"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Race and Gender

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Race and Gender

Will Mormon women change the church from within? Mormonism is vastly larger than Laestadianism, but there are many parallels, and when I heard this story on the radio, I felt a surge of hope for people of all religions who are working within to push for humanitarian reform. 
Earlier this week Kate Kelly, the founder of a group advocating for women to be ordained into the Mormon priesthood, was excommunicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for apostasy.
“For Mormons it’s really the equivalent of spiritual death,” said Natalie Kelly, a Seattle-based member of that group, Ordain Women. She is not related to Kate Kelly.
She explained to KUOW’s David Hyde onThe Record that to be excommunicated from the church means that a person is stripped of the blessings of the church and the sealing covenant that Mormons believe allow a person to live with his or her family after death – a central tenet of the religion.
Apostasy, Natalie Kelly said, is believing in false teachings or falling away from the church. In the case of Kate Kelly’s excommunication, she said the decision about whether a woman seeking equality was apostasy was made entirely by a group of men. Women are never allowed into the disciplinary process of the church because they do not have priesthood.
Priesthood is essential for taking part in the administration of the church, including budget decisions, rituals such as baptisms and blessings, and speaking at church.
“So when women are excluded from the priesthood that means they are excluded from the entire decision-making of the church from the very top, down to the bottom. Every woman’s decision is always subject to a man’s approval,” Natalie Kelly said.
Ordained men of the church also influence the curriculum taught.
"You might have lessons for teenage girls about chastity teaching that a girl that has been sexually assaulted is ‘like a licked cupcake,’" Natalie Kelly explained.
“There’s an incredible emphasis on women’s modesty, covering women’s bodies, that women’s bodies are a source of temptation for men – and it’s all driven around a male-centric view of the world because men are the people in charge making all of these decisions.”
Natalie Kelly said that the role of women in the Mormon religion has decreased since the church’s founding in the early 19th century, when women had more ritual authority. She said even in Seattle, where Mormons are often more progressive about issues such as female ordination and gay marriage, the church leadership still receives instructions from Salt Lake City.
But she thinks that the church, which until 1978 would not allow the ordination of blacks, will evolve to include women more.
“I absolutely believe that women will be ordained into the priesthood someday,” she said. “There’s no way my children’s generation is going to pass without that happening. And I think that when that day comes, the excommunication of Kate Kelly and other feminists in previous generations that have been excommunicated is going to haunt the church in the same way that previous priesthood restrictions currently haunt the church.”
What do you think? What changes do you think you'll see in your lifetime?


  1. There will certainly be changes within the realms of each branch of Laestadianism over a period of time but I would doubt that there will ever be any apologies for past practices or schisms. The reason is that in most fundamentalist type churches the rules are officially proscribed. Later on if the past practice(s) was found to be in error or misconstrued, the same church group can issue an edict, an apology or an amendment to their past rule or practice. However, within Laestadianism there are few, if any written dictates. Most rules are 'understood' by members. The wiki article on Laestanianism states that, "Laestadian asceticism is distinguished from other American fundamentalist Christians in that none of the above-mentioned pastimes is officially proscribed; rather, Laestadians counsel each other and employ a reinforcing system of social feedback to encourage abstention. Active congregations provide social outlets in keeping with the beliefs of the church; nearly every weekend evening will find Laestadian teenagers congregating at one or another's home (get-togethers)." --- So if the rules are never written down, as in the case of Laestadianism, then there is no need to ever amend or apologize them as they were always just 'understood' by everyone. So I would not hold my breath waiting for any type of official acknowledgement of doctrinal error, abuse or wrong-doing from within any of the Laestadian groups as the most important doctrinal point (at least in my opinion) is that one belong to the 'right church' which is theirs of course. Old AP

  2. Flora says: Thanks for posting this Free--I don't know if you saw my earlier post under Margaret's Story about this very issue. And I agree Old AP, that with everything "unwritten" it is hard to notice when there are changes. I do hope though, that like Kelly in the Mormon Church, the next generation of women and men in Laestadian churches will be brave and challenge the idea that only men should run things in the church. I just don't think they will be able to keep any vestige of moral authority if they don't include women in the process. On a related note, I was heartened to read that the SRK has apologized publicly in the news for the spiritual abuse that took place in the 70s and 80s. I think it was done under the duress of those child molestation scandals, but I'm still glad it was done. If spiritual abuse (the bread and butter of the church if you think about it) isn't okay anymore, maybe equality for women isn't far behind? Far-fetched, I know:-)

  3. While things are slow may I slip in something interesting from the Bible that people may not know? Jesus never not even once used the word " Grace". The Bible says He brought Grace and Truth but He never uttered the word Grace, another interesting thing is ,Jesus never even once revealed the Church Age of Grace to us gentiles. His earthly ministry was for the Jew only with a couple exceptions. Jesus ministry was" under law" and not under Grace. The age of Grace began when Jesus shed his Blood, even then it was not revealed what Jesus had accomplished until it was revealed to Apostle Paul 10 years later.......Matt

  4. I don't think adding woman to leadership would ever happen because that,would also mean woman could make their own decisions about career, children and all the other things that a normal human is able to do. It could not stand. The thought of these pompous bigots ( I mean the men) being joined by woman and somehow maintaining the evil self absorbed cult does not seam possible, or if it did it would be even more nauseating than it is now. All of us people of the world who are in sin have it rough enough dealing with the men who are self absorbed bigots that proclaim they are children of God while they get together and smoke cigarettes and talk about what they saw in a television at their brother in law's or bosses house (they can't mention tv unless they also say that it was some other hell bound ruined and not worth saving person who is actually responsible for the tv. They love to treat a computer like it is a tv but that's different. They listen to the basketball game but not watch it. They are so much better and they know it. EVERYONE ELSE HAS EVIL MOTIVES AND ARE DOOMED AND NOT WORTH SAVING ANYWAY, RIGHT? No black people get to heaven I guess. Just whites. What a shame.

    Bitter? You bet.


  5. Dude mentioned their feelings of bitterness. Been there and seen it myself within Laestadian realms to include: murder, rape, incest and adultery just for starters. Oh yes, I know what really has gone on. In my judgement the only cure for bitterness is to get to the roots.
    My 'cure' for Laestadian induced bitterness was as follows: 1. Honestly admit how the person/parents/events/church affected you focusing on the bad but also realizing that there was some good too-maybe not much but some. Admit to the damage! 2. Admit to yourself how you were compelled to act out and/or adopt beliefs/indoctrination that you intuitively knew were wrong. 3. Realize how your personal aspirations were trampled on by the group's norms. 4. Acknowledge how the 'fear of God' was used as a weapon against you for control purposes and that it may have included emotional, sexual, verbal and physical abuse 5. Acknowledge how so-called 'religious people' acted in wicked ways behind a facade of goodness to suppres a person's individuality. 6. Understand that the past did in fact shape you but that it was in ways that you are not now happy with.
    Once a person has gotten to the roots, one should also realize that one NOW HAS A CHOICE about one's future life's pathway. Laestadianism seems to rob people of their internal gyroscope. We all have a chance to remake ourselves and claim or re-claim our internal sense of being. Start making a positive life plans for oneself and start taking concrete steps to map out a life that is meaningful to you. The only person MAKING you stay is you. Remember that today's actions will become tomorrow's memories. Old AP

    1. There is so much wisdom in this. I will copy and feature it as a post. Thank you, Old AP.

  6. Flora says: Very good advice Old AP.

  7. Old AP...Thank you. That was wonderful

  8. Bitterness is not well understood by most but it is actually quite simple but one must look at its 'source'; 99% of bitterness can be attributed to an overload of a person's ability to deal with overwhelmingly negative emotional experiences. This holds true in infants & oldsters. Bitterness is not actually stored in the mind. Rather, when a person's sensory is overloaded with emotions of anger and rage the body must have a place to 'park them' so to speak. What essentially happens is that the body transmits these extremely intense negative feelings to various organs of the body such as the muscles, heart, stomach, intestines, liver, jaw etc.... Those negative emotions remain 'locked up' within those organs however the body and mind continue to try to release them. This is a difficult process. If those intense feelings of anger and rage remain in a person they sometimes manifest themselves as insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes etc..... That is why professionals such as doctors, psychologists, ministers are sometimes frustrated with some of their patients as the repetive negative feelings that embittered people keep experiencing continue bubbling to the surface yet still remain entrapped with a person. If one thinks of the repetive violation of a person's sense of self within many Laestadian homes and churches it becomes all too obvious why there are embittered people within its realms and why those intense feelings of bitterenss also remain in many who have left. Having to grow up and live in a church and social environment loaded with threats of being killed by God for disobedience to the church's norms, a constant demand for confession, the need to dodge the Pharisee's rumor & gossip mill, false accusations, the squashing of the individual, parental sexual abuse/physical/emotional abuse, negative peers and a plethora of other rules and norms is a sure-fire recipe for the embitterment of many good people. Most adults have learned coping skills with regards to stressors. However, children and infants are for the most part defenseless. So when parents, adults and ministers in the church are conveying terrifying and threatening messages of burning in hell coupled with physical beatings, young children and infants literally 'take the message to their hearts.' So especially in those house holds where the children have not been protected, there are ample opportunities for bitterness to arise. The 'cure' then is as I mentioned in my previous post is to get to the roots. This involves a serious and honest examination of what happened, how did it make a person feel and how did it adversely changed and how it affected a person/victim. Rape, torture, enemas, cigarette burns, uncontrolled beatings, bestiality, incest, closet drinking, hanky panky in the sauna etc....those can sometimes be very tough and scary things to face up to especially when it involves one parents or relatives. Those who were violated often feel that they were the one's who 'sinned' when in actuality they were only the victim. An honest verbal appraisal in a non-threatening setting is often very therapeutic. But what must happen for a real cure is that the intense feelings of rage and anger must be released from within the organs of the body where they are stored. This happens through the release of deep muscle tension within a person's body. A person will have a feeling of decompression and often sense a sort of 'shuddering' as the deep emotional wounds are finally released from the person. Once the severely negative emotions are physically released from the body they no longer affect the person as they are literally not 'stored' within the person any more. Those who were embittered can actually become 'free as a lark' if the can expunge the stored bitterness and gall within themselves. Hey, it wasn't your fault....remember that. Old AP

  9. Has anyone known of some one within Laestadian circles who is embibing alcohol on the sly? How about drug abuse? I recall how the Laestadian Pharisees would gleefully condemn alcohol use with hell's damnation. The truth is alcohol and drugs are actually a pain killers. If you see some one abusing booze or drugs you can bet that that person is feeling a lot of emotional pain or bitterness. In several cases which I was aquainted with, the abusers had actually grown up in horrid Laestadian households yet nothing was ever said about that. So instead of rushing to condemn the abuser or imbiber to the flames of hell, one might first want to use some wisdom and consider what kind of emotional pain they might be suffering from. Old AP

  10. Yes, Old AP, I've known a lot of folks in those circles who drank to varying extent "on the sly". I was one of them. I wasn't drinking to kill any emotional pain or bitterness -- I was just drinking as a social norm. I knew a lot of folks who did the same thing. Once in awhile we even got as potted as a proverbial plant. I do not know of anyone who was doing drugs though, but I grew up at a time when a six pack of beer was about as exciting as it got, and I know the times, they've been a'changin'. (I'm kind of worried because I think sometimes I can actually understand Dylan. I guess it just took the onset of old age and poor hearing.) :-)