A national interfaith council has been created in Sweden to highlight the role of faith groups in generating understanding, and to respond to those who are hostile to religion.
"We want to strengthen the freedom to believe in and practise religion, both individually and in fellowship, but we also want to be a voice for public discussion of ethics and spirituality," said Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden in a recent statement.
The church said that the council includes Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh representatives, and that it was formed on 4 May at a meeting at the archbishop's residence in Uppsala
The interfaith council is made up of 15 people and will meet twice a year. "We have created a national avenue for religious leaders in Sweden to come together, not a new organisation," said Wejryd.
About 87 per cent of Sweden's 9 million people belong to the Church of Sweden.
Archbishop Wejryd has a long-standing interest in promoting interfaith dialogue and action.
In November 2008 he convened a meeting of faith leaders from around the world that issued the Uppsala Manifesto on climate change in advance of a United Nations conference in Poland.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]