Combining Secular Public Space and Growing Diversity? Interactions Between Religious Organizations as Welfare Providers and the Public in Sweden
Sweden has been characterized by a strong state that was the key actor in a comprehensive welfare system, while religious organizations as welfare providers played only a minor role. Swedish welfare policies saw the task of religious welfare actors mainly as taking care of the existential (individual) needs of their members. This division of labor has mirrored and consolidated a notion of the public as secular while religion was delegated to the private sphere. The model is in flux, not least because the Nordic countries have become less homogeneous and more diverse regarding ethnicity, religion, and welfare. This development challenges the role of religious organizations in the welfare system. Is a new model of welfare interaction between religious organizations and the public emerging? The chapter discusses this question based on a review of recent Swedish research in the field of religion and welfare.