10. The Charismatic Leader in Knutby Filadelfia: The Children's Perspective
Sanja Nilsson [+]
Gothenburg University, Sweden
Knutby Filadelfia is a charismatic Christian denomination of approximately 100 members residing outside of the city of Uppsala, north of Sweden’s capital Stockholm. Originally founded in 1921, the denomination has been a part of the Pentecostal movement in Sweden for most of its existence, and shares the common traits of Sweden’s Pentecostal denominations. The group became known to the public when a former member shot two members, one of whom died. Knutby Filadelfia were expelled from the Pentecostal movement after these tragic events which took place in 2004. Since the murder, the congregation has been slandered by Swedish media to the extent that the charismatic leader, Åsa Waldau, chose to go into seclusion. Reports of harsh child rearing practices and corporal punishment dictated by the charismatic leader have been circulating for the last 10 years. This article paints a portrait of the charismatic leader through the eyes of the children and analyses the impact of charismatic authority in the lives of young members. The data includes eight interviews and one group focus interview with children and teenagers as well as participant observations.