"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: You Say Tomato, I say Tamata

Sunday, October 17, 2004

You Say Tomato, I say Tamata

Thank you, dear readers, for the interesting and civil exchange of comments about whether the OALC is a cult. Personally, I don't think labeling gets us very far. Like calling someone liberal or conservative: convenient, perhaps, but not very revealing. It says more about the labeler than the labelee.

I looked around online and found a checklist that seems useful. It indicates that the OALC is NOT a cult, but has a lot of characteristics in common with one. Please feel free to disagree. Exercise your civil liberties!

1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. (No, Laestadius died in 1861.)

2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members. (No.)

3. The group is preoccupied with making money. (Ha! Some more than others.)

4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. (Yes.)

5. Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader. (Not to my knowledge, unless you count sitting through a sermon.)

6. The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members should think, act and feel. (Yes.)

7. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members. (No doubt about it.)

8. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality which causes conflict with the wider society. (Yes.)

9. The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities. (Hmm. Do preachers report illegal activities to authorities?)

10. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group. (Depends on what you consider unethical, I suppose. Is shunning ethical? Is racial discrimination in hiring ethical?)

11. The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them. (Yes.)

12. Members' subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group. (Yes.)

13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group. (Depends on what you call inordinate, I suppose.)

14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members (Yes.)


  1. Laestadians have at least 9 out of 10 here. Hmmm. The bottom line of a cult is that you cannot think for yourself. I think the Laestadian church qualifies. If a duck walks, quacks and looks like a duck then it is a duck and there is nothing wrong in calling it a duck. Religions have to take responsibility for what they teach and if they act like a cult then there is no harm in talking truth and not sweeping it under the carpet like they do with so much other stuff. This site is not for sweeping things under the carpet. It is about truth.

  2. If we here who aren't afraid to call a spade a spade and are then called 'labeler's' for saying truth then we will not be able to be honest. I would not want to attend any religion that had even one of the above on the checklist. Jesus' 'church' doesn't and it should be compared and talked about and known.

  3. In my first comment I meant to say 9 or 10 out of 14. Sorry.

  4. Whether it is a cult or not (I believe it is, but my goal is to reach people in love and cult is a confrontational term), it is definitely an abusive spiritual system. I encourage everyone on here to get the book "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen. While you read it, keep in mind this guy has probably never even heard of the OALC. It's an ugly web of deception, and I pray that many will be rescued from it.

  5. I will try to get the book and read it. Thanks.

  6. Just ordered that book from Amazon.com and saw another one that looks interesting. 'Healing Spiritual Abuse-- How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences' by Ken Blue

  7. Exolac;I like your comment about not using a "confrontational" term. Your heart is in the right place, though from my experience the word "cult" fits fairly well. I dont think I would use the word cult with these people either (They are my in-laws).Telling them what I realy think would probably shut down any further discourse in a heart beat. That doesn't matter much anyhow,(as I don't discuss belief systems with them anymore)because when you try to talk about there "faith", and ask tough, and relevant questions an amazing sort of ill-logic from them takes over, and it is so convoluted that they could convince themselves of almost anything (that the church teaches).

  8. I think they are definitely a cult. They all look the same, and they gang up on people and try to 'teach them a lesson.' I live in Buffalo, MN, an there are sooo many of the in our school. They used to pick on me, they're so mean to everyone. I get sick of saying 'they,' but you can pick them out of a group, even though they're white! I'm so tired of this town, I see soooo many of them! I went to a tobacco class when I got a tobacco ticket, and there was a 9 year old leastadian in my class! ALL of them smoke! Ugh, I'm sorry, I'm just SO SICK of them. I think having that many kids is GROSS, I'm sorry.

  9. I believe the term is 'white trash' based on what you have said.

  10. This is not the first time that I've heard "worldly" kids complain of bullying by Laestadian kids. I don't think the kids who are bullies are ALC or IALC, I've heard it said particularly about OALC, FALC, and LLC kids. I know of one mother who had to drive her child to and from school because of the extreme bullying on the bus of her son. The bus driver was OALC and wouldn't do anything about it. It was a small country school within a larger school district. Later her husband tried to organize an after-school basketball recreation and the OALC parents tried to shut it down. The OALC achieved majority status in this country school and was trying to take over the whole curriculum--which I think is interesting because in the past they would just have not allowed their children to take part rather then trying to shut down a program that was for the benefit of the "worldly" kids. Then the OALC kids stepped up their harrassment because of his dad's insistence on the basketball program, and they eventually removed him from the school and started driving him 20 miles one-way to the elementary school located in the larger town.

  11. Would you contact me directly at extoots (at symbol) gmail.com

    Don't use spaces of course.

    If this is basketball thing is happening in a place where I can help, I want to do that.