Among other things, Antje Jackelén admittedly has been called everything from “crazy b***h” to “Islamist hugger” and no longer views Twitter as a “meaningful communication channel”.
Archbishop of Sweden Antje Jackelén has announced she will take a break from Twitter after what she describes as “lies, threats and hatred” directed at both her personally and the Church of Sweden as an organisation.
According to Jackelén, her tweets are also misused to fuel “pure conspiracy theories”.
“I am described as ‘scum’ and a ‘crazy b***h’, and it feels extra hard to handle this now amid a pandemic when you are often alone. It’s like poison arrows being fired at you, but you don’t really know when they will come,” Antje Jackelén told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
“[Twitter] is no longer a meaningful communication channel for me,” Jackelén explained to national broadcaster SVT.
The archbishop’s announcement followed a controversial Easter programme by SVT, in which Jackelén appeared alongside Imam Nasir Ahmad Arif. This sparked controversy as the school he represented is known to segregate children by gender (which goes against Sweden’s egalitarian approach) and spread a hardline interpretation of Islam.
The archbishop mentioned two aspects that may have contributed to the hatred against her. First, her attitude towards Islam. On Twitter, many accused of not being a true Christian for generally favouring a dialogue with Muslims. Jackelén herself posted a screenshot in which she is called “Islamist hugger” and accused of “lacking a foothold in Christianity”.
“People would rather see a Christian say that Islam is a terrible and abominable religion. Instead of having a dialogue between important religious traditions,” Antje Jackelén told SVT.
“Some believe that it is not a religion as such but a pro-violence ideology, and that we support it. Islamophobia is very evident in many posts. Of course, we distance ourselves from extremism and fundamentalism in the world of religion, but demonising a world religion can never lead to anything good,” Jackelén explained to Dagens Nyheter.
Secondly, she ventured that her sex is a contributing factor.
“It’s not just my subjective experience. There are studies that show that women in high positions attract more of this hatred,” she said.
Admittedly, Jackelén hasn’t pondered a return to Twitter yet.
“Everything feels so fresh right now, so I actually haven’t had the time to think about it,” she concluded.
During Antje Jackelén’s tenure as Archbishop since 2014, the Church of Sweden has been actively voicing its stance on public issues such as immigration, climate change and gender, alienating some of the worshippers. For instance, earlier this week Jackelén slammed the proposal for a compulsory language test to obtain Swedish citizenship. Her vocal public stance and commitment to debate has over the years sparked criticism from those who believe the church should remain non-political and stay out of mundane issues.
Despite its membership gradually shrinking over the recent decades, with approximately 5.8 million members, the Church of Sweden remains the largest organisation in Swedish civil society.