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A shattered sacred story: the rise and fall of the Bride of Christ within the charismatic congregation Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Religious Studies. Gothenburg University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0132-2074
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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Bride of Christ, Knutby Filadelfia, new religious movements
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Barn i minoritetssamfund: religiösa uppväxter
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-26749OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-26749DiVA, id: diva2:1164858
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

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Nilsson, Sanja

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • vancouver
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More styles
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