Doctoral thesis about Finnish party politics and Laestadianism

A doctoral thesis about the Central party and the Church politics in Finland will be defended at the University of Helsinki 10th of April.

The main statement will be that in the 1970’s the Central party of Finland increased its role in the Church politics. Along to the thesis Central party was afraid that it would lose members -- especially those belonging to Lutheran revival movements -- to other parties. The biggest threat was the Finnish Christian League, and this why the Central party started to emphasize Christian values and take bigger role in the Church politics.

The link between these two -- Conservative Laestadianism and the Central party of Finland -- is not a secret, but I’m sure this thesis will give us some new information and new ideas.

We still have to wait for the book, but before that you can read the summary and get the details here.


Laestadianism on YouTube

If you have extra ten minutes check the
LaestadianismInfo YouTube channel.

There you can find footage e.g. of Laestadian services and most of the videos are in English. It is also worthwhile to flick through the “Favourites” section!

My personal favourites are the videos about creationism and feminism (in Finnish).


Archbishop election

The first round of archbishop election in Finnish Lutheran Church will take place today and the issue that has mostly been dividing the candidates has been same sex marriage and whether church weddings should be allowed for heterosexual couples.

Yesterdays Conservative Laestadian newspaper Päivämies (17.2.2010) also dealt this topic in its editorial. In it homosexuality was seen as a temptation which we should resist. However his resistance has lately become harder and harder as a result of our high living standards – humanity is a threat to the Word of God. As Eve came to conclusion that it’s ok to eat the apple we have after all this discussing come to conclusion that homosexuality is not against Gods will.

The editorial states that the future leader of the Lutheran Church in Finland should boldly stick what the Bible says even though this would leave him alone. This how our “common church” would have a solid foundation and we would avoid the disintegration that is often considered a threat to the Lutheran Church.

This discussion is of course a part of a bigger discourse which has been taking place in other countries too and in the end I’m sure you can find grounds for both views from the Bible.


Millenarianism in The Big Easy

Your host will be on the road again for the next three weeks or so. I am currently working FT on professor Julian Reid's research project, Governing Life Globally, also funded by the Academy of Finland. I am heading to the United States this time.

My first destination is the ISA's 51st annual convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. I am presenting a paper on the political theology of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. I am staying at a hotel in the city's historical French Quarter. ISA is not the only game in town this week, as it is also time for Mardi Gras!


After the convention I will head to Northern California to visit UC at Berkeley and Davis and meet some colleagues over there.

I am riding with my laptop so email me with any developments. Mari is also standing by at the Laestadian-ism project headquarters -- we prefer to call it the LHQ -- and you will reach her at 'laestadianism' in Google's popular mail address. I will back on March 10th or so.

Meanwhile: fight the good fight!


Public figures and Laestadianism

The biggest daily newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, is getting a new chief editor called Mikael Pentikäinen. Yesterdays Helsingin Sanomat dedicated a whole page article for this accompanied with a little profile about him.

The profile highlighted that Pentikäinen has been active in the Center party and he described to be a skilled professional, a ”news hawk”. The last chapter had something that caught my attention – Pentikäinen has a Laestadian background.

There are already several writings and discussions in the internet wondering if his religious background will influence the content of the paper and whether some topics will now get less/more attention. On the other hand there is as many writings stating that Pentikäinen is a professional and won't let his own beliefs influence the line of the newspaper.

Well what ever happens, it is still quite interesting to notice how much attention his religious background has gained.


Laestadianism in Inhimillinen tekijä on Sun 7th March at 9pm

The next episode of Inhimillinen tekijä, a Finnish tv-program, discusses how children experience growing up in a religious family. One of the guests is Teuvo Moisa who grew up in a Laestadian family.

The program also deals religious violence and asks if children should have a freedom of religion.

Program is in Finnish.


Laestadians and Domestic Violence

The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters in Oulu and the Conservative Laestadians are starting cooperation. According to the article in religious newspaper Kotimaa (4.2.2010), domestic violence in Laestadian families isn’t any more common than in non-religious families, but the problem has been the cultural differences. The aim of this cooperation is to collect information about working with tight communities like Conservative Laestadians and how the special characteristics in their culture affect the helping process.

For example, among non-religious people divorce might often be the solution in domestic violence cases. In Conservative Laestadian movement it isn’t that easy – marriage is meant to last for the lifetime and divorce isn’t considered as a solution. Members of the religious movement have also said that in domestic violence cases it is important to keep the family together and keep up the facade of happy family life.

As the article notes, asking for forgiveness or making a confession are not necessarily enough - in most cases earthly help and counselling are needed. The writer referred to a Conservative Laestadians newspaper Päämies (27.1.2010) in which the editorial stated, that after asking for forgiveness from God person should know in his or her heart what is the right thing to do. In these cases the worst case scenario is that people go on as usual without getting any help or not trying to change.

More information (in Finnish):

Oulun ensi- ja turvakoti

Yle uutiset

Laestadianism outside Finland

We thought it might be a good idea to make a mention of Laestadianism outside the Nordic countries. So here’s some info in a nutshell.

It’s probably not a surprise that the biggest congregations outside northern Europe can be found in North America where Laestadianism came with immigrants in the end of the 19th century. Since then several new lines have been born due to internal disagreements and it’s not easy to get the whole picture of the situation today. It also looks like that the Laestadian movement in America is constantly in a state of flux.

These are some of the biggest churches:

- Laestadian Lutheran Church LLC (Conservative Laestadian)

- Apostolic Lutheran Church ALC

- Old Apostolic Lutheran Church (Firstborn)

Small Laestadian congregations can be found in more exotic places too. Quick survey in the internet shows that all the biggest branches in Finland and The United States do missionary work and that some of this work has apparently been quite fruitful.

The Laestadian New Revival (Uusheräys) has organised its missionary work through The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (Suomen Lähetysseura), but the others seem to do they missionary work rather independently. Work has concentrated in the nearby areas like Russia and Estonia, but also to destinations in Africa, South-America and China.

Different branches have different perceptions about missionary work. Most of them emphasize the importance of the mission amongst their own, but there are also those who question whether or not missionary work should be done abroad at all.

I found interesting how some Conservative Laestadians seem to think that missionary work should be done when the time is right and the people are ready to hear the word. It seems that the Laestadian mission doesn’t seem to be as aggressive as in some other Christian denominations.

More info:

Laestadianism in America

Laestadian missionary work in general

Looking forward to your comments!