"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Kay's Story (The Voices Project)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kay's Story (The Voices Project)

Thanks to Kay for sharing her story. Please consider sharing yours.

Hello, I am a long time lurker on this blog, I would say probably since about half a year after I chose to leave the LLC. As I have broken my foot and have three weeks left of healing time, I figure it’s about time to share my story. Whether this is posted or not, it has been very cathartic to type my story down, to realize and remember why I chose to leave, and to think about what I have to look forward to in the future.

Both of my parents were born into Laestadianism, as were their parents and their parents before them. As both of my grandfathers were prominent ministers in the LLC, discussions of the church were common in the home and faith was always an integral part of life. When I was small, I remember enjoying going to church, and have fond memories of my parents and of being in a large family.

When I was almost six, my grandfather molested me when my mom and grandma were away shopping. He cried afterward and was angry and told me never to tell anyone or else I would go to hell. He died a year later, and I did not tell anyone, first for fear that what he told me would become true, and secondly that no one would believe me because he was a minister. When I grew older, I knew that what he did was wrong, but I did not want to hurt my mom. I didn’t and still do not want her to know that her father did that to me because she speaks of him fondly from time to time and I don’t want to ruin that bond she had with him.
I didn’t quite believe what I as being told. 
When I was about 12, I developed a large amount of anxiety about going to church, mostly because I was quite introverted and didn’t enjoy a large amount of social interaction, and partially because I didn’t quite believe what I as being told. I had a lot of questions with certain bible stories that no one could answer satisfactorily, and I found it hard to really TRULY believe my sins forgiven when it was preached. I figured there was something wrong with me and that if I just asked for a blessing every night before I went to bed that I would go to heaven, just in case I died in my sleep. From that time onward I dreaded going to church and would avoid it if possible.

I often felt that some believers were being so self-righteous (the very thing they say they are not!) that they said they believed without question all those bible stories which could not possibly be true word-for-word. At the same time, I also had self-righteous feelings, though I did not recognize it at the time. I would think: “Look, I am such a good believer that I don’t enjoy listening to country music on the bus” (I have since discovered I enjoy other “worldly music”). Or I would think “Look, I am such a good believer that I have no real friends at school” since my family and I were the only believers at our school. The thing was, I didn’t feel like I had any real friends at church either.
With a lot of sadness I decided that only one could be true. 
In high school I discovered that I loved science, and I rapidly devoured any scientific information that came my way, not realising this would cause me problems later on. As I continued to learn, it bothered me a little that my church did not agree with the most fundamental of scientific ideas. I decided to leave the church when I was 20. I saw what was ahead of me if I decided to stay. At some point I would get married, have a lot of children and settle into the same sort of life my mom has. I also had continued questions and no satisfactory answers from the church about science and I felt that I couldn’t commit to a life within the church and have these questions at the same time. I knew I could never be happy if I did so. I felt that my faith was dear to me, but I couldn’t reconcile how evolution and facts about astronomy, the beginning of Earth which have no other reasonable explanation could be true in regards to my Laestadian faith. My parents and siblings had left for a trip to summer services, but I stayed behind because I had to work that whole week (never mind that I had purposely not gotten the time off because I didn’t wish to go and my parents would have never taken that as a suitable reason). I decided to solve this problem once and for all and spent the week reading all of the LLC literature in my parents’ house and reading about science. With a lot of sadness I decided that only one could be true. When they came back, I told my parents with a feeling of numbness, “I am not a believer."
My grandma pleaded, “Why can’t you just try to believe?”
It felt like a hole had been physically ripped through my chest, and it ached for weeks. There was an immediate rush of phone calls, letters, emails and visits. My grandma called and pleaded, “Why can’t you just try to believe?” and I couldn’t get her to understand that a person cannot force themselves to believe something, otherwise the person does not truly believe. You believe something or you do not, and whether you have doubts or not, there is no middle ground. I learned that though I thought I had no true friends in the church, I do have one. She is the only one who continues to stand by me, and though she is busy with her new family, she respects my decision and remains friends with me anyway.

On some level, I still feel guilty when I go to my parents’ house and they have company over and people say “God’s Peace” to everyone except me. I still feel left out, but it is no different than feeling left out as a teenager. Sometimes my mom will make comments about my nail polish or my recently dyed hair, but she doesn’t seem to realize that while these things are superficial, they make me feel free. It’s so freeing and amazing to be able to do things because I want to, to have friends from very different backgrounds but still have a deep connection, to learn and not worry about whether learning things will be detrimental to my faith. It’s freeing to know I am not required to spend my life having many children and taking care of them. I can have a relationship and know that I can still keep my career in science if that is what I wish to do. I have a lot of my life ahead of me and I am so grateful I chose to leave sooner than later.

I am glad I chose to leave at the stage in life when I was still attending university, because it was at a time in which I could make new friends. Friends from school have become closer to me, and while from time to time I feel like they don’t understand where I’m coming from, they are still there for me. For those who are considering leaving, I would say having a group of friends outside of the church is very important. It would have been more helpful for me if I had built my group of friends outside of church first before leaving. After leaving I had no support system and it was very hard at times.
Sometimes I feel strength from knowing that while my family has hurt me, I will not hurt them back.
I have heard many stories through the years about how “unbelieving” family members don’t come around anymore, and I understand why they don’t. Most of my extended family no longer talks to me, it seems to be a sad reality of leaving the faith. If cousins see me at my parents’ house, they avoid me, but I don’t blame them for it. I know how awkward it is for them, because it used to be very awkward for me when I was in the same situation. I have a mostly good relationship with my close family, and I’m glad for that as I have seen how many people who leave are shunned completely. Sometimes I wish I could tell my family how my grandfather molested me, but I do not wish to hurt them. Sometimes, the decision I’ve made regarding that bothers me, and sometimes I feel strength from knowing that while my family has hurt me, I will not hurt them back. 

I don’t regret leaving the church, I only regret not leaving sooner, but I also feel I left at the time that was right for me. It wasn’t easy but I’m happy I did so.

Thank you,

"Kay"

52 comments:

  1. Kay, I wanted to tell you that you are brave to tell your story. While you may not be ready to tell about your grandfather to your family, consider seeing a therapist. While I do not know of any molestation in my own family, in my church, there have been several cases. I have seen people rush to defend the perpetrator and accuse the victim of lying. It is possible it could also happen to you. Before you do that, please consider getting some therapy, at least so that you can heal and get strong enough to deal with your family and the potential backlash. Perpetrators rarely molest just one victim, and so its possible this happened to your mother or her sisters or some of your cousins, and everyone remains silent to protect the reputation of the family and an important patriarch of your church. You do not need to necessarily confront your family to heal. You sound like you are young--in your 20s--and often these things don't fully emotionally "hit" the victim until they are older, often having children themselves. You need not feel ashamed to invest in yourself and your health by seeking help. Hugs and love to you. --Ally

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  2. Kay, thank you for sharing your poignant story. And I'm sorry to hear about the abuse you suffered, sadly it is all too common. All the best as you move forward in your unchained life.

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  3. I think it's great you shared your story. I think Ally's above comment about perhaps getting therapy is a good idea. A therapist can help you decide if you need/want to share your story with family. Also, as someone who has remained in the faith of my childhood (FALC), it is always a good reminder how NOT to treat people. I would be sad to lose some dear friends of mine simply because they do not attend the same church as myself. Good luck to you!
    FALCon

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  4. I have a good friend in the LLC whose father covered up a molester in the family for years. At family gatherings the parents would leave the kids with a babysitter, who often happened to be the uncle who didn’t want to join the other adults in their activities.
    Once the parents left, the uncle would start his touching. He was caught doing this several times, always forgiven, and then allowed to watch the kids at the next gathering. My friend did not live in the state that his uncle lived in so he only was exposed to light touching and has dealt with it well, but he’s pretty convinced his cousins were exposed to more severe abuse based on the behavioral problems and rumored new abusers in the extended family. When the molesting uncle died, my friend and his siblings were happy. His parents discovered that he thought his uncle was in hell because of his molesting ways. They became extremely upset with him and downplayed the “touching”. They even acted like most of the incidents didn’t even happen. My friend’s father is a minister and there are two other ministers in this family.

    With all the people in the LLC who do not believe in the LLC doctrine, but stay for personal reasons (every person who has left knows at least 3-10 who are privately in “unbelief”), with ministers who molest children and hide it as described in Kay’s story (I’m sure this is a rare occurrence, but it has happened), with other ministers who have covered up crimes with forgiveness and urging people to be quiet, it really calls into question the doctrine of forgiveness of sins. If someone doesn’t have a believing heart, then they cannot be the vessel of forgiveness of sins.

    Kay’s grandfather clearly was an unbeliever in his heart, yet his whole life he probably forgave thousands of people. But if he was an unbeliever, not one of those sins were actually forgiven. The sins were not washed away because unbelievers cannot forgive. Anybody who may have confided in Kay’s grandfather with other name sins, maybe even the sin of unbelief, and had them forgiven, never were really forgiven even though they think they were. Many people who are private unbelievers are forgiving sin, like myself for example. I forgave sin for nearly ten years before I left while being a private unbeliever. None of those sins I preached forgiven were forgiven according to the LLC. The doctrine of forgiveness of sins falls apart with a realistic look at the human condition, especially in a group like the LLC where so many deeply private feelings stay hidden out of fear.

    But the doctrine of forgiveness of sins is not really supported by the Bible, was never preached or practiced by Laestadius, was never used in the first decade of the revival movement when thousands of people repented without having someone preach forgiveness to them, and was never viewed as it is now for the first couple decades of the movement. Even Juhani Rattamaa, Laestadius’s faithful assistant who preached forgiveness often to people after it became commonplace, did not believe it was the means by which people were forgiven. He believed that preaching forgiveness was reassurance for a troubled heart, but true forgiveness came from God straight into the heart of a repentant believer. Preaching forgiveness was helpful, but not necessary. But none of this matters to the LLC nowadays, and this is why the LLC doctrine is a broken doctrine.

    God is all powerful. He can forgive however he wants using any method he may choose. All a believer needs to do is accept this promise of forgiveness in their hearts. No preaching or words are necessary. Any prescribed methods made by man are filled with faults because they are of man, not of God.

    It’s sad that this great revival movement that helped so many people turn to God, has descended into its current state. Luckily God loves everyone, and forgives all who believe it in their hearts. A doctrine of forgiveness created by man is overpowered by God and forgiveness still occurs wherever it is believed, inside the LLC and out.

    Former LLC Member

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  5. Amen to your comments 'Former LLC Member'. Parents have a huge influence on their children. They should be there to help children grow into mature and responsible adults. Parents should be nurturers. In contrast, modern Laestadian parenting often could be described as being in an 'enabler' role. 'Enablers' might not actually be the abuser themselves, however they allow the evil practices to continue by looking the other way and not intervening. In Laestadianism the 'forgiveness of sins' or confession has become the means of enabling evil behavior. I recall a certain distinguished minister in my group who had a trail of rumors following him that he was a whoremaster on the side. It turned out that the 'rumors' were not rumors at all and I also found out that besides being a lecher he was a pedophile. However, no one seemed to have the courage to stand up to him and confront him for what he really was. A church is primarily run by adult parents. When the bulk of the parents themselves are enablers it does not take much of a stretch of one's imagination to realize that the church's doctrine is also an enabling doctrine of abuse. Old AP

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  6. Sex before marriage does'nt make you married, it does'nt give you a ring. Confession and absolution doesn't make you a member of the bride of Christ neither do you get the Holy Spirit as the ring , only trusting .in Christ can.

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    1. I ... I have no idea what this means. It appears to be a variation of the common Christian screed: "The behaviors you've described don't jive with my interpretation of Christianity, thus I think you are in much danger if not doomed to eternal Hell."

      *Sigh.*

      It's always been quite ironic to me that many people on this forum bitterly castigate their former LLC faith, but have no shame in proselytizing their current Christian understanding, which, of course, is entirely Biblical and thus correct.

      Kay, your journey is your own. The actions of people in your life, including those in this forum (me included), have no bearing on ultimate truth. Continue seeking. Hopefully, for the future of humanity, you will propagate beliefs that will ensure our continued survival as a species.

      Much love,

      FreeThinker

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    2. Two minor corrections to my post above (forgive me, it's late):

      1. ... former LLC faith ... LLC = Laestadianism (as a FALC member, trust me it's not endemic to the LLC)

      2. ... you will [help] propagate beliefs. I don't mean to put the survival of our species all on your shoulders, Kay. :)

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    3. Yes, it was a absurd analogy of a absurd church teaching that equates the ritual of confession and absolution with salvation.Do that and you are good with God, maybe to molest some more , it's not a coincidence that the Laestadian 'movement and the Catholic church has such large mumbers of sex abuse cases. They have the same belief system concerning how to get saved. So the end result is they aren't saved. Self effort religion is a Abomination before God.

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    4. The fact you equate the Laestadians with the Catholics illustrates how little you understand about at least one of those entities. So...since you don't understand them, let's just send them all to hell. Good Laestadian thinking.

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  7. Or, perhaps you don't need to be "saved" at all, and there's no such thing as the abominable Biblical God.

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  8. "It''s always been quite ironic to me that many people on this forum bitterly castigate their former LLC faith, but have no shame in proselytizing their current Christian understanding, which, of course, is entirely Biblical and thus correct."

    That is a bold statement. I think you stepped over the line at bitterly castigate. Just "castigate" would be more accurate. Based on your comments, it seems you doubt the existence of God, which is fine. But I don't construe your comments as bitter castigations, just because I don't share your view point. I would appreciate if you could extend me the same courtesy.

    Also, the claim of no shame, entirely biblical, thus correct. Do you have shame in your comments? If not, why? I think it's pretty ridiculous to expect comments to be offered in shame.

    I think there is a disservice done to helping free people's minds when someone who has left all belief behind sits so high up on their horse and chalks everyone into one group. The "even though you've left, you still do this or that crowd". Laestadianism is one of the most fundamentalist Christian sects out of thousands. It's also not Biblical in many ways, much more un-Biblical than more mainstream Christianity. To lump those who've left but still practice faith in a much less controlling way, in with the one of the most extreme Christian sects in the world, is not only disingenuous, it's not true. It does not help anyone still trapped inside who may be seeking answers.

    It seems that though many of us may leave Laestadian beliefs behind, the character flaws of a judgmental lifestyle stay with us no matter where we end up on the religious spectrum. Former LLC.

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    1. "It's also not Biblical in many ways, much more un-Biblical than more mainstream Christianity."

      See, to me that's the irony of it all. You can use the Bible to justify just about anything -- that's why there are over 30,000 different Christian denominations, many if not most claiming to be exclusively correct. So to claim one interpretation is more or less un-Biblical than another strikes me as narcissistic.

      What I find shameful is when people employ the same tactics they criticize Laestadianism for -- namely, "Christian" condemnation and exclusivity. I agree that there are quantifiable differences between fundamentalist and progressive Christianity, but the bottom line is most Christians still believe those outside of the faith are going to hell, a notion I find odious and ludicrous. And no, I have no shame in making that judgment. At least I am claiming it as my own, and not pretending to claim it as God's.

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    2. "the bottom line is most Christians still believe those outside of the faith are going to hell".

      Can you substantiate that statement in any way, or is that just your opinion?

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    3. Do I have poll numbers? No, but I think it's a pretty ubiquitous concept. 91 percent of Christians believe in Hell according to pollster George Barna, and just a partial list of exclusionist denominations include: Evangelicals, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, many Lutheran sects, Eastern Orthodox, Mennonites, Pentecostals, Calvininists and more. But, I would be amenable to amending my statement to say "many" instead "most."

      Now, if you want to talk about what Hell actually means, the same study by Barna had 41 percent of Christians believing it is a place of eternal suffering (a la Revelations 21:8, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." Matthew 25:46 also says, ""Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.") However, 51 percent of Christians believe Hell means eternal separation from God. Whether that means annihilation or something else, well there's lots of different interpretations about that as well.

      Incidentally, just so we're clear, I wasn't directing my comments towards you. You, and most people on this site who have left Laestadianism but still believe a version of Christianity, are by and large thoughtful and respectful and I value your contributions even if I don't always agree. But there are just a few people who use this as a platform for proselytizing or condemnation, and I find it distasteful to the point of calling it out.

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  9. I myself have always found comfort in the thought (of which I have no idea how many people share) that judgement is not in our hands (thankfully) but resides in God (in whom I believe). In other words, try and live and let live and worry about yourselves, as difficult as that is. And by that I mostly refer to the minutiae we all disagree on. I do not in any way think this means ignore a pedophile in your midst and say it's none of your business. Because to protect other people should be our business. But watching tv, movies, dancing, etc. ad nauseum........whatev, as the kids say.
    FALCon

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  10. Can't find anything to object to here, FALCon. :)

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  11. A muslim Iady from Bosnia told me that she grew up with her father inviting people of all backgrounds to come and have meals with them. She states that he told her that "too many people believe in a small God, who believes like they do"
    The idea of a God in our image seems to be more of the norm than a belief that God created humans in his image, despite the opposite being taught. It is much easier to use our religion as a crutch, or a cudgel to justify our bad behavior, than it is to actually try to transform our lives...which is really what most religions, Christian or otherwise call us to do.
    Unbeliever

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  12. .........meanwhile....high up on the Apostolic Lutheran, Laestadian mount of transfiguration, all said it is good for us to be here. Then Toivo stood up and said, let us SPLIT (first word that came to his mind) honor between all three, we will give some to Laestadian, some tho Luther, and some to Jesus, but then they heard a loud voice, someone hollered, wait a minute, what about Lapland Mary? , she helped us get to where we are today. Yes indeed, Church, where are you today? Are you at all revelant? It would have been much better for you not to have gone up the mountain, instead humbled yourself and given all honor and Glory to Jesus.

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  13. "What I find shameful is when people employ the same tactics they criticize Laestadianism for -- namely, "Christian" condemnation and exclusivity."

    I can't see where you find Christian condemnation and exclusivity. A Christian pointing out to a fellow Christian (a Laestadian in this case) that "by Christ alone you are saved', does not mean that they are condemning or being exclusive. When I say only God can forgive and does not need man to help him, I'm not saying that Laestadians, any other Christian faith, Muslims, Buddists, athiests, are not forgiven. I believe God forgives all people, and my point is that any rituals piled on are unnecessary. That's not condemnation, nor exclusivity.

    Also, your comment that most Christians think their way is correct and all others are wrong is simply not true. Since I've left the LLC, I've found that most Christians do not believe they are exclusive. I've been to many different churches so I feel I have some in depth, arm-chair knowledge on this topic. Exclusivity is in the conversational domain of fundamentalists, ex-fundamentalists, and atheists who are hung up on fundamentalist Christian beliefs. I've found that exclusivity does not even enter the mind of your run of the mill Christian, agnostic non-believer, or ambivalent atheist. I understand the ex-fundamentalist fixation on exclusivity because often it has traumatized them in one way or another, at least it has to me.

    What confounds me is that Christians can be accused of "shamelessly" stating this or that, but then the accusing non-Christian boldly makes a case "without shame", with a pile of condescension and judgement on top. It feels a little hypocritical. Some outspoken non-believers embody all the same characteristics that annoy them about fundamentalist Christians. People fail to see that leaving religious belief behind, does not mean they left the more negative characteristics of fundamentalist belief behind as well.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding things, but along with the claims of condemnation, there is also a lot of a "pot calling the kettle black". Former LLC

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    1. How is saying, "by Christ alone you are saved" not exclusivity? Or the original comment I replied to, "Confession and absolution doesn't make you a member of the bride of Christ neither do you get the Holy Spirit as the ring, only trusting in Christ can." Both statements explicitly ("alone, only") advocate exclusive belief in Christ.

      As for condemnation, I refer you to some of Matt's comments where he states Laestadians are damned to hell.

      In any event, I have nothing against healthy theological debate. Heck, for the past five years it's been my primary extracurricular activity. But what I have a problem with is people who say, "Real Christians don't believe like Laestadians" -- it's a version of the No True Scotsman fallacy. It's fine to state your opinion that Laestadianism is an unhealthy version of Christianity (I certainly think it is), but to claim opinions or assertions as fact, especially if they are unfounded, is what I have a problem with.

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    2. Also in regard to Christian exclusivity, see my reply to Cvow.

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    3. I. Was only trying to help my family and others, It is not my words but the Bible teaches that the only way to the Father is through Jesus. Yes that is exclusivity This blog site would never have been started or needed if the Laestadian movement did'nt have so many man.made teachings . W hat about the young people in your audience, wouldn't it be better for them to believe in Jesus alone, how is that so wrong?.... Matt

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    4. Thanks for making my point, Matt. Perfect timing!

      What you say the Bible teaches is your interpretation, and your opinion, only. Frankly, I think the young people in our audience would be better served by encouraging them to discover the Bible for themselves. If they become a fundamentalist like you or an agnostic atheist like myself, at least they will have arrived at that conclusion honestly instead of through indoctrination.

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    5. FreeThinker, I do stand corrected in the examples you give. My personal experience is that most Christians do not practice exclusivity, but of course that's not true in all cases. I have heard the phrase "through Christ alone" uttered by fellow Christians, but when I've followed up with the question "Are Muslims saved?", they reply "Yes, through Christ". The phrases they use can be construed as exclusive and at their core I guess they are, but they Jesus saves everybody, whether they realize it or not. They are not condemning the world to hell. The words "alone" and "only" are exclusive words, but many times when you peel back and identify what they really mean with many Christians (not Laestadians of course), they are said without judgement or condemnation.

      Matt, you are entitled to your opinion, although the vibe I personally get isn't really much different than Laestadianism. I do respect your earnestness and willingness to lay your beliefs out for all to see. That takes courage.

      As for myself, I believe that God loves all and forgives all. No man can co-opt that power for himself, no matter in what fancy theological ways he attempts to do it. The Bible is riddled with inconsistency and falsehoods, and even the evidence of Jesus existence is questionable. But Love & Forgiveness is powerful, and my belief is that it is given by God to all mankind, regardless of religious identity. I do not expect anyone to share my beliefs, and I do not think I am right and others are wrong. Its my personal belief, and that's all. Former LLC.

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    6. Thank you for this reply, Former LLC. If all Christians believed this way, the world would be a much better place. And, if there is a God, hopefully you are correct about its Love and Forgiveness.

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    7. Agreed, FreeThinker. Former LLC, you seem like a kind and decent person, and an honest one willing to acknowledge issues with your religion. I don’t believe in a God anymore (still kind of hard for me to come out and say, but there it is), but if there is one, here’s what I like to think he/it/whatever would say, meeting atheists along with everyone else at the pearly gates:

      “You’re surprised to be here, I see. Did you think I was so limited in my power that I couldn’t include you along with everybody else? And did you think I would be so cruel and petty that I wouldn’t?”

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    8. Ed,
      That is truly a God in the image of God, rather than God in the image of whatever belief system one adheres to. That is the God I believe in.
      Unbeliever

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  14. I never realized just how black and white thinking of being raised in a fundamentalist faith permeates non-faith thinking. It has been far harder to shake the all or nothing, black and white, either/or thinking than it has been to shed the stifling, pharisaic beliefs
    unbeliever

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  15. There is a difference between a liberal religious person who says I accept ermany ways and don't discriminate, and a born again christian. If you are born again and know for certain that God's requirement for salvation is faith alone in Christ alone and. You know what you experienced when you under stood the narrow requirement and experienced the results, then you would certainly be concerned for your family and friends who are embedded in man made religion as is. The Laestadian movement....--Matt

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    1. I understand you are concerned for your loved ones, Matt. But the bottom line is, you cannot know for certain about God's requirement for salvation, or even whether or not a God exists. You can certainly strongly believe in something, but until you can provide empirical, verifiable proof it is disingenuous to claim you "know" anything.

      I would argue that all religions are man made.

      Also, what is "ermany?"

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    2. You clearly can't see it Matt, but you are no different than Laestadians. Your feelings are just as man made as any Laestadian. I feel that is okay to feel that way for yourself, but when you project your personal experience onto others in the vein of judgement onto hell, then you are unnecessarily hurting other people. You have no way to know how God has touched others hearts, just as I have no way to see your heart. If you believe the Bible as the unerring Word of God, then what does "Judge not. lest ye be judged" mean to you? Are you concerned for yourself that you are flouting the Word of God? Former LLC.

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    3. Free; "er many" was a typo. I Agee most religions have destructive man made teaching, some wrong teachings are worse then others, you can believe that the Epistles are the wives of the Apostles and it won't effect your Salvation.But start messing around with how to get saved, that's when God turns his back.And that's what has happened to Lutherans and Catholics and whoever else that adds by grace thru faith, salvation is a gift But there is hope for individuals, all you have do isintentionally tell God no more churchianity for me, I'mtrusting in Jesus alone.God will honor that......I see that your blog has nearly 440 thousand hits, wow, Laestadian Grand central....Matt

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    4. Just a quick note Matt, I'm not Free. (Well, I am, but not Free the site administrator).

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  16. Matt, for the sake of argument, theologically speaking, God through the person of Jesus established his Church on earth. He looked at Peter and said on this Rock (Petros - Greek for rock) I will build my Church...etc. So Matt, at what point in history did Christianity leave the Church? At what point did it become a strictly personal proposition? Because biblically, it was never just a personal faith, it was also a community faith.
    Unbeliever

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  17. Former llc; I,m the same as Laestadians? That's funny. As far as hurting innocent people, how can you hurt. People that are not awake I slept in the same pews for decades and did'nt hear a thing, all I knew was I. Was in the right church and all others were going to hell. Sorry' sounds sarcastic doesn't it. It's not a coincidence in my mind that all of these posts started around 9-11. I feel as if something. Is soon to happen. It started 13 years ago on 9-11. I was working on a customer's house, and he hollered for me to quickly come see, I came in to see as the twin towers started to cascade down into a heap. I know many won't understand this but the spirit let me know that this event was spiritual, not entirely by man, I was shown, look how perfect the destruction, better then Hollywood could do.All day I was sort of stressed out. Later that day I was prodded to make 2 signs which read..the spirit of Antichrist has made his first move' and the other read ,keep your eyes on the middle East. Then I was to stan d on the street corner of my home town, I did for about an hour that evening. That was totally against myself to do that, I was trying to be obedient.I haven't spoken of this since. I say this now because of a book written by a Jewish Rabbi, he has had a revelation concerning 9-11 and much more the name of the book is The Harbinger. He also has a follow up book that just came out.I reallly believe his prophecy is.from God. And it pretty much tells us what time it is. The authors name is Jonathan CAhn.plus all this ties in with God's calanderand His fall feast and the blood moons, they all dovetail together..look for yourself. Tick, tick, tick.

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  18. Hi.. I very much appreciate the stories and comments here. I have been reading your blog on and off for a while. I am wondering if anyone has experience with the Laestadian Church and congregation in northern Arizona? I have some relatives who belong to it but I have lost touch with them, and I am wondering how I might go about having some contact w/ them on occasion. Thanks! - Olivia

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  19. Matt, are you trolling everybody? I can't help but think that you are.

    Oliva, you are probably referencing the LLC in Prescott, AZ. The best way to find contact info would be to order the church phone book from the LLC headquarters in MN. If your relatives are in that congregation, you'd find their contact info in the phone book. Former LLC.

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  20. Although I posted what I was given. I have inside turbulence, the old man and new man are at war, so it's time out....Matt.....Did you hear about Toivo? he wanted to go on vacation, so he called to the airport and asked the lady, how long does it take to get to New York? The lady was finishing up with another customer, she said. Just a minute. TiVo thought for a moment, and said..that's too fast...--CLICK....did you hear about the two Minnesota farmers?..they went to the big city to see the sights, after two days they were on the city streets with all the traffic and noise,TiVo looked at Heikki and said, the heck with this United States, let's go back to Northern Minnesota.....hee.. hee ..here...I still like those old one's

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  21. To unbeliver; To come to a firm conclusion on God's plan of salvation you must have molrrre of the Bible then one verse, salvation is a spiritual matter, faith in the unseen. God didn't establish his church while Jesus was here bodily. Acts two established the Church. The holy spirit indwelling those that believed. As forPeter a small p for peter and a small r for rock. Rock of ages ,is that Peter? Moses was told to strike the Rock and water would flow for the thirsty people' that is a picture of Jesus on the Cross he had to be stricken for our sin's. The second time God asked Moses to speak to the Rock and water would flow. Instead Moses struck the Rock and it cost him dearly, why was God so severe? Because speaking to the Rock wasJesus after the Cross, we are to speak to him for our Salvation. Also Peter had very little to do our Jew and mostly Gentile church that God specifically revealed to Paul. The 12 apostles stayed inJerusalem for 20 years after Pentecost,why? They were.waiting for the return of Christ, then they would set out to fulfill the Great commission. The 12 learned about the Grace of God fromPaul and that's the only place we can learn of the Grace of God for us Finnish gentiles.Paul is our gentile Apostle we need to read Paul's church epistles in order to get saved,not exactly, but why would'nt you first read what is addressed to .the Church. You read your personal mail don,'t you?

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    1. Did you actually read past the first two lines of my post? Peter and the other apostles have little to do with our Faith? They are the foundation of the Christian faith. Where does Paul say we don't need the Christian Community, and that faith is an individual proposition? I'm sorry, but your theology is a bit....simplistic. Actually, according to Acts, Peter was the first to preach to Gentiles. See Acts 10 and 11, if I remember correctly.
      unbeliever

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  22. I did misread your first post, I thought you said for the sake of conversation, but you said exactly what you meant, for the sake of argument. I'm not up to that. But if we can agree on the following verse I would like to continue.....Duet. 29 :29 says " The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things revealed belong to us". Agree that the secret things cannot be known to man. yes or no?.........If you agree then you ought to know what was hidden from eternity past....Matt

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  23. It is hard to converse with fundamentalists, as there is a tendency to make definitive statements that are not in fact definitive or supportable. Why keep sidestepping the questions? because it does not fit your internal dialogue?
    unbeliever

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  24. It is harder to converse with aunbeliever who proudly proclaims to be an unbeliever. There ,must be someone who would want to believe if they would see with their own eyes what the ,Bible actually says .....

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    1. I call myself unbeliever because that is what I have been labeled by my former friends, by my family etc. who are members of the LLC. If that makes me an unbeliever, that I reject the teachings that I grew up in as being more representative of the attitude of the Pharisees of Jesus' time than the attitude of Christ, then I am indeed an
      Unbeliever

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    2. Matt, knock it off. It seems like you view yourself as some kind of modern day prophet or something, but in truth, you're just being obnoxious. News flash buddy, I've read what the Bible actually says. That's why I too am an unbeliever.

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  25. OK, I will stay off , good luck to you unbelievers. Yes you may have read a few preferred Laestadian type verses, but if you read what you needed to read you probably wouldn't be a unbeliever....Matt.

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  26. “Kay,” I’m looking over your story again and seeing how much in common it has with so many others. (That’s not accounting for the sexual abuse part, a very real additional burden you also have had to deal with.) Those who tell similar stories about the difficulty of leaving are not just other former LLCers, but people from other branches of Laestadianism and many other entirely unrelated religious groups.

    You write that you’re “glad I chose to leave at the stage in life when I was still attending university, because it was at a time in which I could make new friends.” And you advise “those who are considering leaving” to develop “a group of friends outside of the church.” I agree on both counts. Replacing that deep social bond is a big challenge and takes time. This was emphasized again to me as I did some reading and chatting with ex-members to write this posting on my blog. I really like the way one guy who left the SRK (Finnish near-equivalent of the LLC) summarized three different types of dependencies people have on the group. In addition to this social dependency, he was morally and spiritually dependent on it. All three are hard to cut through.

    Hope you’re doing well now!

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    1. I feel like Matt is getting beat up. Why would you say "knock it off"? Isn't that for the editor or moderator to decide?

      Dude

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    2. A few years ago I left the church. I had been troubled many, many years about the exclusivity of the church, their claims that they were the only people that would be saved. (Though I think there are some closeted folks who operate in the church under a "don't ask, don't tell sort of existence.) At some point I left, exasperated, and explained that I no longer believed that we were the only ones and I hadn't for a very long time. Some of my friends and family said it wasn't important for me to believe we were the only saved people, it was important for me to believe Christ died on the cross for my sins and that I could go anyway because the church supports people in living a good lifestyle. That was the kind of logic that was really persuasive in giving me hope that maybe there was a way I could come back. I liked many, many things about the church, the songs, the singing, the simple worship, being around family and friends I had known my whole life. Some people told me that they knew others that didn't necessarily believe we were the only ones saved, named names, and I was a bit shocked and even reassured that perhaps I could go back to church anyway. I had tried going to other churches and I didn't feel so comfortable there. For example, in the church I was raised, it was considered normal to cry in church if you felt joy in Christ. In many other churches, they would assume you were having a mental breakdown of sorts. It was kind of interesting how every now again, I would run into people and they would ask me to come back to church. Even this fellow I never really knew would send me Facebook messages and tell me about special services or funerals or things to give me a heads up. I thought that was nice of him. It made me actually feel like going back sometimes. So on two or three occasions I DID show up at church. Most people refused to greet me. That confused me, given the mixed messages I got imploring me to go back to church. Some people I knew would walk past me, pretending they didn't see me. Friends I have known since I was three or four years old refused to greet me. I was so confused. Why do people keep asking me to come back, only to refused me God's Peace? What am I supposed to do? I have never, ever quit believing Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. I have never once denied believing that. Even the fellow who sent me messages inviting me to services refused to greet me. I asked him why. He said that it was because I didn't believe that "there was only one church." I wondered what the point of continuing to ask me to come to services was. The church says all you have to do is have simple belief. Check, I do. But they are requiring more of me than God does to earn my salvation. The Bible says that "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Check, got that covered.

      Why do they continue to want to draw people who left back, if once you get there, they refuse to greet you? I used to wonder why so many people who left were never to be seen again, except weddings of close relatives or funerals of such. Now I know.

      --Former Pollarite

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  27. He has come on this blog several times claiming Laestadians, Christians who don't believe his particular brand of apologetics, and the rest of us are going to Hell. It's a particularly odious brand of proselytizing. It's up to Free whether it's allowed or not, but I feel it adds nothing meaningful to the discourse except negativity, and I for one am tired of it ... hence my exasperated rebuke.

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  28. Kay wrote, "When I was almost six, my grandfather molested me when my mom and grandma were away shopping. He cried afterward and was angry and told me never to tell anyone or else I would go to hell...I knew that what he did was wrong, but I did not want to hurt my mom. Former Pollarite wrote..."on two or three occasions I DID show up at church. Most people refused to greet me. That confused me, given the mixed messages I got imploring me to go back to church. Some people I knew would walk past me, pretending they didn't see me. Friends I have known since I was three or four years old refused to greet me. I was so confused. Why do people keep asking me to come back, only to refused me God's Peace?" These two disparate remarks from two separate people who are from two different Laestadian groups go a long way as to explaining the 'hold' that Laestadianism has on people. The hold always seems to be guilt and fear. As I have repeatedly stated Laestadian children seem to grow up with a paralyzing level of fear about going to hell, non-conforming to group norms, not obeying the ministers etc.... and then the fear is coupled with guilt as young people are forced to comply with rules and norms that they innately do not believe in. In other words a person's sense of 'self' is absoluted crushed to force compliance with the church's social, work, religious and economic norms. Oh sure, they invited 'Former Pollarite' back to services so that they could use the group's collective presence to try to make 'Former' feel guilty hoping that he will do a 'mea culpa' and jettison his 'self' and fall back into the Pollarite's arms. It is the same for all Laestadian groups. Kay also had to go to great lengths to suppress what her grandfather did to her-a terrible violation of her inner self-in order to remain in good graces with her mother and by extension the church. The solution for ex-Laestadians seems to be acknowledging the severe guilt that they were forced to live under and most importantly cultivating and letting bloom one's true self-the parts that were always suppressed. It only seems to really happen if one breaks their ties and finds new outlets. I tried to be a fence straddler for a while and I found it just could not be done. Old AP

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