Showing posts with label FALC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FALC. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Free Traveler Tells Her Story (The Voices Project)

Thanks to Free Traveler for telling her story.  Please consider sharing yours.

I started questioning the church when I started college. Before that, I absorbed everything they told me and didn't ever doubt my faith. I had a very loving family, never really felt oppressed by the "rules," and never had a bad experience like some that I've heard about. I was one of those people who was shocked, horrified, and saddened when I heard of people who left the church. I never imagined that eventually I would become one of those people.

I went to college not far from home, but for the first time was around a lot of liberal thinkers for many hours of the day. Over the course of the next few years, the guy I was dating (also FALC) and I had long discussions about our beliefs, and eventually he decided it wasn't for him. When my family found out, they asked why I was still dating him.

I graduated from college and moved to the city, where I lived and worked for awhile. One weekend, when I went home to visit, I decided I wasn't going to go to church with my family on Sunday, so as they were all getting ready, I sat with my mom and told her that I don't know what I believe, but I knew that if I went to church, it would be just because people expected me to go. I told her that I wanted to figure out if I would go on my own, without peoples' expectations, so in order to do that, I had to first stop going so I could get over that feeling of "have to be there." I have never been very confrontational. This was one of the hardest conversations of my entire life. But I felt very strongly that it was necessary.

A few years later, I was at a personal development workshop that addressed many areas of a person's life, including work, health, money, relationships, and religion/spirituality. For each section, there was a chance for a volunteer to go up on stage and be in the "hot seat" to answer questions from the facilitator about what they would like to change in that area of their life. I volunteered to be in the hot seat for the religion/spirituality portion. (By the way, I have never told anyone about this.) So, with microphone in hand, I told an audience of probably about 100 people about my religious past, all the rules, and my struggles with leaving the church while maintaining a good relationship with my family. It was incredibly empowering. The audience was loving and respectful and in awe at my story. They gave me courage to continue pursuing my path and exploring other possibilities than the FALC.

The path has still been difficult (and I've left out a lot of my story) but it's getting easier, and I'm becoming more comfortable with myself and my decisions to pursue my own spiritual path instead of bowing down to peer pressure and conforming to something I don't believe in.

Feel free to ask questions. I'm happy to talk to you. And it feels really good to have a place to share my story, especially with people who can probably relate to a lot of what I've said. Thanks for being here, everyone.

Free Traveler

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Making It Safe to Speak Up

It seems a month cannot go by without my hearing of another case of sex abuse in Laestadian churches. An OALC member was recently arrested for child rape. Over at Imperfect Lady, Beth writes about another sex abuse case in the FALC.

It takes incredible courage for victims to speak up given the is enormous pressure in Laestadian communities to save face, and "just forgive."

If I could, I would have this video, posted on the "Child Friendly Faith" Facebook page, shown to all children. But the sad truth is, not all parents would respond like those in the video. Some would doubt, blame, or accuse the child of lying.



What do you think? What can we do to help make it safe to speak up?

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Christmas Program

Three years ago, I attended the Christmas program of my younger children’s elementary school, my head swirling with cognitive dissonance over what I was reading in the Bible and church publications. One of the issues that stood out in my mind, as it does for so many troubled believers, was Conservative Laestadianism’s outrageous exclusivity claims. (These claims are also made by the OALC, FALC, and IALC, who all point their bony fingers of condemnation at each other along with the LLC/SRK.)

Here it is in a nutshell: The church’s membership comprises about 0.002% of the world’s population. Everyone else who is mentally competent and has achieved some vaguely defined age of accountability it consigns to an eternity of screaming torture, a fate that eventually will be shared by almost all of the billion or so of the world’s children. There are even questions about many of those within the official membership nowadays. I suspect the old guard in the SRK and LLC have been waiting quite a while now for another “heresy” to come along and clean house, freeing them from having to deal with those annoying liberals, part-timers, and questioners.

That evening I sat with my wife and watched our kids up on stage, saying their pieces and singing their little songs among the beautiful children and parents of a rural, simple, and fairly religious community. As it is most everywhere else in the U.S. and the world, none of them has ever heard of Conservative Laestadianism. The closest most will ever come to a member of “God’s Kingdom” is in their cars as they drive through the area where most of our old congregation’s members live, on their way to do some shopping in town.

Here’s what I wrote when we got home. It is reproduced from my book (§4.2.1), as is some of the commentary that follows (pp. 82, 84‑85, 242 of the printed version).


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

News & Views

Here is a round-up of news from my inbox:
  • FALC member Ray Huhta of Hancock, who was convicted of child sex abuse in 2005 after being under suspicion for at least thirty years, passed away in Texas on October 11th. Please take a moment to remember his victims and to read Beth's blog here, on why abuse does not die with the abuser. 
  • There is almost daily news of how institutions have failed to protect children from abuse. Why? There are clues in this compelling PBS documentary called "The Silence." We must end the conspiracy of silence. To those still in the church, reject the practices that value reputations over a child's life. Put the shame where it belongs.
  • Does Mormonism seem weird to you? Scientology? Test Your Knowledge of Wild, Weird, and Outright Wacky American Religious Beliefs.
  • Congratulations to Hanna Pylväinen who, in addition to a steady stream of rave reviews, just won a $50,000 Whiting prize for "We Sinners."
  • Interested in exploring Sami history and culture? Check out the resources on my PSS blog.
  • You don't have to be an atheist to appreciate this "Matter of Doubt" podcast with Ed Suominen about his experience in leaving the LLC.  It has been downloaded over 3,800 times so far! You'll hear serious analysis but also some humor and uplifting thoughts. As Ed says in his conclusion: Reality isn't half bad. Life is amazing.
  • Last but not least, check out this music video. Some of you may recognize the surname of the talented artist. 



Got a video or link you'd like to share with our readers? Comment below or send me an email!

Take care,
—Free


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two More Blogs from Ex-FALC

In addition to Finding My Way ...Finding My Voice which I blogged about briefly on Tuesday, two more blogs by ex-FALC discussing (among other things) their experience with sexual abuse and its cover up and enablement within Laestadianism have come to my attention:

I Am Jim. Not very many posts here, but nonetheless extremely powerful description from a former FALC preacher about the abuse he experienced and heard about, and what happened to him when he started speaking out within the church about the abuse.

Imperfect Lady. Thanks for the link, Beth. :-) Beth has been out of the FALC for over six years now, blogging about her journey since 2010.

Words really can't express the level of admiration I have for the courage these folks express by being willing to speak out against what happened to them, confront the church, and blog (in their own names!)

Free's update:

Beth's brother Carl also is blogging, at Messy Guru.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Judy's Blog

A new blog by an ex-FALC member went online this month, Finding My Way ...Finding My Voice

Only a few weeks old, she's already posted about Laestadianism, the Sami, and sexual abuse.

Reading Judy's posts was a good reminder for me that people are still leaving Laestadianism every day.

I wish Judy well in her journey.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Small World

I just got my Powerbook back, so please indulge me while I blather and fulminate and make up for lost time. First, huge kiitos to Tomte for the lovely updates to the blog, to Ilmarinen for posting (and deleting as needed), and to all of you for keeping the conversation going. It will take me some time (understatement) to wade through old comments.

Have you heard about "addiction transfer"? It has been in the news recently in reference to gastric bypass patients who become, post-surgery, addicted to alcohol. Get one monkey off your back, another one hops on, so to speak. Stop eating, start drinking. Stop drinking, start clinging to dogma. Right? It would explain why there is no zeal like that of a convert . . . the zeal is steady even when the object isn't. And it could be why Laestadianism attracts some personalities more than others. I suspect that for some folks, if you took the exclusiveness (fear and scorn) out of Laestadianism, it would be like taking the nicotine out of a cigarette.

Somewhat related: Our daughter came home singing "It's a Small World" yesterday, sending me reeling back to 1970 and elementary school.

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fears
There's so much that we share that it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

There is just one moon and one golden sun
and a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide
It's a small, small world.


Well, I learned that song in 4th grade, when Ms. Reese cast me as the American girl in her school play. I wore a red, white and blue costume and long braids, travelled "the world" with my redhead pal Larry, met Santa Lucia, sang "Konichiwa means Good Day in Japan" and learned to toss and catch sticks rythmically while sitting like a chief. The rehearsals were outrageously fun and I overcame my stage fright for our one performance, not missing a line.

Wherever you are, Ms. Reese, thank you. You could not persuade my parents to advance me a grade, but you did better: you inspired me to see strangers as potential friends, not "worldlies." (Now how do I get that dang song out of my head?!)

More or less apropos, I'd like to share an email from a reader:

"We had a big snowstorm last week and my husbands sister and brother in law were on vacation. Me and my husband went over to her house to shovel out their driveway before they got back. As I was shoveling, an African American lady came to help from across the street and asked if we needed some help and offered to let us use her snowblower. She seemed rather friendly, so I struck up a small conversation with her, asking her how long she had lived in Minnesota, etc. I told her that my family is Swedish and Finnish (I was actually born in northern Sweden)...and she told me that her husband is Finn. Out of curiousity, I asked if her husband had any ties to the Apostolic church. Sure enough . . . Marion Hallberg. This lady invited me and my 3 year old daughter in her house and we had lunch and talked about some of the interesting aspects of being around those people. She remarked that I look a lot like the OALC'ers, even though I was from the FALC... I know a lot about the OALC because it was similar to how I grew up and I attended services there a few times, out of curiosity. I was just shocked to meet someone that was so close to Marion (I have never met her, but was touched by what people said about her on this site). I have no connection to the FALC anymore, but still enjoy conversing with others who have left and those from other sects of the church. This is basically my invisible "social network", which still keeps me in touch with my culture and my upbringing."

I'm glad she shared that. Dunnit warm your cockles?

Peace all.