Laestadianism, also known as Laestadian Lutheranism and Apostolic Lutheranism, is a conservative Lutheran revival movement started in Sapmi in the middle of the 19th century.
Lars Levi Laestadius (1800-1861) was a prominent revivalist and botanist with a Sámi background from northern Sweden. Since the 19th century, Laestadianism has been a well-known religious movement in northern Sweden, Finland and Norway.
The Laestadian movement started in Sweden after the spiritual reorientation of Lars Levi Laestadius, which occurred when he had been a minister of the National Lutheran Swedish Church for almost 20 years. According to the legend, the spiritual awakening is connected with Laestadius’ encounter with a young Sámi woman, Milla Clementsdotter, often called Maria.
Today, while being most prominent in Finland, it has members in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries as well as in Russia and North America and smaller congregations around the world. There are estimated 200 000 Laestadians worldwide. Laestadians are generally known for their conservative values and exclusive social identity.
Nowadays it can be characterised as a conservative movement that is still part of the Swedish Church, despite being a strong critic of many modern phenomena in the Swedish Church today.
The teachings of Laestadianism are based on the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. Centermost among these teachings is the sermon of Jesus’ suffering, death, and victorious resurrection. The work of Jesus Christ continues in this world as the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s congregation. Thus the Laestadian Lutheran Church teaches of God’s kingdom and preaches repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
Laestadianism is a very severe religion; Leastedians consider themseles only true christians. They reject all sins of the outer world, such as: dancing, television, modern music, earrings, movies, tattoos. Some conservative elements within the church go even further in rejecting the ways of the world, for examples, refusing to buy insurance, prohibiting their children’s participation in organized school sports, and removing their car radios.