A group of people related to the Swedish Pirate Party claimed this week that the state has officially sanctioned "Kopimism" as a legitimate religion, granting them the freedom to carry out their holy sacrament of copying information from the Internet.
(Update: Reached for comment by Raw Story, Swedish authorities with the Kammarkollegiet confirmed that Kopimism has indeed been granted the status of a religion.)
The Missionary Church of Kopimism, which holds that copying information is a sacred act, has been wrangling with Swedish authorities for over a year, trying to obtain recognition for their beliefs. Their first request was denied in March of 2011 after authorities found that they did not meet the formal requirements to be recognized as a valid faith.
The church claimed it had finally won that recognition, saying in a press release this week (translated to English by Google) that it took so long because Swedish authorities have been "infiltrated" by copyright "extremism."
“Throughout history, various groups around the world have been persecuted by oppressors," the church explains on its website. "They have since taken refuge in religion with a desire for a peaceful coexistence. Without threats and harassment. In our belief, communication is sacred. Communication needs to be respected. It is a direct sin to monitor and eavesdrop on people. Absolute secrecy is holy in the Church of Kopimism."
Most Swedes are members of the Church of Sweden, which follows Lutheranism. It is not a state-sponsored religion. Recognized religious denominations are allowed to apply for financial support through the national tax system, which their members contribute to in order to support their favored organizations. The government does not track the religion of individual citizens.
A United Nations report on religious freedom in Sweden, filed in 2010, found that there are 22 other recognized religious denominations in the country. The report noted that Swedish officials generally respect religious freedoms, imposing only minor regulations on religious practices like the ritual slaughter of animals, male genital mutilation (circumcision) and unusual dietary restrictions for soldiers.
It was not clear whether the religious exception for copying information would enjoy the same level of protection from the government, but Sweden is known as one of the friendliest countries in the world for individuals who disregard copyright law on the Internet. Since the Pirate Party took Sweden by storm in 2006, they've been credited with helping push more moderate politicians into positions of support for online freedom, and the party's youth wing is the largest in the country with over 21,000 members.