Bishop Eva Brunne of Sweden made headlines when she was ordained a bishop in 2009. Installed as the bishop of the Diocese of Stockholm, she was the first lesbian to be elevated to such a post in a mainstream church. Brunne is in a same-sex partnership with another ordained cleric, and is reported to be “a vocal opponent of racism and xenophobia.”
She also has an interesting view of the role and purpose of the church. Christianity has typically seen it as the point of the church to teach the message of Jesus Christ and worship him as savior. Thus, the iconic symbol of Jesus — the cross — is always prominently displayed in a church building.
But Bishop Brunne reportedly wants to change that at the Seamen’s Church in Stockholm. She wants to remove the crosses from the church and provide direction markings for Mecca, to assist Muslims in praying there.
The church is part of the worldwide network of Scandinavian Seamen’s Churches founded in 1864 under the patronage of the king of Norway. (There are six such churches in the United States, in New York, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, San Pedro, CA, and San Francisco.) Brunne’s influence is limited to the Seamen’s Church in the Diocese of Stockholm, on whose board she sits as a member.
The bishop has stirred up some controversy with her plan. Brunne apparently feels it would actually be “stingy” of Christians to retain the Christian character of their churches — or at least of all of them. She put it this way:
“Making a room available for people of other faiths does not mean that we are not defenders of our own faith. Priests are called to proclaim Christ. We do that every day and in every meeting with people. But that does not mean that we are stingy toward people of other faiths,” writes Bishop Eva Brunne…
What is the context in which it could possibly be viewed as “stingy” for a church building — or synagogue, mosque, or temple, for that matter — to retain the character of the religion it serves? The original Swedish reporting on this development provides a clue.
Swedish outlet Fria Tider cites a blog post at Kirkligating (“Church Planting”), in which the author reports on the 6 February, 2015 meeting of the Seamen’s Church board, where Brunne made the proposal. She was, says Patrik Pettersson, inspired by the inter-faith prayer room at Heathrow airport.
So, apparently, Brunne’s view is that the Seaman’s Church in Stockholm is like the inter-faith prayer room in an airport. Never mind that it began as a Christian church and has always been one; that its clergy and board are Christians and were expecting the church to remain a Christian church; and that those who pay for its upkeep and ministries expect the same thing.
Many Christian commentators argue that accepting gay clergy — in opposition to longstanding Christian teaching and beliefs — is a slippery slope to losing a church denomination’s Christian character altogether.
And there is room to question whether the churches of many (even most) European nations became “denatured” some time ago. In 2011, for example, a survey indicated that only 15% of Sweden’s church members — not of the total population, but of those who are members of churches — professed to believe in Jesus. Perhaps it would be hard to get the 85% of “church members” who don’t believe in Jesus to care whether a church has crosses in it, or has been made more convenient for the use of Muslims.
On Tuesday, Ezra Levant posted video commentary on this topic at The Rebel.
One salient point here is that there evidently is a titanic sense of complacency among elite Westerners like Bishop Brunne, who seem to see themselves and their culture — hard as this is to imagine — as invulnerable, while they look for ways to tear down its protections for their countrymen.
Set that point alongside Levant’s. He wonders, by contrast, where the courage has gone in the defense of the West. Exit thought: out the door, perhaps, with Jesus and the God Jehovah — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What is the West, actually, without them?