Thursday, June 15, 2017

Seeking Help as a Laestadian

In Norway, Sami victims of violence seek help less often than non-Sami. No surprise, as this also holds in native communities in North America.

But in addition to the disempowering effects of colonization, Laestadianism is mentioned as a cause in this article.
"Laestadianism's influence on Sami culture and society also plays a part in strengthening the attitude that it is the victim who must bear the shame and guilt for the violence, not the offender."
"The tabooing of sex and body, the silence concerning everything private, and the idea that issues are solved within the family. We find such ideas everywhere in Norway, but there are indications that these taboos are stronger within Laestadian and Sami communities." 
"The view on women in Sami communities is often colored by Laestadianism: women should remain silent in gatherings and sexuality is not discussed."
Sound familiar? What can be done?


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Helena's Story

"What if you were told that reason and questioning can take your faith away? Contraception is a sin, homosexuality is a sin, wearing makeup is a sin, or even having a TV is a sin?"
In this Culture Chat with Mimi Chan podcast, Mimi talks to Helena (one of the bravest people I know, and a dear friend) about leaving Laestadianism, and healing from sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.

A few quotes:
  
Control through fear:
"They have a belief that you can lose your faith in an instant. There is a solid amount of fear built in. I remember as a kid feeling scared, what would happen if I lost my faith and then I died, what would happen to me?"

On the need for integrity as the final straw:
"If you don't say anything, you're saying something. And if you do say something, you're going to have to go against your belief system unless your beliefs are in lockstep with theirs." 

On shunning:
"If you were in the church and you're gone, now you're not just a worldly person, you're an evil worker. You're treated with less respect than people who have never been part of the religion."

On nonreporting of sexual abuse:
"When our daughter was molested by someone in the church, the preachers told us not to go to the police. Here in Washington, clergy are not mandatory reporters, which I think is wrong . . . but it's illegal for them to tell you not to go to the police . . . that is obstruction of justice."

"You're not doing the perpetrators any favors by not holding them accountable!"

On emotional abuse:
"When you are teaching someone that they are solid sin, that they should carry all this shame and guilt, it is very core to who you are. If someone hits you . . . if you have a bruise, it's easy to say that person is a jerk, that's not okay, but when someone is talking about who you are on the inside, it's harder to detangle from."

On raising healthy children:
"I'm glad I left when my kids were young so they wouldn't have years of that whole guilt-and-shame system to slough off."

"They will require more from their relationships that I did mine."

To someone considering leaving:
"Explore! Read about other schools of thought, about other religions. Allow yourself to ask the questions that you have. If there is supposedly this amazing God that created the universe, he is not too small to ask these questions against . . . it's not gonna hurt his feelings! There's no reason why you can't ask all the questions you have and get answers, and if you aren't getting the answers there, there's always the internet."

****