STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Did the Church of Sweden announce climate activist Greta Thunberg is the "successor" of Jesus Christ? No, that's not true: a single tweet by a local pastor in December 2018 made that controversial claim but he later apologized for it. The Church of Sweden (to which over half of Swedes belong) has issued no official statement making this claim at all.
The controversy recently went viral again in the United States when it was picked up by several websites after Thunberg's visit to the United Nations, for example this article published by The Daily Wire on September 30, 2019 titled "Church Of Sweden Announced Greta Thunberg 'Successor' Of Jesus" (archived here) which opened:
The Church of Sweden, which has routinely promoted teen climate change alarmist Greta Thunberg, announced the young girl a "successor" to Jesus Christ last December.
"Announcement! Jesus of Nazareth has now appointed one of his successors, Greta Thunberg", the Church of Limhamn tweeted on December 1, 2018.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
The Church of Sweden, which has routinely promoted teen climate change alarmist Greta Thunberg, announced the young girl a "successor" to Jesus Christ last December. "Announcement! Jesus of Nazareth has now appointed one of his successors, Greta Thunberg", the Church of Limhamn tweeted on December 1, 2018. ????Lucka 1❄️Kungörelse! Jesus från Nasaret har nu utsett [...]
The headline oversells the actual news by quite a bit if you look at the origin of the story. The article correctly notes that the twitter account of the Church of Limhamn sent out this tweet (archived here) on December 1, 2018 as part of a planned Advent calendar (opening one "door" per day):
🔔Lucka 1❄️-- Limhamns kyrka (@Limhamnskyrka) December 1, 2018
Kungörelse! Jesus från Nasaret har nu utsett en av sina efterträdare, nämligen Greta Thunberg.🌟
Translated, this message reads:
🔔 Door 1 ❄️ Announcement! Jesus of Nazareth has now appointed one of his successors, Greta Thunberg. 🌟
Of course the message caused some controversy in Sweden, leading to following apology from the same account just a few days later (archived here):
Kära twitter,-- Limhamns kyrka (@Limhamnskyrka) December 6, 2018
Har vi sårat någon ber vi om ursäkt, det har aldrig varit vår mening. Vår mening har varit att på vårt sätt tala om Jesus Kristus. Nu lämnar vi arenan. Tack för engagemang, glädje och debatt.
Gud välsigne er!
Jonas Persson, församlingsherde
If we have hurt someone we apologize, it has never been our opinion. Our sense has been to talk about Jesus Christ in our own way. Now we leave the arena. Thank you for your commitment, joy and debate.
God bless you!
Jonas Persson, ward pastor
It has to be noted that the @Limhamnskyrka account is not the official Twitter account of the Church of Sweden, it belongs to a local parish.
A local parish priest sending out a tweet is usually not the way in which major religions issue new doctrine. That would be like getting a quote from the priest at a small Catholic village church and then printing it under a headline that says "Vatican Announces...". Or taking a tweet from a local fast food franchise announcing a promotion and claiming it applies to all restaurants in the chain.
None of the outlets currently printing the news about the Church of Sweden making this announcement seem to have made the effort to give them a call.
Lead Stories asked Daniel Bramsell (the Press Secretary for the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden) to comment on the announcement that Greta Thunberg had been announced as successor to Christ by the Church of Sweden and his reply simply was:
The Church of Sweden has made no official announcement about this matter.
But that probably makes for a much less interesting headline...
: Added link to official Twitter account and website of Church of Sweden, changed DMV employee/Washington example to local fast food franchise/national chain example.
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