Hundreds of clergy, staff and congregants of the Church of Sweden, Europe’s largest Lutheran denomination, have declared in an open letter that it is now a trans-inclusive institution.
“We write to you from a church that is also trans,” reads a line from the letter, titled “Personal Letter to You Who are Trans,” posted on a dioceses website and addressed to trans-identifying people who serve and attend the church, Summit News reported.
Signed by around 1,000 priests, deacons and members and published on the official website of the Västerås diocese, the letter also seeks to explain how the church could be described as trans.
“A church is made up of people. People are different. We have confirmees, employees, churchwardens, elected representatives, nonprofits, and other parishioners who define themselves as trans people. The church also consists of trans people,” it says.
The letter criticizes media outlets for being silent as so-called “radical right-wing Christian groups” and “trans-excluding” feminists allegedly conspire to take away the rights and dignity of transgender people, according to RT.
“This contributes to the normalization of trans hate,” the signatories claim. “We believe in a church and a God who welcome people beyond power, national boundaries, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, and gender identity. A humanity in all the colors of the rainbow, absolutely amazing and infinite in its diversity. We are different and that is good. And God saw that it was good.”
Some members slammed the letter’s declaration.
“And this, right here, is the last drop. So the church is trans, and trans is the new norm. This is the most smarmy and disgusting text I have ever read. Thank you and goodbye, Church of Sweden,” a member tweeted, according to CBN News.
In 2017, the denomination told clergy that they needed to start using gender-neutral language when referring to God, and avoid masculine terms such as “He” and “Lord.”
The Associated Press reported at the time that the guidance was issued in an update to the Church’s handbook that deals with terms of language, liturgy, hymns and other aspects.
In 2009, the left-leaning Swedish Church voted in favor of blessing same-sex marriages and elected Eva Brunne, the world’s first openly lesbian bishop.
Many of the members of the Church of Sweden are nominal believers and have been leaving the religion in record numbers.
In 2018, insiders said the denomination was expected to lose over 1 million members over the following 10 years.