The aim of the article is to highlight the blurred religious situation in contemporary Sweden on an individual level by studying religious needs and practices among patients in the Swedish health care system. Focus is on how religious issues are handled by the health care givers and how patients wish it would be handled. The empirical material for the article is twenty-seven in-depth interviews with former patients and representatives from the health care chaplaincy. The results of the study show that there can be a need for religion when one is hospitalized, that these patients wish that their religious needs and practices would be respected and facilitated, and that the blurred religious situation in Sweden is prevalent at the hospitals, but the hospitals—being foremost affected by the processes of secularization—have a tendency not to take this into consideration.
This article starts by giving an overview on religion in contemporary Sweden and a historic background on IRD-organisations and IRD-activities in the country; followed by a more in-depth description of contemporary IRD, presenting both national and local IRD-organisations and IRD-activities. The article ends with an analysis of how IRD-organisations and IRD-activities relate to the sociocultural context in Sweden, which shows the importance of the increase in religious plurality in Sweden and the Church of Sweden’s still dominate position, in the establishment and upholding of IRD-organisations and IRD-activities in the country. Another sociocultural context influencing is the highly secularised Swedish society together with the secular state. This leads both to a delay in establishment of IRD-organizations in Sweden, and later on, for the establishment of these IRD-organizations and for IRD-activities, if the aim of these are less religious and foremost social.