Author Topic: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?  (Read 32019 times)

Russ Saltzman

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Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« on: March 27, 2007, 11:54:05 AM »
I am a member of the board of directors of Lutherans For Life <www.lutheransforlife.org>. I have been since about a year ago when I was invited to serve on the board, more or less specifically as a pastor of the ELCA, albeit one with a mouth that gets into print now and then.

(Self-Disclosure Moment: I am a terrible board member. So far I have been unable to attend even one board meeting, and the meeting I thought I could attend next month has been trumped by family obligations.)

Of 2,883 members of Lutherans for Life, three are members of the ELCA. Four, counting me. These three are self-identified as members of the ELCA.

There are 547 LFL members who have not disclosed their Lutheran affiliation - could be a few ELCA'ers lurking within that number, but I have my doubts. My assumption is, these 547 unidentified LFL members are all members of the Missouri Synod and they just expect everybody else to know it. (Of the remaining non-LCMS folks paying their dues to LFL, 29 belong to the AFLC, 13 to the AALC, and 14 to the CLBA.)

Lutherans for Life is trying to expand its membership base by becoming more pan-Lutheran. A not unreasonable goal is to see a non-LCMS membership of 5 percent by 2008, doubled to 10 percent by 2010.

Now, harboring the notion that the ELCA has more than four members with pro-life sentiments, what prevents them from joining Lutherans for Life?

I have my thoughts but I would much rather hear yours. You may post a reply here (my preference, since it would generate needful public discussion) but I will also take private replies (resaltzman@sbcglobal.net).

Finally, let me put in a plug for Lutherans for Life. There, consider it plugged.

Russ Saltzman, editor, Forum Letter

Russell E Saltzman
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pastorg1@aol.com

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2007, 12:04:03 PM »
Pax et bonum Christi-

I am a "Life Member" (sic) of Lutherans for Life and a pastor in the ELCA.

I joined Lutheran for Life because of my frustration at having to fund abortions in our ELCA health program. I wanted some of my personal money to go to prevent abortions.

In my confirmation program, my charges and I look at the forming of a moral conscience and the application of said conscience in regard to abortion as we investigate the New Yorker short-story, "Good People."

For the definition and application of said moral conscience, we use the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: # 374. & 375.

God bless you and your work with Lutherans For LIfe,

Sincerely your brother in Christ,

Peter Garrison
Burilngame, California
« Last Edit: March 27, 2007, 12:09:19 PM by pastorg1@aol.com »
Pete Garrison, STS

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2007, 01:20:41 PM »
I am a member of Lutherans for Life (well, I send them money every year, but I'm not sure if they ever sent me an official card) and though I am LCMS I am stunned by the stats Russ Saltzman has posted. At least to my LCMS eyes and ears it never has seemed like an exclusively or even and overtly LCMS organization. If I had been forced to guess before this morning I wold have ventured to say the membership was at least a quarter ELCA. I wonder if the fact that abortion is such an issue for social conservatives in politics that people don't feel they can really publicly identify with or pour themselves into an organization that might in many people's eyes simply exist to help Republicans win elections. (That charge, by the way, was made by a Princeton theology prof. concerning Evangelicals and Catholics Together, too-- "not serious theology, but public propaganda to help elect more Republicans," was I believe how she phrased it). What I'm getting at is that maybe the problem is not an LCMS/ELCA one but because of the nature of the issue, more of a public identification of politics issue.

pilgrimpriest

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2007, 02:03:30 PM »
I know quite a number of pro-life ELCA folks. Many pastors are also counted among them. Some of those clergy, although they hold a pro-life view, fear to join such organizations or other local ministry efforts "for fear of the Jews," metaphorically speaking. They are afraid that if it becomes too public it will adversely affect their future careers in their parishes and the ELCA. I remember one clergy friend who, after taking a public stand concerning the pension and health issue, was counseled by his former bishop that his stance on abortion might be the result of "unresolved anger issues."

On the other hand, my friends in South Dakota (a clergy-couple) posted a sign on their lawn in support of the recent referendum to make abortion illiegal in the state. There was no question in or outside their community where they stood.

I echo Pr. Saltzman's plug, join LFL and, I would add, support your local Crisis Pregnancy Center. Even if you can only do it as a "concerned individual," your support is gratefully appreciated.

Fr. Bob

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2007, 06:11:51 PM »
I, too, am a Life Member, ELCA Pastor (and if I don't show up on your list of 3 ELCA members, someone in the Nevada office isn't keeping the records up very well, for I certainly mark "ELCA" on any membership forms when given the chance), and also the "pastoral advisor" to our local chapter -- of whom all the other active participants are LCMS -- almost since its inception.  I was heartened to see your name, Russ, in the latest LifeDate magazine on the page 3 list of the Board of Directors.  

I'll confess, though, to have first noticed the staff listing on page 2 which made LFL sound like an LCMS organization, albeit one that isn't in the LCMS budget.  And that is an impression that has been reinforced in so many ways, and more and more (particularly at the local and state level through the scheduling of events and dissemination of materials) in the dozen years or so I've been an LFL member.  Some of the materials I've seen for congregational use have a clear LCMS slant to them.  The LCMS link comes on pretty strong in the National conventions and publications, too.  Partly natural when most of the folks involved at the various LFL levels are LCMS, and sometimes of an, uh, "exclusivist" LCMS strain.  

I do not think (okay, I hope not) that it is an intentional thing.   But the "Life Thoughts in the Church Year" page in the newest LifeDate is "based on the appointed readings from Lutheran Service Book."   I know, just how is LFL to do something like this when LCMS folks use lectionaries from TLH, LW, LSB, LBW, 1-year, 3-year, and none at all, while ELCAers are largely RCL, with some LBW and none-at-all thrown in for good measure.  That Thrivent Financial for Lutherans diary for Lutheran clergy can be tricky to decipher sometimes, so I know its not an easy thing to do in an inclusive (sorry, there's got to be a better word) way.  Then again, perhaps using the LSB isn't yet a particularly LCMS-friendly page!

Are any other members of the Board, or the staff, or the speakers bureau, in the ELCA?  Might it be helpful for LFL to consciously define, and intentionally describe, itself as "pan-Lutheran?"  Or to regularly note which Lutheran body conference/convention speakers and article/pamplet authors are part of?  (Planned Parenthood, for example, is very good both locally and nationally about identifying as ELCA those ELCA pastors who speak out on its behalf.)  Could pro-life ELCA voices be identified (and quoted) more often?  It seems as though I've discovered more pro-life ELCA names (lay and clergy) through articles in Touchstone magazine than I have through LFL.

And, yes, in writing all this I'll point fingers in our (as ELCAers in LFL) direction, too.  If we don't stand up to be counted we ought not complain too much when we think we're being ignored.  It's easy to go along for the ride with those few who do the hard work.  And it is not easy to stand up as a pro-life voice in the ELCA.  Maybe more of us ought to go to the Lutherans for Life website (it's been linked from the beginning on Pastor Zip's Lutheran Links) and let 'em know we're here.

Pax, Steven+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
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Eric_Swensson

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2007, 06:47:40 PM »
Is Brownback the only "right to Life candidate" in the Presidential campaign?

Life is worthy of respect and protection from the moment of conception. I fear that our society has forgotten the value of human life. I believe every life has meaning and purpose, and that the termination of life is taken too lightly in our country today. Abortion ends a human life. It destroys an individual who could have lived, worked, and contributed to our society. And has wiped out nearly an entire generation. I believe we should strive to fully embrace a culture of life through our national politics. I will continue to fight to protect life at every stage. I hope that one day America will remember the value we once placed on human life.

http://www.brownback.com/s/Issues/tabid/60/Default.aspx#Culture

MMH

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2007, 11:10:01 PM »
Hi Russ-

At the risk of drawing the ire of some folks, I will say that the problem is not that LFL is too LC-MS, but that ELCA is not enough for Life.  The hierarchy, as constituted by HQ and/or the CoB has yet to to say anything that could be heard as a robust defense of life.

The truth that dare not speak its name is that part of the neo-liberal position has to be pro-abortion.  I can remember the old bumper stciker "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."  Well folks, militant feminists, totally detached from the tradition of Anthony, Stanton, etc., can get pregnant so abortion IS one of the major sacraments of the revisionist Church.  Go to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice website and read.

Notice that EVERY one of our major ecumenical partners as the ELCA are already members of this group.  But I am sure that our denominational silence on abortion is merly coincidental to that fact ;) :'(

Those who choose to proclaim the Gospel of Life know that they run the risk of offending the powers and principalities.

And since we lack a consistant and unitive voice on this, if a parish pastor speaks, it will be brought to his/her attention that "this is a matter of personal opinion, so keep yours to your d*** self. "

And folks- this, more than arguments over homosexual behavior is where we need to be.  The past 15 years of arguments have been the protracted locking of the barn door after the horse has been stolen.

I believe abortion is an ur-sin, because it only works when you get to make a broad class of human beings lebensunwertes leben.  And if you get to do that with unborn children, I get to do it with f*** or d**** or n****** or w******* or c*****  or whatever group.  Its the unspoken bargain.  You get to have your non-humans about whom you don't care, and I get mine.

When I hear some pro-abortion activist speak smugly about MLK or somebody like that, I think of the quote "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" and I want to scream "WAKE UP!"

So- my suggestion is to be more assertive with LFL and get an ad in Partners and The Lutheran.

But then I am one of those mean spirited cranks Charles is always warning us about, so what do I know.

Matt Hummel+

Charles_Austin

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2007, 06:03:39 AM »
Matt Hummel writes:
But then I am one of those mean spirited cranks Charles is always warning us about, so what do I know.

I comment:
From what I have seen of Lutherans for Life, they are not mean-spirited cranks.
As has been stated upstream, the ELCA's statement on abortion also speaks to ways of dealing with unwanted pregnancies or the risk of unwanted pregnancies in ways that will limit the number of abortions. And, to raise the question that exists in Roman Catholic circles, can we believe that abortion is morally wrong (I happened to believe it is), and still believe that a legal proscription against all abortions is bad public policy?

navyman

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2007, 07:21:28 AM »
I am a member of the board of directors of Lutherans For Life <www.lutheransforlife.org>. I have been since about a year ago when I was invited to serve on the board, more or less specifically as a pastor of the ELCA, albeit one with a mouth that gets into print now and then.

(Self-Disclosure Moment: I am a terrible board member. So far I have been unable to attend even one board meeting, and the meeting I thought I could attend next month has been trumped by family obligations.)

Of 2,883 members of Lutherans for Life, three are members of the ELCA. Four, counting me. These three are self-identified as members of the ELCA.

There are 547 LFL members who have not disclosed their Lutheran affiliation - could be a few ELCA'ers lurking within that number, but I have my doubts. My assumption is, these 547 unidentified LFL members are all members of the Missouri Synod and they just expect everybody else to know it. (Of the remaining non-LCMS folks paying their dues to LFL, 29 belong to the AFLC, 13 to the AALC, and 14 to the CLBA.)

Lutherans for Life is trying to expand its membership base by becoming more pan-Lutheran. A not unreasonable goal is to see a non-LCMS membership of 5 percent by 2008, doubled to 10 percent by 2010.

Now, harboring the notion that the ELCA has more than four members with pro-life sentiments, what prevents them from joining Lutherans for Life?

I have my thoughts but I would much rather hear yours. You may post a reply here (my preference, since it would generate needful public discussion) but I will also take private replies (resaltzman@sbcglobal.net).

Finally, let me put in a plug for Lutherans for Life. There, consider it plugged.

Russ Saltzman, editor, Forum Letter




I must say, I never heard of it!  However, I'll check it out!

Don

MMH

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2007, 08:21:02 AM »
As has been stated upstream, the ELCA's statement on abortion also speaks to ways of dealing with unwanted pregnancies or the risk of unwanted pregnancies in ways that will limit the number of abortions. And, to raise the question that exists in Roman Catholic circles, can we believe that abortion is morally wrong (I happened to believe it is), and still believe that a legal proscription against all abortions is bad public policy?

OK- Show me the policy statement, letter to President Bush, or whatever document in which Bp. Hanson or his predecessors, or any of their designees have taken a stance to deal with unwanted pregnancies so as to reduce the # of abortions since abortion is morally wrong.  BTW Charles as someone who prides himself on his writing skills, I am surprised that you are uneconomical in style.  Why say "morally wrong", and use two words where one word, "evil," will suffice?

What has the ELCA done to encourage adoption?  The ELCA Church Council and Board of Pensions has refused point blank to do anything that would enable pastors to adoptand by doing so witness against the evil.

And if abortion is evil, or "morally wrong", why are we in communion with people who think that abortion is "morally good."  Again, everyone, please go to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice website (www.rcrc.org) and read.  And what is up with the UMC allowing someone on their rolls to serve as chaplain to Planned Parenthood?

As for the safe, legal, and rare tapdance, yeah, how much better for our country if we had simply worked over time to eliminate slavery here in the US by lifting up alternatives.  I am sure that by the 1950s or so the last manumission would have occured.  Tough luck for those in slavery, but hey, sudden changes are bad public policy.

I will settle for a compromise.  Can we all call abortion the taking of a human life?  And before CA Brian jumps in with his Scriptural erudition, I will ask anyone if they have seen their children in utero via sonogram?  It is not a potential human life, it is the thing itself.

And then, once we acknoweldge that truth, can we find out why the ELCA has spent so much more money on behalf of convicted killers, rapists and torturers than it has on the unborn?

If everyone on death row in the US was put to death this week, would the #s even come close to those who will be killed by abortion?

We were all horrified by the 2005 tsunami.  There has been one tsunami every 2 months for the past 34 years in this nation.  1/3 of our youth groups, confirmation classes, campus ministry organizations, young adult leaders, are dead.

But God bless Higgins Rd. and its stalwart ability to ignore the h*** out of a crisis when there are so many other important issues like homo        ctivity to support.

But if the same sex lobby in the ELCA and elsewhere get their holy grail of genetic predisposition for the disorder, and it can then be tested for, what do they think is going to happen in in a country where less than a third of children diagnosed with Down's Syndrome are born?

There is a reason the pink triangle is a symbol, folks. And there already is a holocaust going on.

Matt Hummel+




Russ Saltzman

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2007, 10:07:55 AM »
Say, folks, this isn't about Brownback, ELCA policy statements, or anything like that. Mine was a simple inquiry about how Lutherans for Life is preceived by pro-life supporters in the ELCA.

I see little reason to organize an ELCA version for a pro-life witness when the wheel - LFL - already is invented. But if LFL is preceived as an LCMS subsidary, that isn't good.

This question is the one that needs to be addressed.
Russell E Saltzman
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Eric_Swensson

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2007, 10:16:35 AM »
I know this thread is not about Brownback, I just wanted to give him air time  :)

So, are you wondering if ELCA people are afraid of being part of an organization perceived as being identified with LCMS? Perhaps, we seem to be afraid of about everything but mostly about not being nice. But then, some are glad to get any distance they can from the direction of the liberal drift of the ELCA, hence abortion could be a "wedge issue" but only for that 5% or so that speaks up?

MMH

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2007, 10:23:21 AM »
Say, folks, this isn't about Brownback, ELCA policy statements, or anything like that. Mine was a simple inquiry about how Lutherans for Life is preceived by pro-life supporters in the ELCA.

I see little reason to organize an ELCA version for a pro-life witness when the wheel - LFL - already is invented. But if LFL is preceived as an LCMS subsidary, that isn't good.

This question is the one that needs to be addressed.

Point taken- Not sure if we have made it official, but we have marched with LFL twice as a family.

And my point is that the fault, dear Russell, lies not in LFL, but in ourselves (as ELCA).

Maybe work to get point people in each Synod like ALPB to at least put out flyers at Synod conventions.  I think  the problem is low visibility, not a whiff of Saint Louis.

Matt Hummel+

Revbert

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2007, 10:26:18 AM »
Is it "too LCMS" for me?  No, can't say that it is.

At the same time, I have a problem with most absolutes.  Abortion is one of them, I'm afraid.  I think there are circumstances where abortion is the correct action, evil as I believe abortion is.

I am also troubled by my own belief that the death penalty is also the correct action in certain circumstances, evil as I believe the death penalty is.

So, I find myself sitting in the uncomfortable place of the middle.  I can't support Planned Parenthood, nor do I support the BOP's decision to fund abortions (but I had to foot the bill of adopting my boys all on my own).  I don't support (financially) LFL or other similar groups because I'm not an absolutist on abortion, even though I have a deep understanding of and appreciation for the sanctity of human life.

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

peter_speckhard

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Re: Is Lutherans For Life "too LCMS" for ELCA Pro-Life People?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2007, 11:11:07 AM »
I think there is plenty of room in LFL for people who find themselves far from an absolutist position on abortion. If in general you think abortion is the taking of an innocent human life then you really should think about joining LFL. If absolutism in is distasteful to you in general, that is yet another reason to join. The status quo in America is about as absolutist a pro-choice position as it is possible to have. There are token laws about this or that, but for all practical purposes anyone can get an abortion any time up to and including during the birth of the baby for absolutely any reason. The time to start worrying about an absolutist anti-abortion problem is still a long way off, though I'm sure it will come, and the genuine disagreements will have to be dealt with. But for now the worry is unfounded.