Thursday, August 19, 2010


There are two things that are especially attractive to me in the American constitution and in American society: freedom of religion, and the absence of royalty, nobility, and hereditary titles. Freedom of religion is protected under the 1st amendment to the constitution, and when you become an American citizen you are stripped of any titles.

Sweden didn't have true freedom of religion until 1951, when Swedish citizens were allowed to leave the Swedish Church without being forced to join another church instead.

The Lutheran Swedish Church was a state church from the 16th century and until the year 2000. Up until 1996 you became a member not through baptism, but through birth.

Growing up I had Jewish friends who had had to wait until their 18th birthday to be able to leave the Lutheran state church.

The Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden got married earlier this year. I watched coverage of the ceremony and the dinner online. It was pretty, extravagant, and the couple was radiant. But after hours of commentary around who (of European royalty) was there, what they wore, and how they (in the European nobility) were all related, I had had enough. I started seeing not individuals, but an archaic system.

The Swedish monarch, now Victoria's dad, King Carl XVI Gustav, has no real power. He and his family act as bejeweled goodwill ambassadors at home and abroad. The cost for their upkeep is increasing every year. According to the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, for the year 2010 Swedish tax payers will chip in 17 million dollars. They have staff, palaces, and travel expenses. They have to be addressed formally. Women are to curtsey.

Of all the ways someone can earn your respect, being born into a position ranks real low for me.

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