Egersund is a small town on the south-western coast of Norway. It has always been a good landing port for fishing boats coming in with their catch. And it is also home to very orthodox Christian sects.
Norway has for a thousand years been a predominantly Christian country. Since the reformation most of the population has been Lutheran, and baptized in the state church. The coast from Kristiansand in the south to the island of Karmøy in northern Rogaland County is often called the “dark” coastline.
On this coast religious sentiments have been particularly strong and have had profound effects on politics and culture in a wide definition of the terms. Norwegian missionaries have been, and still are, all over the world. The first Norwegian emigrants to America, a group of Quakers, set out from Stavanger in 1825. The prohibition movement (anti-alcohol) has been strong, and so has the frowning upon on secular activities like dancing and gambling.
The region has also seen a number of offspring from the state church. The national church has had a reputation of not being strong enough, promoting too many reforms, and of being much too inclusive of various beliefs – and what some would call disbeliefs. This “dark” coastline has seen a number of sects, some of them centred on strong, charismatic leaders. There were few elsewhere in Norway, apart from some parts in the very north.
Some sects were called the “strong believers” or simply the “strong”: “Samfundet” (often called Lomelendingene), “Det Almindelige Samfund” (Perane) and “Det Almindelige Lutherske Samfund” (Larsane). They are related but only as offspring from each other.
What has all this got to do with Egersund? Well, many such communities centred on this town, and they are still active running their own schools and playing a certain part in local life. There are on the other hand not many followers, only a few thousand.
Apart from the linked sources above I have not found much on the web. Here are a few more links: “De sterktroende” and “Samfundet” on the website of Dalane Folkemuseum and the article “Sterke troende” on Store Norske Leksikon. All sources are in Norwegian only.
A video from the town
This video is not about these religious groups. Instead I have photographed houses in the city centre and present them in this video.
I started out making a mini-series of short videos from the western coast of Norway – the fjord country – on my YouTube channel. The videos are a combination of textual narrative, video clips, animated photos and music from Norway. Here is the YouTube playlist. I then decided to include the videos and selected photos as entries on my blog, along with short descriptions. Some of the articles have been developing over time and now include much more.
Book your stay in Egersund here (external link).
Find many more articles from Eigersund on the Norwegian language part of Sandalsand.