"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: They Do Not Dance

Thursday, March 31, 2016

They Do Not Dance

This came across my desk, a clipping from a 1939 Pennsylvania newspaper that was based on a longer article by Mason Warner of the Chicago Tribune and shared widely in newspapers across America. One wonders what was made of it among American Laestadians.

The original article included this observation: "Their religion allows the Laestadian Lapps and Finns to enjoy nothing that will give them joy or pleasure. Even comfort is denied. They have no curtains in their homes; no nice furniture. They wear no rings, no bracelets, no jewelry. They eat the plainest foods. They drink no wines or liquors. Eternal happiness is their reward for obeying the laws of Laestadius; eternal damnation if they disobey."


  1. Except that both the Laestadian Church and the Swedish State church forbade joiking? The author got things a bit confused...but interesting, yes.

  2. The christian culture of Firstborn Laestadians has been changing and finding new items to be named as a sin.
    Very apparently Joika has been seen as a part of pagan religious culture, and therefore banned. Maybe that dates back to 16th century, when the missionaries started their work in Lappland.

    Laestadius said once, that he had tried very hard to see a samic
    shaman drum, but he never succeeded. That means, that most of
    their religious habbits and rites were no more in use due to the christianization.

    As for the Firstborn sermons of today, the preachers seem to be
    very much aware of the power of devil and the all kind of
    inferior qualities of Laestadian christian. That means, all the sermons describe, how big sinners christians are, or how difficult it is to reach the heaven.
    You never hear of the joy of being God's child, the happiness of being saved By Jesus Christ. Many preachers never mention Jesus Christ in their teachiings.
    Instead of Jesus they emphasize the meaning and importance of the congregation.

  3. The article is actually close to what my parents endured when they grew up in the 1920's here in America....no curtains, refrigerators were sinful when they first came out, no radio, no fun, joking, laughing and whistling were sinful etc.....and the preaching was such that it beat people down to focus on how sinful and rotten they were. In actuality, much of modern day Laestadian preaching is essentially the same just that the enumerated sins have changed and they have grudgingly adapted to the realities of modern day technology. Years ago, the Liikutuksia types mainly went over to the Independent Apostolic group. The Old Apostolics maintained the rigid rules with regard to dress etc... The New Awakenists formed their own semi-mystic 'church within a church' within the Federation group amongst, the Haedemans & Federation have split and so on and so forth. However, the article does seem to have captured the essence of the Laestadian movement at that time period. In other words they have collectively been pumping out depression and mental anguish since at least 1939. Old AP

  4. Some young Firstborns visited once "The New Awakenists" small meeting house, and they we very heartly wellcomed By words:
    "Oh, Firstborn-believers!".
    The Heidemanians did not have such a rigid rules for clothing, but their church was more rigid and uniform in rule. They had their "purificative" meetings, people were extirpated or given to
    Satan. That was a totally unknown culture in Scandinavia.

    One Firstborn fellow from New England told me once, how he destroyd her dia-projector. He tried to sell it, but the preachers asked him: "Do you try to sell Sin?".
    On this side of the Big Water, that would be out of question.

    In a previous message, you used the meaning "Minister". How is that? I consider that the lay men are preachers, not Ministers at all, as they do not have any proper education and ordination.

    On a adjoining page of this forum there are many good suggestions, how to develope individual churches of Laastadian Movement.
    We have been thinking this matter quite much within the past
    25 years. There seems to be less hope or no solution without open discussion, true control of the preachers and pure confessional doctrin.

  5. I wrote:

    "The Heidemanians did not have such a rigid rules for clothing, but their church was more rigid and uniform in rule. They had their "purificative" meetings, people were extirpated or given to
    Satan. That was a totally unknown culture in Scandinavia."

    Sorry, I was going to say:
    That was a totally unknow culture among Firstborn in Scandinavia.


  6. BaaBaa, With regards to your comments, sometimes the old people here referred to the older speakers as ministers so I probably picked up that term myself. The New Awakenists seem to be more accepting of the First Born as they meet the 'dress code' requirements. But they no longer have their own churches here in America. Instead they congregate in various Federation churches. With regards to your comment about the projector....the Laestadians in my area used to break the wires on their car radios so that they would not work. That way they would not be tempted to listen to the 'devil's music' when they were driving their cars. What is interesting is that so many members secretly break the rules when it is convenient for they life or if they think no one is looking. For example if they are on the road traveling many of them will watch TV/movies etc... Others break the rules when they are horny; It was common practice for dating couples to make out hot and heavy on Saturday night in the back seat of a car and then pronounce forgiveness on each other to absolve their guilty conscious' prior to Sunday morning. Old AP

  7. Thanks Old AP

    As for New Awakenists, they did not care of Firstborns rules,
    maybe felt pitty for those.
    In my opinion, the true reason was their liberal policy, they had totally lost their identity, they only had the name, but
    nothing "Laestadian" in real.

    In my experience, the Firstborn and Heidemanians somehow changed the place during the past 80 years. The Firstborn were more
    heterogenic, as to their organisation and their religious culture (if we do not mention the hat and tie). So it was here until the early 90's.

    How much I have seen Laestadians in my life, but never seen such a car radio hippocracy. Never!
    I suppose, the people are more strict over there.
    The different comes from the membership in the Lutheran church, participation in the local administration of the church, I presume. That did not mean, that the local vicar was not
    heavily critisized due to liberal policy of the national church, when he visited the meeting house due to weddings, funerals etc.

    Here it has been taught, that you cannot pronounce forgiveness for a partner in the "crime".

    As for the ex-Laestadian, I suppose, that the most important thing is to sing the song of Bob Dylan: "Let it be!"
    They never change.

  8. Sorry, it was Dylans: It ain't no use sit and wonder, why babe...


  9. BaaBaa, Each congregation within each group has its own idiosyncrasies. In one congregation in America it has been taught that if you murder some one no one will report it as it has been pronounced 'forgiven'. I knew of a case where a child was raped repeatedly by her Laestadian father and she finally died an early death due to psychological trauma and no one ever said it was murder. That sounds extreme but child abuse, pedophilia etc... seem to be excused because the perpetrator has been 'forgiven'. In America churches are separate from the government so we do not have a state sponsored church to answer to. However, more and more the state and the culture are pushing their anti-Biblical humanist ideas and lifestyles. There is a big legal movement to criminalize preaching that does not conform to secular law. The plan is to outlaw preaching against homosexuality to start with and then begin to outlaw literal translations of the Bible such as the King James Version of the Bible calling it 'hate speech' etc.....There is also a plan to take away any religious tax exemptions from conservative churches. In America our government is much more corrupt and incompetent than the government in Finland. Whoever has the most money usually wins the legal battles in this country. We are a "culte de l'argent" type of country. Old AP

  10. As for the pedophilia, I suppose that all Laestadian movements have that same problem caused By the "forgivness". I have got familiar with couple cases in the Firstborn movement.
    Now that issue is so much and widely spoken in this society, that I believe, that Heidemanians, for example, will break
    the silence, if further cases happen.

    We have not any state church, but peoples church and it is not
    sponsored by the society or state. It receives a small sum of money as it keeps cemeteryes free for everyone.

    I understand your point of view, but secularism is not caused by the "state church" or governements role - but the multinational western culture.
    You do not have that "state church", but we Europeans copy you
    and admit to our lives those sins, which were uncommon here 50 years ago, but quite familiar there.
    Divorces, gay life, HIV and gay marriage we have first seen in

    Preaching outlaw. I have been told that. It comes from your legal
    system, as you do not follow much written law, but the jury.

    One writer commented me, that it was ridiculous (?) to say that
    Buffalo Bill was in sauna in Wyoming.
    Sitting Bull was a Sioux Lakota and the tribe was transferred
    to Wyoming. He was a friend of BB, so why it is so impossible?
    I collected some information from a book name "Bury my heart at
    Wounded Knee", but I did not want to read that book any more,
    or mention anything it describes.
    Only think I feel is, that the picture of those late indian
    chiefs are similar of those of late Nordic lay man preachers.

    It is better I do not touch the American political life.
    We cannot understand, that you will select and elect very simple people into very important posts.
    If I need a good carpenter to repair my house, I dont care, what he thinks about abortion, but rather I see how good professional he is in his work and how quickly he does his work.

    I was told, that one Firstborn preacher was fired. He drove his
    tractor and listened to radio while he was working. So, he had
    learned that "you can be saved also outside OALC:::"
    That is strange, but I know that OALC has traditionally a much
    closer sprititual relationship with the elders of the movement, than their Finnish collagues, for example. Finns are Finns, it is
    not easy to us to get rid of our individualistic mentality.
    Now it is a very good case. I mean that sacrament crisis, which now prevails here.
    Moreover, it is not only the communion, but the position of
    the confession, the doctrin in general. The problem is, that most of the preachers do not have a clear idea of it. Anyway, 30
    preachers of 300 said they do not accept the communion for
    "clean hands", but will receive it from the church, as it has been made for 160 years. BaaBaa

  11. "There is a big legal movement to criminalize preaching that does not conform to secular law." Do you mean racial hatred, genital mutilation, child marriage, polygamy, withholding of healthcare, marital rape, and stoning would be off-limits? Shocking. Surely a sign of the end times.

  12. It seems that one of my messages has vanished somehow. Does it mean I have written something, which is not in accordance with the accepted truth here. Very apparently so is the case.
    Where is the Bell of Liberty?
    We do not have here any state sponsored church, but the church
    has protected the nation and the state.

    When the sacrament issue was first time proposed By the Lapplands Elders, the suggestion was shot down By a preacher, who was a war veteran of WWII. He told, that the chruch held tha
    nation united during the years of war in 1939-45. So, after his speech the unity with the church was kept unbroken, and proposal was not accepted.

    Last Xmas one of the Elders preached and dropped a bite of shit on that Finnish war memory telling that the Finnish ministers on the front taught soldiers, that "you go to Heaven, because you
    die for the Patria...".
    Naturally that is not the truth, but the healing Gospel was
    preached to anybody wounded, because they all were baptized and
    accepted to hear the good news of Gospel for the forgivness of the sins. Also last supper was widely given on the front.
    We have a system of soldier ministers in every unit. They are priests, but also gone tru the military education.

    The Holy Ghost works By the word of God and creates faith where ever God so wants to do... so why not to preach it to the wounded or dyinbng soldier, or the one who is going to made a dangerous task.

    For us that has been a very important history. Finland had mobilized 400 000 men and 250 000 women, almost 15 % of the
    population in that war. In US scale that means about 30 million persons.
    You know, you did not have so large mobilization, roughly 10 %
    of it only, if you compare your effort and the amount with the Finnish case.

    So, for us the church has been very important, and that is why
    we have not so easy to blame anybody: "You go to hell, because you do not belong to our group and congregation".

    I think, it is not the church, who influences negatively, but
    the true reason is, that the values of the society infiltrate themselves into church.
    But, the situation is not diffent at eny Bible church, or Laeastadian church. If the connection with the true and pure doctrine and the Scriptures has broken, false doctriens appear, and after 100 yeara they are "tradition" to be kept.
    Raattamaas original idea was to keep Laestadians in union with the Lutheran church in Michigan and Minnesota, not separated from it. But, past is past.
    I say this only in order to tell you, how we consider the relationship with the church here, over the great span of history from 1860 to 2016. Curious Sheep

    1. Curious Sheep, no comments were deleted by me as moderator; it must have been a technical glitch. A variety of opinions is always welcome and encouraged here, and I hope you continue posting. You provide a perspective that is not available to most Americans.

    2. Curious Sheep, no comments were deleted by me as moderator; it must have been a technical glitch. A variety of opinions is always welcome and encouraged here, and I hope you continue posting. You provide a perspective that is not available to most Americans.

    3. Sorry Madam Free!
      I am so terribly suspicious in my mind, and I dont get rid of it.
      I just wished to explain you, how we see state church. I have realized, that to most of the Americans, Governements role is a kind of monster, and state, common church is its younger Brother.
      But, it is our identity as a nation.

      I have also told you, that Firstborn culture was in older days quite heterogen, not so rigid uniform.

      For example, Christmas tree was said to be a sinn.
      Anyway, we always had Christmas tree. Moreover, we always went to the cemetery on December 24th to put
      candles on Grandmamas grave... it was also a big sin.
      How stupid!
      Martin Luther had a Christmas tree, its name was
      Christbaum = Christ-Wood.
      Christmastree shew him, what Jesus Christ is with all his gifts of salvation.
      Laestadians come and say: NO; WE KNOW BETTER, it is
      an image of false God.
      You understand, the we cannot accept the spiritual leadership of the Lappland Elders, because their teachings are a heresy and strong self-righteousness.
      We must get rid of that group of men.
      Curious Sheep

  13. Free said, (quoting me), ""There is a big legal movement to criminalize preaching that does not conform to secular law."" Do you mean racial hatred, genital mutilation, child marriage, polygamy, withholding of healthcare, marital rape, and stoning would be off-limits? Shocking. Surely a sign of the end times." Free, I am not sure if you were being sarcastic towards my comments as you enumerated a number of actual events going on in the world. Many of them are connected to ISIS and others are connected to some African countries. I do know that there is a movement within the US to start allowing municipalities to enforce Shariah Law which is the divine law of Islam as revealed by their prophet Muhammad. The Islamists want to be able to enforce their laws even if they contradicts US law. With reference to Laestadianism, as odd as some of their understandings are, I do not see it in the same vein as Islam at all although there are some who have had terrible life experiences with it. I am not sure what you meant by these things being a sign of the end of time either. Please explain what you meant. Old AP

  14. Curious Sheep, In America many Laestadians were against having Christmas Trees too. To me they are a secular item....sort of like a pretty seasonal decoration so I have one every year. But Laestadians like to say that they take the place of Jesus or something like that. Most Laestadians have special services around the Christmas season where they go and listen to a 'guest speaker' who tells them how terrible and sinful they have been but how fortunate they are that Jesus was born and also that they belong to the right church where they can obtain forgiveness for their evil nature. So if they confess their sins and shortcomings just a little more diligently than in the past they might find that 'God's Peace' they have been looking for. With regards to your mention of military chaplains....they have them in the military but their role now is more like a personal counselor to people who have various problems in their life. Last point, you mentioned the Lappland Elders....I think they have a stronghold of control on the First Born Church and they will not relinquish that position to anyone. Their roots go back to the late 1800's when the original divisions occurred in Finland if I recall correctly. So most First Born types seem to quietly do things under the table if it is in disagreement with the Elders teachings rather than have an open confrontation with their authority. Following the Elders teachings is easy as they clearly divide between black and white or right and wrong. But in my case I have found instead that there are many shades of grey in between and I have spiritual liberty to act accordingly. In Acts 21:25 it states, "As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication." So Paul did not heap a pile of rules onto the Gentile believer's backs like the Laestadians do. Old AP

  15. Yes. I try to say something after having read Old Ap.

    These kind of teaching and beliefs result from the fact, that the
    doctrin and preaching in the church is not based on the Bible.
    When adiaphora is rised up and mixed with the doctrin of the righteousness, is Lord Jesus made lower and less important in salvation.
    People very willingly in the whole Christianity follow the voices of self righteousness, as that ability arouses from our flesh.
    It can be seen from the very beginning, if we understand the
    work of Paul, why there was the concil in Jerusalem about 46, and the letter to the Galatians etc.
    I do not know, who or how many consider Xmas Tree as a sin, as
    the topic was never discussed here openly, only I have heard some
    comments of persons, which are terrible self righteous.

    But, as the teachning is mostly tradition, we have considered here that the only solution is rely upon Lutheran Confession. Formula Concordiae, for example, shows me how clearly the
    opinions and doctrins are based on the Holy Bible.

    Today we have been taught, that the Elders of this living christianity have received messages from the Holy Ghost.
    Where and how? Holy Ghost is United with the Scriptures, the word of God and gives never teachings agaist it.
    Where is the Word? There is none.
    We have not seen any, only lies and dirty church political actions. They were easy to accept, it we were in the Central Commitee of the Labours Party in North Korea, but now we speak about living christianity, which is the only Place, where anybody can be saved.

    Many preachers understand this, but they fear each other and the Leader just like the generas of North Korea. Somebody can hear and tell, and so you loose your post.

    So, Book of the Daniel, Chapter 3rd, describes the situation. We already have here some Sadrak, Mesak and Abdel-Nego, who did not want to devote that golden image rised By the king.

    That happens many times in the history of the church. One must
    be aware, to follow Jesus Christ, not any Humans. It is not easy,
    as the meaning of Jesus is made vague and unclear, and congregation is rised on the throne instead of him.

    What is this talk, "we are the only one, only living christianity?" It is worshipping Man, devoting Man.
    The messages of the Holy Ghost, without any reliability with the Bible, where they come from?

    Well, they speak of the "advice of this Christianity". Yes, but any advice must based on the Scriptures, only.

    We have widely been discussing here about antinomism, too.
    I just shortly refer what Old Ap says.
    Ten Commandments are for us, but not to be fear as a punishment.
    Believer, child of God is free, but they are still needed to tell
    our flesh, so it cannot get the control of us, as it wants.

    So, even we commit sin, even we are sinners, we are under grace, as Paul says: (Rom 8:1): There is no condemnation in them who are
    in Jesus Christ.
    We are in him, as we follow him, we cry often after him, and we
    are longing for his love.
    That is inspired By the Holy Ghost, not we ouseleves...

    (But, I know that this is familiar to Old AP, I did not mean to become a teacher here.)
    Now its Morning, I go to my favourite bakers shop to have Morning coffee and then I let change summer tires into my car.

    Hope, you do not become mad with me, as I write so many things you may dislike. Curious Sheep (not a black one)

  16. Curious Sheep, You basically stated that the Elders think that they received their message directly from the Spirit but they have no Biblical backing to it and also you have seen, "lies and dirty church political actions..." and that their acts are similar to, "the Central Commitee of the Labours Party in North Korea" and they talk like they are the only ones who know how to get to heaven. First of all I would like to congratulate you for having figured out the truth. Basically it is the same here with American Laestadianism as they are all infected with the same shallow ideas that their non-Biblical ideas are somehow vouchsafed by the Spirit. After I left Laestadianism, I realized they lived in their own self-delusional world. You mentioned the Book of Concord and Luther's writings...Laestadians read those books but they do not believe them and so I do not think you will have any luck trying to 'reform' the Laestadians. The real answer is to exit the group. My exit from Laestadianism was completed when I came in contact with Bible/Baptist groups who actually believed in the Bible. We have started some mission churches in Finland in Tampere and Helsinki which you can find on the internet. I do not know how close your are to those locations but I do know one of the church planters with the Baptist churches in Finland. Feel free to write as often as you would like, however I represent only one view on this blog and others might have different opinions. Old AP

  17. Curious Sheep, The Baptist speaker whom I know is named Tom Ruhkala in Tampere. His email is tom.ruhkala@gmail.com His phone number is 041 447 5125 Old AP

  18. Dear Old AP,

    It is so nice, you read my messages.
    I cannot write nicely, but I just want to say honestly,
    without teeth and horns, what I think.

    Reading and writing makes us to understand each other better.
    I think, there is no American Laestadianism, in general. All of them are spiritually run from Europe.
    Maybe the Firstborn are in most difficult situation, as their doctrin is to base their teaching to those of the Scandinavian elders. So, they are like satellites of the former Eastern Block,
    who did not understand and do anything without the comrades of
    the Kremlin in Moscow.

    Heidemanians would have better changes, as they have priests with proper theological education. They are, however, bound with the rules of the own movment, and they cannot make any "trespassings" from that teachings, because in that case their wifes will leave them alone... :-))

    Now, my dear fellow Old AP, you have gone to the most decisive point. (cont….)

    My suggestion is not to try to promote any reform, revolution or evolution to the Laestadian movments.

    I try to use one saying of the Lars Levi Laestadius:
    "Its no use to put any plaster of sorrowless on the wounds of
    Consciousness, but a real repentance must be done...".

    You cannot reform the doctrin with 150 year old traditions and odd teachings and beliefs.

    No, I have, or we have realized, that instead of the Garden of
    Eden, we have found ourselves on the wet jungle of Everglades in
    What to do?
    First of all, to have solid ground under the feet.
    Secondly, to find a map and compass. (cont...)

    Curious Sheep

  19. (Cont...)

    I am thankful for you most kind advice, where to go.
    But, here in Europe, or me personally, I have found it better
    to hold the Confession firmly in my hands.

    Baptism, as we understand it here, carries few similar features
    we have found in Laestadianism. (You may reject this).
    I mean, it is part of the great pietistic tradition or awakening movement. The danger is in how to become righteous.
    Because I do not want to make any harm with anybody or to condemn anybody, I just say, it can be seen in the position of the Holy sacraments.

    In my country, we have that "state church". Well, it has liberal
    ministers and female ministers, whose amount is growing all the time.
    But, inside the church we have, in addition to Laestadian movement, other konservative awakening movements.
    The first of them, is "The prayers of the Western Finland", who
    is an old pietistic movement, but follows the Confession.
    They have many good priests.
    Then we have "the Finnish Lutheran Gospel Society", who may have
    a organisation in America, also.

    I mention only these two, not in order to push anybody anywhere, but to inform you about our situation.
    Because these 2 movements are inside the church, as we Laestadians have been", there is not any problem to receive
    sacrament or proper teaching, still being a member of the "state church".
    The "Gosbel Society" has own churches in major cities, Rukoushuone or Meeting House in smaller cities, where it is active.

    But, that is right, what you Old AP think to do!
    It is healthy to leave the past, try to forget the past and
    look forward, as Paul teaches us to do.

    It is like a divorce (I do not say divorce is OK):
    It is no use to blame that old cheating wife or Husband, but
    start to live this live freely and fully.

    Maybe Old AP understands Finnish, because he is communicating with Tom from Tampere?

    One more topic written By OLD AP
    Yes! It is correct, as a Laestadian I did not read much Lutheran Confession, or I red it thru Laestadian sun glasses.

    There must be a awakening, a shock, an earth quake in one's heart.
    The he or she starts to ask, to measure the truth, to seek the
    One day, he or she must sweep down the false god-images from
    the book shelf.
    Then she or he must rely on the Word of God only, to see the
    promises of Grace independent from the certain holy mouth of a certain preacher or thät certain group.
    Of course, he or she needs a spiritual home. Yes, but the salvation is not in that group, but in the word of God,
    is it said By anyone, even by a donkey, as it happened once for Bileam.

    If you let me once more name Martin Luther, I will say:
    For him the true church is the Christianity, even it is split and divided, against the will of our Master Jesus Christ.

  20. The more you hear about the present and read about their past, it is evident that the Laestadian movement is a man made religion ruled over by proud men,and not the invisible kingdom of God, the body of Christ, which is ruled by Christ in Heaven and the indwelling Spirit. They have ruined many families, including mine......Matt

  21. You are free to feel and say what you say, of course.

    I cannot deny, that the Holy Spirit has been active in this movement, and blessed many.
    Even today it is a good Basic christian infra structure for many, who then start to make questions.
    It is very important to collect good feelings and listen to good christian teaching, read good religious books and have good understandable christian friends. They give us power to move on.


  22. baa baa, you just described what has always been the downfall of the laestadian movement, You said, it is very important to listen to good Christian teaching, read good religious books,again you don't even say that you should read the Bible for yourself. That should be the only infra structure for any Christian. Most Finns don't read the Bible for themselves, no matter what side of the big pond they live. That's absolutely the main problem in the Laestadian movement.
    You talk about many different men, why are they on your mind? and Luthers confession, the Holy spirit is not attached to that writing, or any other mans writing, only the Bible has the Holy spirit to guide a person as you study. I don't remember which church document you said you were holding dear, it doesn't matter, they are all writing of men, and often confused men, including the Apostles Creed, it doesn't even spell out the Gospel of Grace, and that document is suppose to show what the Church teaches, Already then they had thrown the Apostle Paul under the bus.....if you want to know God personally, you probably won't, if the writings of men are your main spiritual food. That includes the Luthers Cathacism, after I was born again, I put aside even Luthers writing ,after reading some of them, I realized that Luther had the same problem that the Laestadians had, He was trying to get out of the Catholic church and fell into the same pitfalls that the Laestadians have.But at the end he concluded, the just shall live by faith....Matt

  23. Sorry, my dear Matt.
    I do not have anything to offer or tell unto you. BaaBaa

  24. Opinions are personal among millions of other personal opinions, if they are not based on any argumet in the Bible.
    In Reformation we see 2 different lines to understand bible.
    One wants to see word of God only, and righteousness based on
    Jesus Christ only. Another one thinks more how to become holy and thinks that Jesus Christ has given order for this and that.
    The latter one can be traced in the Laestadianism, but also
    in various groups which we here call Free churches.