At the end of September the Swedish Evangelical Alliance (SEA) organised a number of events surrounding the Swedish launch of the Global Charter of Conscience. The SEA has a long history of partnering together with different policy-makers in public debate. The launch of the Charter of Conscience was no exception.
The SEA had put together an intense and very strategic programme together with Os Guinness, the main drafter of the Charter, to give as many people as possible the opportunity to hear him, and strategic meetings with key people in politics and civil society.
The start of the programme actually took place before the arrival of Os Guinness with an op-ed by him about religion in public life in a Swedish newspaper. The article was very well received and worked as a launching-pad for the rest of the week.
The tour began on Wednesday, 26th September with a meeting in the Swedish Parliament with a number of MP’s and opinion leaders where Os Guinness discussed the ideas of the Charter, the civil public square and used the upcoming American election as an example when religion plays a part in public life.
On Thursday, 27th September, we travelled to Uppsala, one of the major university cities in Sweden, where Os Guinness spoke on the role of religion in public life to the students and teachers at a theological seminary. In the afternoon we went to the Ecumenical Centre in Stockholm, where several faith-based organisations have their headquarters, for the official launch of the Charter. Immediately afterwards, we had a meeting with Sweden’s Minister for the government’s relationship with religious communities, Stefan Attefall, where we handed over a copy of the Charter to the Minister and discussed how religion is handled in public life and how we can live with our deepest differences.
Friday, 28th September began with an invitation-only research seminar on Ersta Sköndal University College, with a number of academics and several members of the government’s Commission on the Future of Sweden, that works on identifying long-term challenges for Sweden and gives answers. Os Guinness addressed the issue of living with our deepest differences for about 45 minutes after which the floor was open for discussion. Several hours of intense and very constructive conversation took place among the academics.
As religion in public life is a much debated issue in Sweden, regarded by many as probably the most secular nation in the world, but at the same time with a very rich Christian history, the Charter comes at a very timely season. Since the launch, there has been a number of columns and editorials in the media that has used language taken from the Charter.
As a Christian organization, the SEA looks forward to partnering with policy-makers of all faiths and none to promote the ideas of the Charter.