Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The Laestadian movement (Lestaadiolaiset in Finnish and Laestadianismen in Swedish, or the "followers of Laestadius") are a conservative Christian sect prominent in Lapland in northern Finland and Sweden. They follow the dictates of botanist and preacher Lars Levi Lestadius (1800-1861) who started the movement in northern Sweden in the 1840s.

Laestadians are similar to many small Christian religious communities in their collectiveness, exclusivity and the idea that theirs is the only true faith. They are not separate from the Church of Finland or the Church of Sweden but are definitely their own sect.

The Laestadian idea of sin includes dancing, rhythm and rock music, visual entertainment like movies and television, beer and alcohol in general, contraceptives, sports, premarital sex, swearing, cosmetics, jewelry and dyeing of hair. Tobacco is acceptable. Their idea of pleasant entertainment includes religious meetings and singing of hymns.

Laestadians emphasize a somber lifestyle and personal confession of sins to another Laestadian not necessarily a priest. Still they may experience ecstatic rapture during their religious gatherings, when they proclaim their sins and are absolved "in Jesus' name and blood". Their preachers are rather fervent in their preaching style.

Laestadianism is common among the Sami population. Lestadians are also known for their unusually large families 10 children or more are the norm.

Laestadians have their own progressives and conservatives as well and there are three main subsects. Some leaders do not support the idea of exclusiveness. The most conservative followers amount to maybe 100,000 people. One subsect even uses archaic speech patterns.