According to the police, the attack could have been carried out by “someone frustrated with the Christian doctrine” or “angered by society at large”.
Backa church in the Hisings Backa district of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, has been damaged by arsonists.
According to the police, the perpetrators tried to set fire to a gate at the back of the church. Some of the windows were also destroyed with stones. Police spokesman Hans-Jörgen Ostler emphasised that luckily, the fire didn’t catch.
A report of damages has been made, but no arrests have been made, and there are no suspects.
“It can be someone who is frustrated with the Christian doctrine, it can be someone who is angered by society at large. There are a plethora of different speculative reasons why someone could do this. We cannot exclude anything,” Hans-Jörgen Ostler said, as quoted by the news outlet Nyheter Idag.
The Hisings Backa district is currently present on the police list of vulnerable areas. These are defined as areas where criminals have an impact on the local community and where there is a reduced tendency to report crimes and participate in the legal process.
“It is unpleasant that something like this happens. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that people throws stones or try to get inside the church,” Andrea Schleeh, pastor in Backa parish, told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Backa church is centrally located in the district, but stands secluded on a hill. According to Andrea Schlee, its remote position has led to periodic drug sales near the area.
“It is a fairly large cemetery on the one side and a wooded area on the other. There has been drug trafficking there,” Schleeh said, adding that nothing stands out.
This attack marks the second time in less than a week that a church in Gothenburg has been damaged. Last week, the Catholic Church at Heden in central Gothenburg was damaged. There, an altar cloth had been pulled away, and several candelabra were broken. In addition, a pulpit mounted in the church was overturned and hymn books had been strewn across the floor. Also, a cross disappeared, only to be returned later.
“I first thought that someone just wanted to take the cross with them, like shoplifting. But when it came back without the body [of Christ] on, I understood that it was some kind of message. But I do not know what message they want to convey”, Birgitta Gelott, assistant in the Catholic parish, told Dagens Nyheter.
Accroding to the 2017 Global Attitudes Survey by the Pew Research Centre, 59.9 percent of the Swedes regarded themselves as Christians, with 48.7 percent belonging to the Lutheran Church of Sweden, 9.5 percent Unaffiliated Christians, and 0.4 percent Catholics.
In 2019, roughly 3,000 of Europe’s churches and other Christian edifices were the target of crimes, the Gatestone Institute international think-tank reported in its sweeping analysis of vandalism and other crimes against churches and Christian monuments in Europe.