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Nilsson, S. (2019). Performing Perfectly: Presentations of Childhood in Knutby Filadelfia Before and After the Dissolution of the Congregation. (Doctoral dissertation). Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Performing Perfectly: Presentations of Childhood in Knutby Filadelfia Before and After the Dissolution of the Congregation
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Knutby Filadelfia Congregation, founded in 1921, started out as a Pentecostal congregation. It has, however, been considered a deviant and semi-isolated new religious movement ever since it became known to the public after a murder took place within its community in 2004. The massive media attention it received revealed the presence of a charismatic leader within the group, and the development of a new theology in which the charismatic leader was considered to be the Bride of Christ. After 2004, the congregation reinforced its boundaries with society, and then suddenly began to dissolve in 2016. This study discusses the development of totalistic features within the congregation from the perspective of sociologist Erving Goffman; it highlights the simultaneous presence of in-group as well as out-group social stigma; and it explores the conflicting presentations of childhood in the congregation in performances from before and after the dissolution of the congregation.

The results are based on empirical material from 25 semi-structured interviews with children and youth aged 7–25, 2 focus group interviews with youths, and 24 days of participant observations. Goffman’s theoretical framework, including the key concepts total institutions, stigma, and presentations, is used together with an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach in order to explore the experiences of childhoods as presented by children and youth within the congregation.

The findings suggest that their individual understandings of and responses to the presence of a charismatic authority, as well as the consequences of such authorities on parent–child relations, are individual. The Pre-Narratives focus on stigmatisation from society, while the Post-Narratives include stigma within the congregation in the form of social exclusion. The study further indicates that the presentations of childhoods given prior to and after the dissolution of the congregation, the so-called Pre- and Post-Narratives, differ due to changing dramaturgical loyalties, although they should both be considered front-stage activity in Goffman’s terms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet, 2019
Keywords
Childhood, Knutby Filadelfia, High-Demand New Religious Communes, Charisma, Presentations, Stigma, Total Institution
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-29762 (URN)978-91-7833-394-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-03-22, Föreläsningssal 2, Falun, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Available from: 2019-03-26 Created: 2019-03-26 Last updated: 2019-03-26Bibliographically approved
Frisk, L., Nilsson, S. & Åkerbäck, P. (2018). Children in Minority Religions: Growing up in Controversial Religious Groups. London: Equinox Publishing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Children in Minority Religions: Growing up in Controversial Religious Groups
2018 (English)Book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Equinox Publishing, 2018
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-26796 (URN)9781781794203 (ISBN)
Projects
Vetenskapsrådet
Available from: 2017-12-15 Created: 2017-12-15 Last updated: 2017-12-15Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2017). A shattered sacred story: the rise and fall of the Bride of Christ within the charismatic congregation Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden. In: : . Paper presented at The 2017 CESNUR Conference HOLY LANDS AND SACRED HISTORIES IN NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS,The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute - 43 Jabotinsky Street, Jerusalem, Israel 2 - 6 July 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A shattered sacred story: the rise and fall of the Bride of Christ within the charismatic congregation Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Knutby Filadelfia is a charismatic Christian congregation of approximately 90 members located in Sweden. The congregation is known particularly for what has been called “The Knutby Drama” taking place in January 2004 when a pastor persuaded a young female member to shoot two members of the congregation, one of whom died. The perpetrator of the crime was under the impression that she acted according to God’s will, expressed in text messages received on her mobile phone. The murdered member’s sister, Pastor Åsa M Waldau, was dubbed “the Bride of Christ” by the media after rumours stating that she has claimed to be the New Jerusalem, and married to Jesus, which later proved correct. Waldau has had a unique position as the group´s charismatic leader since the early 1990s. The mystique surrounding Waldau’s person and a theology based on her in the role as the Bride of Christ in a semi-erotic narrative including a wedding and prophesies in the form of love letters from Jesus (called Dojadid by Waldau) has been sternly denied by leaders and members of the congregation since 2004. However, rapid changes has taken place within the group. Waldau was unexpectedly banned from the congregation in November 2016, and along with her, the charismatic pop icon-like pastor Urban Fält was thrown out of the congregation. Following these drastic measurements, the congregation publicly denounced both leaders and the Christ of Bride-theology, stating publicly that they had been the victims of psychological abuse by manipulative charismatic leaders.

This paper presents the undercurrents in the sacred story of the Bride of Christ: how it was invented, post 2004 repressed but secretly sustained in practice, and finally by what means it was finally shattered and rejected by the congregation in 2016. It relates these developments to similar events in other new religions and discusses the possibilities of the congregation to survive and maintain its membership beyond the crisis.

Keywords
Bride of Christ, Knutby Filadelfia, new religious movements
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-26749 (URN)
Conference
The 2017 CESNUR Conference HOLY LANDS AND SACRED HISTORIES IN NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS,The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute - 43 Jabotinsky Street, Jerusalem, Israel 2 - 6 July 2017
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2017-12-12 Created: 2017-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
Frisk, L., Nilsson, S. & Åkerbäck, P. (2017). Guds nya barnbarn: Att växa upp i kontroversiella religiösa grupper. Dialogos Förlag
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Guds nya barnbarn: Att växa upp i kontroversiella religiösa grupper
2017 (Swedish)Book (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Hur är det att vara barn och växa upp i en religiös minoritetsgrupp som Hare Krishna, Scientologi-kyrkan, Jehovas Vittnen, Knutby Filadelfia, Plymouth-bröderna, Enighetskyrkan eller Guds Barn/Familjen? Boken bygger framför allt på ett 70-tal intervjuer med såväl vuxna som barn som vuxit upp i dessa grupper, samt på intervjuer med ett 20-tal föräldrar, men också på fältobservationer och textstudier av gruppernas material kring barn och barnuppfostran. Livsvillkoren för barnen kan vara mycket olika, bland annat för att de olika religiösa grupperna har olika ideologier och syn på barnuppfostran, men också på individuella omständigheter inom olika familjer, fas i gruppens utveckling samt samhällets gensvar och reaktioner på gruppen ifråga. Boken diskuterar teman som socialisation, identitet, avhopp och skolgång, men tar också upp farhågor kring dessa grupper som auktoritär uppfostran, aga, isolering från samhället, separationer mellan föräldrar och barn, och bristande omsorg vad gäller mat och hälsa. Författare är professor i religionsvetenskap Liselotte Frisk, Högskolan Dalarna, fil. dr Peter Åkerbäck, Stockholms Universitet, och doktorand Sanja Nilsson, Högskolan Dalarna och Göteborgs universitet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dialogos Förlag, 2017
Keywords
barn, kontroversiella religiösa grupper, uppväxt
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-26752 (URN)9789175043272 (ISBN)
Available from: 2017-12-12 Created: 2017-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-15Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2017). The rise and fall of the Bride of Christ: The breakup of the contemporary charismatic christian community Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden. In: : . Paper presented at Communal Studies Association 2017 Conference in Zoar Village, Ohio, 5-7 October 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The rise and fall of the Bride of Christ: The breakup of the contemporary charismatic christian community Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Knutby Filadelfia is a charismatic Christian congregation of approximately 90 members located in Sweden. The congregation is known particularly for what has been called “The Knutby Drama” taking place in January 2004 when a pastor persuaded a young female member to shoot two members of the congregation, one of whom died. The perpetrator of the crime was under the impression that she acted according to God’s will, expressed in text messages received on her mobile phone. The murdered member’s sister, Pastor Åsa M Waldau, was dubbed “the Bride of Christ” by the media after rumours stating that she has claimed to be the New Jerusalem, and married to Jesus, which later proved correct. Waldau has had a unique position as the group´s charismatic leader since the early 1990s. The mystique surrounding Waldau’s person and a theology based on her in the role as the Bride of Christ in a semi-erotic narrative including a wedding and prophesies in the form of love letters from Jesus (called Dojadid by Waldau) has been sternly denied by leaders and members of the congregation since 2004. However, rapid changes has taken place within the group. Waldau was unexpectedly banned from the congregation in November 2016, and along with her, the charismatic pop icon-like pastor Urban Fält was thrown out of the congregation. Following these drastic measurements, the congregation publicly denounced both leaders and the Christ of Bride-theology, stating publicly that they had been the victims of psychological abuse by manipulative charismatic leaders.

This paper presents the undercurrents in the sacred story of the Bride of Christ: how it was invented, post 2004 repressed but secretly sustained in practice, and finally by what means it was finally shattered and rejected by the congregation in 2016. It relates these developments to similar events in other new religions and discusses the possibilities of the congregation to survive and maintain its membership beyond the crisis.

Keywords
Bride of Christ, Knutby Filadelfia, new religious movement
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-26750 (URN)
Conference
Communal Studies Association 2017 Conference in Zoar Village, Ohio, 5-7 October 2017
Available from: 2017-12-12 Created: 2017-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2016). Children in New Religions (vol 2ed.). In: James R. Lewis and Inga B. Tollefsen (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements: (pp. 248-263). Oxford: Oxford University Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Children in New Religions
2016 (English)In: The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements / [ed] James R. Lewis and Inga B. Tollefsen, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, vol 2, p. 248-263Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016 Edition: vol 2
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-22466 (URN)9780190466176 (ISBN)
Available from: 2016-06-28 Created: 2016-06-28 Last updated: 2016-06-28Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2016). Crying in the Flesh: Disciplining Children in Knutby Filadelfia. In: : . Paper presented at The 2016 Cesnur Conference "Religious Movements in a Globalized World: Korea, Asia, and Beyond", 5-10 July 2016.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Crying in the Flesh: Disciplining Children in Knutby Filadelfia
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Knutby Filadelfia is a small Christian charismatic congregation residing outside Uppsala, Sweden. The group became known worldwide in January 2004 when a pastor allegedly persuaded a young female member to shoot two other members, one of whom died. The perpetrator of the crime was under the impression that she acted according to God’s will. Right from the onset of the group’s entrance into the eye of the media, rumours of abusive child rearing and harsh discipline of children has surrounded the group, especially when recorded sermons from the group’s church service where pastors encouraging corporal punishment of children started circulating on the internet. To contextualize this specific case, democratic child-rearing norms in Sweden are briefly accounted for. Since corporal punishment is illegal in Sweden, the groups’ alleged practice of authoritative child rearing methods were soon publicly questioned, and voices were raised from the public and from representatives from the medical community for investigations. Ex-members testified to parental abuse dictated by the group’s charismatic leadership and some families came under investigation. This paper addresses the issue of parental disciplining within the group from the perspective of the leadership of the group, the media, and the perspective of the supposed victims: the children themselves. It also discusses methodological difficulties connected to researching children in new religious communes. 

National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Health and Welfare, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-22467 (URN)
Conference
The 2016 Cesnur Conference "Religious Movements in a Globalized World: Korea, Asia, and Beyond", 5-10 July 2016
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2016-06-28 Created: 2016-06-28 Last updated: 2016-06-28Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2016). From Children of God to Children of Members: Changing Views on Children in The Family International 1988-2015. In: : . Paper presented at 2015 Annual ICSA Conference “Children in High-Control Groups” June 25-27 2016, Stockholm, Sweden..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Children of God to Children of Members: Changing Views on Children in The Family International 1988-2015
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Intercultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-22992 (URN)
Conference
2015 Annual ICSA Conference “Children in High-Control Groups” June 25-27 2016, Stockholm, Sweden.
Available from: 2016-08-31 Created: 2016-08-31 Last updated: 2016-09-01Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2016). Isn't it dangerous there?: Exploring children's accounts of growing up in contemporary minority religions in Sweden. In: : . Paper presented at Barns uppväxtvillkor i kontroversiella religiösa grupper/Children´s Upbringings in Controversial Religious Groups Torsdagen den 12 maj kl 13-17, Högskolan Dalarna, Falun, sal Fö 2.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Isn't it dangerous there?: Exploring children's accounts of growing up in contemporary minority religions in Sweden
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Keywords
religious upbringing, new religious movements, childhood
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-26751 (URN)
Conference
Barns uppväxtvillkor i kontroversiella religiösa grupper/Children´s Upbringings in Controversial Religious Groups Torsdagen den 12 maj kl 13-17, Högskolan Dalarna, Falun, sal Fö 2
Available from: 2017-12-12 Created: 2017-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, S. (2016). She sees the smallest one: Children's of Love and Longing for the Charismatic Leader in Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden. In: Children and Families in Recent Communal Groups: . Paper presented at Communal Studies Association Annual Conference October 5-8, 2016, Salt lake City, Utah.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>She sees the smallest one: Children's of Love and Longing for the Charismatic Leader in Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden
2016 (English)In: Children and Families in Recent Communal Groups, 2016Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Keywords
Knutby Filadelfia, charismatic leader, children, construction
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Health and Welfare, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:du-23963 (URN)
Conference
Communal Studies Association Annual Conference October 5-8, 2016, Salt lake City, Utah
Available from: 2017-01-25 Created: 2017-01-25 Last updated: 2017-01-25Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-0132-2074

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