"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Twenty Years Later . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twenty Years Later . . .

It's been almost twenty years since I left the LLC.   Most of the time I don't think about it much, but lately I’ve been pondering about the things I miss and the things I don’t miss about the church. I have to say that the sound of dozens of voices singing in harmony is one of the things I most miss about the church now. Music has always been a big part of my life. Song services were my favorite church activity. Even now, almost twenty years after leaving the church, hearing people sing Christmas carols brings back a rush of nostalgia.

The thing I find so interesting about the songs, though, is that it seems like Laestadians quote song verses more often that they quote Bible verses. I’m guessing that this is because maybe they sing the songs so often that they have them memorized, but also because the songs speak of a shared experience that they can all relate to.  Maybe they sing the songs more often than they read scripture, and that helps it stick, too. 

Interestingly enough, there is something about memorizing things to music that helps keep  it in your head. One of the teachers at the school some of my kids attended made the kids memorize science facts by singing them to a popular Christmas carol of their choice. One of the kids chose "O Christmas Tree" for the song, and I can still sing it and tell you that mitochondria help turn food into energy. It stays with you a long time--he has gone to college, gotten a job, gotten married and just bought his first house. And I'm still singing his mitochondria song!  But I digress.

I miss the strong sense of community of people, the feeling of camaraderie that I had been a part of since I was a child. I have found that such communities also exist in other churches, but it’s not like you can have a do-over and go back and grow up in a different community.

I don’t miss, however, the small-town feel of everyone talking about your business, the gossipy whisperings that go on about anyone who appears to be too “worldly”, too successful, or too nonconforming. I don’t miss the pressure to be like everyone else.

I don’t miss being pregnant.

I don’t miss the awkward congregational discussion meetings which actually only serve the purpose of subtly drawing everyone back into the circle of approved behavior.

I don’t miss being told what music I can and can’t listen to.

I don’t miss the many obligations I had as a church member because most of them were not of my choosing.

And I've noticed that once you leave, you are often treated as "less than" those who remain--less valuable, less important, less relevant, less wanted. You are not included in much of anything except invitations to come to services or return to the church. Other than that, you are relegated to casual encounters where people make awkward small talk about what you’ve been doing. Some people are lucky enough to have friends or family members who don't treat them differently after they leave, but that is the exception rather than the rule. 

I get that it’s difficult. I was on the inside when friends of mine left, and I remember the grief over their departure, and the feeling of not knowing what to say when you saw them. It’s funny, though, when you are on the outside, how only the awkwardness comes across but not the love.  It feels more like deliberate exclusion than concern. Even though you are still the same person, it's like your life stops being meaningful to people still in the church when you don't have that common bond of the same faith. 

Eventually you also have to close the door and move on. What then? Do you stop living? Hopefully not. If today’s Me had to give the twenty-years-ago Me some advice about what to do, here is what I would tell myself: Reach out your hands and touch life. Revel in it.

Talk to your neighbors. Get to know them. Try a new hobby. Take a class. If you're a parent, there are Parent Teacher Organizations at almost every school--get involved and get to know some of the other parents there.  Make  some new  friends.  It can be a slow process, but do it anyway.  Find an activity where you can meet and interact with others who might share your interests. There’s a whole world of fun and happiness waiting for you.  Hold your breath and jump in!

What do you all think?  Do you have a different perspective on this process? For those of you who have left the church, what was your experience  like? What did you do to cope with the change? 


  1. You’ve given us another compelling read, daisy. As the old guys used to say during those congregational meetings, in years gone by, “My spirit says amen!”

    I think the awkwardness between the apostate and the one still in the fold can go in both directions. On one side of the smiling handshake, the thought-bubble may be, “He thinks I’m heading for an eternity of screaming torture.” On the other, it might be, “She thinks my most cherished beliefs are a steaming pile of BS.” That can be a difficult mental and emotional chasm for either person to cross.

  2. The awkwardness of leaving and how it feels to be the one on the outside, shows the collective group exclusion to anyone who is not inside. Hence, my calling it cult like. And unless and until you leave, you will not truly understand the nuances of just how much of your life was dictated by the church, its rules and the folks who attend. I believe you even come to take for granted the community around you, until it is all gone. And that same 'caring' community turns their back. They care for their own...

    The specialness of being part of them gets transferred to 'not special' once you leave.

    My experience was a slow departing. For I married a man who was not from church, so I was seen as one foot outside the ring. Which brings up the fact of how even that had its weirdness. I was breaking the rules by going outside. In fact, a minister came up to me and said that I by dating someone outside of the church, I was making a bachelor within the church.

    I do see how the closer and tighter the community the more in your business they do get...and when the church dictates our lives by what it calls sins, it gets even more personal and restrictive.

    What I guess I found the most startling was to start thinking on my own. To begin challenging all the so called 'sins'.

    What I believe they called sins, were actually ways to control the people.

    Born in captivity is a term I read awhile ago...about how it is to be born into such closed communities...and it isn't easy to walk away. Not because of what is outside, but rather how you will be treated. You would be leaving the closed in society....and treated differently. You know it by how you have treated others.

    In our schools, I have heard talk of how shunning the FALC children are to others. It is almost like reverse bullying, where they will not play with children who are not from church. The children who are shunned have no clue as to why. The FALC parents often are very strict in wanting their children to not be associating with 'unbelievers'. In small schools, this is very much apparent.

    What I believe most will have to expect when leaving is that you will have to be strong and determined to stand on your own, to become an explorer and find new ways of living and associating with people. It opened for me a broader vision of seeing others...not just whether they were part of the church or not.

    The more I learned about me, the more open I became about others, and the more I understood how narrow my line of vision had been. And how many wonderful people I had overlooked or stepped back from due to what religion they were etc.

    Fear of the unknown isn't as scary as being turned away from by family...In my case, It was different, but I have heard others say, the reasons they don't leave is that they don't want to lose family.

    When 'faith' is put above families...you have to wonder.

    Just as much as when Family is put above the acts of abuse.

    What I learned the most is how backwards I was raised....you don't know it until you leave the cage.

    Beth Jukuri

  3. EOP said, "I think the awkwardness between the apostate and the one still in the fold can go in both directions." Interestingly enough cults/sects have been studied. Personally I believe most Apostolic Lutheran/Laestadian groups waiver or vary between being a sect or a cult depending on the congregation. One of the characteristics of such groups is that they form a sort of iron wall or barrier towards outsiders but within the group anything goes. This phenomena explains why there is this subtle hostility to outsiders yet on the inside people are confessing their most intimate 'evil thoughts', flaying themselves over their sinfulness to others and enduring sermons that reinforce the same. This 'anything goes within' internal sect norm helps explain how some of the speakers/elders have been long standing pedophiles etc... without anyone stepping up to the plate to stop the behavior for example. Once an apostate leaves the protective Laestadian shell they tend to miss the 'anything goes' interpersonal social portion of Laestadianism as the social rules/norms on the outside are quite different. Beth Jukuri sums it up succinctly when she stated, "...the reasons they (other family members) don't leave is that they don't want to lose family." Psychology shows this same logic as the reason a girl who grows up with an abusive father will tend to marry an abusive man....they do not like it but there is a certain amount of comfort being in a familiar albeit abusive relationship. The same thing seems to keep a hold on AP-L members which is the 'no internal barriers' interpersonal social relationships. Old AP

  4. Wow Daisy, I feel you wrote this post with me in mind, I know you didn't, I'm just saying I could have wrote this.

    I too don't miss a lot of the things you wrote about, to be honest I don't miss too much of what I left behind. There are though maybe a couple of things that I do really miss and that is my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, and the few of my children who are left in the church) I do have most of my children in my life, but I hate the fact that my family has cut us off because we no longer go to the FALC.

    I miss the singing, I love to sing and I really haven't sung since I've left. While in the FALC I would sing the church songs all the time, and after leaving I would by habit start to sing them and I would stop. I couldn't sing, in my heart I couldn't sing those songs because to me they were connected to the FALC. I've since started to sing again, I can sing those songs again, because a lot of the songs in the song book are not only sung there but outside of the FALC. I can now sing my favorite songs, I no longer have that connection to the FALC when I do.

    It has been a slow process for me, and I can honestly say with a big smile on my face that I am not the same person that I was when I was in the church or even a few years after I had left. I'm not even the same person I was 6 months ago, life has moved on for me, I have new friends, I'm getting involved in our community and I now wake up each morning and can't wait to see what the new day has in store for me.

    I had to chuckle on Daisy's comment "I don’t miss being pregnant". Do I miss being pregnant? Absolutely not!

    Life is Good!
    Finally Free

  5. My mother told me shortly before she died that she had had to put up with all of the Laestadian/Apostolic Lutheran norms, nit picking, kooky relatives, rules & gossip all of her life. She told me to go live in a place and live a life that 'made me happy.' I think there are people who have had to grit their teeth all their lives in order go along with the Laestadian social status quo. My impression was that once a person is socially and economically locked into a Laestadian type lifestyle, it is very difficult to extract oneself from it. After one leaves there will always be elements of that lifestyle that will part of one's internal psyche. The summation of the subject seems to be keeping the limited portions that were good and discarding the many that were not so good. Old AP

  6. Wow....not sure if you all are truelly happy in where you are at in life that you have to pick apart your church! Move on gracefully and confidentlly!! As a member and parent raising our children in what Beth calls small schools...my children are friends with all!! We live in a small town and our children have friends both inside and outside of the church! You all are grouping us in one judgemental group!! Just as in the outside world everyone inside the church is different with one common goal! Talk about judging!!! And Finally Free....not sure who did the "cutting off"...you or your children! I seem to think that just because they didn't follow you/agree with you that you won't have any doings with them! As for the pregnant comment....get over yourselves...boy do I feel bad for your kids!! I realize it is hard being pregnant but each and every one of our children are a gift from God. Not that we don't struggle in balancing our day to day lives and the business it entails but we would never give them up for anything! Sorry to sound so defensive but I guess that is what I am! I love my children, my church my life etc. No one said life is going to be easy and always fair but we take the good along with the bad. I have family members that are no longer with the church and love them just as much now as before! I miss them a lot and contiue to be involved with them! Who wouldn't want their family and friends in one common faith? Also, you can't tell me that you don't group together with people that are like you in thoughts and beliefs and likings! That is why so many of the churches stick together....common beliefs. That does not mean we can't have friends outside the church which we surely do! Sorry for my ramblings just stating an opinion!

    Confident in my Faith

    1. Well.. I will just breathe here for a moment before posting, at the risk of getting too upset.

      Have you considered that maybe the reason we continue to talk about "our old church" is because of the stronghold it has had on our minds and lives? Yes, talking about these things is necessary in healing... Or have you considered that maybe, when someone we love is told not to get a hysterectomy even though they may DIE and leave their husband and 10+ children, have you considered that maybe that bothers us? I guess it bothers me watching someone suffer, be miserable and risk their life in the name of something that I used to believe and consider my foundation but found, upon examination of it, not a house built on a rock, but a few rotting boards lying on a beach about to drift away in the rising tide.
      I find it a little bit sad that the defense given for upholding these beliefs is a mere " we don't understand Gods ways so we shouldn't think about them." Yet somehow it's understood what God doesnt want us to do, like think. Would God make a bird with wings then make it a crime to fly? What kind of God is that, if He would?
      I guess that's why I talk about it. I can only pray that you are here because there is some small part of you that knows that same truth deep down. I welcome you to come back and read as many posts as you would like. Maybe one day you will release the fear that currently prevents you from doing a little examination of your own faith. If you ever do, I would suggest you start by reading "The Examination of the Pearl". If you're not comfortable with that, just read the Bible, front to back. I hope you do. With love, m.d.

  7. Confident in Your Faith, but not enough to share your name. It always leaves me questioning the content of anyone who isn't standing by their names.

    It is easy to say nearly anything, while keeping your self hidden. This is a personal hang up of mine.

    Perhaps that is what is needed...in order to speak up about religion.

    Somehow it is always called 'Judging' when it is stating what our experiences are.
    I looked up the meaning of judging for a blog I wrote and found out the following.

    "Judgment - the ability to judge, make a decision or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: A man of sound judgment."

    It is harder to form an opinion IF it will require you to change your actions. "Affecting action".

    So, in the case of me reporting and speaking about and against individuals within the FALC, it is easier to discount what I am saying and call it judging, for then you will not be required to form a new opinion that would lead to a different action.

    Easier to defend than to change. I have been where you are. But, at that time, I had not been where I have been now....knowing both sides.

    I know, that there are some children within the church who will cross lines and play with others, but it is not the norm. I am not just hearing this from my own school district, but from others. Once it is known I am no longer part of the church, people feel free to discuss their experiences.

    What I have learned since I left is not the church I attended. While there, I too thought like you "Confident"....only to find what I was so confident about had no foundation. I hope yours is strong.

    Beth Jukuri

  8. Beth said,"While there, I too thought like you "Confident"....only to find what I was so confident about had no foundation. I hope yours is strong." Interesting comment Beth as I too had a lot of 'confidence' in the church until I realized there was no foundation...and if there was one it certainly was not built on faith in Christ. I began to realize that the whole party line of being the only right church with the only right doctrine & everyone else going to hell etc... was sort of like the crowd of people in the story, 'The Emperor has no clothes.' Being a reticent Finn by nature Beth I also prefer not to use my name as I figure what is the point of starting an internecine cross country cat fight with relatives. I figure that if they are happy like 'Confident in my Faith' says she is, then I am happy for them but then again why is 'Confident' blogging on this board? Maybe she is starting to see some cracks her foundation walls....? Old AP

  9. Old AP, I understand not wanting to start a fight. Which brings up an interesting thought, why is it we can't have a dialogue without fighting? What is the threat that gets us all riled up? If each are happy and confident in where they are standing, why can't we share our sides?

    I believe that if more and more used their names and stood strong in their stance, it would lead others to do so as well. Oddly and surprisingly, you gain more inner strength by speaking your truth in your real name. I hope it becomes a trend :)

    My breaking the silence has more to do about abuse than it does about religion....religion happens to be secondary and the ways of the church walked hand and hand with abuse, perfectly.

    What I also find completely shocking each time a Member comes forth defending, they never ask who in their church is abusing? I would want to know....especially if I had small children/grand children etc.

    Some feel that I am disgruntled, when actually I am more caring by speaking out, than I would be if I just kept all the names to myself. Instead, each time I hear a victim speak a name of a perpetrator I hand it over to Tom Rosemurgy.

    What also came to me, is that when good women speak to defend the religion/faith etc, they are showing us how they are not willing to hear the side of those hurt within the religion. Which is why so many children do not tell.

    As hard as it is for me an adult women to speak...imagine a child trying to articulate their truth about their experiences of abuse of fathers/uncles/brothers who are members of the church she defends.

    I wish that her idealized church/faith was the loving institution she is holding in her heart.
    It was never my intention to destroy the church. The church was destroyed for me, each time another name was spoken. Another 'popular' family was found to have abuse in its bloodline.

    I am just asking for the loving faithful members to wake up and look around....but, again...If they can't hear me, the cries of the children too go unheard.

    It was equally as earth shattering to me to see the churches walls crumble...along with my family's foundation. Losing both at one time left me with very little to rely upon. It was then, though, that I found a connection with God...without a middle man.

    Just me trying to not be one who knew and said nothing. I know, I say too much.
    Beth Jukuri

  10. beth-

    many of us read this blog, but do not always comment on your posts...but many people silently support you and your courage for speaking out. Please keep doing what you are doing.


  11. Oh, come, now, Confident. I don't think it makes me appreciate and cherish my children one bit less, just because I don't enjoy being nauseated constantly and throwing up ten or fifteen times a day for months on end when I'm pregnant. Seriously. I don't know too many mothers who say, "Wow, I love all that nausea and heartburn, and I just can't WAIT to go through labor and delivery again! I just did it a year ago, but man! That's one of those things you just can't do often enough!"

    Feeling like you have no choice in the matter if you want to do the "right thing" is the real problem. And if you start spacing your kids farther apart, people will come to talk to you to find out if you are indeed using some type of birth control so they can rebuke you for it and tell you that yes, it is God's will for you to go through this, to have to throw up until your insides feel like they are coming out, and to abuse your body with multiple pregnancies, even to the point of death, according to some people.

    The fact that I choose not to believe that way, and you do, is a choice that we each get to make. And if I speak about my experiences, I have not yet figured out why some people take that so personally. I know nothing about you. Why assume that my feelings about my life are a judgment about yours? You're the only one who gets to decide if you're happy with your choices. I certainly don't let anyone else determine if I made the right choice. That's my call.

    But my last thought on this for now, is, maybe it's just the online format we have here, but I think there is the tiniest bit of ungraciousness in your tone. You see, I wouldn't think of going up to you in person and saying, Wow, I feel bad for your kids (even if I did feel that way).

    Actually, if I did want to sound judmental, I would say that I think what you said was just plain rude.

  12. I’m glad Confident in my Faith is willing to step into this lion’s den of ex-Laestadianism and defend her position. (It may be “his,” but I’ll just assume “her” because it’s a back and forth with daisy.) I think we ought to cut her a bit of extra slack for the tone because it is a hostile environment for Laestadians here and it’s natural for someone to be defensive when you read criticisms of your cherished faith. I will also point out to Confident that this is only daisy’s second essay here, after having left the church 20 years ago. She also posts comments occasionally. That is hardly the record of someone who is picking apart the church and unhappy with her life.

    It might not be evident to Confident how daisy’s children were treated, but a comment daisy posted some years ago should clear that up. I cite it in my book along with other stories about how ex-LLCers have generally been treated by those still in the church (§4.7.1). It’s not a great example of Christian love, and much of the same poor treatment of apostates continues to this day. I do think some progress has been made since daisy’s departure 20 years ago, though, and the attitude Confident says she shows about her ex-Laestadian friends is an example of that.

    An aside: I have some gripes about friends of mine being warned not to associate with me, but my situation is different than the usual because I’ve been so vocal. I suppose it’s understandable that some LLCers might be concerned about me influencing our mutual friends, even if it isn’t pleasant to be the one they are being told to turn their backs on.

    Confident has a valid point, too, that groups tend to form around common viewpoints and get judgmental of those not sharing that viewpoint. Some of the more militant atheist web sites out there can seem almost like a bizarro alternate-universe form of fundamentalism, where anyone expressing any sense of spirituality is shot down and called an idiot, ignorant, etc. But I don’t see that really happening at this site. Free has fostered a very respectful environment that attempts to reach out to those still in the fold who might have concerns, and daisy’s post does nothing to violate that, in my opinion. If anyone’s been guilty of judgmental writing here, it’s been me with my more blunt criticisms of Christianity and the Bible, which she has tolerated because I had some points to make forcefully about particular things.

    And yes, it is natural to want one’s “friends and family to be in one faith,” as Confident puts it. That’s the evangelical drive, the concern for the person’s eternal fate. It’s very real to the believer, and it was real for all of us once, too.

  13. Well Confident in my Faith, you seem to know a lot of things about me and my children, but I don’t recall you being in the conversations that I had with them. I can’t control what they choose to tell others and don’t really plan on discussing that here.
    Where does stating that “Do I miss being pregnant? Absolutely not”, have anything to with not loving my children or wanting each of them? For goodness sake, I’m fifty something years old, of course I don’t miss being pregnant. You can’t tell me that the ladies I knew who were in their late 40’s and pregnant when I was in the FALC were honestly happy that they were pregnant. You can’t convince me that they were.
    You feel sad for my kids; well join the club so do I. I feel sad that they grew up in the FALC.
    Old Ap states this “My mother told me shortly before she died that she had had to put up with all of the Laestadian/Apostolic Lutheran norms, nit picking, kooky relatives, rules & gossip all of her life. She told me to go live in a place and live a life that 'made me happy.' I think there are people who have had to grit their teeth all their lives in order go along with the Laestadian social status quo”. Confident in my Faith, I think maybe you are one of the ones who grit their teeth, wishing you could say out loud the things others who have left are saying.
    I have friends and sometimes we are on total opposite ends of things, though it’s nice to be around like minded people, I actually can think and go outside the box, and I don’t feel the need to go around attacking people. I respect their ideas and beliefs though they might not be mine. I don’t ever recall feeling the need to defend what I thought was right when I was in the FALC, if people left that was their choice. I like how you view attacking as stating your opinion, it’s people like you who I don’t miss.
    And get over myself…Not on your life…I’m just finding myself. Maybe that’s something you wish you could do, and for that I am sorry.

  14. Confident in my faith, you are welcome to think that the church is a great place and if you are happy, more power to you. But, if people really were as loving and accepting as you are, people wouldn't be leaving your church with bad experiences to talk about. Perhaps, you could boost the church's image and be an agent of change within your church. If you are aware of people who are not as loving and accepting as you are, confront them about their actions and suggest that they change their ways. If you start doing that, I guarantee in a short amount of time, you will be singled out and attacked like many others have been over the last 100 years. I hope you never are. But if you are, we will help you make your transition to the other side.

    This is my response to one this comment you made "Also, you can't tell me that you don't group together with people that are like you in thoughts and beliefs and likings! That is why so many of the churches stick together....common beliefs."

    Do you ever ponder or think that half of the people who attend your church might not believe what is being preached, they just go along with the actions and appearances to fit in? I know that's the true because that's what I did when I was a kid. I sat in the pews every Sunday because my parents made me. I never listened to a single sermon. OK, maybe I listened to one of two. Believe your sins forgiven. Next Sunday service. Believe your sins forgiven. Sunday after that. Believe your sins forgiven...Okay, I get the point my sins are forgiven. Is that all there is in the bible? When are we going to move on to something else?

    I always brought a pen and paper and played hangman with my friends sitting next to me. Most Sunday sermons I would look around and see many of the kids doing the same thing, and the adults around me appearing to be dozing off. I remembered when I had to go to communion. it was so strange to me and I could never pull it off with a straight face. You are welcome to tell me I am an unbeliever. I am okay with that. I just couldn't go on with "the act of believing" any longer. Just like a child who learns that Santa isn't real or someone who makes a bad investment, I just had to give it all up and move on. It was such a relief when I did.


  15. EXFALC, I'm one of those people who fits both your and Confident in my Faith's descriptions. I don't believe in the FALC's teachings -- I'm agnostic/deist -- but I also remain a member because in my own personal experience, the church is a warm, loving environment. (I fully realize it's not that way for everyone, which is saddening).

    To the concept of online anonymity, like most things in life there are pros and cons, positives and negatives. Being anonymous lets you communicate in ways you might not otherwise, and again that can be good or bad. I choose anonymity because it's easier for me not to rock the boat, and I have no desire to anyway. For the most part, confining myself to outlets like this for my religious discussions is enough; I don't feel compelled to argue with churchmembers who are secure in their beliefs.

    To be blunt, another reason I remain anonymous is you, Beth. You have often stated your desire to name names, and indeed in your last post stated you pass along names to the police if you've heard anything regarding abuse. Though I understand where you're coming from, and fully sympathize with your plight regarding child abuse, I've previously disagreed with some of your arguments and methods (though I strive to remain respectful). So what if something I wrote triggered your anger? I'm petrified that the police would come knocking at my door because they received an "anonymous" tip.

    And if you think that's going overboard, well, it happened to a family I know quite well. And, it should be noted, the accusations were proven completely baseless, though now the family has to live with the shame and stigma of suspicion. And so I remain anonymous.

  16. Free Thinker, I am not giving out names due to my anger...I relaying names I hear, so I am not just one who knew and did nothing. There is quite a difference between the two.

    The detective can't move on these names unless and until a victim comes forth.

    I guess my fear of doing nothing out weighs any fear of being investigated. Sadly, the ones who really need to be investigated go undetected.

    Knowing some of what it takes to investigate and to actually get a case to court, it seems unlikely that they would go into a family home....without adequate reason. That being said, it again lays upon the lap of a child to deny or confirm the 'suspicions'. How many young children do you know who will stand up against the only food and shelter provider they have to admit it what was done to them.

    There is such shame and fear within the child.

    Abuse cases have to be the hardest to investigate, for the child is the key to toppling the abused...they are being asked to stand up against the one who hurt them.

    Without a child's testimony and it being looked at from many angles, there just is no case. And even in the best cases, where it all goes well, there needs to be other evidence....meaning other victims. My father had 9 other girls to step forth and bravely give their stories. But the court case was only for one little girl.

    What I guess I am always advocating is to tell what you know. And let the police and the detectives take it from there. Sadly in most cases, there is abuse and the victim testimony needed doesn't come forth due to fear.

    Many falsely rely on this as meaning there is no abuse. When in actuality, there is abuse but fear keeps them silent.

    There is, in my opinion, more fear of reporting than there is of being falsely accused.

    Imagine, you fear using your name on a blog....how would you like to be asked to report being fondled or raped and be at an age where you don't even have the language. Even as a full grown adult, silences reign supreme.

    The landscape I repeatedly come up against is fear of saying not only your name but your experiences, out of fear of reprisals. Fear of how your life would change if you spoke your truth.

    What I can assure you of, is that I don't just hand over names willy nilly and out of anger or rage.
    I just can't hear a story of abuse and not report the abuser. It is what so many good christians did again and again for years, 40....with my father.

    I guess while you go overboard at being cautious, I will head out into the open field and face the flack the keeps coming my way. I do so, knowing that silence and hiding is what works best for the abusers.

    Beth Jukuri

  17. It makes me more than a little sad that Confident in My Faith felt compelled to express an opinion -- certainly within her rights -- and see so many folks go straight into junkyard dog attack mode. This forum used to allow diverse opinions that could be discussed. I saw "Confident" accused of being rude. Frankly, I sensed just as much "rude" going back at her. She probably won't be back, which is sad because her opinion was just as valid as any of ours.

    I can identify with a lot of the things Confident says. In my family, we always visited and associated with other members of the community, whether they were OALC, FALC, Baptist, Catholic, UCC, ALC, 7th Day Adventists, and who knows what. We belonged to the OALC and I suppose that there were folks who were highly offended by our actions, but I guess we just didn't really give a damn about what others thought.

    Now that I'm on the other side of the fence, I am perfectly happy if someone has stayed and is comfortable with their mother church. I think that is just fine. They have every right to walk their own walk, and anyone who thinks they are qualified or justified in tearing them down for their beliefs just because they themselves left and now feel somehow superior is at best a fool and at worst doing nothing but the Devil's work themselves. I still have a lot of friends within the OALC, and the ones who aren't friends anymore have their own problems to deal with, and I refuse to make them my problems.

    Confident, if you see this, thank you for having the courage to step in with an opinion that I'm sure was suspected to not be received with open arms. You seem comfortable and confident in your walk, within your church, raising your children as gifts from God, and this old Finn would be happy to share a cup of coffee anytime!

  18. Beth, just a couple of points I'd like to address, and then I think I would prefer to move on to other topics.

    Like I said, I understand where you're coming from. Victim advocacy is extremely important, and often unappreciated and/or misunderstood. So I commend you for the work you do, I know Dial Help is a great organization.

    What I hope you take from our discussion is that life is colored by our own perceptions, and there are usually many different angles to look at an issue. Understandably, you view the world one way due to your experience. However, consider that when you castigate the FALC for its perceived shortcomings, you sometimes come off as tarnishing/blaming everyone who goes to the church. I realize that some people, and yes perhaps even those who wielded influence within the church, are guilty of misdeeds be it abuse or not acting "properly" (in your eyes, at least) when learning of possible abuse cases. But that's only a select few people. The people I know at the FALC would never, ever in a million years dream of committing such acts, and would certainly do all they could to assist a victim. The notion of covering it up would be abhorrent. And by painting everyone at the FALC with such a broad brush, you anger and alienate these people who would otherwise be on your side.

    I will say that due in part to your efforts, much more attention is paid to the issue and attitudes have probably changed in many respects. So for what it's worth, I feel you've made a difference, and I encourage you to continue your victim advocacy work. You're right, it is incredibly daunting and difficult to come forward in those situations, and I salute those with the courage to do so.

    But I would also encourage you, and posit that you might help mend some fences if you so chose, to try and understand others' perspectives. The vast majority in the FALC aren't abusers and would never dream of it, but when faced with such horrible tragedy might not react the same way you would. Understand it's not out of malice or anything nefarious. They might not know any better, they might not know WHAT to do, and they might choose forgiveness when all is said and done. In the case of the previous two, education is helpful. In the case of the latter, that's what they chose to help them move on with life in a positive manner, and denigrating them for it assumes YOUR coping mechanism is always best.

  19. Cvow, if the responses to Confident are "junkyard dog attack mode," you know some very sedate dogs. I'm sure Confident can hold her own (said as one strong woman to another).

    Confident, telling us who have left to "move on gracefully and confidently," implies (1) we have not, and (2) criticism of the church is unseemly. If I find that more humorous than offensive, it is because I have heard it so often, and recognize it for what it is. Hogwash.

    I have moved on with grace and confidence (and considerable courage), yet consider it my moral duty to criticize Laestadianism, and to offer solace to those who have suffered under it.

    So what do you do with that?

    I actually think some ways of thinking are better than others, so if you are happy with your Laestadianism, I am happy for you. However, I still stand "in judgment" of you if you tell children they belong the "only right faith" and their worldly (Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, whatever) friends do not.

    I'm judgmental in that way.

    It is not a question of superiority, unless thinking it is better not to smoke is being superior. And it isn't the Devil's work because there is no such thing.

    As for anonymity, it does not take courage to post with a pseudonym, so nobody gets kudos from me for that. However, anonymity makes sites like this possible, and while fully aware of its limitations, I will continue to defend it as good choice, as Beth knows.

    I hope I've offended somebody here or I'm falling down on the job.

    1. I love how you articulated your response...and for pointing out we have gracefully and confidently moved on. And I too appreciate you recognizing the ones who have suffered within the confines of the church.

      I do get the anonymity, but it does frustrate me to not know who I am debating with. Face to face would serve me best....and secondly name to name.

      I love that you uphold your job seriously :)


    2. I didn't think I was attacking anyone with my post. Just simply sharing my experiences and giving current members something to think about. My view is that the theology this religion is based on is flawed and it should be exposed. I enjoy reading posts from people trying to defend it.


  20. I belong to the FALC. I believe in its gospel entirely. Yet, I do not fit in. I have never known why. It is very lonely. I do not wish to leave the church, and I have some dear friends who are both in and out of my faith, but none near by. I agree that there is shameful treatment of people who aren't exactly like everyone else. Be it because they seem "wordly", or just "off" a bit socially.....I don't think you are accepted socially if you aren't related to everyone or don't have that elusive popular appeal. I struggle to fit in, but I still want to stay. So what would you all say to me then?

    1. I believe your path is one of the hardest to travel. You are lonely and don't fit in, but you can't leave for you believe in what is preached there. Isn't that what they call purgatory? Not heaven or hell? You are not in, but you are not out.

      Without using your head, but using your heart and soul, where would you be the most peaceful and yourself?

      If you left the church would your relationship with God follow?

      I would begin researching your self.

      Only you will find the answers and I believe they are in you if you begin to look within.


    2. What I will say is PLEASE use a name when posting here, as anonymous posts will be deleted, and yours would be if Beth had not already responded. I don't know how much clearer I can make this rule. Help me out, people.

    3. It is hard to assess not knowing why you're not fitting in the "group" not knowing you, and also knowing that you accept the FALC doctrine in its entirety. It could be as simple as untrue rumors that have circulated about you in which you're not aware. That happened to me, spread by a relative when I was an older adolescent and roomed with her in an apartment. She used to go to young people's gatherings and leave me home, knowing I had no other ride there. Sometimes I'd get another ride, and the young men who lived in the house always gave me strange looks and sometimes made off-putting comment to me. Whereas I once had a dating life at the church, no one asked me for dates anymore, and once I had a distant relative a little older than me who was really a tranger who told me he heard I was weird. I found out, weeks later, my roommate was creating untrue stories about me, things she just made up or embellished greatly. One was about some kind of situation where she witnessed a riot and that I was a participant in it. Later, my aunt and uncle expressed concern that I was taking part in a riot, and I was just dumbfounded, I had never even seen a riot except on television and I was certainly not there. She never even asked me if I was there, so it certainly was one of her many stories she circulated about me. Only a few years ago someone again asked me about the riot I was supposedly in! 20 years later! So...it could be someone has maligned you for no real reason you can discern. And you are indeed between a rock and a hard place, because if you attempt to make a new life for yourself with "unbelievers" and find a spouse on the outside, you will likely find your children outcasts just the same, though there are exceptions to the rule. I would recommend finding a counselor and improve your self-esteem, which will be useful to you should you stay or should you go. I chose leaving after I realized that it was just marginally easier than remaining. --Stranger

  21. Free Thinker, I am not sure I would categorize it as a coping mechanism, but rather what is helpful in aiding children who are in abuse. Coping is to get along with situations that you are not willing to change.

    Most will cope and very few will actually set out to make changes.

    Ironically it is easier to fall silent, than it is to openly voice your opinion and bear the brunt of their defense and ire.

    It is easier for getting along...to live and let live.

    I guess, if I wasn't aware of the abuse within the church, I would not even be on this blog.

    If the church was just a group of individuals who were happily singing and enjoying each others company and similar beliefs and mindsets....I too, could are less...for it would all be harmless.

    But, sadly I have heard too many stories otherwise...from abuse way back to the present moment...to see the legacy following the years and generations. And it is exponentially expanding rapidly.

    What is the hardest is to convince folks of the abuse....for most will defend the church righteously.
    And no one asks where the abuse is. And it is my humble belief, they really really don't want to know.
    For once you know, you will be asked to do something. You will have to then acknowledge that your faith and your church community is not what you thought it was.
    No one asks...for they truly do not want to know.

    Instead it is easier to see me as tarnishing and banishing them all to behaviors that are unbecoming of a church member of high morals and values. Their indignant but not inquisitive.

    I become the target, not their own fear of not wanting to know...it is easier to bash me than it is to sit with the idea of who they are themselves.

    But, in their defense...you truly can't know what you have not experienced. No amount of me speaking will change your mind. This will be something you will have to learn on your own.

    I don't have the answers and I don't know what is best for you all, but I do know what my experiences were and are....and what is best for me.

    Each will live with what they know, how they have changed or coped...how they shy away or where they tread boldly....what they defend and what they support and who they are by how they act.

    Life is a game of individuals. Each journey echoes your character.

    I guess I am doing what I need to do for my own peace of mind.

    Beth Jukuri

  22. Beth said, "But, sadly I have heard too many stories otherwise...from abuse way back to the present moment...to see the legacy following the years and generations. And it is exponentially expanding rapidly." Based on all I was told by elderly people when I did some research the same child molesting, spousal & other abuse was going on 100 years ago within the Laestadian groups in America. I do not think it it is 'exponentially expanding' I just think people are now EXPONENTIALLY TALKING AND TELLING THE TRUTH. A study was done on the incidence of divorce within churches (any type of church) compared to those who do not go to church. Interestingly enough, those who went to church had just as high a divorce rate as those who did not go. Likewise with regards to child physical & sexual abuse, my guess is that the incidence of abuse within churches in general is probably fairly high & Laestadian churches are no exception. However, unlike divorce which bears much social stigma and is thus avoided in Apostolic Lutheran-type churches, child abuse can remain insidious until the the victim grows into adulthood & they start talking. The damage that is done to abused children is indeed horrific. In Shamanistic Medicine victims of horrific abuse were healed under a concept of 'soul retrieval'. The Shamans felt that abuse victims had left portions of their soul behind during period of extreme abuse and to heal the person they needed to retrieve the pieces of their soul. This concept of 'soul retrieval' is analagous to our modern concept of abuse victims going through disassociation during periods of abuse & finally putting things back together with a therapist. I have personally wondered how many of us ex-members have had to perform our own 'soul retrieval' quest in life after we have left the church. I know I had to. Old AP

  23. I apologize for not picking a pseudonym, I meant no offense. It was my first posting, is all. You may call me "FALCon" if it so pleases you.......

    1. Thanks, FALCon, no offense taken. I encourage you to read the Bible, read Laestadius, read the archives here, and search yourself. Know that your churchfathers Luther and Laestadius did not rely on others to do the hard work for them; they questioned their priests and preachers, challenged the status quo, and came to their own conclusions.

      Only you can determine what is right for you.

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