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Sex, murder and the Bride of Christ - Tom Thygesen Frederiksen

The little town of Knutby near Uppsala in Sweden is dominated by a strange Christian sect that has developed out of the Pentecostal movement. The former leader of the sect, pastor Helge Fossmo, has written a large set of rules that, among other things, tell the congregation which books they are allowed to read and that the husband has all rights, including sexual, over his wife. Fossmo´s sister-in-law, Aase Waldau, also has a particular status in the congregation. For example, in the church she has been ritually engaged to Christ and therefore she is called the "bride of Christ".

On the 10th of January Fossmo´s wife, Alexandra, was shot and killed, and someone also tried to murder the pastor´s neighbour, Daniel Linde. The pastor's former nanny quickly admitted to the murder. It turned out that the nanny was deeply in love with the pastor, that the pastor was the lover of the neighbour´s wife, Anette Linde, and that the pastor´s first wife had died under mysterious circumstances 4 years earlier. So Fossmo and Anette Linde were arrested on the 28th of January for conspiracy to commit murder.

The case has all the sectarian hallmarks that the Dialogcenter has seen in sects that run wild: abuse of power, pedantic regulation of members, hypocrisy, hubris, violence and sex. In the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (01.02.2004) the sect expert and Lutheran minister, Karl-Erik Nylund, stresses that the Knutby congregation looks like a typical sect. The sect preaches an absolute truth, the style of leadership is authoritarian, the way of thinking is: "we in the sect are good but you outside are bad" and the members are afraid to talk freely. Finally, the leader is often a charismatic individual who binds his female disciples to himself with religious and erotic ties and abuses his position. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And sex and religion is a dangerous mixture that appears surprisingly often.