Sweden: New Pants "Hate Christians." | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Sweden: New Pants "Hate Christians."

This AP article was highly entertaining to me. Mainly because Sweden comes off as being the Twilight Zone version of the United States.

Cheap Monday jeans are a hot commodity among young Swedes thanks to their trendy tight fit and low price, even if a few buyers are turned off by the logo: a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead.

Logo designer Bjorn Atldax says he's not just trying for an antiestablishment vibe.

"It is an active statement against Christianity," Atldax told The Associated Press. "I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion.".....

In more religious countries, that might raise a furious response, maybe even prompt retailers to drop the brand.

Not in Sweden, a secular country that cherishes its free speech and where churchgoing has been declining for decades....

"One cannot just keep quiet about this," said the Rev. Karl-Erik Nylund, vicar of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Stockholm. "This is a deliberate provocation (against Christians) and I object to that."

Nylund complained that Swedish companies do not treat Christianity with the same respect in marketing that they afford other religions.

"No one wants to provoke Jews or Muslims, but it's totally OK to provoke Christians," he said.

That middle sentence in there that speaks about the "dropping of the brand" in more religious countries, don't you just feel that was a subtle little love slap for the rest of us?

Because, in America, there would already be fourteen Supreme Court cases pending about whether or not children can wear them to school where (gasp!) other children might see them. The liberal media would have been blamed for making them, and Karl Rove would have started a rumor that half the profits went to support terrorism.

They would then become a huge underground commodity. Only rock stars would wear them and celebrities would own a black string symbolizing their eternal devotion to Cheap Monday jeans and the indie Anti-Christian movement. Bush would get angry. There would be an embargo against all things Swedish. Millions of children would miss receiving Dala Horses and Polka Mints in their stockings every year. This would culminate in a vicious attack on Sweden, where we try to steal all their.....um, architecture?

Its all starting to make sense to you now, isn't it?

Previous Comments

ID
104033
Comment

As a Christian, seeing things like this makes me a little sad. After all, I'm not a right-wingnut as some people describe I believe what I believe because it helps me cope with this cuckoo world of ours. However, I'm not surprised by the logo for this reason: "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2 Timothy 3:12-13 (NIV) See, we were warned. What keeps me from giving up? This: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18 In other words, oooh child, things are gonna get easier. They can say whatever they want in Sweden, or in Xanadu for that matter - I don't care. They have their views, and I have mine. I refuse to get upset.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-12-30T21:17:13-06:00
ID
104034
Comment

On the one hand, L.W., I can't help reacting to your post and the quotation from Paul's second letter to my namesake (I was actually named for him) by pointing out that in the U.S. today, Christians are anything but persecuted. They're in power, for God's sake. (Actually they're not in power for God's sake; they're in power for their own sakes. But that's another discussion.) But to Ali, based on the column, I would say: Be careful what you wish for (if what's happening in Sweden is what you wish for). I just came back to Jackson after living in Sweden for eleven and a half years, and you would not believe what being aggressively anti-religious will do to people's behavior. If you think Americans are self-centered and rude, I invite you to spend a year in Sweden. You'll be ready to kiss American soil, believe it or not. Those people, IMO, could use a good healthy dose of God or some other higher power. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-01-03T12:36:50-06:00
ID
104035
Comment

Well, I have a tendency to think that neither of the extremes is a great thing. It just seemed so OPPOSITE of us that I was intrigued as to what problems THAT causes in their society. There are ills to both, I know. I"m always interested in the other side of the coin. I am now going to talk about something that has nothing to do with Sweden, but more to do with understanding both sides of a situation. I was talking to my dad the other day and he was speaking about ending social welfare programs in the Delta. Mainly because people are "just living off the government". (His words....NOT MINE. Can you imagine the two of us conversing? ;)) I had to remind him that if they ended all social services there would be a HUGE influx in crime. I then asked him if he was prepared for that. He got flabbergasted, angry, and then repeated something he had already said. (In Dad speak this means our hard heads are butting and he doesn't want to yell obscenities as his CRAZY LIBERAL ONLY child). I think people should always look at the good and bad in any situation. Before they "make up their mind" about something and decide that is the way the world should work. Seemingly, I never thought of just ENDING social welfare programs. MY father, on the other hand, never thought about the consequences of those actions. He didn't think about the consequences because in HIS MIND he would just "work" if someone stopped all financial aid to his family. That's HIS reality. There are people who don't automatically think "work" if their aid is taken away. Not because they wouldn't "want" to work but that lack of education has almost removed their ability to be an employable American. I liked the Sweden article because it gave a different perspective on the "religiousity' of a nation and its effects. I like perspective. End Rant

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-03T14:59:43-06:00
ID
104036
Comment

Well, I have a tendency to think that neither of the extremes is a great thing. Agreed wholeheartedly. As for the rest of your rant, your family sounds much like mine. (How many complaints have I not heard about how the New Orleanians who were displaced by Katrina were just a bunch of welfare bums, while the Mississippi Gulf Coast seems to be entirely populated by saintly, hard-working "real Americans"? Don't get me started.) Sadly, I find that I no longer have the energy to argue with them -- most of the ones who have these kinds of opinions are so old that they're not about to change their minds anyway no matter what I say. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-01-03T15:33:36-06:00
ID
104037
Comment

For the record, as a Christian, I don't care what they put on their jeans. If I don't like the message they are sending, I won't buy the jeans. I imagine if I put out a line of jeans with a picture of a cross on the label with the words "Jesus loves you" on it, he wouldn't buy them either. I wouldn't care that he didn't buy my product and he doesn't care that i don't buy his. I will say this though. Vitriol against Christianity is politically correct, but any type of anti-Semitic statement (unless uttered by Lewis Farrukhan) or anti-Muslim statement is hatespeech. Perhaps people feel that it is ok to say anything you want about Christians and they can't do anything about it because of that whole "love your enemies" thing. Whereas if you speak against Muslims they tend to hold to the "eye for an eye" dogma.

Author
brandon
Date
2006-01-04T15:09:35-06:00
ID
104038
Comment

Vitriol against Christianity is politically correct, but any type of anti-Semitic statement (unless uttered by Lewis Farrukhan) or anti-Muslim statement is hatespeech. I'd say that's true in Sweden. In the US, it's *so* far from true. Vitriol against Christianity'll get you a (metaphorical) ass-whoopin' in the US faster than just about anything else I can think of (well, kissing your same-sex partner in public -- and that might not be so metaphorical either). Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-01-04T15:35:00-06:00
ID
104039
Comment

brandon writes: "For the record, as a Christian, I don't care what they put on their jeans. If I don't like the message they are sending, I won't buy the jeans. I imagine if I put out a line of jeans with a picture of a cross on the label with the words "Jesus loves you" on it, he wouldn't buy them either. I wouldn't care that he didn't buy my product and he doesn't care that i don't buy his." This sums up my sentiment pretty much perfectly--my first thought about the Marilyn Manson boy's jeans is that they sound very tacky, though I got and appreciated Ali's point about the Twilight Zone reversal of special interest influence (and thought it warranted the blog entry)--but some things to throw in here: - Anti-Muslim speech is actually VERY common right now in most circles, in my experience. At least with Christianity, there's safety in numbers--most people are either believing Christians, such as yourself, or at least Christian sympathizers, like me and Tim. But I remember that even here, an educated guy--an attorney--posted stuff about Muslims that set my teeth on edge. And on another local blog, people post that Islam itself is the reason for terrorism, and they do so without any real challenge from others on their site. So if you haven't been hearing anti-Muslim hate speech from folks at your church, I think that speaks well of you as pastor. - Because there's safety in numbers with Christianity in this country, I think folks feel relatively safe criticizing it. They know there will not be an anti-Christian kristallnacht. It's just not going to happen. The raw numbers, and the power, rest in the hands of Christians. This is also why I find it less threatening when non-whites make general disparaging comments about whites than I do about the reverse. You can't really be anti-white and function in this country, because you can't exclude whites from any viable power networks. But you can exclude specific minority groups, especially if you're white, so that's more dangerous. - Tim, isn't there actually a growing antisemitism problem in Sweden right now? I know it's a huge problem in many other European nations. (And sorry for still not returning the phone call, BTW--simply out of it for the second half of November for really depressing reasons I shouldn't get into here, major family wedding on the 17th, and then the holidays, and then I got sick the night of the 26th and have been that way ever since. It's been a mess... An interesting mess, but a mess.) - Antisemitism in the United States presents an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, Jews are according to most polls the most widely respected religious group in this country--72 percent of Americans have a positive impression of Jews, versus 65 to 70 percent for various forms of Christianity (though I suspect the number would be much higher for Christianity taken as a whole, given that 87 percent of the population identifies as Christian). On the other, Jews also face an incredible number of hate crimes--even more than Muslims, despite the fact that hate speech directed against Muslims seems to be much more common. Why the disparity? My guess is that it boils down to cause and effect. Most professedly anti-Muslim folks are basically normal people who "got that way" by looking at international disputes, pop culture, and extremely shoddy media coverage of Islam. Most professedly antisemitic folks are just plain nuts to begin with, and antisemitism is only one of the manifestations of that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-04T17:01:53-06:00
ID
104040
Comment

Tim, isn't there actually a growing antisemitism problem in Sweden right now? There were some manifestations of a problem while I was there, but it never became terribly prominent, and I think it's because it isn't that big of a problem. Which isn't to say it couldn't develop into a significant problem later. I think most Swedes are fundamentally sympathetic to Jews because of the Holocaust. However, there are certainly right-wing nutcases in Sweden who engage in anti-Semitic hate speech; they tend to focus more on Muslims, though, because the Muslims are the ones who are very visible in Sweden (Jews aren't very visible at all) and make an easy target; there are simply a lot of them. (They also complain loudly about homosexuals, so loudly that I can't help wondering what their real problem is -- I think many of them must be closet cases. But that's another story.) No worries about the phone call. I'm heading into a period right now where it looks like I'm going to be away from Jackson a lot, but you can still call me whenever you feel better. (Which please do, soon!) Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-01-04T17:14:38-06:00
ID
104041
Comment

Just FYI looking into the history of the upside down cross... It is originally the Cross of St. Peter and is a religious symbol... before "Satanist" and popular culture turned it into something else...this is like my reverse statement about the history of Christmas as a pagan holiday taken over by Christians.... now it's a Christian symbol taken over by "Satanists." But (like the swastika) if you look into the original use and meaning, it's very different from the one perceived today.

Author
MANGUM
Date
2006-01-04T18:31:35-06:00
ID
104042
Comment

On the one hand, L.W., I can't help reacting to your post and the quotation from Paul's second letter to my namesake (I was actually named for him) by pointing out that in the U.S. today, Christians are anything but persecuted. They're in power, for God's sake. (Actually they're not in power for God's sake; they're in power for their own sakes. But that's another discussion.) Tim, To clarify, I am referring to true Christians who are actually Christlike, not neo-cons who use Christ's name to get what they want and get people on their side. They are the ones in charge, not the good guys.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-01-04T18:38:04-06:00
ID
104043
Comment

Trey, I was actually going to make the swastika comparison as soon as I saw the first sentence of your post in the "Recent Comments" box. Glad to see you beat me to it! Yeah, the inverted cross can also serve in some contexts as the cross of St. Peter--its much older meaning. In fact, if you look at the papal throne, it has an inverted cross above it--which has prompted lots of rather silly anti-Catholic vitriol (google "satanic inverted cross" + "papal"). The story behind it is that... Well, two parts to the story. They say that St. Peter was heading back from Rome, fearing crucifixion at the hands of Nero, when Jesus met him on the road. "Quo vadis?," Pete famously asked. "To Rome, that I may be crucified again." At this point, legend has it that Peter turned on his heels and headed back to Rome to meet his fate. Once in Rome, Peter was ordered to be crucified. Last request time, so he asked to be crucified upside down, because he felt he wasn't worthy of dying the same way Jesus did. Done. And it's been known as St. Peter's Cross ever since. This is also the root of the verses in John 21: 15 After they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, `Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said, `Yes, Lord. You know that I like you. I am your friend.' Jesus said to him, `Feed my lambs.' 16 He asked him the second time, `Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter said, `Yes, Lord. You know that I like you. I am your friend.' Jesus said to him, `Take care of my sheep.' 17 Then he asked Peter the third time, `Simon son of John, do you like me?' Peter was sad because of the way Jesus asked him the third time. So he answered him, `Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you as a close friend' Jesus said to him, `Feed my sheep. 18 'I tell you the truth. When you were young, you put on your own belt. You went where you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will put out your hands. Others will put your belt on for you. They will take you where you do not want to go.' 19 Jesus said this to show how Peter would die and make God's name great. When he had finished saying this, he said to him, `Come and follow me!' But for satanism--which was founded by really stupid Protestants rebelling against their families, for the most part--inversion is seen as satanic. They'd never even heard of St. Peter's Cross, but they figured turning a cross upside down, like reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards, would be a great way to honor Satan. St. Peter might have disagreed, but I guess it's the thought that counts. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-04T20:31:23-06:00
ID
104044
Comment

Tom, After 9/11 and all the ensuing carnage, the church I work with had a special seminar dealing with what Islam teaches, via the Koran. The point was emphasized repeatedly that you cannot judge a religion fairly based upon the behavior of its adherents. You must go to the source of the religion. If you judged Christianity by randomly picking a "Christian," you might be led to believe that Christianity was a religion that taught bigotry, drinking alcohol, gambling, cussin', you know typical "good ole boyism." But if you go to the source you get a much different picture. Same is true of Islam, at least we tried to emphasize that. Take a random Muslim, you may get an extremist or terrorist, but if you go to the Koran you get the true picture.

Author
brandon
Date
2006-01-05T09:20:08-06:00
ID
104045
Comment

If you judged Christianity by randomly picking a "Christian," you might be led to believe that Christianity was a religion that taught bigotry, drinking alcohol, gambling, cussin', you know typical "good ole boyism." But if you go to the source you get a much different picture. EXACTLY!!! You can't judge a Christian by a neo-con, you can't judge Islam by a suicide bomber, etc. Even with Judaism, Adam Sandler and Dr. Laura don't have much in common, do they? It has to do with the individual.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-01-05T10:44:35-06:00
ID
104046
Comment

Tim wrote: I think most Swedes are fundamentally sympathetic to Jews because of the Holocaust. However, there are certainly right-wing nutcases in Sweden who engage in anti-Semitic hate speech; they tend to focus more on Muslims, though, because the Muslims are the ones who are very visible in Sweden (Jews aren't very visible at all) and make an easy target; there are simply a lot of them. Muslims were most definitely visible when I spent a couple days in Stockholm nearly three years ago. I saw (and took some photos) of a group of demonstrators waving what I believe were Palestinian flags.

Author
Ex
Date
2006-01-05T11:03:31-06:00
ID
104047
Comment

To clarify, I am referring to true Christians who are actually Christlike, not neo-cons who use Christ's name to get what they want and get people on their side. They are the ones in charge, not the good guys. Thanks for the clarification, L.W. I totally agree with you there. It seems likely to me that people who *actually* try to live as Christ wanted us to live will always be subject to persecution, because the way Christ wanted us to live will always be in conflict with the ways of the world (to use a phrase I learned years ago in church). Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-01-05T11:05:06-06:00
ID
104048
Comment

Muslims were most definitely visible when I spent a couple days in Stockholm nearly three years ago. I saw (and took some photos) of a group of demonstrators waving what I believe were Palestinian flags. Yes, indeed. Bunches of 'em. One of the guys who works in the crew office at Västra skogen (on the subway, where I used to work) is a Pakistani fellow named Hussein. We used to jokingly call him Saddam. (He loved it. He also loved speaking English with me.) One thing that bothers me (that your post reminded me of), even though I tend to be in sympathy with the Palestinians, is that most Swedes seem to lack any trace of sympathy with the Israelis. It's just so one-sided. And kind of weird, since the Palestinians' desire to live in Palestine is, to a considerable extent, based on religious principles (which Swedes generally hate). Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-01-05T11:09:20-06:00

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