Author Topic: Public Religion  (Read 666 times)

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Public Religion
« on: March 25, 2022, 09:02:06 AM »
Had a great experience last night attending the 113th Army ROTC Military Ball with my son, Christian, and my wife Susan. Excited for his progress. He will complete a mechanical engineering degree this spring at The Ohio State University, take in either Airborne or Ranger school this summer, and then officer training this fall.

He commented on the events last night, comparing them to church: invocation, speech commending people to faith, and benediction among the other activities. The current leader of the ROTC program also talked about his faith. The religious comments were all general God-talk, not expressly Christian. Nevertheless, I was pleased that the leadership allowed and encouraged that talk over against secularism. I'm thankful that the military (and police and fire departments) gives place to the importance of religious faith for supporting those facing life/death challenges and for their character development.
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Terry W Culler

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2022, 10:40:20 AM »
I remember my daughters' college graduation in South Carolina.  A local Episcopal priest gave the invocation in the name of Jesus.  Their graduation speaker was the local congressman who told how his faith led him into a life of service.  This was a state school and as far as I could tell, no one blinked an eye.  It reminds me of a pastor I knew there who said he liked pastoring in the south, no one was ashamed to be a Christian. ;D
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

peter_speckhard

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2022, 11:00:14 AM »
My mom grew up a PK in Ontario attending public school. Every day began with a pledge to the flag, including loyalty to king and empire. That was followed by the Lord's Prayer. They also had various clergy come in for religious instruction of the whole school. My grandpa never did it, but local Baptist, Episcopalian, etc. (not Catholic) pastors taught the whole school.

To this day she is a monarchist at heart, and her most vivid childhood memory of school was the day someone came in and announced very solemnly, "The king is dead. Long live the king," and school was dismissed for the children to walk home in silence, which, according to my mom, they actually did. I suspect the less decorum-minded among the youth might have done some chatting on their way.   

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2022, 11:57:56 AM »
 "It reminds me of a pastor I knew there who said he liked pastoring in the south, no one was ashamed to be a Christian."

A Christian as they see a Christian to be and act.... we all have our household gods, don't we...  as well as in the N,E, and W, the same case, Christians having some of religion made in their own image...  and we all, no matter our geography have shames aplenty. 
Harvey S. Mozolak
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Charles Austin

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2022, 12:02:23 PM »
Amen, Harvey, amen.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2022, 12:31:37 PM »
One of the problems with living in a pluralistic society is that we end up living in the same community, use some of the same facilities, and are served by some of the same public institutions with people who believe quite differently than we do. The most comfortable thing for us would be to insist that in the public spaces that we all inhabit everybody should behave in ways that we are comfortable with. However, that would not be fair to everybody else.

Thus, it would not be fair to insist that everybody participate in our religious observances. But it also would not be fair to insist that in public those who are religious must pretend not to be because religious actions make some people uncomfortable. Respect for others and their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) needs to go both ways.

Part of the genius of the First Amendment is that in respect to religion it includes both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause. Freedom of religion needs to be held in tension between those two clauses, something that is a difficult balancing act. How that is to work in practice often comes down to judgment calls, and driving all people outside their comfort zones.
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Michael Slusser

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2022, 01:00:07 PM »
Leaving aside the questionable public religiosity of insisting on the capitalized The Ohio State University . . .  ???

at what point for pastors in the LCMS does this shared public religion become suspect of (prohibited) unionism? The event that Pastor Engelbrecht described seemed safe, but I could imagine that a blessing or a thanksgiving added in there would push the envelope.

Peace,
Michael
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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2022, 01:06:54 PM »
I am not LCMS.  But perhaps, among other things:

location, location, location...

and

the less religiously pure the better
unless it slips below a certain swimmingly polite sacredness
and unless it gets aboard a ship flying foreign-to-me-colors and salutes them too smartly above loaded cannon...

ask Bishop Dave
Harvey S. Mozolak
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RDPreus

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2022, 01:11:50 PM »
I have no problem with "God-talk" in the civil arena that is not explicitly Christian, but with public, corporate, prayer, I believe that doctrinal agreement is a prerequisite.  I think this is probably a minority opinion on this forum.

Michael Slusser

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2022, 01:21:27 PM »
I have no problem with "God-talk" in the civil arena that is not explicitly Christian, but with public, corporate, prayer, I believe that doctrinal agreement is a prerequisite.  I think this is probably a minority opinion on this forum.
Thank you. Does it ever get hard to draw the line, to think "I'd better get out of here"? In public gatherings we're almost always associating with people with whom we are not in doctrinal agreement, so I'd think the issue is likely to be distinguishing between "God talk"and prayer.

Peace,
Michael
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2022, 02:26:03 PM »
Michael, I don't think it is too hard. Draw a "bright line" between and stay comfortable. I was pleased to attend last night. If asked to preside as guest chaplain, I would agree. If asked to share the podium with other clergy, I would decline. This comes up often in funeral situation, for example, where families are trying to come together by putting their pastors together. I call up the pastor and say, I would gladly take the funeral or the committal service. Which would you like? And we divide the responsibilities without having to mix the services with different confessions.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2022, 03:28:39 PM by Rev. Edward Engelbrecht »
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2022, 03:05:40 PM »
This brings up the point that I wanted to make. Even among Lutheran church bodies we have different ideas and rules about where appropriate lines should be drawn in participating in various public events. That spread of lines becomes even wider if we include WELS in our discussion along with LCMS and ELCA. Even within our denominations there will a variety of opinions on where lines should be drawn.


Can we respect each other's opinions and decisions even if we disagree with them? Can we work towards civility and politeness as we inhabit the same public spaces, visit in each other's spaces, and work together as we each feel comfortable? And also, can we possibly drop the idea that if we are progressive, then conservatives are all uncivil louts who don't know the proper way to act in polite society (following the rules and procedures that we virtuous progressives follow and eschewing those repressive rules that we long ago abandoned and would make us progressives uncomfortable), can't talk properly, and probably will piddle on the carpet? Similarly, we conservatives need to drop the idea that others who do not think or talk like us are not necessarily uncouth and a danger?


When I visit my brothers, I try to alternate between their churches for Sunday worship. Some years I'll attend my one brother's ELCA church. I will not commune there, among other things honoring my commitment as an LCMS member to follow LCMS fellowship rules, but I do not make a show of not communing. Nor do I make a point of disrespecting his female ELCA pastor. I will listen to her sermon with as much attention and politeness as I would any other sermon. Similarly, I will not commune when I attend my other brother's WELS church, partly because of LCMS fellowship rules, but also because as LCMS, I respect the WELS fellowship rules.


I am reminded of the woman who commented on the discussion that she and her husband sometimes had on religion since they were of different denominations. "We disagree but who knows? He could be as right as I am, or I could be as wrong as he is."


I find it interesting that in discussions on this forum, for some of us more conservative types, for us to disagree with some things that our progressive brethren post and assert that they are wrong, or that the position they are espousing is not what we would consider proper Lutheran, then we are being out of line. But it is perfectly acceptable for them to tell us that we are wrong, that our positions are not in line with what they consider to be proper Lutheran or Christian teaching (for example that our understand of proper use of God's Law is really legalism or that we resemble the Pharisees who opposed Jesus), and confidently asset that eventually we will listen to the Holy Spirit and come around to their (correct) position.


I think all of us need to work to be civil and reasonable in our discussions. Bad manners are not confined to one side of the spectrum.
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Dave Likeness

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2022, 03:37:22 PM »
There is in America today a strong current of civil religion. 

It has a patriotic flavor when God is invoked to "Bless America" in political speeches.
The American flag is a strong symbol and the Pledge of Allegiance is the creed.
The 4th of July almost becomes a religious holiday as people believe America is
God's chosen nation.  Moral values are encouraged as a way to justify our chosen status.

President Ronald Reagan's time in office was a good example of someone who said 
America had a special destiny designed by God to be a beacon of hope to the world.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2022, 03:39:30 PM by Dave Likeness »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2022, 03:41:07 PM »
There is in America today a strong current of civil religion. 

It has a patriotic flavor when God is invoked to "Bless America" in political speeches.
The American flag is a strong symbol and the Pledge of Allegiance is the creed.
The 4th of July almost becomes a religious holiday as people believe America is
God's chosen nation.  Moral values are encouraged as a way to justify our chosen status.

President Ronald Reagan's time in office was a good example of someone who believed 
America had a special destiny designed by God to be a beacon of hope to the world.
Ronald Reagan was not the only one. Phrases like "an almost chosen nation" or "the last, best hope of mankind" come from Abraham Lincoln.

John_Hannah

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Re: Public Religion
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2022, 04:07:06 PM »
Eisenhower can be included in those leaders espousing civil religion. I'm currently preparing a review of The Religious Journey of Dwight D. Eisenhower, by Jack M. Holl. (Eerdmans). After a childhood being exposed to the highly sectarian influences of his parents (River Brethren and Jehovah's Witness) he settled on a simple "civil religion" which was useful for him as president.

Peace, JOHN
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