STOCKHOLM - Swedish authorities have recognized a church that calls for the freedom of information and file-sharing as an official religion.
"For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament, church leader Isak Gerson said in a statement cited by the BBC on Thursday, January 5.
Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying.
Therefore copying is central for the organization and its members."
Founded by Gerson, a 19-year-old philosophy student, the church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, calls for free sharing of information.
"The missionary kopimistsamfundet is a religious group centered in Sweden who believe that copying and the sharing of information is the best and most beautiful that is," the church's website says.
"Throughout history, various groups around the world have been persecuted by oppressors. It has since taken refuge in religion and wanted a peaceful coexistence.
The group says that communication is a sacred right.
Communication needs to be respected. It is a direct sin to monitor and eavesdrop on people. The absolute secrecy is holy in the church of kopimism."
Founders argue that people should have the right to share information.
"Being recognized by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of Kopimi, Gerson said.
Hopefully this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution."
But analysts ridiculed the recognition of the group as an official religion.
"It is quite divorced from reality, music analyst Mark Mulligan told the BBC News Online.
(It) is reflective of Swedish social norms rather than the Swedish legislative system."
Analysts believe that the recognition of the group does not mean that piracy would be legal in the country.
"It doesn't mean that illegal file-sharing will become legal, any more than if 'Jedi' was recognized as a religion everyone would be walking around with light sabres, said Mulligan.
"In some ways these guys are looking outdated. File-sharing as a means to pirate content is becoming yesterday's technology."
Ironically enough, the recognition of the new church comes amid a tougher crackdown on internet piracy in Sweden and the world.
An estimated 1.4 million Swedes engage in illegal file-sharing, according to recent figures from Statistics Sweden.Earlier this week, Spain passed new legislation that could see websites deemed to be trading in pirated material blocked within 10 days.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net