Review of För guds skull (1989)

Moving picture, 98 minutes

Seen in 2019.

Noomi Liljefors revisits the evangelical Christian church she and her mother left in the 1950s. Over shots of the congregation’s worship services, daycare facilities, school and Russian missionary work in the late 1980s, Liljefors slowly and laconically tells the story of how her father killed her sick dog in the bathtub after one service, and how he later commanded her to recite a misogynist Bible verse at his funeral. Liljefors left the congregation when she found out that a man who sexually assaulted her at age 12 was also a member.

A gentle touch. Liljefors is not seen—except in childhood photos—and never openly rejects the cult here. I don’t know when she officially became a secular humanist rather than a Christian. To someone who knows the literature, it seems conspicuous that, for instance, a daycare worker quotes Matthew 19:14 to explain her devotion while simultaneously and spontaneously denying that she abuses the children, as other verses instruct Christians to do. To a complete outsider, or a zealot, her denial will seem odd and perhaps alarming, but the vile reason for it will not be apparent. On the surface, the entire documentary is so reassuringly dull that Christians seem to have no trouble with it.

moving picture non-fiction