Björn Ulvaeus: “The story of Jesus is just a myth to me…”

In today’s Dagens Nyheter is a new interview with Björn, in which he is asked a variety of questions regarding religion, finding peace and places of worship. I have tried to summarise as best I can, some of the more interesting statements that Björn made.

Björn: “When I married Agnetha Fältskog, my first wife, we wanted a real fairy-tale wedding in a church.”

DN Kultur: He doesn’t believe in God or anything to do with life after death and dislikes all forms of religious extremism. However atheist Björn Ulvaeus has no issue with hymns being sung in church or school end-of-term ceremonies. “Humans have an unmeasurable need for fairy tales and myths. I enjoy the beautiful stories and legends that mean a lot to many.”

Every Christmas Eve, Santa visits Björn’s family but he can no longer play Santa, the grandchildren recognise him.

“It is important to me that Santa comes, and that the children experience the delight that I remember from childhood.

“Although today the story of Jesus is just a myth to me and Jesus himself is just a mythical figure.”

Since 2005, Björn has been a member of the atheist Humanist organisation.

“I am interested in the role of religion in a secular society and marvel at how people can have faith in something that no-one has ever been able to prove exists. On that condition, I just cannot indulge in a belief in ‘something’ or ‘someone’.”

Björn Ulvaeus comes from a home without religious rituals or ceremonies, even though he once portrayed a belief in God: “I was baptised and confirmed. It was something you just did. I was pretty young, maybe around 12 years old.”

Björn has not always questioned religion in quite the same way as he does now. The terrorist events of September 11, 2001 however served as a wake-up call. “It was then, that I realised, that people with subjective experiences and revelations that had no basis in reality wanted to assume power over others in the name of religion.

“We see that religious forces are now penetrating the political arena. Religion should not control people’s lives, whether they be Christians or Muslims.

“Take Mitt Romney who wanted to be U.S. president. He is a Mormon and believes in all seriousness in the proclamations of that movement. The Book of Mormon is founded on the assumed revelations of an angel. Such a man wanted to be leader of the world’s most powerful country!”

Despite his harsh criticism of organised religion, Björn thinks that ceremonies with a religious background have their place. “Many people cling to religious traditions – even when they do not believe in God.”

Last summer Björn’s and wife Lena’s youngest daughter Anna got married.

“It was a wonderful intimate wedding on a Greek beach, almost like the one in Mamma Mia!, with a lot of music, excellent food, friends and many speeches.

“When I married Agnetha Fältskog, my first wife, we wanted a real fairy-tale wedding in a church, with a castle and a ceremonial ball. We followed the traditional path. Today, with the wisdom and freedom that comes with age, I’m more radical.”

Björn Ulvaeus is impressed by the amazing architecture of churches and is humbled by the realisation that churches mean so much to many. He marvels at all those who invested so much in building great cathedrals as well as beautiful churches in small villages.

Here he is in Hedvig Eleonora Church in Stockholm. He thinks Notre Dame in Paris is an amazing building but also appreciates and enjoys the small rural churches back home in Småland.

“I think that these people who created places of worship thought in a different way. Culture and society was quite different then. People thought truly that God existed and that Jesus once walked the earth. I cannot.”

DN: Yet you pay church tax?

“Yes. I hope my tax money (some of it anyway) goes towards preserving old churches. They are a part of our heritage.

“When Kristina in Kristina från Duvemåla as an immigrant woman cast adrift in America wonders if God failed her, it is a cry for consolation. For many this need is so strong that they step over a threshold, and feel that faith becomes reality, becomes the truth.”

DN: How do you find comfort?

“I find inner peace in my four children and five grandchildren. It is healing to be with them. We have no specific issues. We have no rituals or things that must be done. Worldly problems leave me when we are together.”

DN: Are you afraid of dying?

“Not of the end no, but I would be scared of a protracted painful death with a lot of suffering.”

DN: Have you planned your funeral?

“No, a funeral should give consolation to those who are left and they are the ones who’d probably be best at arranging how the ceremony should be. But perhaps I will talk to the children about how they would want it to make sure that there is no clashing of ideas.”

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  • I agree a lot with Björn’s thoughts. I think he is a very clever man and probably has started to see things most people are afraid of…..I mean, tha fact that we all (the humans) are no longer specials and “divines” as many would like to think.
    The religions, in the other hand of faith, tends to diminish the civilization to a certain kind of “order” that is always sourrounded by tribal, barbaric and medieval acts (baby circumcisions, wars, rituals, sexual traumas and don’t forget the most impacting stuff : guilt!)
    Can be the love for the others and human respect and tolerance the worlwide “religion” someday??

  • Great words from a wise man.

  • I think Björn is a very intelligent man.


  • Björn for president 🙂

  • Bjorn and Frida could have an interesting conversation on this subject. She is a believer, and I agree with her.

  • I agree Bjorn for President. What a fabulous, wise and truely talented man. Just look & listen to all the fabulous timeless music he has created with Benny over the years. Two men who are ahead of their time. Love them both. Amazing. I have tears of joy in my eyes right now. So over come by emotion and Joy that these two men have given to me over the years. I will be forever grateful to Bjorn and Benny, Anni-Frid and Agnetha. If i had to believe in a “GOD”, I would take Bjorn and ABBA any day over the Fairy tale Of Any Religion. Happy New Year to all.

  • Isn’t atheism only an intolerant form of religious extremism, too? It’s a secular religion without human rights. For, if ALL men are created equal because of “imago dei” – this only works with a “deus”, right? Think about it.

  • I think it doesn´t matter who believes in God and who doesn´t , there are a lot of really important things we must take care of instead of wasting time talking about someone we believe or don´t believe.

  • It is a terrible existence to not believe in anything! Religions cover many things that reason and logic just cant and don’t explain. How did the world begin and from what?
    And where did that “what” come from or begin, etc. What is the purpose of life at all? Why are we here and in some other place? We have heard all the theories and yet many wont accept that something comes from nothing!

  • Björn is absolutely right. Religion, God, Creation, Jesus, etc. are just concepts of the untamed mind. They do not exist in Absolute Reality.

  • Hi Paul,

    The untamed mind? Really? Look around – we live in an “untamed” society. There are laws in order to keep civility but without them there would be all out war. Just look at the middle east? God is the One who put the Law into existence knowing human sin and the ability to sin against God and each other. Murder, robbery, sexual sin and a great many other evil is happening every second of every minute of every day. Look beyond yourself and know there is One greater than all of this and there will be a day when all of this evil will be judged, until then know your Creator and read His word that He put into a book that is the book for all eternity – The Holy Bible.

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