"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Laestadian sex abuse case goes to trial

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Laestadian sex abuse case goes to trial

Here's a link to an extremely short article stating that:

A prominent figure in the Laestadian revival movement faces charges of child sexual abuse and rape in a case that goes to trial next week, reports the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

If I can find more about this story I'll post some follow ups. I think going to trial is one of the best things that can happen for getting the facts out.

UPDATE 01.10.2011
Here's a link to a longer version of the story:
Leading Laestadian figure charged with serious sex crimes


  1. It is easy to have an 'aha told you so' moment over a headline story like this but if the truth be told the vast majority of Laestadians live morally upright lives in spite of common human frailities. 'Prominent figures' arise in any movement/church and the Bible warns us that they should have a 'good report' and that they should be held to a higher moral standards than others. Having known the history of several sex abusers I would guess that the accused has a long history of this kind of behaviour which was ignored by others in his church. Hence, was just the abuser guilty or was his church also equally guilty of enabling him by maintaining silence? Old AP

  2. The issue of sexual abuse has been discussed here for several years now which shows how deep and painful it is for many of us. I recall someone saying way-back-when that this issue is pushed under the rug and the abusers keep abusing because "This Precious Christianity" is more important than any one individual within it. I agree. The church is held in an idolatrous position at the expense of the poor souls who have nowhere else to turn. How sad.

  3. Read Bill Zeller's suicide note to see the horrendous pain of living with sexual abuse in a fundamentalist family.


    As Sisu said, "The church is held in an idolatrous position at the expense of the poor souls who have nowhere else to turn."

    The Church quotes Jesus' words about children . . . but until it puts their safety before it's reputation, nothing will change.

  4. Thank you for the comments and information. This case is very shocking right now in Finland. It has been news and discussions in media during the whole last year, because there has emerged also other cases in the Laestadian revival movement.

    The report of Helsingin Sanomat Jan 6th is published in Omat Polut blog with comments also, unfortunately just in Finnish.


    SRK, the central organisation of Finnish Conservative Laestadians is going to prepare an internal investigation and report on the procedures of the leaders of SRK, related with the issues of sex abuse and pedophiles. However, they have stated that they will not publish the report. It should be completed by the end of February.

    - Theo -

  5. If you are male at the OALC you can get away with alot more sin because the preacher's will forgive you more easily for your sinful lusts and desires and even for acting on them. It is thought in the OALC that men have such strong and evil desires and have a hard time refraining from evil (Wordly) temptations. The preachers there are known to forgive men very easily for these types of sins. On the other hand women are openly called whores and such by the preachers. Women are definately treated differently. Go to the preacher if you are a woman who had an affair.. Then try going as a man who had an affair. The outcome and the treatment depending on your gender would be very very different. I'm sure men are forgiven easily for child abuse and child sex abuse too. It's sickening!!

  6. Lots of assumption and guessing going on in the post by krissy. Just the type of expression that gives this site MOST of its discussion material. The general idea here is to throw an anonymous bomb without regard for the TRUTH. Obviously the readers and posters are figuring this out and it shows.

  7. Do you want a specific example anonymous? Would that be REAL enough for you? Would names be appropriate? Well, I'm not doing names, but here we go. One congregation had two preachers. The son of one preacher, married, with children, had an affair with the daughter of the other preacher, also married with children. They confessed and the affair broke off. Son of preacher #1 reconciled with his wife; daughter of preacher #2 had a different outcome. Her husband left and divorced her. The following year son of preacher #1was elected Chairman of the congregation. Most of her friends dumped the woman and people talk behind her back in an awful way.

    This blog has gone on a long time. It is no longer dynamic, mostly because everything that there is to discuss has been discussed 20 times before. It's a good sign there are not a lot of posts here. It means people are starting to move on with their lives. In the highways and byways of life I've had chance to meet at least a half dozen ex-Laestadians who feel this blog has been a blessing in their life.

    What are you doing here anyway? Isn't the Internet evil or something?

  8. Anonymous said, 'This blog has gone on a long time. It is no longer dynamic, mostly because everything that there is to discuss has been discussed 20 times before.' You bring up a good point as the blog sometimes has become the daily rag. It should be obvious to all that the same cultural traits are common to all modern Laestadian groups. How about we discuss what we have done since leaving Laestadianism? Or how about the positive influences of Laestadianism on our lives since we left? Old AP

  9. That sounds like a great new topic, Old AP? Why don't I start and you can chime in? There's been plenty of positives in my life from growing up AP. I can bake a mean pulla, whip together desserts in moments flat. Drop-by company always appreciated at my home. I can arrange a dinner party for 10 and everyone thinks I am a born cook. I'm comfortable with babies at all stages of development. Whenever I meet a Laestadian from any branch, current or former, there's always an ease in knowing how to be with them. I like them. I'm caring, I'm kind, and I'm hardworking, and I'm honest--all tributes to growing up in the LLL faith in a big family, and they are traits I am seem to be passing down to my children, at least they are what's reflected back to me at parent-teacher conferences. You might be tired of the blog but I think its still needed as just because we left/have grown comfortable with our new life does not mean there aren't others who are unhappy searching for a way out.

  10. Hi This is the same person as user name krissy. I forgot my password.. so I just picked another user name..
    I was speaking of my experiences as an OALC member for 20 years. Your experiences may have been very different. I would like to know if the OLD AP poster is a male or a female..
    I know that I was called a whore by a preacher with no TRUTHS whatsoever!!! If he had ever taken the chance to get to know who I really was or if he had known GOD... He would have NEVER said those words to me. EVER!!!
    I also know that as a child growing up in that religion I was very curious... I paid attention to everything. I tried to make sense of it all. I was a very good and obedient child. I loved my family so much and I still do. I saw and heard so many things as an OALC member that made no sense to me. I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears how the preachers would treat men differently compared to how they treat women.
    As far as the Child Abuse and molestation, I have never witnessed such things. I was referring to all the posts that I have read lately where people have said that they suffered these types of abuses by OALC members and how the preachers have covered it up and forgiven the abuser instead of calling the police. That is why I said Probably.. As in it sure sounds like it!! I highly doubt that all these people who are posting these things are making it up. There is no reason for people to make these kinds of things up. This type of thing deeply effects people and needs to be talked about and brought to light. The abusers do need to be punished as well!!
    As for what I do now... I volunteer to fight Crimes Against Children, To bring those who harm Children to Justice... To fight for Maximum Sentencing for Child Abusers and Child Molesters, To keep these monsters behind bars for as long as possible so that Another Child may be safer. I also Volunteer to help Children in foster care to find Safe and Permanant Homes. I go to court and make recommendations to the judge on where I feel the Child or Children will be the most Safe and Loved.
    I drink alcohol on occasion. (Rarely)
    I watch T.V. (Rarely, mostly just the news)
    I wear make-up
    I dye my hair and cut it
    I polish my nails
    I even smoke pot sometimes!
    I don't dance
    I can't stand going to bars
    I am a mother
    I am a grandmother
    I Love the outdoors
    I Love to travel
    I play card games with my children
    I've been to a casino
    I've been to a nude beach (Gross!)
    I've been to a mosque
    I don't go to church
    I love all my family
    I try to be as honest as I can be.
    I try to not judge others.
    I speak from experience.
    I learn from all people.
    I am Free to think on my own and believe what I want.
    I Love to shoot guns.
    I have a Black Belt in Martial Arts
    I am not violent.
    I use the internet alot.
    I love to garden.
    I Love the Ocean
    I love Peacefulness
    I go to the movie theater sometimes.
    I care about You if you are not free.
    I would not be telling you what I do now or what my life is now, But since you asked... I assume it is not the way to heaven, since it is good works.. But to be honest I'm not worried about going to heaven. I just want to do what I feel is right while I am here on Earth.
    Thank You to the person who started this site. I know that this site helps many, many people and probably mostly women and younger people who want to leave such a destructive belief system, And also for those of us who have already left. It is a Blessing to have others who understand what we go through and to know we are not alone... to have a place to speak our minds and to help each other.
    Thank You So Much! =)

  11. I wear a little bit of make-up.

    I've never smoked pot.

    I tried drinking a few times and didn't like it, so I just don't

    I'm a mom and a stepmom

    I love to read
    I love to write

    I wish I was better at dancing, because I enjoy it, although I don't really want to go to clubs in order to do it

    I still sing Laestadian hymns, especially while cleaning

    I like all kinds of music, especially if its live

    I volunteer in my community and am on a board that helps improve my community

    I recently read Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and loved it

    I learned to speak another language and traveled to the country where they speak it

    I love my family, even if I don't see them so much anymore
    I hope that they know that

    Leaving the church helped me overcome my temptation to gossip

    I always identify with the outsider in any group and try to find ways to make everyone feel comfortable because I know what it's like to feel like you don't belong

    I had a dream one night that I visited with my grandma, and before she went back to heaven she told me that she knows that "I still believe"

    I hope someday to belong to another church

    Stranger in a Strange Land

  12. Stranger, Your last comment: I, too, wish I belonged to another church. I attend one with my husband, but I can't see becoming a member. Just can't do it. The OALC doctrine is so ingrained and I cannot break this final link. So, I'm still on the outside looking in.

    1. The true teachings of Jesus can help free you from that indoctrination. Believe me! -A.

  13. Jaydamae said. 'I would like to know if the OLD AP poster is a male or a female..' I am male and I have enjoyed reading this site. I left many years ago and entered the professional work world. I have had a very good life since leaving but I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of fanatical Laestadianism. Some of your comments about your post Laestadian activities seem a little extreme but they are probably all just a boomerang effect which is common for some one who leaves a fanatical religious group. You may have found like I did that I was almost without an internal moral/personal belief compass when I left as the 'id and ego and super ego' were brutally suppressed in my household. I know of several suicides which I believe were induced by Laestadian fanaticism with its religious/social culture that crushes a person's soul and personal being. IMO if you are female it is worse than if you are a male. Guys can at least get out of the house and into their car without anyone saying anything but with females there is an unspoken code which villifies any female who does not 'fit in' with the group norms. Being accused of being a whore was the first assault wave launched against any female who did not kowtow to the party line. The second attack wave was being labeled off as a 'vanha peka' or an old maid. The third wave of attack seemed to be an accusation that a girl 'was not interested in boys' inferring that the female in question might be a lesbian. As I grew older I saw that the present day 'female enforcers' within the AP church that I left were the same ones who were the busy body gossipers when I was a teenager. In other words they basically just graduated from being a teenage enforcer/backstabber to being a grandmother enforcer of the congregational status quo. When I left it was very difficult for a while. I finally found a Biblically based church to belong to. It took quite a while as I had so much distrust. Life has gone by pretty fast overall. I ended up keeping the 'good' from my Finn/Laestadian upbringing such as the Finnish work ethic, a strong but (now) fair moral stance, a fondness for things Finnish, sisu, sauna and a love of reading. And yes I like to read this site as I used to think I was the only one out there. I would guess that there are many hundreds who are still members who read this site often trying to figure out who they are as a person and the bigger picture of things. Most of them will remain in their respective church but this site might encourage some of them to become reformers and eventually even unifiers of the discrete Laestadian groups out there. Oh yes Jaydamae...try to get over any personal bitterness and hurt as the pain can end up controlling one's life. 'Living well is the best revenge' per John Chadwick. Old AP

  14. Thank you for your concern Old AP. I have noticed that your comments on this site are very considerate and I appreciate your point of view. Also, I do agree with what you say and it is very sad that so many souls are crushed in this world. It has been 20+ years since I left the OALC and I was still a child when I did leave. I do agree that when I was a teenager I was VERY wild and had that boomerang effect for awhile. It only lasted a couple of years though. I married a wonderful man and have been blessed with a great life and have been able to follow all of my dreams and goals already. So, I'm now thinking of what new things I want to do with the rest of my years. I am very content and happy. Sometimes I do wonder what my life would be had I stayed in that soul crushing religion and I know that I would not be happy at all. I am so glad that I left when I did.
    As for the things that you feel that I did or do that are extreme, I do not see it that way at all. I was a teenager when a friend thought it would be funny to surprise some of us girls by taking us to a nude beach near Portland Oregon. We were surprised and it was definately Gross! I have never gambled and I have absolutely no desire to although I've been to a casino before. After Sept. 11th I went to a mosque for understanding Islam Night. I took my daughter and we were allowed to ask any questions to all members of the congregation. It would be interesting if the OALC would do that since there are obviously alot of people curious about the religion. As for smoking pot, I think that it should be legal. but that is a whole new subject.
    This post is about children being sexually abused an that is why I came across this site because that is my line of work. I think that we should get back to that topic and even and especially if it has been talked about 20 times before. It is very important for people to come forward. Most abusers have many victims. If you have been abused please know that there are alot of people who care about you and who are willing to help you in your healing process.

  15. Jaydamae1-Thank you for your kind remarks. I try to be a healer and non judgemental in my life. I have tried to be an objective sounding board for various ex-members or members of some AP churches. I do not encourage them to leave-I just try to explain the context of some of their AP church's beliefs. Due to my line of work I have heard every and all confessions in one sense so I have learned most people have the same general hopes, aspirations and weaknesses. I have found that many younger people just want to have some one older to talk to about things. Often times people are just looking for some one to validate what they already believe inside. I too have seen the devastating effects of child sex abuse due to my occupation. The worst combination of abuse is religious abuse combined with sexual abuse. Having dealt with Middle Easterners for example, I realized that they seem to have a high rate of child sexual abuse coupled with religious fanaticism. I have thought that this deadly combination makes them vulnerable to being talked into suicide bombers or Israel haters. In one psychological experiment dogs were shocked with electricity. The next time they were going to be shocked they did not run-instead they just slunk down and allowed it to happen again as they had been conditioned to just take the punishment regardless of their instinct to get away. People from these kinds of backgrounds are very susceptible to cult like ideas. In the same genre I think you see the same kind of fatalistic religious ideas in some Laestadian circles. I have thought that childhood sex abuse may be at the core of many of the religious intolerants within Laestadianism. I kind of put the idea together based on what my parents told me about things when they were children. Those who were abused back in the 1930's later became the programmed religious pharisees 40 and 50 years later. As far as abuse myself-no my parents were stricto's-I just started looking at things realistically and stopped lying to myself. Have you notice how New Year's resolutions never seem to work out? The reason for failure is one is trying to change the flesh based on human will power. In contrast the only real change comes about when one is born again in Christ because then one's nature is changed. Old AP

  16. I too have seen the devastating effects of religious abuse combined with sexual abuse and physical abuse. Just today I had to recommend that a girl be admitted into a mental hospital because she is suffering so horribly from the effects of abuse and has become suicidal/homicidal. Her mother is very religious and the last time that I visited the mother she was wearing a shirt that said "Families that pray together stay together." I found this to be extremely disturbing and felt the mother was trying to put on a front. The mother was arrested for cruelty to children and does not want her child back. Yet her home is filled with religious items.

    I once reported sexual abuse of a young girl to the police and after the police visited with the parents for about 5 minutes or less they came back to tell us "That family is very religious, nothing like that would ever happen in that family."

    1. This is so sad. It's just plain awful the way humans use religion as a way to make up for fulfilling their fleshly desires. Jesus warned of men perverting His words. Jesus teaches we mustn't fight the flesh with the spirit for they will only fight against the other and we must simply pursue the Spirit. To me this means we accept that we are not entirely good and do not wage war on ourselves but instead be born again, accepting that Christ has already fought that battle and won, and that we can live freely and use that grace to live a good life pursuing the Spirit. -A.

  17. To Jaydamae's post...I'd like to encourage you to Google "The way of the Master" and listen or watch their video called "Hell's Best Kept Secret." Going to heaven does matter beacuse it's the beginning, not the end. Jackie K.

  18. Key Laestadian leader convicted and sent to prison:

    At the bottom of the article are links to other related stories. Makes one wonder just how widespread this stuff is given the reports of the same in America.
    Old AP

  19. What I am like as an ex-Laestadian.

    I hate lying.
    I've learned to be patient when it comes to making new friends.
    I'm married to a wonderful man.
    I symphathize with outsiders.
    I don't mind taking unpopular stands, if I think they're right.
    I am a born-again Christian.
    I no longer feel I'll be struck dead going into a movie theater.
    Sometimes I dream at night about my old Laestadian friends. I miss them.
    I love studying the Bible.
    I try not to judge others.We're all human; we make mistakes.
    I wear hardly any make-up.
    No piercings.
    No tattoos.
    I took a few dance classes & enjoy swing dancing.
    No television; but yes to movies!
    No alcohol. I have sipped wine, but don't like it.
    It's becoming increasingly difficult to offer congratulations when someone tells me they're having their 8th or their 14th baby. Poor mom. Poor planet.

  20. The central board of the Conservative Laestadian movement in Finland have now confessed openly in the media the widespread child abuse in the laestadian community (7 April 2011).

    The press release of SRK here, translated via Google Translate (sorry for perhaps funny English):


    There is ongoing crisis in the board and in the field. One question set by the Association of Human Rights in Finland is how to threat those laestadian criminals who are free and happy among the laestadians because for the apologizing system which has caused that too long time has gone and their crimes have dated, and those criminals have escaped the court and sentences.


  21. My daughter has started dating a leastadian, her father and I are not happy about it at all! She has moved out to be with him because we didn't approve. She does not hace hardley any contact with her family anymore and we were so close! Any suggestions for us what to do, if anything??

  22. I don't understand. Why do you not approve? Is it because he is a Laestadian or is he unappealing for other reasons? There are many wonderful Laestadians and they vary a great deal, just as Catholics and Methodists and Mormons and atheists do. If I were you, I would apologize for making her life difficult, invite her and the young man over for dinner, and get to know him better. Your daughter can't respect your judgment if it is clouded by prejudice, and may even, out of rebellion, rush into something just to prove a point. Don't make her choose between family and boyfriend!