Lars Gardfeldt, a 56-year old priest of the Church of Sweden, has found a way to make his point heard, even to the highest officials of his church. He plans to use conscientious objections to justify his refusal to marry opposite-sex couples. It is the same method that other priests use to deny marriage to same-sex couples.
Lars Gardfeldt is an openly gay priest from Karl Johan Parish in Gothenburg, Sweden. In an interview with Swedish Radio, Gårdfeldt expressed his disappointment with the Church of Sweden. He intends to make a point by showing "the absurdity of refusing marriage to two consenting adults."
Despite his plans, Gardfeldt admitted that refusing to marry opposite-sex couples causes him "great sadness." His desire is to show the church that their refusal to discuss homophobia is "theologically and ethically reprehensible."
Gardfeldt's campaign for LGBTQ+ equality has a deeper and more intimate start. In 2008, Gardfeldt and his partner Lars Arnell lost a lawsuit against the Swedish Tax Authority. The Supreme Administrative Court, Sweden's highest court, refused to recognize Gardfeldt and Arnell's Canadian marriage. The court downgraded their status from marriage to civil partnership.
Although the Church of Sweden has been offering religious blessings for same-sex couples who wish to be married, the homophobic culture still permeates that church and its ranks. In 2009, the church consecrated Eva Bruune as the Bishop of Stockholm, becoming the first openly lesbian bishop. The church also allowed same-sex marriage in the same year.
But despite all the liberal changes, the church's cultural traditions and laws still allow homophobia to exist. The ability for the priests of the Church of Sweden to conscientiously disagree with a marriage that they opposed morally has become the primary vector of homophobia.
Gardfeldt believes that aside from acknowledging that homophobia exists in the church, he also recommended that the church leaders avoid recruiting anti-gay priests. He has intensified his campaign ahead of the elections for church officials this coming September 19, 2021. His message to the senior officials of the Church of Sweden is for them to commit to overturning conscientious objections.