"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Please read this HELSINGIN SANOMAT article and comment.

Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Seminar examines legacy of Lars Levi Laestadius on 150th anniversary of his death

Lars Levi Laestadius restored morality to the culture of the indigenous Sámi people and saved the Sámi from alcoholism that was imported by the dominantculture.
“At the same time Laestadius, his followers, and the Christian clergy wiped out the ancient traditional religion of the Sámi. There are families in which the joik, or traditional vocal music tradition, disappeared thanks to the activities of the clergy”, said Klemetti Näkkäläjärvi, chairman of the Finnish Sámi Parliament.
He spoke at an international seminar in Tornio, which focused on Laestadius’s life as a missionary and researcher.
Monday marked the 150th anniversary of Laestadius’s death.
The revival movement that he founded has grown to be the largest ecclesiastical revival movement in the Nordic region.
According to Näkkäläjärvi, the Sámi have an ambivalent attitude toward Laestadius, not least because his mother was half-Sámi.
He said that Laestadian clergy perhaps saw the joiks as being part of the practice of the ancient shamanist Sámi religion, and consequently saw them as sinful.
“The same kind of proselytising affected the Sámi language. People were told not to speak Sámi, even though they did not speak Finnish well enough”, Näkkäläjärvi said.
He said that the Finnish Lutheran Church should apologise for its earlier activities in the homeland of the Sámi in Lapland.
“In Sweden such an apology was made already in the 1990s, but it is important that the Sámi should be treated as equals after that”, said Hans Stiglund, the Lutheran Bishop of Luleå, Sweden.
“In this respect, societal development has been going in a positive direction in Finland as well”, added Oulu Bishop Samuel Salmi.
“A study is underway in the Oulu Diocese on this matter. It culminates a year from now in a seminar that is to be held in Inari. At that time we will unravel image traditions and memories on both sides, which have slowed down interaction between Finns and the Sámi”, Salmi says.
“There is reason to make a distinction between Laestadius and the preachers that followed him. It seems that what followed in the movement is now being blamed on him”, says Professor Juha Pentikäinen.
Pentikäinen says that Laestadius was a botanist, religious philosopher, an ethnographer, and a linguist, as well as a writer of Sámi mythology.
Also made public on Monday were extracts from Lappish mythology, which had been lost for a century and a half.
The book, which had been commissioned, was never printed, because French King Louis Philippe lost his power.
Pentikäinen tracked down the lost parts, with Dr. Risto Pulkkinen helping him in his detective work.



What do you think?

Do you question the assumptions of the article? Did Laestadius restore morality to the
Sámi? Should the Finnish Church apologize for overreaching? Should Laestadius share the responsibility for what his followers did in his name? Are you interested in reading the newly-puglished fragments of Sámi mythology?


  1. Apology should definitely be granted for oppressing those elements of culture (musical style, clothing, language) that are not in conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Far too many well-intentioned missionaries have misinterpreted innocuous culture as being somehow sacrilegious. We need to recognize and respect cultural differences.

    However, no apology should be made for preaching the true message of Jesus Christ and condemning pagan worship. To do so weakens the argument of truth as expressed in the Holy Bible.

  2. I'll admit that the definition of "morality" has been muddied by past Laestadian leaders.

    It is one thing to say that drunkenness and extramarital affairs are immoral (this is clearly condemned by scripture). It is entirely another to say that possession of inanimate objects is immoral (which is not defended by scripture). On the other hand, if you worship those inanimate objects ... the creation rather than the Creator ... that crosses the line of morality.

    Well, maybe not morality as we think of morality. But it crosses the line of the first commandment.

  3. The Laestadian mindset of destroying a person's past culture except for the 'church culture' rings true. I recall some people refusing to have their picture taken as that was a 'graven image.' Also I observed that attempts were made to extinguish a new convert's past life by ostracizing that person's past interests and hobbies. Any musical or artistic talent was verbally attacked by the pharisees. Previous associations and associates were villified. In short, my impression was that there was a pervasive and and not so subtle attempt to exterminate a person's past and individuality so that one would 'fit in' in the Laestadian Church. As the years went by I finally realized it was all sort of like a brainwashing process. When I realized that the particular church I attended was really more like an asylum I knew it was time to get out. It sounds like that same mindset is what the Samis had to endure too. I can only imagine the fire and brimstone messages they had to endure in the 1800's by uneducated lay proselytes as my grandparents had to endure some the same types here in America back then. Laestadianism-at least what I saw of it-was really all based off of destroying a person's inner sense of self and being and replacing it with an eratz personality based off of collective church norms versus winning some one over to faith in Christ. Old AP

  4. I always wondered why all other nationalities had a "culture" of art, dance, music...
    I did alot of research on Laestadius and his preachings and realized that his preachings did hide the culture in which the Sami people came from.. I am glad that my conclusions were right. I am saddened that I could not dance the dances of my ancestors as I grew up, as many of my friend were able to do.

    However, the rules that Laestadius gave his congregation, were to keep the government from harming the Sami people. He said "no music"-to keep his people alive-as the government had rules to keep the Sami people from playing their "pagan" music. The governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden threatened death to those who played the music of their people.

    What does an apology do now? These decision were made by people who did what they thought was right. As we know better, we do better. I am grateful to learn more about our people and why we were denied our culture.

    Let the Sami people sing, dance, and create--Let them share it with us so that we learn what our ancestor did and let's keep teaching each other.

    This blog continues to help me heal.

    God's peace to all!!