Swedish Journalist Studies The Role Of Religion In American Politics

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The role of religion in American life and American politics is the research topic of Therese Larsson Hultin, a Swedish journalist traveling across the United States on a 90-day fact-finding fellowship.

Hultin was at Ohio University as a guest of the Institute for International Journalism and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. During her visit she sat for an interview with WOUB.

She easily has found major differences in American political life and the political life in Sweden.

Hultin notes that Sweden is the “most secular” country in Europe. Not many people go to church in her home country and no Swedish politicians ever taut their religious affiliations while running for office. If they did, “they wouldn’t be elected,” she says.

In American, she notes, religion is a part of almost every political speech and she posits that no candidate for President would ever get elected if he/she said they didn’t believe in God.

“To understand the American political system, one needs to understand the role of religion in American life,” Hultin said.

Hultin observed that strict religious views seem to be moving the Republican Party further to the conservative side of politics and away from the mainstream of American thought. She claims that much of the religious debate in politics centers on abortion and same-sex marriage issues.

The issues of abortion and same sex marriage wouldn’t even be considered in Swedish politics, she claims. Yet, Hultin observes, they are an integral part of the American political landscape.

She notes another difference between the countries is the American preoccupation with guns and gun ownership. 

“Nobody in Sweden carries a gun and they are not in our homes – it just isn’t done,” Hultin says.  “However, here guns appear to be everywhere.”

She says that gun laws and gun ownership issues seem to dominate the American political landscape and political debate.

Hultin is starting a 24 state tour of the United States traveling from coast-to-coast and throughout the heartland.  She will be reporting her observations about American life and politics back to Sweden.