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Fake News: Church Of Sweden Did NOT Announce Greta Thunberg Is Successor Of Jesus

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 01 Oct 2019 11:53:58 Z)

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:

Church Of Sweden Announced Greta Thunberg 'Successor' Of Jesus

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):

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):

Translated:

Dear Twitter,

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

The @Limhamnskyrka Twitter account has since gone silent. It belongs to Limhamn Church, a local church in a suburb of Malmö where about 30,000 people live.

Jonas Persson is no longer listed on their staff page (but he was listed as the parish priest in November 2018 according to the version saved by the Internet Archive).

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.

The Church of Sweden maintains its own website and Twitter account (@svenskakyrkan).

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...

Updates:

: 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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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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