"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Laestadians Online

Monday, February 18, 2008

Laestadians Online

Kiitos to the kind reader who sent me this article from Finland: "Conservative Laestadians' lifestyle debate boils over onto the Internet." (outdated link)

"Maybe you've started something," she joked in her email. But surely the online debate over Laestadianism predates this blog, which started in August, 2004. Maybe one of our European readers can give us a timeline.

Here is an excerpt:
Something of an upheaval is now going on within the movement, with an increasing number of people feeling that there is an overemphasis on the external rules of the religion.

As there is a resistance to expressing public criticism within the movement, debate takes place on Internet message boards and within small groups . . . Dissidents among the Laestadians want to emphasize pure Lutheranism without the lifestyle rules . . . (which) took root in the 1960s and 1970s - a time of pastoral care meetings and excommunications of wayward members. Increasing numbers of today's members are calling for a critical examination of the era.

Rules, such as the bans on television, the theatre, and birth control are no more than advice, according to the official teaching. However, individual members of the movement are not entitled to question them . . .

Conservative Laestadians often take part in on-line debates anonymously.

"They are afraid of being labelled. If an individual member of the congregation says something that goes against the official teaching, his or her faith is immediately is seen in a questionable light."

Been there, done that? I encourage you to read the whole article. There's a wonderful bit about a Laestadian pastor who got out of teaching confirmation camp by holding a press interview in a (gasp) theatre.

O tempora! O mores!


  1. I read the article, and when they are discussing the fact that people air their business and their opinions online, [one pastor named Aimo] Hautamäki nevertheless admits that not all of those who hash out problems on the Internet are outsiders; there are some Laestadians who air their views.

    "If someone feels anguish, I would prefer that they would engage in personal discussions, or at the very least, write under their own names."

    I honestly think they are not so much concerned about the issues being raised as they are who is raising them. Do they just want to be able to quash the dissension by bringing the focus to the person who feels that way? That's what it sounds like to me.

    I saw that happen numerous times in the LLC. They descended in droves on anyone who expressed an unpopular opinion and by sheer numbers and peer pressure would "convince" the one erring to mend his or her ways. Has that changed in five years? I don't know. Do I want to find out? Not particularly.


  2. I agree with the person above.
    If you can't have compassion for the distressed without knowing their names, then I don't know where to go with that.
    Many of us have attempted personal discussions, to no avail.

  3. I am pretty sure that the SRK in Finland is the equivalent of the LLC here in the States.

  4. That is true, the SRK is the same as the LLC in the states.

  5. It is true, as the article says, that there "is a resistance to expressing public criticism." At least it is that way in the LLC. In the LLC, exactly as the article says, if you have a differing opinion than what is taught there, your faith is immdiately called into question. It is very intimidating. You are told you are not believing right. I can see them wanting to know who people are rather than them being anonymous for one of two reasons. 1) So they can come talk to you about your matters, or 2) so they can talk about you with other people (humiliate you) so you change your mind.
    Many in the LLC are not open to even hearing what you have to say or why, if it is not in agreement with what they have already been taught. They see no point in going over things that have already been decided as wrong in the past. They say that faith is unchanging, even if the world changes. Even if you point out that many of the things that they figure are doctrinal (jazzy music, movies, school sports, etc) are actually cultural, it doesn't matter. I think alot of the decisions made are because of resistance to change. TV comes along and it is a new thing, so since they never watched TV before, why start now. Or makeup at one time not being accepted by society as a whole, then when it starts being accepted by everyone, the LLC resists change, saying it is because of faith, when most likely is is just cultural.

  6. There is a HUGE focus on external rules, it is the primary focus. Looking a certain way and behaving a certain way, along with showing up at most of the church and meetings is what is important. Discussions about faith, both in small groups and in church, revolve around what is or is not accepted. And if you disagree, well.....just don't disagree. Because their way is the only way to think. If you think at all different, then you are wrong.