Newspaper Published (English)
Heidi Hough Former member of Brunstad Christian Church
I am an American author and filmmaker who grew up in Brunstad Christian Church (BCC). I left BCC – or was thrown out – when I was eighteen . It is a little over twenty years ago, but I still carry the emotional and spiritual scars of growing up there.
In my case, the end of my membership began with the sin of wearing pants at school instead of skirts. But that is a different story. This post, on the other hand, is a response to the Norwegian Kristine Council (NKR) recent decision to admit BCC as a full member of the council.
The first thing I ask myself is why BCC wants to be a member of NKR at all?
When I was growing up, I was taught that BCC was the only true religion. This was something everyone understood, this was our internal language: BCC was called the church, the outside was called the world.
Worship services were called meetings, adult men were brothers, and women were sisters.
I heard from my parents and from the brothers at the meetings how lucky I was to be born into God 1s only true church – the only church that would be part of the apocalyptic end-time rapture that was soon to come.
I learned that God had made clear a very special place in hell for all who left BCC, and that those who left BCC were evil and possessed by demons . It was the only explanation for why someone would reject the winning lottery itself, which God Himself had given them at birth.
But the condemnation did not only apply to outsiders or former members. No, I was told that God had spared his most violent indignation to other religions, including – or especially – other Christian churches. I heard it so often that the words have been burned into my memory: God despises “the religious world” – all other churches except ours – even more than he hates those who do not believe in anything at all.
The Bible verse that was constantly referred to was from Revelation: “I wish you were hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.” We were the hot ones. Non-believers were the cold ones. The religious world, or those who did not fully participate in everything under the auspices of the BCC, were lukewarm.
I heard that the “religious world” misread the Bible and have misunderstood Jesus’ message. For he did not come with love and forgiveness, but with the message that you yourself are responsible for your sinful nature. “He did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” as the Bible says.
The doctrine has not changed
At BCC’ s Easter conference 2020, leader Kare Smith said that “we have the same message that Johan Oscar Smith preached. Not a shred of that message has disappeared. We stand by that. “
Why then will they become a member of the Christian Council of Norway? And how do the 21 NKR members who voted yes to take up BCC as a member manage to unite such contradictions?
BCC’ s new position is apparently that it is not “The religious world” they are against, but superficiality. If the BCC really means what they say, they should withdraw books and writings in which they intensely criticize other churches. I can give at least twenty quotes against churches and other religious institutions from the leader Kare Smith’s book Shepherd and Prophet . I settle for one, from page 69 in the book:
“The Church’s creed is in fact a creed where the forgiveness of sins has become the forgiveness of sins! So far has come from the word of God that the scriptures rightly call such “Christianity” the Antichrist – the spirit that opposes the church of Christ and all true life of God.”
Discrimination and bullying
One of the main reasons why the board of NKR in the first instance recommended that BCC not be allowed to become a member with them, was due to how they treat ex- members. Why now does NKR still allow a church in its organization that shuns former members, and that constantly fails to acknowledge the pain they have caused those who are innocently born into and raised in the faith community, only to be thrown out?
Chairman of the board Berit Hustad Nilsen recently stated to Vart Land (20.9.21): “For several years we have also had an open door for former fellow believers who want to take up bad experiences, and we can only con tinue to repeat that there will be no rejected. “
Why have I not heard of this? If there is a positive portal for communication, I do not know it and I do not know what Hustad Nilsen refers to.
However, I know that Hustad Nilsen considers BCC as the victim, because I read new debate posts almost monthly, where she complains about discrimination and bullying. How can NKR allow a church into its organization, where the leader continually publishes texts that make themselves victims, while turning a deaf ear to the countless victims their policies and sectarian behavior have created?
Another question that arises is how can NKR at all call BCC a “church”? Is it a church worthy not to even inform about the time and place of worship services, and hide behind a password – protected website with a payment wall?
Not even we who are former members know where we can participate, unless we are lucky enough to still know someone in BCC who will talk to us.
Thanks to NKR
Inside the BCC, it may seem that we former members have never existed. Now, on the other hand, we see a glimmer of light over our existence and the justice we deserve.
Because with BCC’ s membership in NKR, it means that they now face tougher scrutiny and have to tone down their extreme messages. They have escaped with much in the last hundred years because they have not been under surveillance.
Despite all my critical questions to the Christian Council of Norway – and which I hope they will answer – I would therefore also like to thank them for taking on this new supervisory role. I do this in the hope that this will protect future generations, and that justice for former members will finally come.