Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Benefits of Leaving the OALC

As I've talked to others who have left the OALC, I've learned that each departure is unique. Some left gradually, others quickly, some quietly, others noisily, some with the love of family, others without. I left rather quickly, noisily and without the love of family, and I do not recommend it. It hurt a lot. So I want to offer these thoughts to anyone thinking of leaving.

  1. You owe NO one an explanation or justification for no longer coming to church. If you want to, you can begin a new life right now without a sound. 
  2. Give yourself time to mourn your old life and nurture your new one.
  3. Talk to others who have left and get a good support group. Don't hesitate to see a therapist. This is your life, your only one and precious life. How will you spend the rest of it?

Some benefits of leaving:

  • security in God's unconditional, abiding love -- nothing I do can take it away
  • integrity -- I no longer have to endure the conflict between my own feelings and what I was told I SHOULD be feeling
  • increased humility, empathy and openness to humanity (I no longer feel like I am superior by virtue of my faith)
  • no more disdain
  • self-love and forgiveness
  • freedom to question anyone and anything
  • freedom of thought -- no longer having to measure everything against the preachers
  • increasing ability to trust my own instincts
  • joy of knowing and loving people of different ethnic origins and religions
  • joy of service to others
  • great literature, art and music

OK, I could go on, but enough about me, Exmembers, how did you leave, and what are the rewards?

52 comments:

  1. I left slowly and quietly for the sake of my family who still attend the OALC. They are aware of the reasons I left, and some of them are comfortable discussing these reasons even though they still believe that only the OALC "has the forgiveness of sins". They worry about my soul's salvation because I left, but I pray for their's because they stay.

    The benefits of leaving are more than I can express. I had so many doubts for so long while in the OALC that I blamed on my being such a "poor Christian". Finally I realize it was Christ calling me away from the OALC to HIS Word (not the words of man). If my kids have a question about why I believe a certain thing, I can point to the Bible and say "because God says" instead of "the preachers say"...

    Knowing that there are Christians other than at the church where I attend is wonderful. No longer that nagging suspicion that the OALC can't really be "THE Christianity".

    I can't express my relief at knowing that my children will not grow up torn between "the world" and the OALC. Yes, their faith in Jesus will always be tested. But they will be able to stand on His Word-- solid ground.

    That voice telling you that something isn't right at the OALC is Christ calling you to Him. I pray you'll follow it.

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  2. Women seem to have a far greater
    emotional and psychological
    problem in leaving than men.
    I wonder why this is so
    as they seem to believe they have
    a far greater reason for leaving
    according to the gender
    discussion.

    I am a former 1AP male.

    I just drifted away with few
    problems.

    The whole thing became an insult
    to my intelligence.

    My wife stayed (I suspect for
    social reasons than doctrine) but
    respected my decision.

    The majority in the church still
    friendly and treat me with
    respect.Very few shunners.

    The major benifit of course is
    that I no longer need to corral
    my intelligence and can freely
    investigate all aspects of
    religion and life!


    e
    r

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  3. I also left because it was an insult to my intelligence when I kept hearing that ONLY the OALC people will be saved (out of billions of souls?)and that everything is a sin. That kind of preaching woke me up and I started to get into HIS WORD to see if the stuff they were preaching was God's rules or man's rules. I found out that they were man's rules and I will never let men tell me what I can do and what I can't do again. Never! The intelligence levels that I have seen in SOME (note I said SOME)of the preachers and men of the OALC are pitiful and people and families put their ETERNAL LIFE in their hands?! No, never again. My soul is in my hands and owned by GOD. I will live according to HIS WORD and what HE says for the rest of my life. It is freeing and wonderful. It is great to know that other 'christians' are not all going to hell! Most of them are lovely, giving and non-judgemental people who actually READ God's Word. Can you imagine that?! The OALC would judge them as going to hell when the OALC are the ones who don't read the WORD and the lots of the 'worldly' ones do. What kind of a heavenly FATHER would that be? Of course, they think that Laestadius' word is God's Word, but how would they know if it is or isn't when they themselves do not know what is in HIS WORD? It is called blindness and brain washing and the preachers will have to answer for it. We all need to pray unceasingly and fervently with love for them all so that maybe they're eyes will be opened to the wonderfulness of our TRUE FATHER'S love. Footnote: Since leaving mostly I have been shunned and family members are distant. A very few are tolerant.

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  4. Unrelated topic.

    I've been following this site for a long time. I'm a member of a bit more liberal AL church where manner of dress is not dictated by the preachers. Now, I do think it would be far more appropriate if the girls did not wear those low-rider jeans to church, however.

    As far as the tradition in the OALC, does a girl wear a traditional wedding dress? Do bridesmaids wear special dresses. Are they plain? Describe a wedding in the OALC.

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    Replies
    1. hey dude! you do not get to dictate what girls and/or women wear to church and/or outside the church! you are responsible for any sexual attraction to these females that you might have; they are not! sounds like you're just another negative fundamentalist .... that tries to put his/her beliefs on others!

      Delete
  5. I hope someone tells you about the weddings, I can give a little information about the funerals. The preachers start off talking about themselves and how unworthy they are. They say very little about the deceased, because that would be giving that person glory, and all glory belongs to God. Then the sermon is directed at the family members. The death is to serve as a warning that we too will someday be knocking at that gate and how will it stand with us? If any of the children of the deceased have left the church then stern warnings are given. If one parent is still alive then the kids get a double warning--not only will they be left crying at the gate, but the poor living parent will someday be lying dead, looking towards the heaven, and how will that parent's broken heart not be a rebuke towards those children who have laughed at the teachings that the precious parent has has given them? The whole service has one theme--The Church, The Church, The Church! I just pray that eyes can be opened and members can see how they are being misled.

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  6. To exllc from LLLreader--I thought it was interesting that you said you were going to "listen to what the preachers are saying, something you hadn't done before". I had the same experience when I started to question how true that religion really is! It's as though your ears are opened and instead of just sitting there you become aware of what is actually being taught. Know that there are many others that have gone on this same journey. By becoming the person that the Lord wants you to be, you will be an example for others who are dealing with the same struggle. Growing in your spiritual life and becoming strong in your faith is what you need right now. I know that some members of that religion think that those of us who speak against it are doing so in anger against them, and that's not it at all. I have looked carefully, and prayed about, my reasons for writing. I can honestly say that I want a better and richer life for those that struggle. I think the religion does work for some people, but for those that are in fear, and in pain, in the confines of that church--I want to give the message that God wants something better for them, as he has provided for me. I don't want to hurt anyone Dear Brother, and I know you don't want to either. If some folks don't understand why you are leaving and get mad at you, then I guess you have to just think about what is more important--your relationship with God, or your relationship with a small group of people who believe they cannot have God in their life without a medium. God Bless you. Please let us know how you are doing.

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  7. Hi, I am an ex-OALCer (NOT ex-"Christian" as "they" would consider me) and thrilled to have discovered this blog. My sister found it, actually. We are granddaughters of Sandra Simonson Uskoski (Axel's second wife), nieces of Walfred and Eino Simonson, etc, etc and grew up in Hancock - so anyone doing even a bit of sleuthing could easily figure out who I am. And to reply to your question only (as I could write books): As a teenager, I discovered that I just did not believe. I could not believe that every last Asian and African and South American and Australian (to say nothing of 99%+ of Europeans and Americans) who was older than 7 years and 1 day at death was destined to eternal hell and damnation. Even tho it scared me to death, I knew that God "saw into my heart" (that teaching, at least, rang true) and He knew that I didn't believe, so I had to take my chances "in the world" because I was destined for hell anyway. There is no way to force oneself to believe. So I went through 20+ years in the "Dark Night of the Soul," looking but finding no substitute for the all-encompassing-ness of the OALC. In the meantime, I became first a computer programmer and then a medical doctor (OB-GYN), was married, divorced, re-married and had 3 children. At age 40, as I had foreseen, I received an "awakening" into the reality of who we ALL are, which is children of God and heirs to His unconditional love. (No, God is not an old man with a long white beard, sitting on a cloud in judgment, but it is easier to use the male pronoun rather than "its" ). The only purpose for all that focus on sin, hell, devil, etc is "crowd control." Of course, I still have an occasional "what if they're right" worry, but those are few and far between now, and I know based only on fear. It isn't easy to leave, emptiness of one sort or the other bound to follow. Staying isn't necessarily wrong either. Integrity, listening to OUR OWN hearts and following their dictates, is what counts. No one can go wrong there, because that is in fact what God reads - not whether we follow someone else's rules. "Love God and Love Your Neighbor" - that's it, no contingencies. I'll leave the topic of forgiveness for perhaps another posting. Many blessings to you all. May God shine his light of acceptance and understanding and tolerance and, yes, love, on all the suffering ones. Virginia

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  8. free2bme: Are you saying in your last post that you don't believe in demons and angels, that "archaic" old stuff? I'm surprised. What is your stance on teh Bible then? Just a bunch of stories? Literal words from God? Or written by fallible men speaking for God? Whatever your stance, fill us in so we can understand how / why you are able to take a major teaching in the Bible of the demonic world, even from the mouth of Jesus Himself, and count them as Old fashioned crowd control?

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    Replies
    1. Does it really matter whether someone believes a specific idea or story to have actually happened or whether they believe it is just stories to teach morals? I don't think any God is so prideful that He would be offended of someone not "believing" in Him. Any God that I would be willing to worship is going to judge me by my character and the way I live my life. "Love thy neighbor as thyself." -A.

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  9. How many roads to heaven were there when Jesus was on earth? 6? 23? 15678945645688755? Sorry only one.

    Current LLC member

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  10. Yes, exactly right. One way to heaven, not a million. That way is Jesus Christ! Not one church, one belief system, one group of people or good works. Grace. May you find it.

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  11. The body of christ in the bible is the church.There is only one body. It is only God who can awaken someone to believe that. We can argue all we want and unless God gives us that understanding we will never accept that.

    FALC member

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  12. God has choosen his people...the children of God...We did not choose the fact that there is only one church...sure it is hard to imagine that there are so many good people that will not make it to heaven but that is the way it is...the road to heaven is a narrow one...not a wide one with many people...

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  13. Yes, the road is narrow - do you think you are the only who knows that? John Bishops just preached that this past Sunday at Living Hope. The road to Jesus IS narrow - but it is not a balance beam to the OALC! You must be thinking literall? Is that why the chruch is gated?

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  14. I just have to comment on a post I saw but cannot find it - someone was interested in Wedding Attire.

    1. The bride cannot wear a gown that touches the floor. Her ankles need to show. Otherwise it is too fashionable and following the ways of the "world". OF course a white scarf is worn - no veil or other pretty things.

    The dress should be pure white and simple. No excess beading and sequins. I have seen photos of the most gorgeous gowns with trains that were cut off to the knee so they were "appropriate". This all has to do with what I see now as FALSE HUMILITY before God.

    2. You shouldn't have more than 2 "bridesmaids" one would be enough. They usually have matching outfits and scarves that are picked out together.

    3. My husband and groomsmen wore tuxedos but that is not acceptable anymore. Usually they wear white shirts, khakis and sometimes suspenders.

    4. I had flowers at the reception on my tables but was talked about for being too gaudy and worldly.(one bouquet is plenty if at all)

    5. One friend recently had glass dishes and silverware (paper plates and plastic utensils are the norm) and she was definitely gossiped about for being "so fancy".

    6. NO PHOTOS! Inside or outide the church - EVER.

    Ok - before I go on, that reminded of me how I was into scrapbooking years ago and had home parties to sell product. I wasn't into it too long before some nut went to one of the preachers and said her and others felt like they were forced to buy items at home party's such as Tupperware or Pampered Chef. The nix was put on the scrapbooking, too. I can't even remember the last time someone had a home party. I remember thinking at the time "how much more are they going to take from us!!!"

    More on weddings...

    7. No decorating the cars AT ALL.

    8. The same 2-4 songs allowed are sang at all the weddings. (I always thought they sounded like a funeral)

    9. No joking around with the cake.

    10. Like I said in another post, no more honeymoon's in tropical places are allowed. The beach is probably ok.

    Well, that's all I can think of for now.

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    Replies
    1. I have no idea where you got that from.
      i know it's not the same with weddings in sweden and US and that's just cultural and because of the number of people attending. your wedding day is the most important day of your life, when you become one flesh, and it should be a nice day with friends and relatives. if you're having nice plates and everything, how are you supposed to pay for everything? it's not how it looks like that is the thing with weddings, but that two people are becoming one.

      no of your points are true.

      we decorate the car a bit. with a white band and some bottles and flags or whatever you want. but there's no point in paying lots to decorate a car..
      we don't show our ankles. the dress should be simple, yes.
      we take photos, many people have a proffessional photographer.
      we have MANY songs, 15-20 and they are what the two getting married wants. (ALLOWED?? where did that come from?)
      we can joke around with the cake, the speeches are funny and serious in a mix. it's a fun day but still serious. it a lot of laughs, talking about memories from childhood and so on.
      honeymoons go to wherever we want.

      that was all i could think of for now.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for letting us know how things are in Sweden, long. Clearly quite different than the American OALC.
      You know, "Laestadian Ankles" would be a great band name. Funny that such an ordinary joint must be seen here, and hidden there, on one's wedding day!
      Of course all this is cultural. It's the rigidity that makes it remarkable.

      Delete
  15. Im gathering courage to leave the LLC...I have been raised to pretty much shun relationships with "wordly" people or anyone outside of the church. Of course it was for my own protection as a "wordly" person might hinder my faith life, but honestly all this rule has done is lead me to the path of leaving and made it more difficult to leave which is exactly what its supposed to do. I discoved a negative attitude towards those who don't believe. A supior attitude. Being a person who believes strongly in tollerance of all others I found this attitude particularily horrifying knowing that I am also associated with it by those on the outside who have felt it.

    My main reason for wanting to leave is actually because I do not believe that all outsiders will go to hell, nor do I believe that breaking these man-made rules is a sin. I want to openly listen to music, speak my beliefs, dye my hair, wear earings...ect.
    But where to get the strength to say goodbye to the only society I have ever known in this vounerable, unstable time in my life...?

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  16. Anon, the strength that most who have left their respective Laestadian churches have found is through prayer, through the kind fellowship of others who have experienced exactly what you are experiencing, and through the sharing of stories.

    A common thread that you will find if you read more, is that there can be a great joy as a result -- a joy of being able to be true to yourself and to others, and mostly to God.

    Peace to you on your journey! Join in the conversations and ask questions -- you'll find a lot of friendly folks here that will help!

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  17. LLLreader encourages anon 1:13am: There you are in the middle of the night thinking over the future. It must look pretty scary and lonely. You have already done the work of looking at the teachings of the LLC and realizing they hold a narrow view of the Lord. That realization will make it necessary for you to choose a healthier life. You don't have to do it all today. Do you work or go to school? You will need a friend--you have us too. Don't expect yourself to just fall into a whole new lifestyle. You have your whole life ahead to recognize who you are and find all the things God has in store for you. Do you want another church right away, or do you want to go into that gradually? Welcome to the real world--God bless you--we want to know how you are doing today--keep posting. Ask some questions and someone here will try to help. Again, God's blessings to you.

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  18. I am thinking of you, Anon 1:13..not that I have any answers for you, but I know that thinking about this is a very personal journey. Matthew 7 says ask, and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you..for every one that asks shall receive, and he that seeks shall find, and to him that knocks it shall be opened. You are loved just for being you. Be patient, watch and pray and see what doors may open. And know that God is with you always!

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  19. Thank you so much for your support. It really means a lot to me.
    Im not taking this drastic step yet becuase I still live at home and I dont want to cause any more tensions here, nor do I want to be a bad example to the younger kids. I am hoping that by christmas I will have moved out and then can openly announce leaving.
    Ive been so fortunate in that my closest friends have all supported me in my decision to leave. However this alone doesn't make it completly easy to take that step. I will meet their parents disapproval of them still hanging out around me. I think it would be much easier to have someone on the outside but of course those relationships have been discouraged very strongly so theres not really many people I know to turn to out there.
    Im not really intrested in other churches yet...leaving is such a drastic step out of my comfort zone that I dont think I will be prepared to enhance that step by attending another church right away.
    I just need the courage to let go of everything Ive ever known and take the adventure to the outside.
    One of the major drawbacks I have is I am afraid I will be giving up a bit of Finland as well. I would love to visit my second homeland again but I know going back there outside of this church will make things much more uninviting. Is there any other former LLCers that have gone back to Finland after youve left?
    Even though I dont believe that all umbelievers are going to hell, Ive been instructed to believe like that which makes me pause and question if I am really going to be taking the right step...i guess you could say that its a scare tactic that is used by the church...

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  20. Hi Anon 1:13,

    I felt the same thing - that leaving the church meant losing a part of my Finnish heritage. And it's understandable that we would feel that way, because here in the US, being Laestadian is closely tied to being Finnish. But if we look into it a little more, the vast majority of Finns are actually not Laestadian, and many have never even heard of Laestadians. Even in the US, there were many Finns who immigrated here as non-Laestadians.

    So I would say that I have left my old church but not at all given up my Finnish heritage.

    Best wishes!

    -Ilmarinen

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  21. Hey, this blog is mentioned in finnish laestadian blog:

    http://rauhanyhdistys.blogspot.com/2008/05/amerikan-uskonystvt.html

    I am really beginning to get more interested. The benefits of leaving the church are clear. They call themselves "True Believers" here in Finland apart of us ordinary sinners. Whoa, glad to be radical in my faith! "Jeesuskin oli anarkisti" by finnish parlamentarian Mr. Virtanen, enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiTCeSzEwuo

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  22. I'm looking for a little help. I'm currently with a man whom I love and adore. I recently found out his family are members of this church and am not sure how to handle it. I am told his church is more of the laid back version of it but it still terrifies me a bit. I was raised Lutheran,ELCA. The type of church where you come as you are and listen to his word and you will be saved. Not the strict guidelines I've found online from OALC. Can anyone clue me in on what I'm getting into? How can I talk to him rationally about it? He gets defensive and ignores the topic and it scares me even more. I'm not going to force him to leave his church- but it's not something I'm currently comfortable joining, especially not after reading some of this. Can I ask him to leave? Does his whole family think I'm damned to hell since I don't attend their church? Sorry these are loaded questions but....I'm looking for any sort of insight....please.....

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  23. LLLreader sez: You better get this cleared up now. He has to tell you what he believes. He might find it easier to lay low and not talk about it--but this is a basic issue in your relationship. You need to know what he expects from you. Ask him to have an open and honest conversation. Don't be afraid--just be honest with your feeling. I know you DO feel afraid, but honesty in a relationship is necessary. Maybe he is the kind that really doesn't believe that church's teachings, but doesn't want to rock the boat with his family. Or--he may just be "out in the world" for awhile and plans on going back. Who knows? I certainly don't, you don't, maybe he doesn't either, but you certainly need to find out what he is thinking. As far as what the family believes about you--my thinking is that it really varies. If the family is hard core Apostolic they will believe that if you haven't repented and joined the church--then you are going to hell. Some members are less dogmatic about it. Many of the people here have left because they can't believe that a tiny handful of people are the only ones saved. Have you met his family? Good luck to you Dear Girl--let us know how it goes. God Bless----

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  24. What a load of crap you people speak of. I find it quite amusing that you freely admit to not being a part of this church yet you claim you know so much. As far as trying to conflict what the preachers tell you remember this: they preach sin to be sin and it wasn't they who decided the way to heaven, it was jesus. You claim they are misleading the congregation yet you can see the peace of the soul in the faces of the members. As if you feel it is up to human intellect to try and decide what is God's will. Anybody looking for information on the church should do one thing: Come and see for yourself.

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  25. Yes quite amusing indeed. I as well as many other on here have been raised into this religion, or spend a considerable portion of our lives within its midst.
    I only wish I did not know as much as I do about the church, it would have made a very dark part of my life so much lighter.

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  26. I want to stop going to the OALC church but, as I have small children, I don’t want to disrupt their lives or my family. My husband is very kind, loving, and a great father but very firm in the teachings of this church. I know there is more to Christianity AND life than what this culture has to offer; I just don’t know how to give my children a different experience without completely splitting up. I want to put them in sports (the ones who want to) same with prom, fashions, friends, hair style…. but I know it will conflict with my husband’s wishes and they will probably get teased from other OALC kids or worse, feel like they have to choose one side or the other. I know there have been mixed marriages (non-OALC with OALC members) that work fine but I don’t know how they do it especially if one decides to leave after going to that church for many years. If you have any thoughts or experience on this PLEASE share!!!

    Stay-or-G0

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  27. First, thanks for coming here, and I hope you will find the site helpful.

    It is wonderful that you have a kind, loving husband and father for your children. You chose well. It is likely that you can depend on him, no matter how committed he is to the OALC, to listen to your feelings and honor your concerns.

    I would gently ask for marriage counseling. He may give pushback, but if you insist that this is something you need -- and it is clear that you do -- he should agree to come with you. (The preachers may ask that you see them first. Just decline. They are not trained professionals and as you probably know, some of their advice has done more harm than good.)

    In counseling you and your husband will be able to explore safely the mixed feelings you have about your status quo, and any fears for a future with a "mixed marriage." You can explore together a safe way forward. If you need a counseler recommendation, send me an email at seattlehorn (at) gmail (dot) com.

    As for your kids, you are right to be concerned. If you stop taking them to OALC, you will probably want to join some kind of group to ensure their social needs are met, and so they can gather the strength to shrug off any cousins who tell them "you are going to hell." In the big scheme of things, though, kids are resilient and they will blossom under parenting that allows them to ask questions, appreciate all kinds of people, make art, play sports and instruments, be creative, etc., all while giving them a firm ethical foundation. At least that is true with my kids.

    As for the mixed families in the OALC that appear to thrive, I'm guessing it takes a lot of silence on issues that might cause stress. But as I'm sure you know, there is "avoidance" in the OALC about many things, and after the gossip dies down, people just get on with their lives. I'm sure we would all be surprised at how diverse the preachers' own families are.

    Maybe some of our readers can weigh in?

    Wishing you hope and courage.

    --Free

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  28. I wish there were some easy answer to this question, but the fact is that it is extremely difficult to leave the high-demand Laestadian groups (OALC, LLC, FALC). The social pressure to stay and conform is intense, and those who manage to leave will never be viewed quite the same again by those friends and loved ones who remain behind. It's especially difficult in your situation, Stay-or-Go, when you have a spouse who will remain behind and view you as a hell-bound unbeliever. I know of one such case ongoing right now in the LLC, and believe me, it isn't a happy situation. I'm very thankful that my own situation doesn’t involve that conflict.

    If and when you do leave, I would make it unmistakably clear (in writing, if necessary) that you will not put up with guilt-bombing, nagging, coercion, or slander. Once you feel strong enough (e.g., after the marriage counseling that Free suggested), let your spouse have his say, with the preachers in attendance if necessary. Listen respectfully and attentively and let them know that you now stand fully warned of how precarious your situation is in their eyes, but now their duties as "brothers keepers" are done. Let it be known that there will be no more such discussions.

    Here is one baby step towards leaving that you might consider. If there is another Laestadian group in your area, attend their services with your kids and, if at all possible, your husband. If you're in the Brush Prairie area, the Hockinson ALC church is just down the road, and the Longview LLC church is less than an hour away. The Davenport OALC is about an hour's drive from the Spokane LLC. I don't recall how many OALC members there are in Michigan and Minnesota, but there are LLC and FALC congregations all over there. None near Spearfish or Gackle, though.

    It is quite eye-opening to sit there and witness the simple, sincere worship services of “heretic” Laestadians. You have to ask yourself that disturbing question, “Why are these people going to hell.” The nonsense about being Raattamaa’s chosen successors, the only ones who use the forgiveness of sins correctly, the only ones who understand “sin as sin,” etc., will ring hollow when you hear the forgiveness of sins preached, when you look at all the earnest and friendly people–playing children, busy parents, smiling old folks–who are simply trying to live out their lives as God’s children.

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  29. Im 15 and part of the LLC. Lately however, I have been having lots of doubts of the teachings of the church. Probably for the past couple months. I told my mom that I was not going to go to church on Sundays, and she told me then that means I cannot do stuff on the weekends or hang out with my friends. The problem is that ALL of my friends are part of the LLC. I have about 2-3 'unbelieving' friends, and the rest are just acquaintances. If I did happen to leave (meaning no social life, whatsoever), then who would I turn to?

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  30. Dear 15-year old, you are in the same position I was as a teenager, and I empathize with the difficulty of your position. This is probably not what you want to hear, but please don't fight this battle. Your doubts need not prevent you from going to church with your parents (or from having dinner with them, or going on vacations together).

    Your spiritual life, and your character -- as well as your future as an adult -- do not depend on where you spend Sunday mornings in your teen years. Same with your friends, inside or outside the church.

    It sounds like you are close enough to your parents to discuss your doubts. Can you continue to do that, gently, without making demands? Can you discuss your dilemma with your closest friends (Laestadian or other)? Doubts are normal. They are a natural and healthy sign of maturing. In sharing them, you may find surprising sources of affinity and comfort.

    You may have heard the news today that a 15-year old Pakistani girl -- who has lived for years in a war zone -- was shot in the head on her schoolbus, for the "sin" of desiring an education

    Compared to most people in the world, our lives are a cakewalk. Be grateful for your family, even if they have a weird way of showing their love, and ask yourself how you can be useful in the few years you have left at home.

    Think long.

    Know that your teen years will fly by quickly. When you are grown and gone, you'll be glad you didn't fight this battle with your parents.

    That's my opinion of course. I hope others weigh in, and I hope you let us know how you're doing.

    --Free

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  31. I agree with Free (btw, that was a nice response Free). It would likely be much easier, for you and your parents, if you make the decision to leave when you are grown and gone. Family life at home would be much harder than necessary. It would be good to try to make some friends outside of the LLC, so that when you do leave, you have a social network. If your only social network is within the LLC, it is much harder to leave. I know that seems hard to make friends, because it sounds like your family would likely not let you hang out with your "un" friends, but still try. Try to remember that your family is doing what they truly believe is right.

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  32. I agree, too. I know three or four years sounds like a long time to wait. I think it would be easier to take your time, and don't make your life any harder than it has to be. If you're impatient with all the hoops you have to jump through to stay and not believe, think about how much worse it could be. You could be looked at like the outsider with everyone you know, specially if your parent's start talking to everyone you know and telling them all your business. Everybody will look at you like your going to hell and be pressuring you all the time and stuff. Then think about how long three or four years could be. It's better to just be like it's not all that, and just talk about it sometimes, and make some other friends at school and stuff so you have peopel to hang out with if you decide to leave later. I did it the hard way. Don't do it if you can help it.

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  33. I'm struggling with this one, because I do not believe in living a lie -- something that I think a lot of folks have done, have felt they had to do, and still do. Be gentle, not confrontational, but at the end of the day, be sure you could look the Lord in the eye and profess that you had done your best to be true to Him.

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  34. Depending upon your family, and it sounds as though your family may be a bit on the intolerant side, it may be difficult or even impossible to leave right now. It appears as though you're between the proverbial "rock and a hard place." If you quit attending church, it sounds as though you're grounded from having ANY kind of a social life, whether it be with the believing kids or the worldly ones. Being a teen, your peer group is bound to be very important to you. They may, or may not, loosen up on this as time goes on. One would think they would allow you to at least hang out with the church kids as those who "fit in" with them are less likely to leave the fold, but they may not be rational right now out of their own fear. My advice to you is the same as Free's--stick it out as long as you can. You may think that that you can get someone in the group to understand, but in the words of my therapist--it is too frightening for them to understand. I found out in my leaving process--which was 25 years after yours--even those who listened to me and I thought understood--related my thoughts and feelings to others, which became grist for the rumor mill. I am one of the ones who left not because of lifestyle issues--I still love and live the Laestadian lifestyle--but for a multitude of other reasons--and I still believe in much of what is being preached in my church. But if you truly want to leave, please do this while you are young. When it's just you, and not your children. I have children and my relatives seem bent on tearing them away from me, speaking about me unkindly in their presence, and even trying to entice them to come and live with them (ostenibly to make sure they get to church) despite the fact that until I left, they were excluded from the youth gatherings and even made fun of. It's not fun! I have a sibling who left in her early 20's, and she was able to do this by moving to a geographical area without other Laestadians. She came to visit a couple of times a year, and attended church on her visits, and greeted with church people, and several years into the move was able to announce that she left without all the uproar my leaving caused remaining in the same locality and with children.

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  35. I agree, try to hang in there and go with your family's flow until you graduate. Then depending on how intense your family is, you may have to move to another locality. If you do this when you are young and unattached to spouse or kids it can be much less painful and still plenty of time to make new friends. If you wait too long to go though, like I did, you will get sucked in to all the family stuff, church will be your only friends, and then it is almost impossible to leave without turmoil.

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  36. I wish dates were shown in the comment's time stamp. This blog post is from 2005, but apparently the comments are recent?

    Dear 15,
    I was in your position just a few years ago. I had strong doubts about church and it's teachings. I also knew that if I shared my doubts, it would be social suicide. It is never fun to "live a lie", as cvow described it, but there are ways to live discretely and truthfully, without taking a strong stance and rebelling against your parent's teachings. Your parents do love you, and they do sincerely believe that they are doing good by raising you how they have been. I hope you can respect that and avoid the hateful or resentful feelings that want to develop towards them.
    My advice. Go to church, listen, partake in discussions, and try to bear whatever things are required of your parents. You will actually probably learn a lot, especially with the critical thinking you have. We all have to subject ourselves to certain teachings, until we are of legal age. The things you know, you know in your heart, and that will guide and comfort you through any indoctrination. If you can make it through the false doctrine at school, you can make it through a day at church. And with both, just try to look forward to graduation. :)

    But things are different for everyone. This is just my two cents - I really don't know anything.

    --Knowsnothing

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  37. Knowsnothing, it gives me great pleasure to say "your wish is granted" regarding the timestamps. If only everything were that easy!

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  38. No complaint, I just wasn't sure if I was responding to something outdated. Apparently it was pretty easy! I now see dates on the timestamps! :)
    Thanks!

    --Knowsnothing

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  39. I left the OALC very quickly and i made my opinion very clear to my family that I will NEVER go back. Well that went over very badly. I'm now going to hell and a "evil worker" and need to die so I don't poison the minds of others. I got so sick of having to live feeling like it was a burden to be alive. I was so scared to even leave the house without asking a preacher. I was born and raised in the church and i was always an "outsider" because my grandpa was "from the world." I have one question. Is sex abuse common in the OALC? I'm a victim of it from my own father, and when i went to the preachers like a good "christen" i was told to forgive and forget and NEVER talk about it with anyone but my family. I makes me sick to think that they let this sort of horrible crime go and not let the victim get justice.

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    1. I could have written this post word for word. I do think there is a lot of sex abuse being covered up within the OALC. I have talked to several friends who are members of the OALC and have heard of numerous stories of sex abuse. It is sad and disgusting that the preachers try to cover it up. They think that forgiving and forgetting makes it all okay. In my experience I was raped by my father and the preachers told me to forgive and forget. They never reported the crime even when my youngest sister, who was a minor, told about how my father was molesting her. They encouraged her NOT to press charges and guilted us into forgiving him. This is something I still struggle with and I have family members doubting it actually happened because I choose not to go to church.

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    2. To all who have had these experiences, my heart bleeds for you. It is terrible that so many who are trusted and in a position of power, use that to ruin the lives of so many.
      Continue to tell your stories and raise awareness of the prevalence of abuse. I hope that with help and support you are able to find peace in your lives. Although we would love to see it now, know that these abusers will meet their justice eventually.

      24

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  40. After a full day of reading on this and other linked sites i have summed up the courage to write... i am currently going through divorce and i am in utter pain and turmoile! I have been abused in my marriage for 16 years. I have started therapy and other counseling associated with domestic abuse, i quit trying to convinse the preachers of what was going on and quit hoping for there help. I took matters to the law! And i told the preachers that is what i would do if they did not or could not help me! They told us to get marriage counseling and to equaly admit our own faults and forgive, i said sure ok sounds good but what about the abuse? He needs help! What about the 5 kids that are suffering? I need to be away from him! He will not leave the house!., i needed something now! They could not help! I walked out of the last of many meetings with them and went to the law! They helped fast! My husband is still running back weekly to hear how wonderful and precious he is, and that they can only tell him to stay with the kids and do not move out! And this advice is givin because they dont know my side of the story? And we just dont know of her condition because she has not been to church for 2 sundays! I did not realize i had to plead my case every week! In order to recieve any kind of standing! My family is all concerned about me,and im now at the point of emense anger and distain! I have not recieved all sorts of love and care! I have been battling alone! The things i have done and accomplished, most women could not do! I am so filled and consumed by guilt as a mother and a christian that i can barley breathe. If i go and try to get rid of the guilt with a preacher, the guilt of some sinfull things iv done, in anger or escape, they would be used against me! My husband would for sure be told to be with the kids, i would be so gossiped about as we and i have already been!

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  41. Dear "Sob!" -- my heart goes out to you. What you have described is horrifying.

    You don't have to go through this alone!

    You must keep yourself and your children safe and it may not be clear how to do that. Reach out to the services the police gave you. If you email me at extoots@gmail.com, I will help you find support.

    Don't talk to the preachers. You are right that whatever you say could be used against you.

    --Free

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  42. Thank you for your care and support! I feel very alone and that is only a tiny fraction of my story! And also i want to make a correction in the abuse was mostly verbel and controlling, this i feel is more damaging then getting smacked around! And then to have preachers backing up my husband on all his twisted accusations? I fought tooth and nail for every wrong thing said about me and my walk! I feel totally betrayed by the men who i grew up believing were supposed to protect me! I was told to be truthful and not leave a stone unturned when going to them, i did this to the fullest of my despairation and ability! Guess it was not good enough!

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    1. Sob!, i hope you look back here sometime. I am a former LLC member. I left when I got married. I have worked in the mental health profession for 15+ years, and am an outpatient therapist at a community mental health center. What you describe is not only abuse by your spouse, but spiritual abuse by the ministers/elders. Anyone who tells you that God wants you to stay in an abusive relationship is a liar. Also, it is not advisable to be in marriage counseling in an ongoing abusive situation. If you have not left, and it hasn't stopped, leave. Be safe, and know that God loves you.
      sincerely,
      Brian Martin

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  43. Of course men and women are responsible for their dress and actions, so are teen agers. Much trouble, probably most troubles starts because of someone's action or dress. What do you think, that we live in a civilized world?

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  44. All due respect .. the 3 groups are thrown together here and there are some things the same but here some things unique about OALC. The speaking is done in twos relaxed and humble like sitting dogs. The text is spontaneous selection by the one not speaking. "We`ve been granted grace to again gather in Jesus name (mentioned several time during services and bible study)." As opposed to FALC service , "Grace peace and mercy to Gowd whom is awr fahhhthur" and fast paced hyper speech in a standing position alone on the altar. The bible study is an actual bible study... Not another church sermon like the rest of the world and FALC. At the OALC a lot Finnish moms are driven by pride to force their view into the subconsciousminds misinformation about OALC that only OALC going to heaven. Go to the gatherings and you will hear .. Other sheep not of this sheepfold etc. No better than drunk in gutter. But a lot of people only hear"worldie (or whirly guy if you hear a Finn speaking Gumpa) Peace to everybody here.

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    1. I want to add something folks. I am not singling the FALC out. There are many great folks there. There is a warm bubbly feeling there too. Since they have mp3 downloads and stuff I hear a lot of powerful things expounded on and I felt spiritual understandings given of course. I respect the OALC for avoiding internet transmission. I get that bread meant for children should not be wrecklessly tossed out to wild stray dogs. The house dog of course gets his or her crumbs in the house.

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