No more state funding for Jehovah’s Witnesses – Sweden changes legal basis

The short film (picture above) deals with the so-called. blood ban, the stigmatisation of political activities, the prohibition of homosexual relations and the subordination of women as controversial precepts of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Four Contested Rules in Jehovah’s Witnesses

Published 23th February 2022 (translation by JZ Help e.V.)

INVESTIGATION – The strict rules of Jehovah’s Witnesses are at odds with the fundamental values of society – that has been the government’s position for many years. Yet it finally decided to give millions in grants to the faith community. Now the government wants to change the law.
For several years, the government has denied Jehovah’s Witnesses a state grant, claiming that the community’s rules violate the democracy clause that must be fulfilled under Swedish law.

But in 2019, the government changed its mind. In 2021, Jehovah’s Witnesses received, as a first payment, just over SEK 2 million – plus damages of SEK 8.5 million due to the lengthy process.

Watch the report: the scars of Jehovah’s Witnesses – SVT Play

The government didn’t show up

Several times during the process, the community has appealed the government’s decision. Three times the Supreme Administrative Court has rejected the government’s refusal.

According to the Supreme Administrative Court, the reasons presented by the government have not been sufficient to deny the Society a grant.

In the first rejection decision, no reasons were given at all, according to Justice Margit Knutsson.

  • The second time, the issue of political activity was raised, but nothing about the blood issue, so we sent it back as well. The third time, only the blood issue was raised, and that was not enough either, but it cannot be concluded that we have thereby said that Jehovah’s Witnesses are entitled to support.

Members of Jehovah’s Witnesses participated in an oral hearing in court – but no representatives from the government ever appeared.

“The legislation obviously didn’t work”

According to Margit Knutsson, the government could have refused again, but instead chose to grant the million-dollar subsidy.

This despite the fact that both the government and the Agency for Aid to Religious Communities insist that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not meet the requirements for receiving state aid.

  • What Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing is urging their members not to be part of society,” says Isak Reichel, head of the SST.

Nina Andersson (S), State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, says she understands that the government’s turnaround on the issue may seem strange. Instead, the government wants to change the law, by tightening up the requirements and clarifying the democracy clause.

  • What you have to remember when it comes to the disbursement of tax money is that it has to be consistent and equal based on the legislation that exists. Here, the legislation has clearly not worked, and we will therefore also be going to Parliament with new legislation in this area to put things right.

Jehovah’s Witnesses write to Uppdrag granskning that they believe they contribute to maintaining and strengthening the fundamental values on which society is based.

More information you can find at Legal Issues