Elisabeth Svantesson is the new Minister for Employment in Sweden and also a Christian who has a background in the Scandinavian country's pro-life movement. Her membership in the Word of Faith Christian movement and pro-life activities apparently sparked heated enchanges with Swedish media on September 17.
Writing in the Aftonbladet tabloid, Lena Melin declared "The risk is that religious extremism could haunt Elisabeth Svantesson and the government throughout her time as a minister." For her part, Svantesson had already declared that her religion is a private matter. According to The Local, a Swedish media outlet, a political scientist who happens to be Christian, Maria Demker, sayd that the implications of Svantesson's background will depend on how she and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt deal with it. "This a woman who has a licentiate degree in economics and who has led the parliamentary employment committee for some time... Rationally this should put the debate to bed, but I'm not so sure about that," Demker said. The political scientist said that Svantesson's political fortunes will also depend on whether the media finds her Christian background to be "incriminating."
Another political scientist, Andreas Johansson Heinö, wrote on Twitter that media scrutiny of Svantesson's Christian faith is an exercise in "idiocy", while he called for a focus on her merits.
Svantesson served as press secretary of 'Yes to Life': a pro-life group founded by a member of the Swedish Word of Faith movement. Svantesson reportedly participated in a pro-life demonstration in 2009. She has criticized legislation approved by parliament in 2009 that permitted same-sex marriage.
Livets Ord (literally Word of Life) is the largest parish within the Swedish Word of Faith movement and was founded by Ulf Ekman in 1983. Word of Faith is noted for its adherence to Scripture and is linked to the Pentecostal movement in the United States.
Also this week in Sweden, reaction was mixed regarding a recent court decision concerning to a 65-year-old man charged with public indecency in June. The man was charged with sexual assault after he was observed to have removed his shorts near the shore at Drevviken beach in order to publicly masturbate. The Södertörn District Court acquitted the elderly offender, stating that while it "may be proven that the man exposed himself and masturbated on this occasion," it found that no offense had been committed as the masturbating man was not pleasuring himself towards a specific person. The public prosecutor said he will not appeal the ruling, having concluded that the "court's judgement is reasonable."