Author Topic: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry  (Read 4332 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2020, 09:24:16 PM »
What the discussion in this modest forum lacks, and probably will never have, is the serious involvement of Black or Latino folks whose experience with and assessment of racism and the systems of society might be quite different from ours. In a fuller more inclusive (O! that dreaded word!) discussion we who are here now would not get priority in defining the problems (which we don't have), identifying the systems (which we largely run), and consider solutions (which we have already largely rejected).
A few here may have some long-term experience with true diversity, which gives their words some authority; but here we are mostly speaking from our positions and experiences which have always reinforced the "rightness" of our views and the thought that "they" need to listen to "us."
I once fervently opposed the idea of "quotas" in the LCA and ELCA, that is our constitutional provisions that women and minorities must hold a certain number of positions at our assemblies and on certain boards. "We are good, non-sexist, non-racist people," said I. "It will happen without subverting 'true' democracy with quotas." Then I heard women say how they were passed over for calls and positions; and I realized that members of minority communities remained - despite our "goodness" - invisible in our various structures. Our "systems" had to be modified. I still don't care for quotas, but I do understand why they are there.
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Pastor Ken Kimball

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2020, 10:02:24 PM »
[Sarcasm on]  Yes and how well quotas have worked to increase the numbers and percentage of minorities in the ELCA [sarcasm off]. 

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2020, 10:03:09 PM »
Iíve never been much for boycotts. Or Ben and Jerryís anyway, go that matter.

I donít say racism isnít real. I say it is hidden in people, not systems. Systemic racism is an idea that allows people to explain current conditions without letting go of Utopianism. In practical terms, it is a way to claim that conservatism is racist without having to discern real racism on the part of any conservatives. One does not become an ďallyĒ of anyone until one promotes progressive politics. Thatís why black conservatives arenít really black; it isnít a race but an ideology, to which Joe Bidenís party wants black people chained.

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2020, 10:11:05 PM »
Why is inclusion a dreaded word? Has anyone here argued that racial minorities should not be included in the church? Perhaps you can share with us the ways that the ELCA has made itself a more racially inclusive church? Surely you have some winning strategies that has led to inclusiveness.  Have quotas been the secret to your success?

In 2015, the Pew Research Center published a study of the racial makeup of American religious groups and how racially diverse they are. The least racially diverse religious group of the 30 they studied was the National Baptist Convention who were 99% Black. The second least racially diverse group was the ELCA at 96% White. Third was the LCMS at 95% White. Fourth was the African Methodist Episcopal Church at 94% Black. Tied with them with 94% White was the United Methodist Church.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2020, 10:15:20 PM by Dan Fienen »
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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2020, 10:41:02 PM »
Peter, as usual your comments have been lucid and helpful in thinking things through. You are a huge blessing to us. Thanks.
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2020, 11:20:08 PM »
There are no quotas in the Orthodox Church.

Unfortunately, in the North American diaspora (with the exception of the Orthodox Church in America) every other jurisdiction is named by an ethnicity, be that Greek, Serbian, Georgian, Antiochian.

But those ethnic labels can be very misleading.  Particularly with relatively young parishes which began as missions, there are a multitude of ethnicities--not quite the fulfillment of St. John's vision of "people of every race and tongue, of every tribe and nation"--but as close as one can find this side of the parousia.

The local Antiochian parish began as a mission 27 years ago with 7 families.  Only two were Syrian.  The others were a mixture of converts, Ukranians, Greeks, Russians, and Albanians.

At my first Pascha (Easter) eight years ago the Paschal Troparion was sung in English, Arabic, Greek, Church Slavonic, Russian, Spanish, and French.  A couple of years later I placed German words to the Greek melody and that was added into the rotation.  The Paschal Greeting "Christ is Risen--Indeed, He is Risen" (exchanged by the Priest and congregation during the singing of the Paschal Canon) was shared in all those languages plus Albanian.

Can it get better than that?

YES!

At the Agape Vespers of Pascha the Gospel (John 20:19-25) is to be read, sequentially, in as many languages as possible.  Last year the parish hit their high-water mark with ELEVEN languages.

Quotas? 

"We don't need no stinkin' quotas" 

(With apologies to Mel Brooks)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 12:20:08 AM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2020, 03:32:18 PM »
Iíve never been much for boycotts. Or Ben and Jerryís anyway, go that matter.

I donít say racism isnít real. I say it is hidden in people, not systems. Systemic racism is an idea that allows people to explain current conditions without letting go of Utopianism. In practical terms, it is a way to claim that conservatism is racist without having to discern real racism on the part of any conservatives. One does not become an ďallyĒ of anyone until one promotes progressive politics. Thatís why black conservatives arenít really black; it isnít a race but an ideology, to which Joe Bidenís party wants black people chained.

 I do not think Peter's comments are at all lucid.  Once again, LCMS pastors  please read the CTCR report Racism in the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry. 

The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations is hardly liberal.  They are in every way a group of  conservative LCMS pastors and laymen.   

Racism is as hidden in systems and institutions including the churches.  The last thing we need to do as Christians is to  make this a political issue!

The CTCR did not shy away from calling racism an Ideology and a sin that we of the LCMS need to acknowledge.

I call attention to the section  Barriers to Overcoming Racism. 

"As we Christians - who are at the same time saints and sinners - confront the sin of racism, we must first of all realize that we have to over come a host of obstacles that are constantly being erected by the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh."

Barriers include:  Denial,  Untenable assumptions,  Paternalism,  Different Meanings and Frames of Reference,  Fear of Differences and  Fear of Change.


Keep reading the CTCR and forget this nonsense about who is a liberal (Utopian) and who is political conservative.

Marie Meyer
p.s.  The Lutheran Human Relations Association was considered to be a group of LCMS "liberals."  Without those men and women the LCMS would not have made the progress we have in race relations......  Just thought of it, LCMS persons associated with the LHRA were also supporters of the ALBP.  They wrote for the Forum Letter and Luthran Forum. Just another bunch of "liberals."

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2020, 04:27:53 PM »
Iíve never been much for boycotts. Or Ben and Jerryís anyway, go that matter.

I donít say racism isnít real. I say it is hidden in people, not systems. Systemic racism is an idea that allows people to explain current conditions without letting go of Utopianism. In practical terms, it is a way to claim that conservatism is racist without having to discern real racism on the part of any conservatives. One does not become an ďallyĒ of anyone until one promotes progressive politics. Thatís why black conservatives arenít really black; it isnít a race but an ideology, to which Joe Bidenís party wants black people chained.

 I do not think Peter's comments are at all lucid.  Once again, LCMS pastors  please read the CTCR report Racism in the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry. 

The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations is hardly liberal.  They are in every way a group of  conservative LCMS pastors and laymen.   

Racism is as hidden in systems and institutions including the churches.  The last thing we need to do as Christians is to  make this a political issue!

The CTCR did not shy away from calling racism an Ideology and a sin that we of the LCMS need to acknowledge.

I call attention to the section  Barriers to Overcoming Racism. 

"As we Christians - who are at the same time saints and sinners - confront the sin of racism, we must first of all realize that we have to over come a host of obstacles that are constantly being erected by the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh."

Barriers include:  Denial,  Untenable assumptions,  Paternalism,  Different Meanings and Frames of Reference,  Fear of Differences and  Fear of Change.


Keep reading the CTCR and forget this nonsense about who is a liberal (Utopian) and who is political conservative.

Marie Meyer
p.s.  The Lutheran Human Relations Association was considered to be a group of LCMS "liberals."  Without those men and women the LCMS would not have made the progress we have in race relations......  Just thought of it, LCMS persons associated with the LHRA were also supporters of the ALBP.  They wrote for the Forum Letter and Luthran Forum. Just another bunch of "liberals."
What do you say to someone who says a black person ainít black if they vote Republican? Or are acting white if they pursue academics? Or are Uncle Toms if they support the police? The fact that those things happen shows the reality that the spiritual issue of racism in the sense of thinking someone superior or inferior based on their race is an entirely separate thing from racism as used in common parlance to refer to a set of socio-economic political views.

There is no question that racism affected many, many people in the LCMS. I would argue that a call to start a black church in SC contradicted the Gospel, if indeed it was a call to form a congregation with membership contingent on race. But maybe that was more possible than integrating a SC church at the time and thus a practical concession to the falseness of the world. The fallennrss of our world manifests itself differently. We donít have legal segregation, so we arenít confronted with the false choice of starting black churches or not reaching blacks people. But the more we dwell on the segregationist past, the more weíll think of black and white peoples in terms of their race, and integrating churches will be harder.

A much better way forward is to work to disregard race as a category. I have no tolerance for racism when I see it, but also no tolerance for the assumption that racism is there when I donít see it. I think such an attitude perpetuates the problem. Iím not going to have our white youth apologize to our black youth, or have kids who have been friends for years try to find the hidden racism that divides them. Nor would I have encouraged our black students to look at the Concordias in a different way than our white students. Let them learn about the past without picking at the scabs. We show the Other Rosa and things like that because they inspire. But we donít try to teach kids history in ways that encourage them to judge and condemn everyone. Nor will I lead my flick to believe that I think they are racists unless they demonstrate they arenít, or that anyone bears collective guilt for their skin color. Such things donít square with the Gospel.

Charles Austin

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2020, 04:56:20 PM »
Peter writes:
I have no tolerance for racism when I see it, but also no tolerance for the assumption that racism is there when I donít see it.
I comment:
I dare suggest, Peter, that you step back from defining and limiting what you think racism is and listen to those who experience it. Then when they have told their stories and what certain experiences have meant to them, you can dispassionately tell them that they are wrong.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2020, 05:12:06 PM »
Peter writes:
I have no tolerance for racism when I see it, but also no tolerance for the assumption that racism is there when I donít see it.
I comment:
I dare suggest, Peter, that you step back from defining and limiting what you think racism is and listen to those who experience it. Then when they have told their stories and what certain experiences have meant to them, you can dispassionately tell them that they are wrong.
What do you think I was talking about, Charles? If someone tells me their story and points out racism, I have no tolerance for it. But if someone assumes racism before there is a story about it to tell, I don't join them in the assumption. So...Selma. I don't put up with assumption that it was closed because of racism. But I'm ready and willing to be shown evidence of racism. But what you want me to do is FIRST accept as a premise that racism explains the closing of Selma and look for ways to address that racism or else admit that I haven't really listened to anyone who was hurt by it. That is the opposite of listening. I'm simply saying that when it comes to finding solutions or moving forward, information edifies where negatives assumptions tear down.


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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2020, 05:46:49 PM »
There is no question that racism affected many, many people in the LCMS. I would argue that a call to start a black church in SC contradicted the Gospel, if indeed it was a call to form a congregation with membership contingent on race. But maybe that was more possible than integrating a SC church at the time and thus a practical concession to the falseness of the world. The fallennrss of our world manifests itself differently. We donít have legal segregation, so we arenít confronted with the false choice of starting black churches or not reaching blacks people. But the more we dwell on the segregationist past, the more weíll think of black and white peoples in terms of their race, and integrating churches will be harder.

A much better way forward is to work to disregard race as a category. I have no tolerance for racism when I see it, but also no tolerance for the assumption that racism is there when I donít see it. I think such an attitude perpetuates the problem. Iím not going to have our white youth apologize to our black youth, or have kids who have been friends for years try to find the hidden racism that divides them. Nor would I have encouraged our black students to look at the Concordias in a different way than our white students. Let them learn about the past without picking at the scabs. We show the Other Rosa and things like that because they inspire. But we donít try to teach kids history in ways that encourage them to judge and condemn everyone. Nor will I lead my flick to believe that I think they are racists unless they demonstrate they arenít, or that anyone bears collective guilt for their skin color. Such things donít square with the Gospel.


OK. Don't make race or skin color a category. Call it culture. Cultural divides have been part of Lutheranism from the beginning. The early Lutheran denominations were divided along cultural (or race or language) lines. Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Finns, Slavs, all had their own Lutheran bodies.


We purposely start missions to reach Hispanic or Korean or Laotian or Native people. Language is not the only difference between those cultures and Northern European Lutherans. Building architecture can differ. Artwork can differ. The style of music can differ as well as the accompaniment.


I became acquainted with a Black Lutheran pastor who had moved to Denver. He never felt comfortable in the Lutheran congregations in that city. He had come from a Lutheran church in Chicago that had a black Jesus on the cross. The membership was mostly Black Lutherans. There wasn't a congregation like that in Denver. Before a synod meeting we were both at, some folks were telling Norwegian jokes. He was saddened by that. He said that the Baptist churches he grew up in, they would talk about Jesus not Ole and Sven. Even though he had been a Lutheran for many years, the (white) culture of the Denver Lutherans made him feel like a fish out of water.
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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2020, 06:39:14 PM »
[Sarcasm on]  Yes and how well quotas have worked to increase the numbers and percentage of minorities in the ELCA [sarcasm off].

Ken, I'm sure you are as familiar with this as anything:  At least in our Mission district, we were nearly instantly more racially diverse by virtue of an Oromo Congregation in suburban KC, and all this without even trying.  They've been an immense blessing to our mission district, and our mission district has taken them under their wings to ensure their needs be met.

The difference?  Focus on and emphasis of God's Holy Word, whole and inviolate.

(waiting for the usual howls from the dynamic duo on this...)
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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2020, 07:12:07 PM »
I’ve never been much for boycotts. Or Ben and Jerry’s anyway, go that matter.

I don’t say racism isn’t real. I say it is hidden in people, not systems. Systemic racism is an idea that allows people to explain current conditions without letting go of Utopianism. In practical terms, it is a way to claim that conservatism is racist without having to discern real racism on the part of any conservatives. One does not become an “ally” of anyone until one promotes progressive politics. That’s why black conservatives aren’t really black; it isn’t a race but an ideology, to which Joe Biden’s party wants black people chained.

 I do not think Peter's comments are at all lucid.  Once again, LCMS pastors  please read the CTCR report Racism in the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry. 

The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations is hardly liberal.  They are in every way a group of  conservative LCMS pastors and laymen.   

Racism is as hidden in systems and institutions including the churches.  The last thing we need to do as Christians is to  make this a political issue!

The CTCR did not shy away from calling racism an Ideology and a sin that we of the LCMS need to acknowledge.

I call attention to the section  Barriers to Overcoming Racism. 

"As we Christians - who are at the same time saints and sinners - confront the sin of racism, we must first of all realize that we have to over come a host of obstacles that are constantly being erected by the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh."

Barriers include:  Denial,  Untenable assumptions,  Paternalism,  Different Meanings and Frames of Reference,  Fear of Differences and  Fear of Change.


Keep reading the CTCR and forget this nonsense about who is a liberal (Utopian) and who is political conservative.

Marie Meyer
p.s.  The Lutheran Human Relations Association was considered to be a group of LCMS "liberals."  Without those men and women the LCMS would not have made the progress we have in race relations......  Just thought of it, LCMS persons associated with the LHRA were also supporters of the ALBP.  They wrote for the Forum Letter and Luthran Forum. Just another bunch of "liberals."

Peter Speckhard seems to be of the opinion of his late (and great) uncle Richard Neuhaus who once said that "systemic evil" is "just a lot of people sinning." But I think we can speak as racism as being systemic in the way specific laws, policies, and practices (real estate advertising) that are carried out by institutions that perpetuate discrimination. Yet it is also the case that racism is not the only or even main thing about the U.S. (which social justice warriors claim); there are also systems of integration, unity, social betterment that can--and often have-- counteracted racism.

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2020, 07:16:29 PM »
Peter writes:
I have no tolerance for racism when I see it, but also no tolerance for the assumption that racism is there when I donít see it.
I comment:
I dare suggest, Peter, that you step back from defining and limiting what you think racism is and listen to those who experience it. Then when they have told their stories and what certain experiences have meant to them, you can dispassionately tell them that they are wrong.
The issue of tolerance for racism came up as a special emphasis in Micah Glenn's talk linked in another thread. What he said was that open racism rarely if ever was met with church discipline. That is, when a man flat out told Pr. Glenn that he was a racist who hated black people, Glenn sadly knew that that man would not be forbidden from communion until he repented the way people engaged in other sins, like openly having an affair, would face discipline. That was a major problem.

I think it an excellent point for several reasons. First, it shows that one man's "err on the side of grace" is another man's "err on the side of evil." More importantly to me, it illustrates exactly what I was saying when I said that I do not tolerate racism. When black people ask me, as they have, whether they would be welcome in the congregation, I always say that if they encounter racism they can count on me not to put up with it. But they should bear in mind it is congregation full of sinners, and while most of the members aren't racists and would  be glad to have them, I can't guarantee there is no chance they would encounter racism. We teach against it and don't tolerate it, but it in a group of sinners every kind of sin is likely to rear its head from time to time. The promise is that it won't be tolerated when it happens, not that it will never happen.

Which makes it so important that we know what constitutes a sign of unrepentant racism. The day after the election in 2016, we had an incident in which two eighth grade boys (one black, one white) came into school laughing and chanting "Build that wall! Build that wall!" Some of the Hispanic parents dropping kids off were not amused. We talked about it. All was well in short order. But if, as Pr. Glenn rightfully expects, a fellow pastor like me is going to withhold communion from unrepentant racism, where shall I look for it? Is a MAGA hat racist? In some eyes, yes. Given that I know a few people who have them and none of them are racist, could I take the accusation from a black person-- "That man is racist! Look at what he is wearing!" and use it to discipline the person as though support for Trump is an overt sign of racism? If not, am I guilty of ignoring the voices of those who see it that way? So it is critical that false accusations of racism, suspicion that everything is a dog whistle, teaching kids that every little thing is racist or even to assume that failure to sign on with progressive causes is tantamount to collusion with racism. It is especially important for progressive voices to police themselves when it comes to bogus charges of racism, because such policing from conservatives is likely to be seen as just more racism. 

Per Pr. Glenn, racism stems from and is hatred to which Christians must be called to repent. As his fellow pastor I will do so when I see it anywhere in my flock. But I won't do so whenever anyone tells me they see it and if I can't see it I'm blind. Because just as the old Soviet saying was "Show me the man and I'll find you the crime of which he is guilty," so today, show me the person/event/phenomenon and there is a passionate progressive out there who can show you how it is evidence of racism (or as a plan B sexism or transphobia). And I'm not going to declare people hateful and barred from communion for being part of "whiteness," or in some intangible way having benefited from European colonialism, voting to close Selma, or whatever else might be evidence of racism in some people's eyes. If you're accusing someone of being a racist, you're asking me to withhold communion from them until they repent. That's my promise to Pr. Glenn, one he wants and is disappointed not to have found very often in the LCMS. 

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Re: Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry
« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2020, 09:05:32 PM »
The fact that Biden made an inappropriate comment does not given anyone license to follow his example.

Again, I would ask LCMS pastor here please to read the CTCR report. It carefully deals with racism as a spiritual issue as well as a cultural issue. As I  read the report the cultural displays of racism must be addressed by the church.  The church cannot remain silent, deny the reality or ignore racism when it occurs in the church.

In response to the comment made here, " I would argue that a call to start a black church in SC contradicted the Gospel, if indeed it was a call to form a congregation with membership contingent on race. But maybe that was more possible than integrating a SC church at the time and thus a practical concession to the falseness of the world."

Understanding LCMS efforts to address racism within society and the synod during the sixties requires understanding the realty respected LCMS leaders  confronted.  IOW, cut the four district presidents and the St. Louis Seminary Placement Office some slack in the 1963 decision to send four candidates south to start black congregations.

Integrating white Lutheran congregations in Columbia, SC was not an option.  Starting a black congregation and working to integrate it was. During the time we were there Bill and I added four white children to the congregation.  A white Valpo couple settled in Columbia and joined the congregation.  Several members of the Southern LCA seminary worshiped with The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit from time to time.  Prof. George Anderson's son was the only white kid at our daughters first birthday party. The teen age children of Prof. Raymond Bost attended youth gatherings with the teens of our congregation.

The last Christmas we were in Columbia the SS of the white LCMS Church and the SS of Holy Spirit had a joint Christmas SS program.   Change comes slowly.  In 1970 Bill had three calls; one to CA, one to downtown Detroit and one to Patchogue, Long Island.  Together with church leaders the decision was made that it was time for the congregation to have a black pastor. Bill accepted the call to Patchogue.

Prior to leaving an incident took place that shook us to the core.  The pastor of a neighboring LCMS congregation died suddenly at a church voters meetings. As is the custom pastors from the area came to attend the funeral.  Five pastors came from NC - four white and one black.  The president of the Voters stood on the front steps to the church and would not let the black LCMS pastor into the church.

What to do?  The white pastors from NC left with the black pastor. For the sake of the widow, the white SC pastors attended the service

Ignoring race as a category is not the way forward any more than it is not to recognize racism within the LCMS.  I identify with the young  LCMS pastor who in his sermon acknowledged how racist thoughts creep up on him.     

Marie Meyer