“If you need a virtual community, something is wrong with your congregation”: Institutionalized Laestadianism and the use of digital media

Stefan Gelfgren


This article studies how the Laestadian movement (a Christian confessional revivalist movement that is sceptical of technology) uses digital media in general, and the internet in particular, in its work. In a time when churches on a large scale are concerned with how to communicate with people through digital media, the Laestadian movement choses another path, based upon other assumptions and choices. The focus here is on how congregations and representatives use digital media, and not on individual and private use, and this article will focus primarily on Sweden and Finland. Based on interviews with representatives and by mapping the congregations’ online presence, this article provides an interpretation of the use of the internet within Laestadianism. Through this group, we see how ideology, faith, and practices regulate a restricted, negotiated, and conscious use of the internet, which challenges any preconceptions regarding use and effect of the internet on religion. This case study therefore gives additional perspective for understanding the role of digital media within and in relation to institutionalized Christianity.


digital humanities; Laestadianism; social media; mediatization; Christianity

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