- Åsa Waldau
Åsa Maria Waldau
Waldau at the 2007 Gothenburg Book Fair
Born October 26, 1965
Residence Knutby, Sweden Nationality Swedish Education highschool Occupation Pastor, singer Title Bride of Christ Spouse Patrik Waldau Children two Parents Matz Jacobsson and Lillemor Wikström Website http://www.asamwaldau.com/
Åsa M. Waldau [ˈoːsa maˈriːa ˌvaldau] (also known as Tirsa and as the Bride of Christ) is the leader of a Christian church in Knutby, Sweden. She was born October 26, 1965. She is one of originally four sisters, the youngest of whom was the victim of the Knutby murder on January 10, 2004.
In 1985 Åsa Waldau had one month's theological training in a Pentecostal bible school in Stockholm. In 1990 Waldau (then Björk) was hired by the Pentecostal church in Uppsala as a children's pastor. However, because of her actions and because she divorced, she was forced to resign. She then moved to Knutby, where she lived with the Waldau family, whose young son Patrik (born 1975) she had befriended in Uppsala. They married in June 1994.
Waldau was hired part time by the Pentecostal congregation of Knutby in March 1992. Kim Wincent, whom she had met in bible school in 1985, was a pastor there. Waldau's position rapidly increased in power. There were claims of prophecies about a "disrespected servant of the Lord" who would be the cause of a "fire from Knutby." She traveled widely in Swedish Pentecostal communities, and induced many young people to move to Knutby. In 1997 she convinced Helge Fossmo and his wife Heléne to join the Knutby community as a pastor.
The Philadelphia congregation in Knutby was established in 1921 during the Pentecostal revival in Sweden connected with Lewi Pethrus. Åsa Waldau was the granddaughter of Pethrus' successor Willis Säwe, but her mother did not raise her in the faith. She was born again, and entered the Pentecostal tradition, but she also underwent influences from Ulf Ekman and his Livets Ord movement and from Word of Faith.
In Waldau's preaching there is an emphasis on sanctification and on forgiveness of sins which is a base of Christian belief. She believes that believers can stop sinning in this life on earth.
The cult of approximately 100 members has a very hierarchical internal organization. Reminiscent of a cell church, the members are organized in teams, with a team leader they are supposed to ask for spiritual guidance. At the top of the hierarchy are six pastors, but not all of them are employed full-time.
Waldau's views of the role of women may seem contradictory. Within a marriage it is the husband who should lead his wife and take decisions. The wife is to obey her husband, and should ask her husband's permission, even for mundane things like shopping trips.
Waldau's distinguishing doctrine is that she rejects the identification of the biblical metaphor of the Bride of Christ with the Church. She teaches publicly that the Bride of Christ is an actual person, whom Christ will wed, while the guests at this wedding are identified as the believers. In private, she claims that she is the Bride of Christ herself, defectors have told.
The eschatology is pretribulationist. Waldau expected that she would be taken away before the Rapture, in a manner reminiscent of the dormition of the Virgin or the assumption of Mary, to be united with her Bridegroom.
Connection with the Knutby murders
In 2004 Helge Fossmo's nanny Sara Svensson confessed to having killed Fossmo's second wife Alexandra (Åsa Waldau's sister), under the influence of Fossmo. Fossmo had claimed to get text messages from God on his cellphone, which told him Svensson would not get mercy from God if she did not kill Alexandra and their neighbour Daniel Linde. (Fossmo was having an affair with this neighbour's wife, Annette Linde, who was also Åsa Waldau's sister-in-law. At the same time Fossmo had an affair with Sara Svensson herself that he exploited to manipulate her into the deed.)
There have been suspicions of Waldau writing these text messages and convincing Helge to forward them to Sara.
In 2004 Fossmo was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to life in jail for conspiracy of murder and Svensson was sentenced to psychiatric care. Waldau, however, was not prosecuted; no one could find any evidence of her involvement in the murder.
After the murders, Waldau continued to be very reclusive. She refused to be interviewed by newspapers and only appeared without speaking in the TV4 documentary A Fall from Grace. Her first appearance was at the trial in May 2004, speaking in court as a relative of her sister who had been murdered. She admitted that she had 'tested' whether she might be the Bride of Christ, an idea she attributed to Helge Fossmo.
In September 2004 Waldau was in a one-hour interview program on Sveriges Television by Stina Lundberg Dabrowski. The public's reaction was quite negative; Waldau came across as 'cold' and 'unfeeling'.
In March 2005 Waldau inspired the sect to open a spa. In November she released a music CD containing songs from the church of Knutby. In December she appeared on a discussion panel at the celebration of 175 year Aftonbladet, introduced there by Jan Guillou as Sweden's most maligned person in modern times.
In June 2006 the talk-show host Lennart Persson invited Waldau to his last installment of Debatt on national television, where she got into exchanges with Janne Josefsson and with Bert Karlsson. Bert Karlsson later that year invited her to his own program on the cable channel TV8. In October 2007 he published Waldau's autobiography Kristi brud: vem kan man lita på? (Bride of Christ: whom can one trust?) (ISBN 91-85881-02-3).
- Official website
- Jone Salomonsen. "Faith with a Licence to Kill?". Tidsskrift for Kjønnsforskning 2006 (1–2). http://kilden.forskningsradet.no/c40042/artikkel/vis.html?tid=40474&strukt_tid=40042.
- Eva Lundgren. "Knutby: "Dödskulten på Dödskullen"" (in Norwegian). Kirke og Kultur 2007 (3): 219–246.
- Rick Ross, News articles in English about Åsa Waldau
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