with religious dietary restrictions and allows time off for appropriate mourning periods. Some regiments have an imam to facilitate Muslim soldiers’ religious observance. Jehovah’s Witnesses are exempt from national military service. Armed forces guidelines allow religious headwear.
Religious education covering all world religions is compulsory in public schools. Parents may send their children to independent religious schools (all of which receive government subsidies through the school voucher system), which must adhere to government guidelines on core academic curricula. The governmental Living History Forum promotes national educational programs on the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and racism.
Law enforcement authorities maintain statistics on hate crimes, and police hate-crime units exist throughout the country. Authorities can add a hate crime classification to the initial reporting or to existing charges during an investigation, as well as to the trial and sentencing phase of a crime as appropriate. The Stockholm County police have a hate crime unit that trains police officers to detect, raise awareness of, and inform the public of hate crimes. A hate crime unit also exists in Malmo.
The government is a member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the day after Christmas.