What Was Your Ancestral Religion

My father’s father came to this country from Sweden in the 1870’s. I’ve never heard, but assume he grew up in a church that was a break away from the state Lutheran church in Sweden. But, if I could go back several generations before my Great Grandfather/Mother what religion were they? Humans drifted into Scandinavia both from the south up the coast and overland from the southeast over 10,000 years ago. Then, the gene pool suggests, there were migrations in and out for thousands of years. I don’t know the “indigenous” religion of my past. I know only recent generations have been Christian.

I’ve been reading of a trend among young adults of color in the U.S. to search for their indigenous religion and try to identify with it. This group has come to see Christianity as a white male faith that was forced on their ancestors. The feeling is, to some but not all, they might find emotional and intellectual in faith their ancestors practiced.

A practical problem is reconstructing the faith and the language of the time. Adaptations of what might have been there generations ago sometimes is mixed with Christian rituals.

Some of this trend seems driven by women who have been harassed by white men increased by anti-gay religion. Then when the gay issue became the marque issue in Christianity, it became seen as a white issue. If you were a Christian woman of color you might well say, “They’re treating gays like they treat me. I’m leaving this religion.”

11 Responses

  1. Jinx II

    I have a few. Jewish, Native American, Bavarian catholic, Norwegian lutheran and Swedish lutheran from Mom, Irish catholic and possibly old church of England from Dad; and, of course the tribal religions from the areas my ancestors came from…..especially Celtic. I find racism, prejudice and discrimination in most branches of religion since the ugly “us vs them” mentality exists.

      1. Jinx II

        My DNA testing was done by a science company that my scientist daughter set up for me. I was able to upload my results to another recommended science project and get a detailed read out. It all matched up with the known origins of 3 sides of my family, it identified the maternal side of my adopted Grandmothers side of the family and we were able to find them, so far we have not been able to identify my biological Gr Grandfather or his family. Thanks to my daughter, I received about as scientific report on my DNA as I could get.

        I think there are a lot more people like me since modern humans have been migrating out of east Africa for eons of time.

  2. Vern Kepler

    The Kepler name originate from Germany,according to the information we migrated to America in 1653′ We were Of the waldenes faith, and were persecuted profoundly,but never lost our faith. In America we became Methodists, which we are today, the same faith exist. My Great Grandfather and The other brothers homesteader in Iowa, a couple of the streets in Stanhope Iowa, are named after two of the Brothers, and one of the Methodist Church stands on my Great Grand fathers land.

    1. Vern 10:21 Good to hear from you again. My wife’s family is from Germany and they have been Methodists also for some generations. I don’t know what they were pre Christianity.

  3. Adam Heckathorn

    My ancestry is 99.8% Northern European so odds are that the religion of my ancestors included human sacrifice. That is backed up by Archaeology. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of witches were sacrificed in Christian rituals. I joined a cult that has convinced folks to reject life saving modern medical therapies so thousands have died, Sacrificed to Their God. Catholic hospitals have refused to do abortions even when it meant certain death for the patient, More Human sacrifice.I assume in the future my descendants will look back all these times, Including ours, As a barbaric past where human life was considered something to be occasionally sacrificed to appease the Gods.

  4. Randall Wehler


    You wrote an interesting question piece. I loved the two anthropology courses I completed in college. Much to the disdain of some biblical literalists, I think more in terms of geological and cosmic time — which have a science base — in looking at the flow of human history. I think Jesus of Nazareth was God-filled and mediated the divine to the human. He awakened the divine spirit in us, igniting that “spark of divinity” created within us to blossom in a way mysterious and transcendent.

    There is the question of humans before the time of Jesus. From what I gather, what is their fate — heaven or hell in the fundamentalistic mind — since they never knew Jesus Christ? Sounds like they were just out of luck when it comes to eternity in some peoples’ mind. It’s a good topic for the theological academicians!

    1. Randall 10:09 I think Jesus…was God-filled and mediated the divine to the human. He awakened the divine spirit in us…

      Thanks for an interesting comment. Others over my years of blogging here have mentioned the world of the divine and how some ideas belong there and are not subject to evaluation by real time or rational logic. I have no problem with those who believe this. My problem is when this idea so takes hold of people they expect it to become part of our laws. Jesus and Christianity are only one of many avenues to the divine spirit. The founding fathers of the U.S. recognized all these avenues should be available. Unspoken by them was the existence of those who find no divine and no avenue toward it.

    2. Juan Ruiz

      “There is the question of humans before the time of Jesus. ”

      Christian theology spent so much time turning its god into a micromanager, who had nothing better to do with his time than measure Jesus-belief, that the question of pre-Jesus humans became problematic. All the propositions of Aquinas’ Summa are based on Aristotle. “Dixit magister…” Yet he was pagan. So the conclusion was that he WOULD have been a Christian. The Mormon solution is to baptize the dead, based on an ambiguous Bible verse. That got them into very hot water with the Jews when it came out they were baptizing Holocaust victims.

    3. Randall 10:09 There is the question of humans before the time of Jesus…heaven or hell in the fundamentalistic mind..they were just out of luck

      I like your interest in science and rationality. If we use evidence or observation, what we can say this about people before the time of Jesus? Their fate was the same as all of us is now. They are dead and there is no heaven or hell.

  5. Juan Ruiz

    The Norwegian dialect my grandparents spoke doesn’t exist anymore. It got wiped out when Norway opted to adopt Nynorsk as its official language. My mom went back there in 1971 and couldn’t understand a word spoken in Oslo.

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