"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: February 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016


Recent comments on an old post are worthy of a new post. How best to prevent bullying? (Please be constructive in your responses, and include a nickname so the thread can be easily followed.)

Image from "Help Prevent Bullying"
"I want this to be a non-religious post. I am a medical provider in Clark County and have had many adult and child patients that have complained about bullying related to their religious differences from the majority in the Yacolt, Amboy area. Generally the story includes bullying related to Apostolic Christians (Bun Heads, Bunners, etc) creating an unbearable environment in school for children that are not of the same religion. Since the stories are so frequent, and span time, it seems like an epidemic. It certainly does not show any qualities of Christ. I've had patients move school districts and finish high school at Clark College because the problem is so bad. I actually have sympathy for the bullies because their families can be so large, that these children are raised by their siblings and not their parents. The result of this isn't always good, acting out is inevitable and Christ-like qualities of love, patience, and kindness are not natural when biologically competing for nurturing to an unavailable parent."
Dear Medical Provider in Clark County:

The youth bullying issue has been discussed on this blog many times, and it's a concern in just about every community in which a single Laestadian group becomes the population majority.

One of the issues, I think, is that when a single Laestadian group becomes more visible, you begin to see its inner workings and the behavior patterns. I grew up as sort of an insider-outsider of a Laestadian environment, and the inner-group bullying and social relational aggression I saw rivaled any high school anywhere. You see this in strict sects such as the Amish. Believe me, being an insider in this group and among the bullied is no picnic. I've seen it with my own eyes of Laestadian children bullied and ostracized by their own group members and as teens they try to drift away, only to be shunned by their families for leaving their religion. It takes a lot of rebuilding to overcome this. I can't imagine what this kind of bullying might manifest itself when the Apostolics become the majority. Most of the time Apostolic kids are in the minority and fill the position in their schools of banding together in a tight pack and not making waves, flying below the radar and waiting out graduation when they tend to get married within a few months to a couple of years.

As an outsider, it must be very difficult to witness. It is even harder to do anything about it. Talking to the fathers of the bullies might be a first step, but many times, this community would see the correction as proof that their community is being persecuted. Or that their child is righteous and above the others as being part of this spiritual elite.

I also suspect that any teacher or administrator who takes on the bullying issues might find themselves in hot water with the local school board, as often the school boards are comprised of the group in majority areas.

What do you think could be some first next steps?"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Swedish Church Apologizes

The Church of Sweden has admitted to running segregated schools for ethnic Sami “based on racist ideas” as it seeks to atone for its part in Sweden’s long repression of its indigenous population.

The church on Friday released its two-volume “White Book” which painstakingly details its treatment of Sami people, in particularly dwelling on the chain of ’Nomad Schools’ it operated between 1913 and 1962.

“It was a form of school whose ideology was based on racist ideas of superior and inferior races, and that took away from many Sami their language, culture and human dignity,” Archbishop Antje Jackelén told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
She said the book was part of a “reconciliation process” between the church and the Sami, many of whom are Laestadian, part of a highly conservative Lutheran Christian movment. 
“One must describe where the pain persists, and what the abuse was,” Jackelén said.

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sápmi, the Motherland

This Friday is the opening of the 2016 Jokkmokk market, which occurs the first weekend in February as it has for over 400 years. One of my Karelian ancestors (and perhaps yours, if you have roots in Swedish Lapland) traded for many years at the Jokkmokk market, having traversed the long distance from Lake Onega on skis with loaded sleds. His son Mykel Ryss, on one of their trips, fell in love with a local girl, and they became the first residents of Nattavaara, a village in Gallivare municipality.

The name Gallivare is familiar to anyone who attended the OALC: it is the "mother church," where the elders reside and preach. I found it interesting that in 1992, there were three bronze pillars installed not far from the church by a local sculptor who titled them "Tre Seitar," referring to the ancient sacred stones, or holy sites, of the Sami. The syncretism of Sami (stone seiti) and Christian (the number three) continues.

This Saturday is Sami National Day, or Álbmotbeaivi. Here, at last year's Jokkmokk market, the crowd is singing the Sami anthem. (It is even lovelier with a choir, in this formal version.) In addition to the usual ceremonies, there will be a demonstration against the mining companies that are devastating the Arctic, and the Swedish government that allow it.

In the Pacific Northwest, we'll be celebrating at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Our Sami Day celebration will include singing the anthem, snacking on reindeer sausage, and meeting Sami/Blackfoot filmmaker Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, who will screen her award-winning short film.

Please join us if you can.

As I am unable to monitor comments for a while, that feature is turned off, but you are welcome to contact me directly if you have any questions. Just use the form at the bottom of the right hand column.