Aihearkisto: get rid of

Leaving LLC made me who I am

After I left the Laestadian Lutheran Church (LLC), I came into feel and know that there was such a thing as a personal relationship with God, writes ”Finally Free” in her story at the former Laestadians’ forum Postlaestadianrevival. She describes her personal emotions and experiences which she had to met after leaving the church where she had been a member ever since her childhood and where her parents, family and friends still continues to stay.

It is interesting to notice how alike experiences people seem to meet in their leaving processes related to any branch of Laestadian revival movement, or any other fundamentalist and strict group. It is nearly unbelievable that even the details e.g. the inequality of social interplay and structures in the local congre-gation, experiences of shunning and being intimidated are precisely similar in Finland and in the US. Also aloof parent-child relationships and tendency to leave home very young in early adulthood in the Laestadian families are identified on both sides of the Atlantic.

Countless stories have demonstrated that leaving the Laestadian faith and congregation is a difficult and traumatic experience. It means often  that you have to rebuild yourself  and to recognise your inner self and identity totally again. Unfortunately, you will often get disowned from the family. In addition to the spiritual and mental difficulties some people have even lost also their job in case they worked for a company owned by Laestadians.

The exit is best done if you are well prepared (N.B. look at the steps!) and with a support system outside of the church, as here ”Finally Free” has told on her survival.  There have been many such exits where e.g. a young family or a single person has left the church, found connection with other ex-laestadians and got new and  safe direction with peer support in the life.

The LLC is one of the eight branches of Laestadian revival movement in America. It is a sister organisation of SRK (Suomen rauhanyhdistysten keskusyhdistys ry.) in Finland. They are, as in Finland called, Conservative Laestadian organisations with many dozens of  local congregations.

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I never fit in with the ”cool” kids… I tried very hard to fit in from about ages 12-15, but realized that I’d never fit in. I found a few friends that also didn’t fit in, and found friends from school that were not in the LLC. The first time I ”dropped out” was at age 16. My parents caught me sneaking out to a party, and I told them that I didn’t believe. Oh, and they also found my stash of ”bad” cd’s..but I managed to get them back .

A few months after that, I ”repented”, but only because it was too hard to live at home with my family as an ”unbeliever”. My parents didn’t trust me because of it, so I just faked it.

I knew that once I graduated high school and could move out, that I would leave the LLC behind for good.

It was the rules that got me. I didn’t understand why it was wrong to watch TV/movies, wear make up, listen to ”wordly” music..etc. I didn’t think about what they believed, but didn’t know any other way since that was all I’d ever been taught.

When I turned 18, I moved out from my parents, and in with a friend. It was hard. I didn’t have a very good relationship with my family, and even though I didn’t move far, we barely saw eachother, and didn’t talk much. It was so awkward whenever I was visiting my family. I partied alot, and tried not to think about anything to do with religion.

I met a wonderful man a few months after I moved out. About a year later, when we were planning our wedding, we started the marriage prep. course that was required by the minister marrying us. He was so kind, and accepting! Of course he didn’t like that we were living together, but he didn’t judge us for it. He treated us the same as he would treat anyone else.

It was very eye opening to hear him explain the different parts of the Bible we were studying. I had never heard it explained like that! That was when I realized that there is so much more out here than what the LLC teaches.

I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a personal relationship with God. When the minister talked about our personal walks with God, he was probably surprised when I said I had no idea what he was talking about!

Since then I have learned alot from reading posts on this site , and the extoots site , and also of reading the Bible. My husband and I have not found a church that we attend regularly, but I know that God has not forgotten about me just because I am not a Laestadian.

I used to wish that I would’ve been raised in a non-Laestadian family. I thought that it would have been so much easier. Now, I am happy for what I have been through. It made me who I am today, and leaving has made me a stronger person.

Now, my relationship with my parents and siblings is pretty good. (Having a child helped!) We visit there, and they even come to our house, and its not awkward anymore.

Author: ”Finally Free” (at the forum Postlaestadianrevival).

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Laestadian Lutheran Church, one of the 19 branches in the Laestadian revival movement

The Laestadian Lutheran Church is a Christian revival movement, one of the 19 Laestadian groups. There exist eight Laestadian branches nowadays in North America where this in Swedish Lapland born revival movement arrived with Finnish immigrants.  The total amount of all Laestadians  in North America is  approximately 29 000–32 000. The number of Laestadians worldwide is estimated to be between 144,000 and 219,000, most of them in Finland (80,000 – 110,000).

LLC is working in the US and Canada.  From 1973, after one of the many disagreements and conflicts among the Laestadians,  the organisation was name the Association of American Laestadian Congregations (AALC), before the association changed its name in 1994 to Laestadian Lutheran Church. As of 2009, the church has 29 member congregations in the United States and Canada, with highest concentrations of members in Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Michigan in the United States and in Saskatchewan, Canada. LCC has 68 preachers, nearly all of them lay preachers.

The Church teaches that it is a sin to watch movies, listen to rhythmic music, dance, wear makeup, and partake in other activities that are considered worldly. Very crucial elements in the Laestadian dogmatics are norms regarding sexuality. The birth control, pre-marital sex and same-sex relationships are forbidden. The Laestadian revival movement is split between several different branches whose attitudes towards birth control, television, music, and other “worldly” issues vary to some extent.

In general, Laestadians attach a high value to family life and work, but are often less concerned about education. The movement is strongly dominated by men, and women are not allowed to preach nor having equal opportunities to become a supervisor in the congregation.  There are many bans or “sins” which are controlling especially the behavior and life of women. Women are idolised only as mothers. The argument to the ban of birth control is that children are regarded as a gift from God.

In the past time the Laestadian women married as very young, and some do still today. However, this is going to change because of the higher education of women (at least in Finland). Many laestadian women do not get married even after they turn 30 because they realise that they would have to get into the role of motherhood immediately. They don’t want to abandon their careers and yet, they don’t wish to leave the Church either, because their friends and family belong to it.

However, their chances to find a partner are usually gone because there in the congregation are not anymore left suitable men left. It is not allowed marrying outside of the Laestadian community (endogamy). As a result of this exclusive norm there are unusual big amount of women living as involuntary singles.

The important aspect about the community and beliefs that binds them together is that the Laestadian believer needs some other Laestadian one to forgive the sins. Based on their ”Doctrine of the Keys,” they believe that  (LLC-)Laestadians only  have the power to forgive sins and that without hearing the ”word of reconciliation” in the preaching of the LLC church or by way of personal absolution by some Laestadian person a sinner cannot be forgiven and saved. Most of the other Laestadian branches teach the exactly same belief.

In Northern Europe, the association’s sister organizations of LLC are the Conservative LaestadiansCentral Association of the Finnish Associations of Peace (Suomen rauhanyhdistysten keskusyhdistys) in Finland, the Sveriges fridsföreningarnas centralorganisation in Sweden, and the Estonian Lutheran Association of Peace (Eesti Luterlik Rahuühendus).

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Please be free to give your comments here or by e-mail:

Read more:

I left the Conservative Laestadian movement (in ten years)

Laestadianism in America

Living as my true self – leaving the Conservative Laestadian one true faith’s community

Conservative Laestadians in Oulu

Laestadian-ism – political theology and civil religion: a blog of researchers focusing on Laestadianism, politics and society.

How to Leave the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church (Useful guidelines for everyone who consider to leave Conservative Laestadian community, too. The model has been a starting point in planning  those steps in Finnish.)

Comparing the One True Churches

Kuka ja mikä minä oikeasti olen? (Dr. Saara Tuomaala on identity etc., in Finnish)

Etniset vanhoillislestadiolaiset (The Ethnic Laestadians: a concept and definitions, in Finnish)

Sami Ojala:  Uuras Saarnivaara Pohjois-Amerikan lestadiolaisuuden historiankirjoittajana. Pro gradu -tutkielman esittely.

Valmisteilla väitöstutkimus Pohjois-Amerikan lestadiolaisuudesta 1880–1920-luvuilla. Päivämies 13.9.2014.

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Kategoria(t): ahdistus, avainten valta, avioliitto, ban of television, bans, concept of sin, Conservative Laestadianism, forbidden things, get rid of, identity, in English, secession, seurakuntaoppi, SRK ry., sukupuolijärjestelmä, syntien anteeksiantamus, syrjintä, syyllistäminen, tuomitseminen, uskon jättäminen, vallankäyttö

Living as my true self – leaving the Conservative Laestadian one true faith’s community

This posting discusses the experience of growing up in an extremely religious, closed community and later leaving to join the outside world. We’ll first discuss the Laestadian experience, and next draw attention to some resources from the experiences of some other groups.

This is intended to describe the ”typical” experience of leaving, but since we know there is no such thing as one typical experience. There are as many personal experiences and stories as individual persons. Please forgive us if our description doesn’t match your experience.

However, one of our foundings is that problems we meet in the process of leaving laestadian community are universal and known by many others who leave any religious compulsory community (or such one non-religious).  – Please be free to give your comment here, or by e-mail

Be brave enough to decide

Often you have considered it seriously for years what to do, to stay or to leave. You have experienced that it’s also difficult to stay but be opposed to some the doctrine and rules. Maybe you have tried to leave – and you came back. This yo yo phenomenon is familiar for us indeed. It shows how full of self-contradictory emotions, difficult aspects and stressing feelings the situation is. The loss of community can be very painful.

Whenever we leave a religion we give up the benefits that are promised to us by the doctrine of the Laestadian faith. Most of us will sooner or later replace it with benefits from some other belief system – or give up the benefit entirely. I suppose that it is more unlikely to totally loose the belief in the existense of a god than still continue to trust in God’s protection in the individual’s life. However, I don’t have any evidence on this.

We get from our growing and childhood in the Conservative Laestadian community is a sense of belonging and comfort as we are amongst familiar people who understand and know us.

Leaving the faith creates anxiety and fear because we by definition give up this comfort and feeling to belong into the group. In addition to this, leaving a religion is doubly scary because we give up the benefits, the benefits that are promised to us by that particular doctrine: eternal salvation, eternal life after the dead…with our relatives and friends, as well.

Thus, it is not surprising that this is a difficult transition to make.

You are uncomfortable and insecure because you have 18 years of never learning how to pursue hobbies, other than those approved by the church. People wonder how you can be this old and never have gone to a movie or danced or applied mascara. It is strange, but wonderful, exiting and interesting at the same time.

Exclusion as a church doctrine is one detail which is hurting hard you personally and in a very concrete way. They will share their private greeting with each other: ”God’s Peace!” This greeting will not be shared with you anymore, if you do not attend their church. When you are together attending a family party they will say it to all of the community members present in the room, but not to you, if you are among them in the same room. Some of them would not even acknowledge your existence and avoid to be near you.

It happens, that one of your small cousins would say ” Gods Peace” to you, and then you will see that his mother pull him aside in front of you and tell him what he did wrong. Your name to all of your laestadian relatives is the unbeliever. Be prepared into becoming stigmatized and despiced.

Just the exclusion was one of the reasons why many of us left.

A life as my true self

Growing up in the Laestadian community, you feel a deep sense of warm belonging. (The sense of community and need for belonging  seems to be very hot and wanted in our life.) There are strict rules, and these rules clearly delineate how you should live your life. You know exactly what is good and what is bad and strive to make your life conform to the rules, at least publicly.

You are thaught that the outside world is filled with atheists and dead faith churches. These people are on a lower plane of value because they are not part of the community. They, even the most honourable of them, are going to hell. You feel as if the community is a refuge from a cold outside world, filled with ravening wolves. The people who make up the outside world are not diverse and not individuals; instead they are an undistinguishable mass of people ”in the world.”

There are many community mechanisms to keep you in the group.

The fear of those worldly wolves is drilled into your head from childhood. You fear losing your sense of community and belonging. You know that if you leave, you will be tarred as a rebellious sinner who wants to pursue just money, pleasure and easy, frivolous way of life instead of remain faithful to God and be satisfied with His grace.

Despite these incentives to remain, you decide to leave. Perhaps, the central tenets of the community no longer seem true. If the community is based on a lie, it becomes empty to you. Or maybe you are driven out from being constantly repressed in how you choose to dress, or your friend, a significant other.

Regardless of why you leave, the outside world appears to be a place where you can best live as your true self. Upon leaving, you feel the sudden loss of community.

When the community and its rules are gone

As a typical Laestadian, the community was your world. You likely didn’t take part in outside social groups such as sports or student groups, and your friends were all from the church. Now, the community is gone.

In addition to losing the community, you lose the rules. No longer do you have a clear roadmap that tells you how to be holy and how to live your life. You must create this roadmap on your own. To decide what to follow you should know yourself – but you probably have not yet met your real authentic self… it is still coming, you just have to find and create yourself from the beginning again.

You often feel resentment at having missed out on the many things you learn others did in their childhoods. You are suddenly eighteen or more years behind in learning the rules of how to behave in the wider world. You may find another church to attend or perhaps you just swear off religion entirely. You may like to concentrate yourself in everyday life and forget all the damned spiritual stories.

On the positive side, you learn the world has some decent people, and is not made up entirely of ravening wolves, as you were taught.

Nonetheless, the outside world often cannot understand your experience. Although they offer sympathy and express amazement when they hear your story, they cannot understand what you feel.

Some even go so far as to question why you ever left, thinking you simply succumbed to outside peer pressure to conform and denied your unique cultural heritage.

How they meet you…

Since you have left the Laestadian community, you will live your life like banished, judged in the ostracism related with your previous social life.

When you meet your family, you will meet cruelty and you try to understand  it in your mind: What did I do to deserve to be treated so poorly, all I wanted was to belong, to have a family, but it hurts… I was not wanted, it is a surprise to them that I still have morals, and that I’m not pregnant out of wedlock and that I’m not addicted to drugs. But don’t you believers know, I’m a equal person too… All I ever wanted was to belong to a family…

You have to create an attitude, a mindset and get practical tools how you can protect yourself to get hurted and wounded by your family and the closest people. You have to find ways to avoid hard emotional injuries and damages when you meet them.

Thousands of similar and even worse experiences…

The Internet has provided ways to share experiences and help for people who would like to leave their strict religious movement. There are available personal stories, discussion forums for peer-help groups and sources to support to survive in the leaving process. It is good to know that there are many others out there like you.We mention here some of the most useful sources. Please let us know when you know more.

How to Leave the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church

Learning to live free blog (OALC)

Hakomaja: information archive and discussion forum (in Finnish)

Steps to get rid of Conservative Laestadian movement: Askeleet irti SRK-Lestadiolaisuudesta (in Finnish).

Laestadians are not the only ones to go through the feelings of leaving. Another group to experience these feelings are e.g. people who left the strict, closed form of Judaism known as Hasidism .

Like in the Laestadian community, there is also a strong sense of community in the Hasid community, but there is also fighting for power and factionalism.

Also the groups of the Amish and Mennonnites has similar doctrines and rules as laestadians, some even crueler ones. The process of leaving tose communities is prevalent.

When the Amish leave, they often experience social ostracism as bad or even worse than what some former Laestadians experience; e.g. Saloma’s blog.

There are several books and personal stories such like Greater Inheritance and articles such as e.g. “Leaving the Amish Life Behind

Some try to help those left behind in abusive situations  or  help those now leaving .

Being authentic – You’ll survive and see the wide world

From the experiences of the former Hasid, Amish, or others, former Laestadians can realize their experiences are not unique and are often easier than the experiences of many from other similar groups. Former Laestadians are usually able to earn a living in the wider world and can eventually re-define themselves as successful and free, even if worldly.

By reading those experiences you will learn that while others may not have had identical experiences, many people (especially racial and sexual minorities) have also experienced being a ”stranger in a strange land.”

You find that your understanding and empathy for the dispossessed makes you a trusted friend and natural advocate.

Having found the courage to leave, very little can frighten you, least of all the social opprobrium of others. You are confident and able to connect easily with people regardless of socio-economic barriers. You have a high regard for reason, honesty, compassion, and inclusion, and attempt to model these values in your relationships. Your intellectual and spiritual curiosity never allows you to stagnate. You find life rich and exciting.

While sometimes you are nostalgic for the close-knit community you left, you find incomparable satisfaction in being authentic, and in being a citizen of the world.

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Authors:  the extraordinary fine text and background info by Rhyming Blue, modified  and completed by an ad hoc group of ex laestadians  – Our warmest thanks  to you, Rhyming Blue, and the beautiful blog Learning To Live Free!

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Please be free to give your comments here or by e-mail:

Read more:

Anonymous:  I left the Conservative Laestadian movement

Edward Dutton: Conservative Laestadians in Oulu

Leanne Waldal: How does “sweetie” become shunned? (On ostracism after leaving Leastadian church; also interesting comments)

Anonymous: Vanhoillislestadiolaisuudesta irtaantumisen tunteet (Emotions within leaving Conservative Laestadianism, written by a young man who left the  community in 2009; in Finnish)

How to Leave the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church (Useful guidelines for people who consoder to leave Conservative Laestadian community, too. This model has been a starting point in planning  those steps in Finnish.)

Learning to live free

Comparing the One True Churches

Nuoret jättävät vanhoillislestadiolaisuuden – suuri syntyvyys ei kasvata jäsenmäärää (The young generation leaves Conservative Laestadianism – number of members doesn’t grow despite the high birth rate; in Finnish)

NYT-liitteessä: Miltä tuntuu luopua uskosta? (An interview in NYT Magazine: How did you feel to leave the religious community, in Finnish)

Amartya Sen: Identity and Violence (a review of The Guardian)

Syntinen ja sairas: Äiti tyttärelle: “Kun lapsi kieltää uskon, se on pahempi kuin lapsen kuolema.” (Mother to her daughter: ”When you leave it is worse than you were dead”, in Finnish)

Vanhoillislestadiolaisuus, amishit, hutteriitit ja mennoniitit (in Finnish)

Vanhoillislestadiolaisuus ja Jehovan todistajat: eniten hengellistä väkivaltaa (A research on religious violence, in Finnish)

The Laestadian Lutheran Church, the sister organisation of the Conservative Laestadian community  in Finland (SRK ry.)


is a conservative Lutheran revival movement which was started in the middle of the 19th century and is named after the Swedish-Sami botanist and preacher Lars Levi Laestadius. The doctrine is characterised by Pietistic and Moravian influences. The term ”Laestadian” is used as an umbrella to refer to all churches and groups with a clear succession of belief from his teachings. Different groups follow his ideas in various degrees, and they have created more or less strict lifestyle rules  (what is considered a sin). The number of Laestadians worldwide is estimated to be between 144 000 and 219 000 (Wikipedia).

Laestadians are the largest revival movement in the Nordic countries. The biggest groups live in Finland with about 130 000 members. In Sweden they are thought to number 10,000 – mostly found in the north of the country around the Torne Valley. Laestadian movement has churches and congregations also in the US and Canada.

The deeply conservative faith broke into three branches – The Firstborn Laestadianism, Reawakening, and Conservative Laestadianism – in the beginning of the 20th century.  The groups are shattered again in the 20 Century, in Finland and other countries, and today  is counted 19 Laestadian groups but about 15 groups still active. Some Laestadian groups, e.g. the Conservative Laestadian congregation in Finland (SRK ry.) consider themselves the one, true Christian church, and preach that all other Christian churches (including other branches of the Laestadian tradition) are not true Christians.

Conservative Laestadianism in Finland is the biggest Laestadian group. It is also the biggest revival movement inside of the Church of Finland, with about 100 000 members.

In fact, it is quite strange that the Conservative Laestadian revival movement works inside of the Lutheran church, for it’s excluding attitude towards the other memebers of the national Christian church.  The priest who get their earnings at work for the curch of Finland would not say this openly in the sunday worship  in the church that the other members in the congragation are not true Christians to be saved. But afterwards they teach this when they preach in the Laestadians’s meetings at local ”Rauhanyhdistys” house.

Conservative Laestadians’ central management is The Central Committee of Conservative Laestadian Congregations (SRK ry.) leading 188 local “associations of peace”. The local congregations have over 34 000 members. It is not compulsary to formally join the association.

The community will grow rapidly in the next decades in case that people will stay in the Laestadian faith. Today there are over 50 000 children and young people (under 18 years) growing in the Conservative Laestadian families in Finland. As the movement is so big today, it has remarkable power and influence not only in the church but also at the political, public administrative, religional and cultural level in Finland, and also in the national media. Especially in the northern Finlad are towns where there everyone who’s anyone is a Laestadian. The future will show how the active young Conservative Laestadian’s generation will act and influence in the society and in the national church.

Laestadians are taught to consider a sin television, cinema and movies, dance, rhythmic music, performing arts such as concerts, theatre and opera,  also alcohol, hair dye, make-up, ear rings, birth control, premarital sex, divorce and homosexual relationships, and many other sins (list of sins in Finnish). Especially in the Conservative Laestadianism the believers have to follow those lifestyle rules, or ”providential advice”, or “congregation’s advice” as they modestly call them, decided by the preachers and the Central Committee of the SRK (those rules doesn’t include the Bible nor the Lutheran Catechism).

Laestadian asceticism is distinguished from many other fundamentalist Christians in that just few of the norms are officially ”proscribed” openly, banned by any official decision. Actually, in Finland justa bans of birth control, television, singing in choir , working as performing musician and concerts are results of the official decisions of the management of the Conservative Laestadian revival movement. (The Central Committee of Conservative Laestadian Congregations).

Rather, Laestadians do control eachothers themselves, they are on the look out for eachothers, and they employ a reinforcing system of social feedback to encourage abstention of the banned behaviour. The ultimate threat is ostracisism, i.e. segregation, exclusion from  fellowship in the common congregation. The board of the congregations maintains this social control  in keeping with the beliefs of the church.

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Kategoria(t): amishit, armoneuvot, ban of birth control, ban of television, bans, Conservative Laestadianism, elämäntapa, eristäminen, eroaminen uskosta, erottaminen yhteisöstä, evankelis-luterilainen kirkko, forbidden things, get rid of, hajaannukset, identiteetti, identity, in English, irrottautuminen yhteisöstä, kiellot, kirkko, kontrollointi, kulttuurikiellot, kuuliaisuus, laestadian, lapsuus, leimaaminen, lestadiolaisuuden suunnat, luterilaisuus, manipulointi, mennoniitit, nettikeskustelu, normit, norms, nuoret, omatunto, opilliset kysymykset, painostaminen, pelastus, pelko, pelot, perhe, puhujat, rauhanyhdistys, sananvapaus, secession, seurakunta, seurakuntaoppi, sin, SRK ry., teatteri, televisio, totteleminen, tulevaisuus, tuomitseminen, uhkailu, ulossulkeminen, uskon jättäminen, uskon perusteet, vallankäyttö, yhteisö, yhteisöllisyys, yksinäisyys

Conservative Laestadians in Oulu

Dr. Edward Dutton, a British anthropologist and journalist, lives in Oulu in northern Finland and is married to a Finnish Lutheran priest. He has met Conservative Laestadians and spoken with them about their faith and rules. He visited Oulun rauhanyhdistys and published his sightings and experiences in the magazine 65 Degrees North.

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Conservative Laestadians: Separate or not Separate?

Every expatriate in Oulu has heard of ”the Laestadians”. Many locals seem to describe them as a sinister religious sect whose members have enormous families, are against television, alcohol and woman priests and in which women – who don’t wear make-up or ear-rings – fulfil traditional home-making roles. But what are Oulu’s Laestadians really like?

I went to their regular Wednesday night meeting to find out.

Ten Child Families

The first thing that hits you at the ”Peace Society House’” on Professorintie near Oulu Polytechnic is how young everybody is and how many people there are. There must have been around three hundred people arriving for the 7pm at meeting of Oulu’s ”Conservative Laestadians” (which is what Finns mean when they say ”Laestadians”). Almost nobody appeared to be over the age of thirty and there were numerous teenagers. There were then a few who appeared to be in their sixties.

According to one Laestadian man I spoke to, ”This is because, as you probably know, we are against contraception because of what the Bible says so we tend to have very large families.”

This is certainly true. According to sociologist Leena Pesalä, the average Laestadian family has ten children with the most she came across in her research being a brood of twenty-one. Laestadians often marry as young as eighteen and, with the large families, presumably most who are married with children were at home looking after them.

Stylish without Makeup

Many of the stereo-types about Laestadians appeared to be true. None of the numerous young woman wore make-up or ear-rings and, most obviously, none of them had dyed hair which meant that there were a lot of girls with the supposedly typical western Finnish hair colour which one former member of a Laestadian splinter group Rauhansana referred to as ”the colour of the road”.

One young, female Laestadian I spoke to said that she did not wear make-up ”because I want to be like the other believers. It’s just a personal thing. But there is a way in which we have our own culture and beliefs and we want to be separate . . . but also not separate.”

One of the most striking things about this young woman – and everybody else there – was how well and how fashionably they dressed. Almost all the Laestadians seemed to have the latest fashions, hair-cuts straight from Hollywood movie stars, hair they’d obviously put a lot of time and effort into and the woman often wore lots of necklaces, perhaps because ear-rings are forbidden by the group.

There can’t be that many highly conservative religious meetings in which young, male ”believers” – as they termed themselves – walk in dressed like gangster rappers or the woman look like they’ve been to a beauty salon . . . without the make-up.

Often, conservative Christians tend not to smoke, citing verses in the Bible where it says, ”Your body is a temple of the Lord” but not so with the Laestadians. Many smoked outside before the meeting and went back outside to smoke after it had finished.

One male Laestadian summed this up saying, ”The Bible says that alcohol is not allowed. But it is says nothing about smoking. And maybe you know that we don’t drink alcohol, so maybe that’s why we smoke”. They stubbed out as the meeting started.

Largest Revival Group

Laestadians are the largest revival group within the Finnish Lutheran Church. They were founded by Swedish priest Lars Laestadius (1800 – 1861). While he was inspecting congregations in Lapland in 1844 he met a Sami woman called Milla Clementsdottir and through his relationship with her he experienced a kind of religious awakening. He began to preach and his views influenced first the Samis in Sweden and then spread to Finland and Norway. His was a highly conservative interpretation of Lutheranism, returning to traditional belief and rejecting liberal strains of thought.

The group draws a strong distinction between themselves and others whom they mostly expect to go to Hell. Laestadius also encouraged people to stop drinking in order to commit themselves to Christ and Conservative Lestadians argue that, ”In many localities, the revival movement caused complete changes in ways of life, drunks repented, the tavern keepers closed their bars . . .”

The movement also spread due to popularity of Temperance Movements and by the end of Laestadius’ life it was as far south as Oulu.

This group split into three main movements at the end of the nineteenth century – Conservative Laestadians are by far the largest group, then there is the First Born and finally Rauhan Sana. The Laestadians have about 110,000 members worldwide of which about 100,000 are in Finland, with the rest in Norway Sweden and the USA. Of these Finnish Laestadians, seventy-five percent are ”Conservative Lestadians”. The Conservative Lestadians are highly conservative in theological terms believing in Biblical inerrancy and that the Bible can only be revealed through a learned mediator.

One becomes a member by confessing ones sins to another Laestadian. Members I spoke to referred to themselves as ”Laestadians” or ”believers” in contrast to the other Laestadian groups. The other groups are more liberal. However, the debate over women priests in Oulu has been particularly fierce because of the refusal of a Rauhan Sana priest to work with his female colleague.

English Problems

The meeting itself was, basically, a half hour sermon by a Conservative Laestadian priest after which almost everybody left to go and have coffee while a few remained to sing Bible verses. It was after the meeting that I got talking to some Laestadians. The group is known to be quite educated but it was hard to find anybody that spoke English. This was because, according to those I spoke to, ”We don’t have television so I suppose we don’t learn English. There can be sex and violence on television.”

Despite their conservatism, the Laestadians seemed to be very friendly and willing to talk to me. Finnish friends had predicted that they would ”stare’” and ignore me as an ”unbeliever”. This did not happen at all.

Heaven for the Finns

Another idea about Laestadians is that they believe that all non-Laestadians go to Hell which would make Heaven a primarily Finnish-speaking domain.

Members I spoke to denied this saying ”only God can know who is a Christian” and ”people are saved if they have confessed their sins to a believer”. But ”believer’” did seem to mean ”Laestadian”.

Also, one young woman felt that Laestadianism was successful because, ”It is the work of God that there are so many Laestadians. The Bible says that in the End Times ’God’s hand will be over the Nordic Lands’.”

One Conservative Laestadian, originally from Jakobstad, said that sone of the stereotypes about them are plain wrong, ”Of course we are allowed to use washing machines!” he said, ”But it is true, I think, that we were told to shop at Prisma rather than the other supermarkets.”

Negative Ideas

However, many very negative ideas about Laestadians persist amongst Oulu people.

One teacher told me about a mother who forbade her children to play with non-Laestadians ”or you won’t be welcome home for dinner”. In general, Laestadians are seen as ”separate” not having much to do with non-members.

Almost all the Laestadians were slim with one Oulu resident commenting that, ”that’s because they don’t get enough food at home!” Many Oulu people were also convinced that the Laestadians were popular because, ”they stop Finns from drinking and Finns have a problem with alcohol” as one elderly man put it.

There are also numerous blogs by ex-Laestadians accusing the group of brainwashing and psychological abuse, including threats of being shunned by family friends if you disobey Laestadian rules.

But Oulu’s Conservative Laestadians certainly weren’t the unfriendly cult I’d be led to expect they’d be.

65 Degrees on North; 22 August 2007.

*    *    *

Please be free to give your comments here or by e-mail:

*   *    *

Dr. Edward Dutton on tullut tunnetuksi  Suomessakin antropologina hänen julkaistuaan analyysin suomalaisuudesta: The Finnuit – Finnish Culture and the Religion of Uniqueness. Hän vertaa teoksessa suomalaisia ja arvomaailmaamme grönlantilaisten kultuuriin. Molemmilla kansoilla on Duttonin mukaan ollut vaikeuksia sopeutua moderniin elämäntapaan. Tämä ilmenee muun muassa uskonnollisuutena, nostalgisena menneisyyden haikailuna, runsaana alkoholinkäyttönä ja suurina itsemurhalukuina.

Uskonnollisuus näkyy Duttonin mukaan siinä, että sekä Suomessa että Grönlannissa on vahvoja kristillisiä herätysliikkeitä. Yhtäältä herätysliikkeet heijastavat luterilaisen synnintunnon ja häpeän nostattamaa vertaisryhmän tarvetta, toisaalta ne ilmentävät vastareaktiota perinteistä identiteettiä uhkaaviin yhteiskunnallisiin muutoksiin. Hänen käsityksensä mukaan sekä Suomessa että Grönlannissa kristinuskoon on sekoittunut myös pakanallista mystiikkaa, jossa on šamanistisia piirteitä.

Lue lisää:

Edward Dutton 2007:  A Shared Pre-Christian Past? Contemporary Finnish Baptism in Light of Greenlandic Naming Rituals.

Halla: I was brainwashed into raging Laestadian beliefs

Tutkija: Suomi on kuin laimennettu Grönlanti. Helsingin Sanomat  15.9.2009.

Tutkimus: Luonnontieteilijät ovat yhteiskuntatieteilijöitä älykkäämpiä. Kotimaa24 1.3.2014.

Nuoret jättävät vanhoillislestadiolaisuuden

2 kommenttia

Kategoria(t): 2000-luku, avainten valta, ehkäisykielto, eristäminen, eroaminen uskosta, forbidden things, get rid of, hajaannukset, heaven, helvetti, hengellinen väkivalta, historia, in English, irrottautuminen yhteisöstä, kadotus, kasvatus, kiellot, kontrollointi, kulttuurikiellot, laestadian, laestadianism, lapset, Lars Levi Laestadius, lestadiolaisuuden suunnat, lisääntyminen, meikkaaminen, nettikeskustelu, normit, norms, nuoret, painostaminen, pelastus, perhe, Raamatun tulkinta, rauhanyhdistys, retoriikka, secession, seurakunta, seurakuntaoppi, seurat, sin, suurperhe, synnit, taivas, televisiokielto, tuomitseminen, ulossulkeminen, uskon jättäminen, vallankäyttö, väestönkasvu, väkivalta, yhteisöllisyys

I left the Conservative Laestadian movement (in ten years)


Leaving the strict confines of Conservative Laestadianism can be a shock. 

A young woman who has abandoned her faith speaks of confusion at what happens next.

*    *    *

I can remember exactly how I felt on that day. The weather was very beautiful in Helsinki. I walked on the sunny street with my head held high, and smiled at people walking by. I felt incomprehensible joy.

It was me walking there, and nobody else. I was 25 years old, and it was my issue and nobody else’s what I was doing with my life and what I was thinking. The powerful feeling of liberation came from something that was very small, but which had great symbolic significance for me. I was wearing makeup for the first time in my life.
The feeling came back to me when I saw Kielletty hedelmä (“Forbidden Fruit”), a film by Dome Karukoski, which tells about the departure of two young girls from the Conservative Laestadian movement.
My own departure lasted ten years.
I grew up in a Conservative Laestadian family in North Ostrobothnia (Finland). Our everyday lives did not actually differ much from those of our non-Laestadian neighbours, except that we had no television, we did not run our lawn mowers in Sunday, and on Sundays we attended services with the other Laestadians of the village.
At the services speakers read the Bible and interpreted it. The sermon usually took an hour. Then we sang hymns and Songs of Zion. After the singing we got refreshments.
The lectures repeated that the Kingdom of God is a good and safe place to be. The “Kingdom of God” is a term with which the Laestadian community calls itself. The outside world is corrupt and insecure. We were warned not to establish very close relations with “people of the world” because they might jeopardise our faith. Losing one’s faith was the worst thing that could happen, because then you would go to hell.
Contrary to what some other children said, I never took hell very seriously. However, I did feel that losing the faith would be very sad. On the other hand, there were many advantages to living as a person with faith, the biggest of which was that you got to go to heaven.
It was a good idea to preserve the faith by staying away from alcohol, dancing, movies, competitive sport, makeup, hair dye, sex, and so on. There was no official list of things that were not appropriate for a person of faith, but I gradually learned from what adults were saying what the things were that I was expected to stay away from.
Abstinence was not especially difficult, when there were many people around you living the same way. I did not actually refuse anything, I simply stayed far away from things that did not apply to me. In retrospect I thought that the Laestadians largely visualised their faith on the basis of what they do not do.
At school I would have liked to go to dance lessons, but the physical education teacher guided the Laestadian girls to go for a walk. I saw this as self-evident.
The third and most important way to protect the faith was not use one’s own sense of reason. We were told that reason can take our faith away. If one’s reason or experiences conflict with faith, one needed to become humble and to see the blessings of the common line of the congregation.
At about the age of 15 I noticed that I had started to think differently from what had been taught.
For instance, I began to wonder why Laestadians would go to heaven and others would go to hell. I also wondered why I should not enjoy the music of Aretha Franklin. It seemed unlikely that God would appreciate only the classics.
However, it was very important for me not to hurt the feelings of any other Laestadian with my views. It was emphasised at services that those who violate the unity of the congregation act against God. This is why I shared my thoughts with very few people.
I tried to clarify to myself what the Laestadian way of life was based on. Other practices, such as total abstinence from alcohol, had emerged in the late 19th century. Negative views toward television and popular music, for instance, had come up in the 1950s and 1960s. The linkage of these practices with God, faith, and morality began to feel inconceivable to me. I wanted to distinguish between cultural habits and faith.
For me, faith meant Christian thoughts of how a person can experience redemption through faith. I thought that I could be a Laestadian as long as I believed that. Even in sermons it was emphasised that a desire for faith was enough.
At the same time I was quite knowledgeable that on the practical level it was not possible to separate practice from faith. If I were to go to a service with makeup on, my friends would be shocked. The makeup would communicate to the others that I am no longer a Laestadian.
As I did not want to leave the Laestadian community, I committed to observing practices that I felt were without foundation.
I was headed for a great conflict.
No open discussion had been held within the movement about the true significance of cultural practices, and it is not happening even now. Privately, Laestadians have many opinions about lifestyles, but according to the public Laestadian line, things like not having a television is a “fruit of the spirit”, or a sign that a person is a believer of the right kind.
It was emphasised at services that it is not about rules, but rather the fact that a Laestadian wants to operate in a certain way. I recall how I preferred to speak about desires, rather than rules. I was pained to read newspaper articles about things that Laestadians “were not allowed to do”. The question was about what I wanted to do or to choose!
But whose desire was it really all about?
I was not asked what I wanted, or what I felt was important. For instance, the negative stance on birth control was taken in the late 1960s at a meeting of preachers, where only men were present.
I knew already at the age of 13 that I did not want to be the mother of a big family. It was not until I was over the age of 20 that I said out loud that I cannot stand the idea of a big family. My friends answered that “you can’t know in advance what it will be like”.
I was supposed to simply trust that God would give me exactly the right number of children, even if I did not use birth control.
I knew that my mind could not handle such an experiment. I simply did not want to become pregnant reluctantly. My thoughts did not find resonance, because they resounded with the voice of reason, not that of faith.
Some felt that faith is that people are encouraged to push their reason aside in big matters. For me rejecting reason would have been an abandonment of my own psyche.
I was not ready to bend at all in the birth control question, or to hide my opinions. The security of the Laestadian community began to turn into insecurity.
At the age of 25 I decided to leave the community. it was the most honest and most sustainable solution.
However, the most difficult days were still ahead. Leaving Laestadianism takes place by telling about it to one’s family and friends. I had the words of the father of my friend in my mind: “For one’s own child to leave the faith is worse than the child’s death.”
I could not cause such great sorrow to people close to me without going into a state of protective shock. Emotionally numb, I told my family and my friends: “I no longer have the faith.”
I will never forget those moments. I remember the expressions on the people’s faces, the silence, the first words.
My decision briefly shook the basic sense of security of people close to me. A few of them were also in shock.
It is a few years since the event, and I have good relations with my family. My decision nevertheless raises such deep emotions in my family that I cannot write about it under my own name. I also want to protect my family from the talk that the publication of this article will raise in the Laestadian community.
Leaving a religious movement is often described as a liberation from stressful rules. That is certainly the case to some degree. I was liberated from representing people other than myself. I was able to go to an Alko to buy a bottle of rum for a cake, and I didn’t have to explain to other Laestadians why I was doing it.
I was also able to think freely whether or not I believe in God, and if so, what kind of a God I believe in.
The film Kielletty hedelmä describes well how liberation is not merely a positive experience.
Instead of liberation I mainly experienced confusion. When nobody was defining my limits on my behalf, then where are those limits, and do they exist at all. This phase included some comical excesses.
I took full advantage of being able to have a different opinion about things. I might tell my colleague at work that her idea was “complete crap”. At times I would hurt people, and at other times amuse them by being rude and blunt.
In many situations I felt like an outsider. Maria, one of the main characters of Kielletty hedelmä, orders her first drink in a bar, saying “Two … something with alcohol in it”. The scene is as if it were straight from my life. I still have to concentrate in a bar to remember what kinds of drinks actually exist.
Maria, the more reckless of the girls in the film, is eager to break through the boundaries set up by Laestadianism (concerning alcohol, makeup, sex, dance) but finally, in the grip of great emotion, she wants to reform.
The more cautious Raakel observes Maria’s experiments from a distance. Raakel is like I am. Like Raakel, I first went through disengagement from Laestadianism in my mind. I lost my faith in the ways of thinking that maintained the boundaries.
I have many Laestadian friends who have thought the same thoughts that I did, but who do not want to leave the community. For some of them, the mystery of the faith is important, and for others, it is the sense of community. Some, for their part, say that they are there out of force of habit, or because they do not want to disappoint their parents. These are all understandable reasons.
I also know one person who claims to be part of the “leftist wing of Laestadianism”, women who define themselves as “Laestadian feminists”, and even one “Conservative Laestadian atheist”.
The subcultures are not seen in public. The old men who speak in the name of the revival movement, on the other hand, appear to be blissfully ignorant of the diversity that exists inside Laestadianism. For that reason, they can give statements leaning on sharp polarisations, and claim that the Laestadian community is a a unified group of people who think alike.
Kielletty hedelmä depicts the unravelling of a world picture focussing on duality. Maria urges Raakel to drink alcohol, saying “you have to understand what all of this is”.
When Raakel asks what it all is, Maria says “Nothing, Just ordinary!”
According to Conservative Laestadian doctrine, Maria has lost the ability to recognise what is sin.
Recognising the ordinary was a relief for me. The Laestadian world was not inherently good, and the rest of the world was not inherently evil. It was also not the case that the Laestadian world would have been insignificant, and that life outside would have been exciting to the point of intoxication.
There is just one world common to us all. Some things are good, and some things are bad. Most of them are somewhere in between.
*     *      *
Author: Anna-Stina Nykänen, Helsingin Sanomat.
First published in Finnish; in print 22.3.2009. (Exceptionally, this article was published anonymously in Finnish.)
Comments welcome, please contact the Freepathways network:, or you can also write your comment in the blog.
Artikkeli julkaistiin alkuaan Helsingin Sanomien sunnuntainumerossa 22.3.2009, suomenkielisen tekstin löydät täältä.
Read more:
Leanne Waldal: How does “sweetie” become shunned? (On ostracism after leaving Leastadian church; also interesting comments)
Bible_Warning PIEN

6 kommenttia

Kategoria(t): concept of sin, Conservative Laestadianism, forbidden things, get rid of, Helsingin Sanomat, identiteetti, identity, in English, irrottautuminen yhteisöstä, laestadian, laestadianism, norms, secession, sin

Nuoret jättävät vanhoillislestadiolaisuuden – suuri syntyvyys ei kasvata jäsenmäärää


Perheiden suuresta lapsiluvusta huolimatta vanhoillislestadiolaisten määrä kasvaa Suomessa vain hitaasti. Korkeaa syntyvyyttä ylläpitää liikkeen kielteinen suhtautuminen ehkäisyyn. Herätysliikkeen puhujien kokous määritteli päätöksellään vuonna 1967 syntyvyyden rajoittamisen ”synniksi kaikissa muodoissaan”.

Liike on 40 vuodessa kasvanut enintään 20000 hengellä, vaikka perheissä on keskimäärin 6–7 lasta. Myöskään 10-15-lapsiset perheet eivät ole harvinaisuuksia. Vanhoillislestadiolaisia arvioidaan olevan Suomessa nykyään noin 120000. Liike modostaa merkittävän vallankäyttäjäryhmän Suomen evankelis-luterilaisen kirkon sisällä, ja kirkon palveluksessa toimii arviolta 130 vanhoillislestadiolaista pappia. [SRK:n oma ilmoitus 2011: 140 pappia. Toim.huom.]

Lohi: ehkäisykiellon tehtävä on kasvattaa jäsenmäärää – mutta auttaako ehkäisykieltokaan?

Asiantuntijoiden mukaan vanhoillislestadiolaisuus leviää lähinnä sisäisen kasvun eli syntyvyyden kautta. Ulkopuolelta vanhoillislestadiolaisuuteen liitytään harvoin.  

Vahvojen sisäisten siteiden takia yhteydet yhteisön ulkopuolelle ovat heikkoja, joten liike kasvaa lähinnä sisältä, Kirkon tutkimuskeskuksen tutkija Hanna Salomäki kertoo. Vanhoillislestadiolaisuuden sananjulistustyö ja muu toiminta kohdistuvat lähinnä liikkeen sisälle. SRK:n varoilla ei ole palkattu esimerkiksi yhtään päätoimista lähetystyöntekijää.

Vanhoillislestadiolaisuuden oma edustaja, pappi ja vanhoillislestadiolaisuuden historiaan perehtynyt Seppo Lohi on jopa avoimesti perustellut ehkäisykiellon välttämättömyyttä sillä, että ilman sitä herätysliikkeen kannattajamäärä kääntyisi nopeasti laskuun. Lohi on esittänyt tämän hämmästyttävän, ei-hengellisen perustelun ehkäisemättömyysvaatimukselle esimerkiksi MTV:n haastattelussa 2002 seuraavasti.

– Jos säännöstelemättömyydestä luovuttaisiin, vanhoillislestadiolaisuus katoaisi viidenkymmenen vuoden sisällä.

Samalla syyllä Lohi perusteli ehkäisemättömyysmääräystä myös Kalajokilaakso-lehden haastattelussa 2008:

”… Ehkäisyn hyväksyminen heikentäisi lestadiolaisuutta. — Seppo Lohi sanoo, että ehkäisyn hyväksyminen olisi kuolema lestadiolaiselle liikkeelle. — Seppo Lohi pitää ehkäisykantaa koko liikkeen kannalta olennaisen tärkeänä.  Jos tässä asiassa kanta muuttuu, kuolema on lestadiolaisen liikkeen padassa ja koko liike sammuu.”

Vanhoillislestadiolaiset naiset on siis velvoitettu tekemään jatkuvasti ”lähetystyötä” omalla ruumiillaan, samalla kun tilanne on se että yhä useampi vl-uskoon kasvatettu nuori irrottautuu herätysliikkeestä.

Herätysliikkeiden kokoa vaikea arvioida

Lestadiolaisten tarkkaa määrää ja syntyvyyttä on melko vaikea arvioida. Lestadiolaisuuden historiaa tutkinut Helsingin yliopiston kirkkohistorian professori Jouko Talonen sanoo kuitenkin, että suuri osa vanhoillislestadiolaisten lapsista jättää liikkeen.

Vaikka liike on kasvanut, niin on selvää, ettei kasvu ole samaa tasoa syntyvyyden kanssa. Jos näin olisi, vanhoillislestadiolaisten määrä olisi kasvanut vähintään kaksinkertaiseksi 40 vuodessa.

Talonen arvioi, että vanhoillislestadiolaisissa perheissä on keskimäärin 6–7 lasta. Kun liikkeen piirissä oli 1960-luvun lopussa 100000 ihmistä, määrä on hänen mukaansa nyt noin 120000.

Lestadiolaisuuden historiaa väitöskirjassaan tutkinut Mauri Kinnunen puolestaan arvioi, että liikkeen piirissä elää tätä nykyä noin 80000 ihmistä. Kinnunen sanoo, että liike ei ole juuri kasvanut viime vuosikymmeninä. Myös yhteisön kiinteys on murentunut yhteiskunnan muuttuessa.

Painopiste on siirtynyt kaupunkeihin ja etelään. Suurissa keskuksissa sitoutuminen liikkeeseen on heikentynyt, kun ei ole maaseudun sosiaalista painetta, Kinnunen sanoo.

Nuoret jättävät rauhanyhdistyksen

Vanhoillislestadiolaisten kattojärjestö Suomen Rauhanyhdistysten Keskusyhdistys kertoo jäsenmääräkseen noin 33000. Jäseniksi voivat liittyä 15 vuotta täyttäneet. Yhdistyksen 1900-luvun historiaa tutkiva SRK:n kustannuspäällikkö Ari-Pekka Palola toteaa, että vanhoillislestadiolaisia ei luultavasti ole sataa tuhatta enempää. Hän arvioi yhdistyksen jäsenmäärän kasvaneen 1960-luvulta noin 50 prosenttia.

Suuri osa jäsenmäärän kasvusta tulee vanhoillislestadiolaisten järjestäytymisasteen noususta, Palola sanoo.

Vanhoillislestadiolaisten kokonaismäärä ei kuitenkaan ole kasvanut samassa suhteessa. Sekä SRK:n puheenjohtaja Olavi Voittonen että pääsihteeri Aimo Hautamäki ovat todenneet, että vanhoillislestadiolaisten kotien lasten ”meneminen maailmaan” on 2000-luvulla lisääntynyt. Heidän mukaansa syynä ovat ”nykyelämän repivyys ja kotien tukiverkkojen pettäminen”.

Osa nuorista luopuu uskosta ja omaksuu toisenlaisen vakaumuksen, toteaa Palola.

Mikä irrottaa nuoria vanhoillislestadiolaisuudesta?

Yhtä selkeää syytä liikkeen jättämiselle ei löydy. Tutkija Hanna Salomäki arvelee, että ongelmia aiheutuu liikkeen tiukoista normeista, esimerkiksi syntyvyyden säännöstelyn kieltämisestä. Hänen mukaansa myös liikkeen oppi itsestään ainoana pelastavana yhteisönä nousee usein esiin. Ero yhteiskunnan valtavirtaan on suuri ja kasvava.

Saatetaan ajatella, että liikkeeseen kuuluminen on hyvin hintavaa, että joudutaan elämään marginaalissa, Salomäki summaa.

Vanhoillislestadiolaisten parissa liikkeen sisällä on Salomäen mukaan käyty viime aikoina runsaasti keskustelua liikkeen tilanteesta. Julkisuudessa esiin noussut ehkäisykieltokohu on herättänyt tunteita. Liikkeen arvopohjaa kriittisesti pohtivat lestadiolaiset kohtaavat toisiaan internetin keskustelupalstoilla.

Vanhoillislestadiolaisten ehkäisykielto maailman ankarin?

Syntyvyyden säännöstelyn kieltäminen on Suomessa harvinaista. Käytännössä vain vanhoillislestadiolaisilla on uskontoon perustuva ehkäisykielto. katolisessa kirkossa ehkäisyvälineiden käyttö on kiellettyä, mutta ns. luonnollinen ehkäisy eli hedelmöittymisen rajoittaminen ”varmojen päivien” avulla on sallittua. Vanhoillislestadiolaisuudessa ei hyväksytä sitä enempää kuin selibaattiakaan, aivan lyhytaikaista pidättymistä lukuun ottamatta.

”Perhesuunnittelu on synti kaikissa muodoissaan. Ei voi tulla kysymykseen kalenterin seuraaminen, ei edes yhteisestä sopimuksesta erillään oleminen. Se on Jumalan Sanan mukaan sallittu vain hetkeksi sairauden vuoksi. Mutta sairauttakaan ei saa tehdä pahemmaksi kuin se todellisuudessa on ja näitä tekosyitä käyttää väärään tarkoitukseen.” (Päivämies 1974.)

Väestöliiton tutkija Minna Säävälä kertoo, että joidenkin maahanmuuttajaryhmien suhtautuminen ehkäisyyn on kielteistä.

 –Esimerkiksi Afrikan maista tulevat suhtautuvat suureen lapsimäärään eri tavalla kuin suomalainen valtaväestö. Heidän arvostuksensa yleensä kuitenkin muuttuvat nopeasti, Säävälä sanoo.

Uskonnosta kumpuavia ehkäisykieltoja ei maahanmuuttajaryhmillä Suomessa Säävälän mukaan ole. Muslimit tosin suhtautuvat kielteisesti sterilisaatioon, vaikka muuten hyväksyvät ehkäisyn.

Maailmalla kielteistä suhtautumista ehkäisyyn esiintyy pääasiassa kristillisissä liikkeissä.

Tunnettuja ovat esimerkiksi nykyisin Pohjois-Amerikassa vaikuttavat, alkuaan eurooppalaisesta  protestanttisesta pietismistä nousseet amishit, hutteriitit ja mennoniitit, joiden syntyvyys on suurta. Esimerkiksi vanhakantaisesta elämäntavastaan tunnetun amish-yhteisön koko on lähes kaksinkertaistunut 16 viime vuoden aikana. Yhteisöön kuuluu nykyään noin 230 000 henkeä.

Lähteet ja aiheeseen liittyvää:

Askeleet irti SRK-lestadiolaisuudesta (Hakomaja)

Dr. Propelli: Arvio: 40% vl-nuorista irtaantuu liikkeestä

Hallamaa, Hannu: Suuri syntyvyys kasvattaa lestadiolaisuutta hitaasti. STT, Verkkouutiset 8.2.2009; Itä-Savo 8.2.2009.

Rytkönen, Jussi:  ”Varmat päivät on tehokas menetelmä”.  Kotimaa 28.1.2009.

Rytkönen, Jussi: Ei pelastusta ilman oikeaa parannuksentekoa. Olavi Voittosen ja Aimo Hautamäen haastattelu. Kotimaa 9.1.2008.

 Miksi  vanhoillislestadiolaisuudesta erotaan: keskustelu Suomi 24-palstalla

Kaksijakoinen maailmankuva purkautui – minä lähdin pois

Guitar Hero: rehellisyys itselleen

Uskoni uskontoon teki kupperiskeikan

Nettikeskustelusta ja stooristani

Kuka ja mikä minä oikeasti olen?

Raja tuli vastaan

Minä lähdin pois

Pohjoisen lapsen raskas koulutie

Mitä jälkiä vanhempien ankara usko jättää lapsiin? Helena Itkosen vieraina Katriina Järvinen, Soili Juntumaa ja Teuvo Moisa YLEn TV2:n ohjelmassa Inhimillinen tekijä:

(Katsottavissa 26.2.2011 klo 21.00 saakka.)

Lestadiolaiset pitävät Pohjois-Pohjanmaan väkiluvun kasvussa: Seppo Lohen haastattelu MTV3, 24.7.2002.

Kalajokilaakso  27.6.2008: Suviseurat-numero.

Joni Valkila: Vanhoillislestadiolaisten ehkäisykiellon eettisyys ja yhteisöstä irtaantuneiden määrä. UUT ry:n selvityksiä 1/2013 (28.6.2013). Helsinki: Uskontojen uhrien tuki ry.

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Kategoria(t): 2000-luku, alueelliset erot, ehkäisykielto, elämäntapa, ennuste, eroaminen uskosta, etniset vanhoillislestadiolaiset, get rid of, historia, identiteetti, irrottautuminen yhteisöstä, kasvatus, katolinen kirkko, kiellot, kirkko, kulttuurikiellot, lapset, lapsuus, lähihistoria, lisääntyminen, miehen asema, naisen asema, nettikeskustelu, normit, nuoret, Olavi Voittonen, perhe, rauhanyhdistys, retoriikka, seurat, suurperhe, tulevaisuus, tutkimus, uskon jättäminen, yhteisö, yhteisöllisyys, yhtenäisyys, yksilöllisyys

Kuka ja mikä minä oikeasti olen?

Kaikki muuttuu: identiteetti, elämäntapa, seksuaalisuus ja arvomaailma

Tutkija Saara Tuomaala on ansioitunut historiantutkimuksen  alalla. Hänen väitöskirjansa Työtätekevistä käsistä puhtaiksi ja kirjoittaviksi hyväksyttiin 2004 Helsingin yliopistossa. Siinä hän tarkastelee 1900-luvun alun kansakoulun kehittymistä Kivijärvellä ja Paavolassa. Tuomaala on tutkinut myös Virginia Woolfin poliittista ajattelua ja naisia historiantutkijoina (artikkelikokoelma Oma pöytä. Naiset historiankirjoittajina Suomessa (2005).

Tuomaala irrottautui vanhoillislestadiolaisuudesta 1980-luvulla. Hän on kertonut julkisuudessa irrottautumisen kokemuksestaan elävästi ja havainnollisesti.  Hänen oivalluksensa ja tuntemuksensa ovat tuttuja monelle, mutta Tuomaala onnistuu kuvaamaan sanallisesti puhuttelevalla tavalla tätä usein sanattomaksi jäävää, ainutlaatuista kokemusta.


”Enemmän kuin uskosta, on kyse siitä, että syntyy johonkin kulttuuriin ja elää siinä. Jos siitä lähtee, kaikki muuttuu: identiteetti, elämäntapa, seksuaalisuus ja arvomaailma.”

(osa lehtihaastaattelusta 17.3.2003, toimittaja Anu Silfverberg, HS NYT-liite)


Usko oli hänen lapsuudenkodissaan asia, joka kuului elämään kuin hengittäminen. Jumala oli ruumiillistunut seurakunnassa, sen ystävyysverkostoissa ja yhteisöllisyydessä.

Tuomaala jätti vanhoillislestadiolaisen yhteisön 1980-luvulla opiskellessaan yliopistossa. Lestadiolaisuuden taakse jättämisessä suurin suru on suvun ja yhteisön ulkopuolelle sulkeutuminen.



”Kutsuisin vanhoillislestadiolaisia fundamentalistiseksi yhteisöksi. Siinä oma yhteisö on yhteydessä Jumalaan, kun taas muut eivät ole. Siksi on sitä mullistavampaa jättää se.”

Tuomaala epäili uskontoaan ensimmäistä kertaa jo lapsena.

Yhdeksänvuotias lestadiolaistyttö mietti, onko todella mahdollista, että vain tietyllä tavalla uskovat pääsevät taivaaseen. Tai että kaikki synniksi määritellyt asiat todella olisivat väärin.

”Kirjoitin yhdeksänvuotiaana esseen aiheesta Lempeät ja julmat uskonnot. Minusta tuntui, että omani kuului jälkimmäisiin.”

Lapsuuden kysymykset painuivat pinnan alle teini-iässä, jolloin Tuomaalasta tuli kiihkeä uskon puolustaja.

”Koulussa syljettiin päälle ja haukuttiin siaksi, koska olin lestadiolainen. Uskon, että valtakulttuurin taholta koettu syrjintä pienessä uskonnollisessa yhteisössä usein vain vahvistaa rajoja. Ihmisellä on kaksi vaihtoehtoa: linnoittautua tai irrottautua.”

Epäilevät kysymykset palasivat myöhemmin.

Sääntöjen ehdottomuus, tuomitseva Jumala ja naisten asema lestadiolaisyhteisössä aiheuttivat lopulta irtautumisen, joka vahvistui hiljaisuudessa, Tuomaalan oman pään sisällä. Sitä seurasi kokeiluvaihe, jossa piti kokea valtakulttuurin elämään liittyviä asioita. Vasta sen jälkeen uskalsi edes ajatella lähtöä, jonka varmistuessa kasvoi huoli perheestä: kuinka äiti ja sisarukset kestävät?

”Lestadiolaisuus on hirveän konkreettista. Jos rikot normeja ja astut ulkopuolelle, se tarkoittaa, että olet astunut kuoleman rajan yli, kohtaat oman kuolemasi. Sinusta tulee sellainen, joka joutuu helvettiin. Se sosiaalinen ja emotionaalinen kuolema on vahva, fyysinen kokemus. Kun uskosta luopui, se oli käytävä läpi.”

Jumala oli olemassa yhteisön toisten ihmisten kautta. Kun side heihin katkesi, murtui myös Jumalan kuva. Viimeisenä iltana lestadiolaisyhteisössä Tuomaala meni ryhmätapaamiseen Helsingissä tietäen, että se oli viimeinen kerta.

”Sen jälkeen minulla oli pitkään tunteita, että leijun avaruudessa, että olen irti koko maailmasta enkä kuulu mihinkään. Välillä se leijuminen oli enemmän lentämistä tai syöksymistä.”

Mikään ei kuitenkaan päättynyt tuohon lentoon. Suurilla eroilla on tapana palata aaltoina vuosien varrella.

Irtauduttuaan Tuomaala tukeutui ystäviin ja yliopistomaailmaan. Hän alkoi seurustella, eikä ollut ehkä sattumaa, että kumppani oli ihminen, joka oli joutunut elämässään vaihtamaan kahdesti kulttuurista toiseen.

Akateemisesta maailmasta Tuomaala sanoo löytäneensä sellaisia laajoja yhteisöjä ja keskusteluyhteyksiä, jotka muodostuivat läheisiksi lestadiolaisyhteisössä.

”Ja jännittävää kyllä, yksi selvästi lestadiolaisuudesta tullut asia elämässäni on naisten ja tyttöjen keskinäinen kulttuuri. Yhteisössä, jossa naisten ja miesten maailmat ovat jotenkin erillisiä ja seksuaalisuus varjeltua, yksi tapa hahmottaa maailmaa on nähdä se naisten välisinä verkostoina. Se on ollut elämässäni jatkumo, joka on myös auttanut siirtymävaiheen yli.”

Sopiva vertauskuva lestadiolaisyhteisöstä luopuvalle naiselle löytyy Tuomaalan mielestä musliminaisesta, joka irtautuu uskostaan ja kulttuuristaan. Kummassakin voi olla kyse kokonaisen kulttuurin jättämisestä ja siirtymisestä valtakulttuuriin, jonka suhtautuminen on alentuvan säälivää.

”Lestadiolaisnaiset vaiennetaan kahdelta suunnalta: yhteisön sisältä tuleva viesti on, että nainen vaikenee seurakunnassa ja synnyttää lapsia. Valtakulttuuri taas halveksii naisia ja kohtelee heitä tahdottomina uhreina. Kun lestadiolaisuuteen liittyy muutenkin naisten alistaminen, satuttaa vielä enemmän, että sitä joutuu kokemaan paitsi oman kulttuurin miesten myös modernien ja vapautuneiden naisten taholta.”

Uskosta tulo ei myöskään välttämättä ole sitä, että kääntää kokonaan selkänsä jollekin.

Jotkut vanhat ainekset saavat merkityksen uusien ajatusten ja tietojen kautta. Jumalasta Tuomaalan elämässä ei enää näy merkkejä, mutta jotain tunnistettavaa uskosta on jäänyt jäljelle, hän sanoo. Yksi on kokemus, että elämään sisältyy jokin salaisuus tai ihme.

”Jossain vaiheessa luulin lopettaneeni rukoilemisen. Mutta tavallaan se on edelleen olemassa. Suhtaudun rukouksenomaisesti siihen, kun luen runoja, kuuntelen musiikkia tai käyn hyvän keskustelun. Siitä, että yhtäkkiä keskellä päivää on hiljaa ja hengittää, saattaa tulla samanlainen olo kuin rukouksesta: että olen yhtä tämän maailman kanssa ja samalla vastuussa muista.”

”Se on lähestymistapa, jonka opin lapsena. Joku sanoisi, että siinä kohtaa Jumalan. Minä en käytä sitä sanaa.”

Osa Helsingin Sanomien Nyt-liitteessä julkaistua toimittaja Anu Silfverbergin haastattelua otsikolla Uskottomat. 17.4.2003.

Lue myös:

Maud: Kastetusta kartetuksi

Maud: Uskotko Jumalaan?

Viiden veljen sisko: Ihmistä ei saa kutistaa

8 kommenttia

Kategoria(t): ahdistus, alakulttuuri, elämäntapa, eroaminen uskosta, etniset vanhoillislestadiolaiset, get rid of, hengellisyys, identiteetti, identity, ilo, irrottautuminen yhteisöstä, laestadianism, lapsuus, naisen asema, normit, omatunto, opilliset kysymykset, pelko, pelot, perhe, retoriikka, rukoileminen, spiritualiteetti, tyttökulttuuri, uskon jättäminen, yhteisö, yksilöllisyys