A pedophile scandal with more than ten victims is now being rolled up in a revivalist movement within the state church in Pietarsaari in Finnish Ostrobothnia. Years of covering-up keeps the total number of victims unknown.
A number of people who are now in their forties have suffered for years from serious abuse of a pedophile in Pietarsaari in Finnish Ostrobothnia. Some of the victims are feeling very poor and has started to share their experiences to others, including undersigned.
The abuses, which lasted until the eighties, have been known to the victims' relatives and the leadership of the pedophile's home congregation. The abuses were quieted down, however, and covered-up for decades.
The pedophile, who died in the late eighties, was a well-known figure in the Laestadian revivalist movement and was active as a lay preacher within the so-called "eastern phalange" of the movement. The pedophile was for a period of time a very popular Sunday school teacher in his home congregation.
Some of the victims (the total numer is still unknown, because of the covering-up they were never identified at the time of the discovery of the first early abuses) did not receive help and vindication from their relatives nor from the leadership of the congregation at that time who knew about the matter, with the result that many have been left to suffer on their own for many years.
According to some of the victims' testimonies, the pedophile had a well developed ability to attract children. Among other things the famous preacher always had candy in his pockets.
Some of the victims have told in their personal testimonies to undersigned, that the famous preacher "was constantly on them". They were, according to their testimonies, victims of "serious abuses" and the pedophile is told to simply not having been able to control himself, not even in situations where the risk of being revealed was imminent.
Some of the known victims had friends in the same circles as the pedophile and because of close interactions within a more closed group formation within the open congregation, several small children were at risk of being repeatedly abused without any possibility to get away.
One relative of one of the victim children discovered the pedophile red-handed at an early stage of the abuses. The matter was quieted down within the congregation though, and the severe abuses could continue for another several years.
Some of the known victims were kept very strictly by their parents and during their childhood and adolescence they were exposed to systematic mistreatment in attempts to force the children into total obedience and submission, with daily requirements of showing repentance and confession of in part arbitrarily imaginary "sins".
Around the famous pedophile, and with the protection from the covering-up of the serious abuses, a closed and tough "inner group" grew forth within the congregation. The congregation's leadership did "for the sake of domestic peace" let the increasingly extreme inner group decide on their own what they regarded as sin.
The failure to intervene against the tough group was apologized with excuses about showing the group members "love" and a humble desire to "not cause division". The outcome of this particular form of love is found subsequently to have caused a lot of extra and prolonged suffering to the victims.
The number of children and grandchildren within the inner group has over time grown in number because of large families and intermarriage, and today forms a not insignificant group within the open congregation. The group also developed over time, sheltered by the congregation's cover-up of the pedophile scandal, into a more and more sect-like phenomenon within the open congregation, where parents' and siblings' families were controlling each other very strictly.
The group has, after the pedophile's death, been ruled by a couple of the pedophile's relatives, a man and a woman. These have, with strong personalities and an ability to read people, combined with a remarkable insensitivity and cruelty, controlled children, grandchildren, relatives and to some extent even other congregation members.
The closed group did over time develop increasingly distinctive biblical interpretations and beliefs about right and wrong. Their influence within the revivalist movement across the Cap of the North over the years has gradually increased through the groups' influence over the elections of new lay preachers.
Within a group of preachers who sympathize with the closed group's leaders, a conscious and peculiar way of preaching has in recent years also developed, with consistently emotionally very strong expressions. Many outside the closed group has reacted strongly to what most perceived as a reckless screaming and barking from the pulpit.
Among the screaming preachers, a widespread perception is that the challenging and evocative way of preaching in some way is related to force manifestations of the Holy Spirit. They are obviously quite horribly wrong.
Extremely loud sermons with elements of legalism and arbitrary biblical interpretations have occurred both in broadcasting and larger conventions within the revivalist movement, something which has become possible since the influence of the sect-like inner group has been allowed to grow.
After several interviews with the victims, through deduction, a couple of persons related to the now deceased pedophile emerges - a man and a woman. These two have also actively participated in protecting the pedophile after the abuse was discovered in an early stage.
The leading persons' methods of dealing with relationships within the group indicates an extremely high ability to manipulate and control people by watching each other, as well as through religious impose of guilt, which in some cases has led to a mental state most closely resembling brainwashing.
Some victims live in marriages with people who grew up in healthy conditions, with healthier view of the Scripture, which has enabled them to react. Some have managed to free themselves from the manipulative influence of the leading figures within the group.
Attempts to getting free have tended to lead to further blame for the rebellion against the leaders, and allegations that they wish to harm their family and the group's reputation.
The group's leading figures is according to the testimony of the victims engaging an almost unlimited power over some of the members of the inner circle, by means of members carefully controlling and accusing each other and reporting to the group leaders about undesirable behavior.
Behavior considered inappropriate could be, for example, improper clothing or the wearing of jewelry.
Those being kept within the closed circuit has also been encouraged to, in strict obedience to the commands of the group's older leaders and Bible interpretation, apply harsh methods to control their respective family members. The applied suppression of opinion is said to be in part very severe, and extending in some cases to instructions about how the controlled group members should behave in the bedroom.
Friends and acquaintances from the closed circuit can for instance be assigned by the team leader to visit members of the local or other parishes in their homes in order to convey messages from the leaders. The task may relate to present allegations of inappropriate behavior or just to gather information for later reporting to the leaders.
The closed circuit has for decades been deploying their children, relatives and other supporters (often married into the families) in many of the local congregations of the awakening in Ostrobothnia, northern Sweden and northern Norway.
In many cases the growing group has succeeded in obtaining board seats in the local congregations where the task often tend to seek to block local initiatives of various kinds, or alternatively, to ensure that the group's own members may influence the activities.
The pedophile assaults was reported to the local police station in Pietarsaari on Saturday, November 14, 2009. After a while of insistant knocking on a locked door, the notification was submitted in person by undersigned, within twenty-four hours after the undersigned received the first personal testimony from one of the victims.
For the victims' sake it's important to note that the police report against pedophilia, conducted by a now dead preacher, who allegedly repeatedly asked for forgiveness from the victims, was entirely my own initiative. When the police report became known among the victims then some persons immediately started spreading false rumors about undersigned, which has greatly enhanced the victim's trauma and reinforced distrust among them rather than the hope of healing and deliverance, which they so desperately need.
Undersigned does today not have a shred of doubt that the decision to notify the police was the right decision. Instead the notification was rather an important first step in order to rehabilitate the betrayed victims.
After the first victim shared his experiences with undersigned (whom from the perspective of the closed group must be considered being an “outsider”) more victims have directly or indirectly asked for help from undersigned. The victims had up till now met an unwillingness from its congregation to "dig into old things which is already forgiven", as it was called.
The victims' need to clear up the matter thus was stamped as something illegitimate, and consequently they became disclosed to perish in solitude without proper support from the open congregation. The inner group, or sect, within the wider congregation could in this way, by adding a burden of guilt, freely accuse victims of treachery and rebellion and "division".
Several of the victims say that what they suffered from the most is the treachery that did not stop the abuse at an early stage when there was an opportunity to do so, and the following betrayal from the surrounding open congregation who knew what happened but did not look after the victims nor did take them seriously.
These betrayals form a dark background today explaining why some of the victims feel a very deep distrust towards the congregation and towards Christians in general. Betrayal is the opposite of faithfulness, because faith and confidence requires an object of trustworthiness and credibility. There must always be a good reason to believe and trust something. If it is true that faith and trust is transferred through "faith to faith" then it is equally true that "betrayal to betrayal" leads to genuine distrust and disbelief (Rom 1:17).
One of the reasons for the undersigned to file a police report was to counteract the nasty effects on the let down victims' faith. The police report was a signal that the issue is now taken seriously and that betraying God’s children is no longer accepted in church, nor is it something which the God of the Bible overlooks forever (see Upp 21:8).
When undersigned at express requests by the victims accepted to help the victims who asked for help the victims were told by the inner group which were trying to blackout the scandal that undersigned was a wife beater and suffered from mental illness (psychosis has explicitly mentioned) and other similar things.
In order to assist the victims to possibly overcome the clear intent of creating in the victims a bitter mistrust for the help initiative, perhaps in ordet to not jeopardize the hitherto successful cover-up, undersigned suggested that the victims take direct contact with my wife to check the veracity of the slander.
In order not to reduce credibility my wife was not informed in advance about the forthcoming inquiries, nor even what the issue was all about. At the time of writing my wife still does not know about the scandal being described in this article. The now deceased pedophile was my wife's Sunday school teacher.
Without the feeling of beeing too far-fetched the attempt to undermine the help contribution is reminding me about certain attacks on ambulances in a renowned Middle East conflict.
The total number of victims is still not fully known because no such investigation could be conducted in an environment characterized by the blackout and allegations about "fishing in the sea of grace."
It is known outside the inner group that some leaders within the group "read curses" over Christians with divergent views. The curses could be read also over members of other congregations in the revivalist movement which does not exactly share the group's legalism and, in certain respects, peculiar biblical interpretations.
Victims familiar with the group leader's increasingly extreme ways of thinking and controlling others, reveal that the group allow them self to resort to conscious lies in order to protect their group.
The group's strongest personalities are, at the time of writing, active members of the local church Skutnäs in Jakobstad (in Finnish: Pietarsaari) and they also have, according to representatives for the congregation, seats in the board which have been mentioned as one reason for why the church leadership still has not come together for a comprehensive and whole-hearted handling of the matter in a way which would give the victims concrete and visible evidence for that the time of betrayal now has come to an end.
For outsiders and fpr the spiritually retarded which are seriously hampered in their spiritual maturity due to the confusion around the "inner group", the Bible shows an example of how Jesus handled the attempt from Satan trying to deceive him - God's own son - by using the scriptures. Jesus demonstrated to us how we should respond to such blatant arrogance - he responded to Satan's biblical nonsense with the simple words "It is (also) written" (Matt 4:7).
In addition to those few words from Jesus there are also approximately another 1500 pages in the Bible (editions differ) which is be compared against such disconnected words from the Scripture which religious fanatics tend to pull out of their proper context.
The victims now have a need for visible evidence in the form of concrete action in order to create confidence for the congregation and genuine sincerity in the search for reconciliation from those inflicting them so much pain.
In a similar way as in the case of Paul the apostle, who persecuted the church of Lord Jesus, one cannot demand of anyone to have confidence in a person before there exist real proof of a sincere change of the heart, according to credible witnesses. Earlier deceitful people can not demand to be considered being credible witnesses by the victims today. Evidence must first be demonstrated, followed by credible testimonies about genuine changes of the heart.
Deserved trust is a prerequisite for the victims before the will dare to trust that a true and profound reconciliation is possible, after decades of manipulation and betrayal. Also other members of the local congregation and other congregations in the revival movement, which have been raped by the Taliban-like group of Skutnäs, need an open recognition of the betrayal of the victims and the failure to intervene with this closed group in order to repair the substantial damage done to individuals and entire congregations. Now is time for action.
In short, this is all about faith, and other related words is fidelity and credibility, which provides a sound basis for faith and trust. From this it should be obvious the necessity to counterbalance the previous betrayal. The victims needs to be able to dare to trust their local church and they must provide a healing environment which welcomes them with a true, fearless and unselfish love geared at helping them to find healing to their injuries.
At last: A common type of damage to the human nature that may occur after sexual assault is problems with sexual identity. This is certainly not always the result, but such consequences may occur sometimes, and the congregations that have victims who needs help therefore needs to be prepared to respond also to this reality.
But, after all the serious assault, and after all the abuse and all the years of manipulation, and after the smoke* of confusion begins to disperse, there may open up entirely new possibilities - through Gods grace He can make all things new! (Rev 21, entire chapter)
* Native speaking readers look here! - We would apprechiate your assistance in proof reading and correcting our articles into proper English.
* "smoke" - Biblical figurative language depicting "severely reduced sight" (also "insight" in transferred meaning). Smoke also has a nauseating and pungent odor, which is strongly unpleasant and even dangerous when inhaled.
* Rilpedia - I the text there are links to Rilpedia, a sister site to RIL News. Within Rilpedia there can still remain links to articles which are not family friendly, that is, content which does not reflect the views held by Rilpedia and RIL News. We therefore encourage our readers to report any unfit articles so we can correct them immediately.
More articles about the pedophile scandal will be published in the next few days under headlines such as ""A terrible God " impedes healing of sexual abuse", "The pedophile scandal requires vast amounts of grace", "Secular therapy or divine healing? Antichrist has multiple guises"
About the Author - Rolf Lampa, living in Gävle, Sweden, is a father of seven and (still) a member of the Swedish Church (former state church), and he grew up within the eastern phalange of the Laestadian revival movement. He's self employed and in leisure hours he runs several Internet sites with his family, whith the purpose to encourage a sound connection of the Biblical message to reality and to give concrete arguments for the historicity and reliability of the Bible and to counter unsound introversion which may lead to sectarianism. Exemples are this site (RIL News, under construction), Rilpedia (2006) and Rilsource (creation issues), and more.