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Anticlericalism and Early Social Democracy in Sweden in the 1880s

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image of Church History and Religious Culture

This article examines early socialist anticlericalism directed against the clergy of the Church of Sweden in the late nineteenth century. Research on socialist critiques and the Church of Sweden is generally lacking, and no attempt has been made to interpret the critique using the concept of anticlericalism. This study analyses the Social Democrats’ official newspaper Socialdemokraten and demonstrates that socialist anticlericalism was focused on clerical lifestyles, the church as a class institution, and often religion itself. A critical analysis of the arguments reveals that the satire and exaggeration already familiar to many were commonly used in anticlerical rhetoric when describing the clergy. The ultimate aim of the critique was the abolition of the Established Church because it was considered to provide a conservative religious ideology for the state.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology, Åbo Akademi University, Finland and Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University, Sweden


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