A Dirty Word

All my colleagues working with Swedish students are jealous of me! Working as a Student Chaplain with International students is so much easier that working with Swedish students. As a Student chaplain working with Swedish students you are often met with suspicion. What is a religious person doing here amongst us normal people? Faith is almost regarded as a dirty word and religious belief as a contagious disease. I know, I have written about this many times before, but I am always reminded of this at the beginning of the term. I meet International students and am greeted with curiosity or gratefulness depending on if they are religious or not. I have never been treated by International Students like I am a strange creature from outer space. When it comes to Swedish students however, it is a different story. At hälsningsgillet tomorrow at AF borgen I know from experience that some students will avoid me like I am a dangerous madman. Why? – Because Swedish students are among second or third generation secularized Swedes. Their parents and even grandparents were secularized and all their friends are all secularized. They often don’t know a single person who believes in anything. So what they know about religion comes from what they have read about it in school and in newspapers. They have no first hand experience of what it means to believe in something, because they don’t know anyone who has religious beliefs. This opens up for a lot of prejudice when it comes to religion. It is also a growing problem since more and more people living in Sweden are religious – people like International students or immigrants. What can we do to bridge the gap? Start talking to each other, which, of course, is much easier if we all treat each other with respect.