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Laestadianism is a conservative Lutheran movement that is hot in Scandinavia. Its home ground is Lapland and Northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, where it represent a significant political force, particularly in clerical politics. It has existed since the 1840s, and is also found in Russia, Africa, South America, Central Europe and North America. In Scandinavia, Laestadians belong to the mainstream Lutheran state churches, but the United States has separate Laestadian churches. As in general with Scandinavian movements, charismatic lay-preachers are an important part of the tradition. Laestadian meetings take place separately from, and in addition to the general congregation. That is, the movement can exist alongside and inside a parent church.

While theologically their positions are unremarkable compared to mainstream Lutheranism, Laestadians are best known to the public because of the host of weird rules that they follow. Banned are TV, alcohol, contraception, makeup, hair-coloring, gambling, premarital sex, female pastors, competitive sports, pop or rock music; but not smoking, the Internet or even the use of televisions in education.[1] In this respect, they resemble Mormons. The story that washing-machines with a window are banned because they'd allow you to see underwear is, however, an urban legend.[2] Because contraception is banned, Laestadians often have many children: 13-child families aren't even unusual. Formally, they are not endogamous, but because the lifestyle is so restrictive, they tend to be endogamous in practice.

In Norway, Laestadians don't use curtains, because righteous, god-fearing folks shouldn't have anything to hide from their neighbours. Thus they can often be observed watching their old black-and-white TVs in their living rooms. If the lights are out, they're either not home, they're sleeping, or they're secretly watching their 50" plasma screen in their conveniently windowless basement. Ah yes, and they're strongly anti-consumerist, except when it comes to the newest SUVs, which are very practical in sub-arctic winters and absolutely not to be classified as luxury goods.


The Laestadians have always been fond of their preachers, and this has led to several schisms over the years. As such, there are not only a few, but 19 (nineteen) different Laestadian sects. For some reason the Laestadians started discussing the age of the Earth amongst themselves in the 1990's. This promptly caused another branching and subsequent passing of judgment: generally, the young Earth Laestadians are convinced that the old Earth Laestadians are going to Hell, and vice versa.