Atheists’ diversity problem

Atheists are worried because nearly all atheists are white  and most of them are men:

Last year, Jules helped launch a local initiative to address what atheists regard as an international problem for their movement: a lack of racial and gender diversity.

From the smallest local meetings to the largest conferences, the vast majority of speakers and attendees are almost always white men. Leading figures of the atheist movement — Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett — are all white men.

But making atheism more diverse is proving to be no easy task.

Surveys suggest most atheists are white men. A recent survey of 4,000 members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation found that 95 percent were white, and men comprised a majority.

Among U.S. nonbelievers, 72 percent are white and 60 percent are men, according to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey; the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Hispanics make up 11 percent, and African-Americans just 8 percent, of “unaffiliated” Americans.

“Anytime you go to an atheist meeting, it tends to be predominantly male and white. We know that,” said Blair Scott, national affiliate director for American Atheists, which has 131 affiliate groups. “We go out of our way to encourage participation by females and minorities. The problem is getting those people out (of the closet as atheists) in the first place.” . . .

Efforts to cultivate diversity in atheism seem to be gaining some traction among African-Americans, Goddard said, but not as much among Asians or Latinos. “I’ve seen no real success in outreach, no efforts really being made to the Latino community,” Goddard said.

via Atheists’ Diversity Woes Have No Black-and-White Answers – News.

The assumption is that racial minorities fear “coming out” as atheists; that is, that they are really atheists but are just afraid to say so.  That assumption is pretty condescending, indeed, racist in itself.   Maybe the racial minorities aren’t atheists because they actually believe in God!

Why do you think that women, blacks, and (especially) Asians and Latinos are less likely to be atheists?

HT:James Kushiner

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I would also suspect that there is a high percentage of higher income/education levels to most of the atheist population v. low income. Atheism is the ultimate in “me” worship, so it would seem to have its greatest adherents amongst the population that thinks they have done everything for themselves and that they’ve been quite successful at it. Witness the ranks of the Ayn Rand Objectivists and their philosophy of “me”. Contrast them with the depictions of the Israelites made by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other prophets. The similarities are striking and provide a good argument for the universality of the fallen nature of Man.

  • SKPeterson

    I would also suspect that there is a high percentage of higher income/education levels to most of the atheist population v. low income. Atheism is the ultimate in “me” worship, so it would seem to have its greatest adherents amongst the population that thinks they have done everything for themselves and that they’ve been quite successful at it. Witness the ranks of the Ayn Rand Objectivists and their philosophy of “me”. Contrast them with the depictions of the Israelites made by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other prophets. The similarities are striking and provide a good argument for the universality of the fallen nature of Man.

  • Porcell

    Most sensible white men, women, blacks, Latinos, Asians, et al understand that given the moral nature of the cosmos, as well as its intricate complexity and great beauty must come ultimate from a transcendent being.

    Atheists are a minuscule minority of men who are insensible intellectual fools lacking the imagination and understanding of the necessity for a transcendent being. One of them, Christopher Hitchens, likely dying of esophageal cancer, has come to appreciate the prayers for him that can only come from believers.

  • Porcell

    Most sensible white men, women, blacks, Latinos, Asians, et al understand that given the moral nature of the cosmos, as well as its intricate complexity and great beauty must come ultimate from a transcendent being.

    Atheists are a minuscule minority of men who are insensible intellectual fools lacking the imagination and understanding of the necessity for a transcendent being. One of them, Christopher Hitchens, likely dying of esophageal cancer, has come to appreciate the prayers for him that can only come from believers.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    According to the World Values Survey:

    Religious Not Religious Atheist
    USA 72.1 24.4 3.6
    Japan 24.2 62.1 13.7
    Korea 30.1 41.3 28.6
    China 21.8 60.3 17.9
    Taiwan 40.3 42.9 16.8
    Hong Kong 27.3 67.4 5.4

    http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    According to the World Values Survey:

    Religious Not Religious Atheist
    USA 72.1 24.4 3.6
    Japan 24.2 62.1 13.7
    Korea 30.1 41.3 28.6
    China 21.8 60.3 17.9
    Taiwan 40.3 42.9 16.8
    Hong Kong 27.3 67.4 5.4

    http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Wow, that didn’t post clearly.
    Trying again.

    Religious Not Religious Atheist
    USA – 72.1 – 24.4 – 3.6
    Japan – 24.2 – 62.1 – 13.7
    Korea – 30.1 – 41.3 – 28.6
    China – 21.8 – 60.3 – 17.9
    Taiwan – 40.3 – 42.9 – 16.8
    Hong Kong – 27.3 – 67.4 – 5.4

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Wow, that didn’t post clearly.
    Trying again.

    Religious Not Religious Atheist
    USA – 72.1 – 24.4 – 3.6
    Japan – 24.2 – 62.1 – 13.7
    Korea – 30.1 – 41.3 – 28.6
    China – 21.8 – 60.3 – 17.9
    Taiwan – 40.3 – 42.9 – 16.8
    Hong Kong – 27.3 – 67.4 – 5.4

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    The thing is, an atheist group by definition is a bunch of folks promoting an ideology. However, atheists/agnostics are not categorically the type who feel the need to convince others that nothing supernatural exists. Most atheists feel no particular affinity for other atheists. They just pursue their other interests. In general lack of interest is just that a lack of interest. The militant atheist is an odd creature, unlike the disinterested atheist, who is a more normal fellow. His reaction to religion is apathy not hostility.

    It is like being uninterested in craft fairs. I don’t like craft fairs. I don’t go to craft fairs. I don’t disparage craft fairs. I have nothing against people who go to craft fairs. I don’t feel the need to persuade friends not to attend craft fairs. I am not joining an anti-craft fair league to promote solidarity among those who don’t attend craft fairs. I am not a “closeted” craft fair hater afraid to let folks know that I don’t go to craft fairs. I just don’t care at all.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    The thing is, an atheist group by definition is a bunch of folks promoting an ideology. However, atheists/agnostics are not categorically the type who feel the need to convince others that nothing supernatural exists. Most atheists feel no particular affinity for other atheists. They just pursue their other interests. In general lack of interest is just that a lack of interest. The militant atheist is an odd creature, unlike the disinterested atheist, who is a more normal fellow. His reaction to religion is apathy not hostility.

    It is like being uninterested in craft fairs. I don’t like craft fairs. I don’t go to craft fairs. I don’t disparage craft fairs. I have nothing against people who go to craft fairs. I don’t feel the need to persuade friends not to attend craft fairs. I am not joining an anti-craft fair league to promote solidarity among those who don’t attend craft fairs. I am not a “closeted” craft fair hater afraid to let folks know that I don’t go to craft fairs. I just don’t care at all.

  • Ryan

    Korea? North or South?

  • Ryan

    Korea? North or South?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The wag in me wonders how attendance at atheists’ conventions correlates to attendance at Star Trek or D&D conventions…..seems that the demographics are pretty similar!

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x930vt_william-shatner-snl-skit-get-a-life_fun

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The wag in me wonders how attendance at atheists’ conventions correlates to attendance at Star Trek or D&D conventions…..seems that the demographics are pretty similar!

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x930vt_william-shatner-snl-skit-get-a-life_fun

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Atheists are worried because nearly all atheists are white.” Okay, so … are they any other Lutherans out there more than a little worried about hypocrisy in snickering at the atheists on this one? Just wondering. “Leading figures of the atheist movement … are all white men.” Yeah, how, um, odd for them!

    “Among U.S. nonbelievers, 72 percent are white”. Yeah, but, according to the Census, 80% of the U.S. population is white, so … wouldn’t that make them more diverse than a random sampling?

    “Hispanics make up 11 percent, and African-Americans just 8 percent, of ‘unaffiliated’ Americans.” And, in the U.S. population, Hispanics comprise 16% and black people 13%. So, yes, the atheists are below average on those fronts, but that would appear to mean that the atheists have a much higher percentage of the Asian/Native American/Pacific Islander population, in order to account for their below-average white population. Right?

    Anyhow, it hardly seems fair to blame the population of “an atheist meeting” for being “predominantly white”, given that the population of our country is also predominantly white.

    And why is the assumption that racial minorities “are really atheists but are just afraid to say so” either “condescending” or “racist”? There are certain geographical areas and subcultures where atheism is tolerated or even viewed favorably, and others where it is discouraged or despised. If those boundary lines also correlate well to racial or ethnic demographics, is that all that surprising?
    I mean, I live in the Pacific Northwest, supposedly the most unchurched area in our country, and definitely full of a lot of atheists (including most of my friends). Guess what? It’s also pretty white here, too. But when I go back to Texas, which is full of more black and Hispanic people, I find that atheism is still generally seen as an object of mockery in public. Would it be odd to suggest that atheists in Texas are less likely to publically admit that they are atheists? But if I can say that for Texans in general, why couldn’t I also apply the same statement to Texas’ larger proportion of minorities?

    Consider it another way. Many people on this blog routinely tout the fact that there are more Christians in China than the official numbers indicate. The churches there are growing, but people are just afraid to say they’re Christians. Is that condescending? Racist?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Atheists are worried because nearly all atheists are white.” Okay, so … are they any other Lutherans out there more than a little worried about hypocrisy in snickering at the atheists on this one? Just wondering. “Leading figures of the atheist movement … are all white men.” Yeah, how, um, odd for them!

    “Among U.S. nonbelievers, 72 percent are white”. Yeah, but, according to the Census, 80% of the U.S. population is white, so … wouldn’t that make them more diverse than a random sampling?

    “Hispanics make up 11 percent, and African-Americans just 8 percent, of ‘unaffiliated’ Americans.” And, in the U.S. population, Hispanics comprise 16% and black people 13%. So, yes, the atheists are below average on those fronts, but that would appear to mean that the atheists have a much higher percentage of the Asian/Native American/Pacific Islander population, in order to account for their below-average white population. Right?

    Anyhow, it hardly seems fair to blame the population of “an atheist meeting” for being “predominantly white”, given that the population of our country is also predominantly white.

    And why is the assumption that racial minorities “are really atheists but are just afraid to say so” either “condescending” or “racist”? There are certain geographical areas and subcultures where atheism is tolerated or even viewed favorably, and others where it is discouraged or despised. If those boundary lines also correlate well to racial or ethnic demographics, is that all that surprising?
    I mean, I live in the Pacific Northwest, supposedly the most unchurched area in our country, and definitely full of a lot of atheists (including most of my friends). Guess what? It’s also pretty white here, too. But when I go back to Texas, which is full of more black and Hispanic people, I find that atheism is still generally seen as an object of mockery in public. Would it be odd to suggest that atheists in Texas are less likely to publically admit that they are atheists? But if I can say that for Texans in general, why couldn’t I also apply the same statement to Texas’ larger proportion of minorities?

    Consider it another way. Many people on this blog routinely tout the fact that there are more Christians in China than the official numbers indicate. The churches there are growing, but people are just afraid to say they’re Christians. Is that condescending? Racist?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And what are the Lutheran demographic breakdowns? I can’t find any, but if you know where they are, please let me know.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And what are the Lutheran demographic breakdowns? I can’t find any, but if you know where they are, please let me know.

  • DonS

    tODD, I pretty much agree with your points, but as a matter of clarification, the population of non-hispanic whites in the U.S. is 65% of the total, not 80%. Otherwise, you are double counting some hispanics, which is why your totals add to more than 100%.

  • DonS

    tODD, I pretty much agree with your points, but as a matter of clarification, the population of non-hispanic whites in the U.S. is 65% of the total, not 80%. Otherwise, you are double counting some hispanics, which is why your totals add to more than 100%.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell wrote (@2), “Christopher Hitchens, likely dying of esophageal cancer, has come to appreciate the prayers for him that can only come from believers.”

    But that description is mildly misleading, given what Hitchens has actually said:

    The way the English-born Hitchens sees it, the people praying for him break down into three basic groups: those who seem genuinely glad he’s suffering and dying from cancer; those who want him to become a believer in their religious faith; and those who are asking God to heal him.

    Hitchens has no use for that first group. “‘To hell with you’ is the response to the ones who pray for me to go to hell,” Hitchens told AP.

    He’s ruling out the idea of a deathbed change of heart: “‘Thanks but no thanks’ is the reply to those who want me to convert and recognize a divinity or deity.”

    It’s that third group — people who are asking God for Hitchens’ healing — that causes Hitchens to choose his words even more carefully than normal. Are those prayers OK? Are they helpful?

    “I say it’s fine by me, I think of it as a nice gesture. And it may well make them feel better, which is a good thing in itself,” says Hitchens.

    But prayers for his healing don’t make him feel better.

    “Well, not any more than very large numbers of very kind, thoughtful letters from nonbelievers, some of whom know me, some of whom don’t, asking me to know that they are on my side,” Hitchens said. “That cheers me up, yes.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell wrote (@2), “Christopher Hitchens, likely dying of esophageal cancer, has come to appreciate the prayers for him that can only come from believers.”

    But that description is mildly misleading, given what Hitchens has actually said:

    The way the English-born Hitchens sees it, the people praying for him break down into three basic groups: those who seem genuinely glad he’s suffering and dying from cancer; those who want him to become a believer in their religious faith; and those who are asking God to heal him.

    Hitchens has no use for that first group. “‘To hell with you’ is the response to the ones who pray for me to go to hell,” Hitchens told AP.

    He’s ruling out the idea of a deathbed change of heart: “‘Thanks but no thanks’ is the reply to those who want me to convert and recognize a divinity or deity.”

    It’s that third group — people who are asking God for Hitchens’ healing — that causes Hitchens to choose his words even more carefully than normal. Are those prayers OK? Are they helpful?

    “I say it’s fine by me, I think of it as a nice gesture. And it may well make them feel better, which is a good thing in itself,” says Hitchens.

    But prayers for his healing don’t make him feel better.

    “Well, not any more than very large numbers of very kind, thoughtful letters from nonbelievers, some of whom know me, some of whom don’t, asking me to know that they are on my side,” Hitchens said. “That cheers me up, yes.”

  • SKPeterson

    So, tODD, should I give up on being a member of the White Lutheran Resistance Movement? I was just ready to get my patch sewed on.

    But, seriously, I think the largest Lutheran populations (and fastest growing segment, by a long shot) are in Africa.

  • SKPeterson

    So, tODD, should I give up on being a member of the White Lutheran Resistance Movement? I was just ready to get my patch sewed on.

    But, seriously, I think the largest Lutheran populations (and fastest growing segment, by a long shot) are in Africa.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@10), thanks. I forgot how the Census breaks out Hispanics as an ethnicity, not a race, and so was looking at the wrong line. Still, I can’t say the atheists are all that different from the U.S. population as a whole. Just a bit whiter, I guess. And definitely more male.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@10), thanks. I forgot how the Census breaks out Hispanics as an ethnicity, not a race, and so was looking at the wrong line. Still, I can’t say the atheists are all that different from the U.S. population as a whole. Just a bit whiter, I guess. And definitely more male.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The largest Lutheran populations … are in Africa” (@12). Perhaps. But then, the largest population of atheists is in China, isn’t it?

    This article was about Americans, for the most part (aside from a few famous British atheists). It might be interesting to consider worldwide demographics for religions, but we don’t have those in front of us.

    And, if we’re going to address Lutheran adherents worldwide, it might behoove us to consider what kind of Lutherans, and what that means. The main church in Namibia (the only country outside Europe to have a Lutheran majority!) is associated with the Lutheran World Federation, as are most Lutheran bodies. And should we count all the official Lutherans in northern Europe that have never darkened a narthex door? Is it condescending of me to suggest they might not really be Lutherans?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The largest Lutheran populations … are in Africa” (@12). Perhaps. But then, the largest population of atheists is in China, isn’t it?

    This article was about Americans, for the most part (aside from a few famous British atheists). It might be interesting to consider worldwide demographics for religions, but we don’t have those in front of us.

    And, if we’re going to address Lutheran adherents worldwide, it might behoove us to consider what kind of Lutherans, and what that means. The main church in Namibia (the only country outside Europe to have a Lutheran majority!) is associated with the Lutheran World Federation, as are most Lutheran bodies. And should we count all the official Lutherans in northern Europe that have never darkened a narthex door? Is it condescending of me to suggest they might not really be Lutherans?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Is it condescending of me to suggest they might not really be Lutherans?”

    Man, that’s a tough one. They get married and baptize the kids in the church, so I don’t know.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Is it condescending of me to suggest they might not really be Lutherans?”

    Man, that’s a tough one. They get married and baptize the kids in the church, so I don’t know.

  • Grace

    Believing in a a false god/gods has the same result as an atheistic viewpoint – if you don’t believe in the one true God, your demise and future will be the same – color or ethnicity has nothing to do with mans heart and soul.

  • Grace

    Believing in a a false god/gods has the same result as an atheistic viewpoint – if you don’t believe in the one true God, your demise and future will be the same – color or ethnicity has nothing to do with mans heart and soul.

  • SKPeterson

    Yeah, LWF v. ILC. I think much of that has to do with historical ties to the missionary country of origin and is not necessarily indicative of complete theological agreement. For example, the ELC Kenya is an LWF member and is affiliated with the ILC; they are also in pulpit fellowship with the LCMS. Also, Bp. Obare of the ELCK has gone to Sweden (CoS is a member of the LWF) and ordained dissident ministers who do not hold to the leftist doctrines of ordaining women and active homosexuals. The ELC in Ghana and Lutheran Church in Nigeria are members of both. Namibia has 3 different synods as well, all of which are LWF, but not ILC. There are also large church synods in Ethiopia and Tanzania.

    I think Africa is the place to keep an eye on (and maybe Latin America) for the growth of Lutheranism.

  • SKPeterson

    Yeah, LWF v. ILC. I think much of that has to do with historical ties to the missionary country of origin and is not necessarily indicative of complete theological agreement. For example, the ELC Kenya is an LWF member and is affiliated with the ILC; they are also in pulpit fellowship with the LCMS. Also, Bp. Obare of the ELCK has gone to Sweden (CoS is a member of the LWF) and ordained dissident ministers who do not hold to the leftist doctrines of ordaining women and active homosexuals. The ELC in Ghana and Lutheran Church in Nigeria are members of both. Namibia has 3 different synods as well, all of which are LWF, but not ILC. There are also large church synods in Ethiopia and Tanzania.

    I think Africa is the place to keep an eye on (and maybe Latin America) for the growth of Lutheranism.

  • Grace

    “And should we count all the official Lutherans in northern Europe that have never darkened a narthex door? Is it condescending of me to suggest they might not really be Lutherans?”

    Being Lutheran won’t save a single soul – Believing in Christ, repenting of sin, resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation.

  • Grace

    “And should we count all the official Lutherans in northern Europe that have never darkened a narthex door? Is it condescending of me to suggest they might not really be Lutherans?”

    Being Lutheran won’t save a single soul – Believing in Christ, repenting of sin, resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation.

  • Porcell

    As to the proportion of whites among both atheists and Lutherans, notwithstanding Todd’s bleats, it hardly matters. Atheists might shallowly attempt to be politically correct questioning the paucity of men and women of color among them; Lutherans ought to know better.

    For reasonable historical reasons, Lutherans in Europe and America are predominantly white, just as are Congregationalists and Presbyterians.Those who are somehow embarrassed about this are essentially caving to the foolish notion of “inclusivity.” Deliver us. People of “color” include white people, however cringing the “progressives,” including Todd, are at being white.

  • Porcell

    As to the proportion of whites among both atheists and Lutherans, notwithstanding Todd’s bleats, it hardly matters. Atheists might shallowly attempt to be politically correct questioning the paucity of men and women of color among them; Lutherans ought to know better.

    For reasonable historical reasons, Lutherans in Europe and America are predominantly white, just as are Congregationalists and Presbyterians.Those who are somehow embarrassed about this are essentially caving to the foolish notion of “inclusivity.” Deliver us. People of “color” include white people, however cringing the “progressives,” including Todd, are at being white.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@17), eh, I’m splitting hairs. I just find it odd that, when it comes to American Lutheran praxis, the lines are drawn in bold (by American Lutherans, at least those wishing to distinguish themselves from the largest body of American Lutherans), but when it comes to the question of Lutherans outside of Europe and North America, the lines seem oddly muddled, is all.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@17), eh, I’m splitting hairs. I just find it odd that, when it comes to American Lutheran praxis, the lines are drawn in bold (by American Lutherans, at least those wishing to distinguish themselves from the largest body of American Lutherans), but when it comes to the question of Lutherans outside of Europe and North America, the lines seem oddly muddled, is all.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Will we soon see a story that the NBA is concerned that the proportion of its players’ ethnicities doesn’t reflect the same proportions as the general public in the USA? The whole thing of obsessing over what percent of folks in some group is red, yellow, black or white is pointless. It is not like the atheist group or the NBA is somehow discriminating against anyone. So, why focus on the ethnicity of members? It is just goofy. The whole idea that there is something wrong with a group if it isn’t exactly diverse is a flawed notion. However, it would be pretty funny if some ethnic group decided to form their own atheist group. How about the “Association of Asian Atheist Ladies”? Would they be criticized for their lack of “diversity”? What a farce. Hey maybe the Asian Atheist Ladies could host an ice cream social with the white guy atheist group. The more I think of it, the funnier it gets.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Will we soon see a story that the NBA is concerned that the proportion of its players’ ethnicities doesn’t reflect the same proportions as the general public in the USA? The whole thing of obsessing over what percent of folks in some group is red, yellow, black or white is pointless. It is not like the atheist group or the NBA is somehow discriminating against anyone. So, why focus on the ethnicity of members? It is just goofy. The whole idea that there is something wrong with a group if it isn’t exactly diverse is a flawed notion. However, it would be pretty funny if some ethnic group decided to form their own atheist group. How about the “Association of Asian Atheist Ladies”? Would they be criticized for their lack of “diversity”? What a farce. Hey maybe the Asian Atheist Ladies could host an ice cream social with the white guy atheist group. The more I think of it, the funnier it gets.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@18), “Being Lutheran won’t save a single soul – Believing in Christ, repenting of sin, resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation.”

    Some questions, then. What do you think “being Lutheran” means, such that you consider it distinct from “believing in Christ” and “repenting of sin”?

    And when you mention “resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation”, what is it that you believe brings about this result? “Repenting of sin”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@18), “Being Lutheran won’t save a single soul – Believing in Christ, repenting of sin, resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation.”

    Some questions, then. What do you think “being Lutheran” means, such that you consider it distinct from “believing in Christ” and “repenting of sin”?

    And when you mention “resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation”, what is it that you believe brings about this result? “Repenting of sin”?

  • Abby

    Grace @18
    “Being Lutheran won’t save a single soul – Believing in Christ, repenting of sin, resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation.”

    That’s why being a Lutheran will save me! That’s all we teach!

  • Abby

    Grace @18
    “Being Lutheran won’t save a single soul – Believing in Christ, repenting of sin, resulting in a new nature will give one Salvation.”

    That’s why being a Lutheran will save me! That’s all we teach!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@19), you may notice that Veith was actually the one who brought up the topic of “the proportion of whites among … atheists”. Was he “bleating” as well? Care to chastise him for discussing things that “hardly matter”?

    As for your assertion that “Lutherans ought to know better” regarding the “politically correct questioning the paucity of men and women of color among them” … why? Lutherans shouldn’t be concerned about their black neighbors, their Hispanic neighbors, their Asian neighbors? Lutherans shouldn’t care that such people are apparently attracted to and feel more comfortable in churches that teach false doctrine?

    I mean, I realize you find the bête noire of “political correctness” to be terribly frightening and worth tilting at from your trusty armchair steed and all, but isn’t there a point where you express concern about and love for non-white people, no matter how much it might accidentally make you appear politically correct?

    And, oh look, another example of you telling me what I think, in contrast to what I actually think. That will never get old! Do you think that by saying such things, you can actually convince me that you’re right about me, and I’m wrong? Please, do keep trying.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@19), you may notice that Veith was actually the one who brought up the topic of “the proportion of whites among … atheists”. Was he “bleating” as well? Care to chastise him for discussing things that “hardly matter”?

    As for your assertion that “Lutherans ought to know better” regarding the “politically correct questioning the paucity of men and women of color among them” … why? Lutherans shouldn’t be concerned about their black neighbors, their Hispanic neighbors, their Asian neighbors? Lutherans shouldn’t care that such people are apparently attracted to and feel more comfortable in churches that teach false doctrine?

    I mean, I realize you find the bête noire of “political correctness” to be terribly frightening and worth tilting at from your trusty armchair steed and all, but isn’t there a point where you express concern about and love for non-white people, no matter how much it might accidentally make you appear politically correct?

    And, oh look, another example of you telling me what I think, in contrast to what I actually think. That will never get old! Do you think that by saying such things, you can actually convince me that you’re right about me, and I’m wrong? Please, do keep trying.

  • Porcell

    Abby, Grace’s point is that it’s not all about Lutheranism; It’s about believing in Christ, something that her church among others believe in.

  • Porcell

    Abby, Grace’s point is that it’s not all about Lutheranism; It’s about believing in Christ, something that her church among others believe in.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    What’s so wrong with a moderate amount well placed of condescension? I, as a white LCMS American Lutheran, am extremely good at it. Is that so bad?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    What’s so wrong with a moderate amount well placed of condescension? I, as a white LCMS American Lutheran, am extremely good at it. Is that so bad?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bryan (@26), what about well placed prepositions? Huh? Huh?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bryan (@26), what about well placed prepositions? Huh? Huh?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And Bryan (@26), as for condescension, yes, that is a problem you white LCMS American Lutherans have. ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And Bryan (@26), as for condescension, yes, that is a problem you white LCMS American Lutherans have. ;)

  • Bryan Lindemood

    no, no place is moderately placed for prepositions there.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    no, no place is moderately placed for prepositions there.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I doubt that Veith really cares that much about racial composition of atheists and Lutherans. He merely points out the irony that there are few women and people of “color” among atheists.

    Also, it doesn’t follow from the fact that, while most Lutherans are white, they don’t care about people of other colors. Richard John Neuhaus, a distinguished pastor, served a mostly black Lutheran congregation in New York City. Isn’t Concordia Lutheran College, Selma a mostly black college?

    When you remark a 8: “Atheists are worried because nearly all atheists are white.” Okay, so … are they any other Lutherans out there more than a little worried about hypocrisy in snickering at the atheists on this one? Just wondering., you foolishly suggest that Lutherans should worry about being white. How ridiculous.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I doubt that Veith really cares that much about racial composition of atheists and Lutherans. He merely points out the irony that there are few women and people of “color” among atheists.

    Also, it doesn’t follow from the fact that, while most Lutherans are white, they don’t care about people of other colors. Richard John Neuhaus, a distinguished pastor, served a mostly black Lutheran congregation in New York City. Isn’t Concordia Lutheran College, Selma a mostly black college?

    When you remark a 8: “Atheists are worried because nearly all atheists are white.” Okay, so … are they any other Lutherans out there more than a little worried about hypocrisy in snickering at the atheists on this one? Just wondering., you foolishly suggest that Lutherans should worry about being white. How ridiculous.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@30) that Veith “merely points out the irony that there are few women and people of ‘color’ among atheists”. I see. And what, exactly, is “ironic” about that fact? And how does one go about observing it — as you claim that Veith has, but I have not — without “caring about the racial composition of atheists”? Honestly, it just comes across like you’re berating me and exonerating Veith, no matter what is actually being said.

    As for the rest of your comment, it would really help if you would read what I wrote, instead of what you think I wrote. Here is where your two-part strategy of (1) fake it even when you don’t know, and (2) never admit you’re wrong, anyhow, really does you no favors.

    I never said Lutherans “don’t care about people of other colors”. I did, however, imply that your suggestion that Lutherans “ought to know better” when it comes to observing “the paucity of men and women of color among them” comes from not caring about people of color, or at least would have the same result.

    “You foolishly suggest that Lutherans should worry about being white. How ridiculous.” Oh, it would be ridiculous … if I had suggested anything like that! No wonder you get so upset with my comments, reading things into them that not even I recognize! I type up a windmill, and off you go, tilting at giants. No, I think all white Lutherans should enjoy the fact that they are white, whatever that means (ability to tan? stand out less when visiting parts of Europe?). But much as you seem content to let Lutheranism remain fixed in its historical, cultural moorings, actual Lutherans are concerned about going to all nations — indeed, to all races, ethnicities, subcultures, cliques, and circles of friends — baptizing, and teaching them Jesus’ words and proclaiming the Gospel to them. But a glimpse at the statistics shows that we have not accomplished that goal all that well. I care about that. You apparently don’t. There it is.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@30) that Veith “merely points out the irony that there are few women and people of ‘color’ among atheists”. I see. And what, exactly, is “ironic” about that fact? And how does one go about observing it — as you claim that Veith has, but I have not — without “caring about the racial composition of atheists”? Honestly, it just comes across like you’re berating me and exonerating Veith, no matter what is actually being said.

    As for the rest of your comment, it would really help if you would read what I wrote, instead of what you think I wrote. Here is where your two-part strategy of (1) fake it even when you don’t know, and (2) never admit you’re wrong, anyhow, really does you no favors.

    I never said Lutherans “don’t care about people of other colors”. I did, however, imply that your suggestion that Lutherans “ought to know better” when it comes to observing “the paucity of men and women of color among them” comes from not caring about people of color, or at least would have the same result.

    “You foolishly suggest that Lutherans should worry about being white. How ridiculous.” Oh, it would be ridiculous … if I had suggested anything like that! No wonder you get so upset with my comments, reading things into them that not even I recognize! I type up a windmill, and off you go, tilting at giants. No, I think all white Lutherans should enjoy the fact that they are white, whatever that means (ability to tan? stand out less when visiting parts of Europe?). But much as you seem content to let Lutheranism remain fixed in its historical, cultural moorings, actual Lutherans are concerned about going to all nations — indeed, to all races, ethnicities, subcultures, cliques, and circles of friends — baptizing, and teaching them Jesus’ words and proclaiming the Gospel to them. But a glimpse at the statistics shows that we have not accomplished that goal all that well. I care about that. You apparently don’t. There it is.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 31, I’m far from tilting at windmills. You’re the one who questioned whether the Lutherans are any better than the atheists in terms of racial composition. I merely pointed out that there are good historical reasons in Europe and America for white Lutheran and other denominational predominance; further, that it doesn’t follow from the fact that, while most Lutherans are white, they don’t care about people of other colors.

    The truth is that the “liberal” concern about the buzzwords, “inclusiveness” and “diversity” is about saddling white people with some sort of racial guilt. The truth is that by and large white people in America are, as peoples go, rather fair in the treatment of people of “color.” We fought a Civil War at great cost of blood and treasure and in recent years have been remarkably attentive to civil rights.

    But much as you seem content to let Lutheranism remain fixed in its historical, cultural moorings… On the contrary, I pointed out the excellence of Pastor Nehaus’s predominantly black Lutheran church in New York City and the mostly black Concordia Lutheran College at Selma.

    You’re the one tilting at the windmill of alleged Lutheran lack of concern about racial matters.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 31, I’m far from tilting at windmills. You’re the one who questioned whether the Lutherans are any better than the atheists in terms of racial composition. I merely pointed out that there are good historical reasons in Europe and America for white Lutheran and other denominational predominance; further, that it doesn’t follow from the fact that, while most Lutherans are white, they don’t care about people of other colors.

    The truth is that the “liberal” concern about the buzzwords, “inclusiveness” and “diversity” is about saddling white people with some sort of racial guilt. The truth is that by and large white people in America are, as peoples go, rather fair in the treatment of people of “color.” We fought a Civil War at great cost of blood and treasure and in recent years have been remarkably attentive to civil rights.

    But much as you seem content to let Lutheranism remain fixed in its historical, cultural moorings… On the contrary, I pointed out the excellence of Pastor Nehaus’s predominantly black Lutheran church in New York City and the mostly black Concordia Lutheran College at Selma.

    You’re the one tilting at the windmill of alleged Lutheran lack of concern about racial matters.

  • SKPeterson

    @Porcell and tODD – your exchange is interesting to me as you both are attempting to deal with the approach of the Church towards ethnicity and culture. I’ve gotten a mild wake up call on this (not an epiphany ;), but a recognition that something was out there) as our asst. pastor is leaving to pursue his phd in theology and culture. He asked me to provide a reference, so I began quizzing him on what theology and culture is and what he thought about it as a topic. His responses recognize both sides that you represent and the difficulties that exist; he doesn’t think (and I agree, but perhaps for different reasons) that specific ministry foci on particular ethnic communities is counterproductive, but that the cultural mainstream also needs to be more open toward diversity. That seems contradictory, but I take it to mean that we do not need to have Iglesia Luteranas or Mount Zion Lutheran Churches popping up in ethnic communities or predominantly minority enclaves, but that the “white” churches need to open their doors, pews and ministries to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity. As he noted, the Roman Catholics do this quite well, as do some of the evangelicals, so why can we not find a Lutheran way to accomplish the same thing. Instead we have task forces and committees and programs, even outright quotas to encourage minority involvement, but precious little to show for it here in North America.

  • SKPeterson

    @Porcell and tODD – your exchange is interesting to me as you both are attempting to deal with the approach of the Church towards ethnicity and culture. I’ve gotten a mild wake up call on this (not an epiphany ;), but a recognition that something was out there) as our asst. pastor is leaving to pursue his phd in theology and culture. He asked me to provide a reference, so I began quizzing him on what theology and culture is and what he thought about it as a topic. His responses recognize both sides that you represent and the difficulties that exist; he doesn’t think (and I agree, but perhaps for different reasons) that specific ministry foci on particular ethnic communities is counterproductive, but that the cultural mainstream also needs to be more open toward diversity. That seems contradictory, but I take it to mean that we do not need to have Iglesia Luteranas or Mount Zion Lutheran Churches popping up in ethnic communities or predominantly minority enclaves, but that the “white” churches need to open their doors, pews and ministries to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity. As he noted, the Roman Catholics do this quite well, as do some of the evangelicals, so why can we not find a Lutheran way to accomplish the same thing. Instead we have task forces and committees and programs, even outright quotas to encourage minority involvement, but precious little to show for it here in North America.

  • SKPeterson

    I misstated part of my previous response. It should read “productive” not counterproductive, or that he thinks specific ministry foci are counterproductive and not of particular value.

  • SKPeterson

    I misstated part of my previous response. It should read “productive” not counterproductive, or that he thinks specific ministry foci are counterproductive and not of particular value.

  • Porcell

    SK, the Catholic church is multi-ethnic due to millennia of history of being to some degree a truly catholic church. The Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches have distinctly ethnic, racial, and cultural roots that are hard to move beyond.

    Even the Catholic Church in the Boston area has many parishes with distinctly ethnic flavors, especially among the Irish, Italian, Latino, and Polish folk .

    My point is that people involved in largely white or ethnic churches, while certainly needing to reach out to all, need not flagellate themselves for a lack of diversity and inclusiveness, both of which are favorite terms of the Left.

  • Porcell

    SK, the Catholic church is multi-ethnic due to millennia of history of being to some degree a truly catholic church. The Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches have distinctly ethnic, racial, and cultural roots that are hard to move beyond.

    Even the Catholic Church in the Boston area has many parishes with distinctly ethnic flavors, especially among the Irish, Italian, Latino, and Polish folk .

    My point is that people involved in largely white or ethnic churches, while certainly needing to reach out to all, need not flagellate themselves for a lack of diversity and inclusiveness, both of which are favorite terms of the Left.

  • SKPeterson

    Right. RC liturgical practice is fairly consistent whether the parish is predominantly or historically Polish, Irish, or Dominican such that a Pole or Dominican could go into an Irish RC church and become fully immersed in the liturgy and even the life of the congregation. And, the RC Church does not have to engage in special ministry programs for such to be the case. That is the problem with some of modern Lutheranism – there is a desire to include ethnic minorities, but the vehicle isn’t to welcome anybody and everybody to the same liturgical experience, theological methodology, and congregational life, but to create ethnic ministry islands or ghettos – we’ll have St. John’s Lutheran Church where all the whites go, but San Juan’s Iglesia Luterana will be for the Hispanics and they can meet in the basement. Oddly, that doesn’t seem to be too attractive to many.

  • SKPeterson

    Right. RC liturgical practice is fairly consistent whether the parish is predominantly or historically Polish, Irish, or Dominican such that a Pole or Dominican could go into an Irish RC church and become fully immersed in the liturgy and even the life of the congregation. And, the RC Church does not have to engage in special ministry programs for such to be the case. That is the problem with some of modern Lutheranism – there is a desire to include ethnic minorities, but the vehicle isn’t to welcome anybody and everybody to the same liturgical experience, theological methodology, and congregational life, but to create ethnic ministry islands or ghettos – we’ll have St. John’s Lutheran Church where all the whites go, but San Juan’s Iglesia Luterana will be for the Hispanics and they can meet in the basement. Oddly, that doesn’t seem to be too attractive to many.

  • Grace

    SKPeterson – 36

    “That is the problem with some of modern Lutheranism – there is a desire to include ethnic minorities, but the vehicle isn’t to welcome anybody and everybody to the same liturgical experience, theological methodology, and congregational life, but to create ethnic ministry islands or ghettos – we’ll have St. John’s Lutheran Church where all the whites go, but San Juan’s Iglesia Luterana will be for the Hispanics and they can meet in the basement. Oddly, that doesn’t seem to be too attractive to many.”

    Why does this exist? I admire your candor, I really do.

    If I were one of the minority of which you speak, I wouldn’t be impressed, I would be sad…. and look elsewhere, …. a church that would Worship the LORD together as a body of Believers of any, and all ethnic groups.

    When we all get to heaven, sitting at the ‘wedding feast’ we will sit with every Believer of every ethinic group. There will be no tears in heaven, but if there were, I’m sure a mass amount of people would be sobbing for years. Something to think about! :(

  • Grace

    SKPeterson – 36

    “That is the problem with some of modern Lutheranism – there is a desire to include ethnic minorities, but the vehicle isn’t to welcome anybody and everybody to the same liturgical experience, theological methodology, and congregational life, but to create ethnic ministry islands or ghettos – we’ll have St. John’s Lutheran Church where all the whites go, but San Juan’s Iglesia Luterana will be for the Hispanics and they can meet in the basement. Oddly, that doesn’t seem to be too attractive to many.”

    Why does this exist? I admire your candor, I really do.

    If I were one of the minority of which you speak, I wouldn’t be impressed, I would be sad…. and look elsewhere, …. a church that would Worship the LORD together as a body of Believers of any, and all ethnic groups.

    When we all get to heaven, sitting at the ‘wedding feast’ we will sit with every Believer of every ethinic group. There will be no tears in heaven, but if there were, I’m sure a mass amount of people would be sobbing for years. Something to think about! :(

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Atheists’ diversity problem | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

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  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How much is the Hispanic congregation paying to rent the basement? Are they getting a good deal? Why do they want to meet separately from the other congregation? If things were reversed and we were living in a foreign country like Japan and the congregation there let us use their basement cheap, wouldn’t we be grateful? Isn’t there a story about not going and sitting next to the head of table because you may be asked to move to a less honored seat? I seem to recall hearing that somewhere.

    Have you ever looked at some of the oldest congregations’ websites and read the stories of how they got started and how they all packed into some tiny accommodation until they were able to build their own churches? Very inspiring and relevant. All they had was their faith, one another from God’s providence. Not fancy buildings and facilities. The church is not a building.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How much is the Hispanic congregation paying to rent the basement? Are they getting a good deal? Why do they want to meet separately from the other congregation? If things were reversed and we were living in a foreign country like Japan and the congregation there let us use their basement cheap, wouldn’t we be grateful? Isn’t there a story about not going and sitting next to the head of table because you may be asked to move to a less honored seat? I seem to recall hearing that somewhere.

    Have you ever looked at some of the oldest congregations’ websites and read the stories of how they got started and how they all packed into some tiny accommodation until they were able to build their own churches? Very inspiring and relevant. All they had was their faith, one another from God’s providence. Not fancy buildings and facilities. The church is not a building.

  • helen

    During the time we were in Bangkok, a Lutheran congregation was meeting in space donated by a Roman Catholic school for Thai children. I got to know the Mother Superior, who was from St Charles, MO.

    The congregation was not asked to pay for the space, and being good Lutherans, :( they seldom volunteered. When I got acquainted, I discovered that they were locking the little organ we used and the sisters had to ask to borrow the key for their special events. (I said that was nonsense and showed them where to find the key.)
    I don’t know where Mater Dei is now; the whole beautiful block is turned into high rise commercial property.

    Back in Texas, an ‘Anglo’ congregation was (may still be) hosting a Hispanic congregation and an African congregation (not natives) each with its own Pastor and separate service time. (And, I think, each with its own subsidy from district to the host congregation for “mission”. At least, I asked the Caucasian Pastor once and he did not deny it.)

  • helen

    During the time we were in Bangkok, a Lutheran congregation was meeting in space donated by a Roman Catholic school for Thai children. I got to know the Mother Superior, who was from St Charles, MO.

    The congregation was not asked to pay for the space, and being good Lutherans, :( they seldom volunteered. When I got acquainted, I discovered that they were locking the little organ we used and the sisters had to ask to borrow the key for their special events. (I said that was nonsense and showed them where to find the key.)
    I don’t know where Mater Dei is now; the whole beautiful block is turned into high rise commercial property.

    Back in Texas, an ‘Anglo’ congregation was (may still be) hosting a Hispanic congregation and an African congregation (not natives) each with its own Pastor and separate service time. (And, I think, each with its own subsidy from district to the host congregation for “mission”. At least, I asked the Caucasian Pastor once and he did not deny it.)

  • SKPeterson

    So, sg, what helen cites in her last paragraph @39 is what I’m referring to. Many of us North American cradle Lutherans grew up in ethnic communities of Swedes, Norskis, Danes, Germans or Finns. Now, they often did just what you described – they got together in a small space, scraped together some money, called a pastor (maybe even one from Europe) and started a building plan culminating in one, two or three church edifices being built over time. As they grew, new congregations were spun off in surrounding communities. Yet today, we seem to think that Hispanics can’t get the Gospel if the pastor’s last name is Halvarson or Duenkel even if they speak perfect English; they need a pastor named Fuentes. And the non-immigrant blacks need to see a black face behind the pulpit for the Gospel to be relevant. So, we need to create separate services for them or have them meet in the basement if their worship time conflicts with the Scandinavian/German majority service. The question should be why those Hispanics and Africans (immigrant and non-immigrant) aren’t meeting with the main congregation? Why are they not fully integrated into the life of the congregation? Also, on the flip side – predominantly white congregations might be just as well served by an African or Hispanic pastor as by an Anglo. The color of the face in the pulpit should not be an issue – the issue should be the proclamation and deliverance of Word and Sacrament, and the forgiveness of sins, week in, week out for everyone. I’m beginning to feel that there should be fewer service times and not more in order to build the congregational unity and create a more vibrant congregational life. I think that special focus ministry missions are limiting in the long run and any gains may be short-lived.

  • SKPeterson

    So, sg, what helen cites in her last paragraph @39 is what I’m referring to. Many of us North American cradle Lutherans grew up in ethnic communities of Swedes, Norskis, Danes, Germans or Finns. Now, they often did just what you described – they got together in a small space, scraped together some money, called a pastor (maybe even one from Europe) and started a building plan culminating in one, two or three church edifices being built over time. As they grew, new congregations were spun off in surrounding communities. Yet today, we seem to think that Hispanics can’t get the Gospel if the pastor’s last name is Halvarson or Duenkel even if they speak perfect English; they need a pastor named Fuentes. And the non-immigrant blacks need to see a black face behind the pulpit for the Gospel to be relevant. So, we need to create separate services for them or have them meet in the basement if their worship time conflicts with the Scandinavian/German majority service. The question should be why those Hispanics and Africans (immigrant and non-immigrant) aren’t meeting with the main congregation? Why are they not fully integrated into the life of the congregation? Also, on the flip side – predominantly white congregations might be just as well served by an African or Hispanic pastor as by an Anglo. The color of the face in the pulpit should not be an issue – the issue should be the proclamation and deliverance of Word and Sacrament, and the forgiveness of sins, week in, week out for everyone. I’m beginning to feel that there should be fewer service times and not more in order to build the congregational unity and create a more vibrant congregational life. I think that special focus ministry missions are limiting in the long run and any gains may be short-lived.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@33), I’m not suggesting any particular remedies to the problem I observe, merely trying to note that it exists — as, I believe, are you. In short, we (Confessional) Lutherans talk like we have the Gospel truth that all people need to hear, but the results seem to indicate that we are largely only reaching certain subcultures — namely, those who are comfortable with the historical culture from which Lutheranism sprang (northern Europeans and the people in the places where they emigrated to). I wish it weren’t so, and that we were as successful as the Catholics in this regard.

    Porcell, meanwhile, keeps trying to turn this into a Culture War issue and trying to convince me that he knows better than I what I think. And that’s super helpful of him. And very persuasive. I am employing sarcasm.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@33), I’m not suggesting any particular remedies to the problem I observe, merely trying to note that it exists — as, I believe, are you. In short, we (Confessional) Lutherans talk like we have the Gospel truth that all people need to hear, but the results seem to indicate that we are largely only reaching certain subcultures — namely, those who are comfortable with the historical culture from which Lutheranism sprang (northern Europeans and the people in the places where they emigrated to). I wish it weren’t so, and that we were as successful as the Catholics in this regard.

    Porcell, meanwhile, keeps trying to turn this into a Culture War issue and trying to convince me that he knows better than I what I think. And that’s super helpful of him. And very persuasive. I am employing sarcasm.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    SK, I hear you. Everyone is welcome at our church. And we have all groups represented. So, to me, I don’t really get it beyond the groups that have a fair amount of non-English speakers who really need a foreign language service. We have one of those congregations at our church as well, but unlike what I am hearing here, the younger ones start attending with our congregation when grandma doesn’t come or when she passes and the grandkids are more comfortable with Sunday school and service in English. So, I don’t see what others are seeing. I do believe that these conditions really exist, just not where I currently attend.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    SK, I hear you. Everyone is welcome at our church. And we have all groups represented. So, to me, I don’t really get it beyond the groups that have a fair amount of non-English speakers who really need a foreign language service. We have one of those congregations at our church as well, but unlike what I am hearing here, the younger ones start attending with our congregation when grandma doesn’t come or when she passes and the grandkids are more comfortable with Sunday school and service in English. So, I don’t see what others are seeing. I do believe that these conditions really exist, just not where I currently attend.

  • Tom Hering

    “I wish … we were as successful as the Catholics in this regard.” – tODD @ 41.

    We would be if we, too, were syncretists – allowing Lutheranism to be blended with ethnic religions. But then Lutheranism, too, would have to be about works righteousness – which fits seamlessly with ethnic religions.

  • Tom Hering

    “I wish … we were as successful as the Catholics in this regard.” – tODD @ 41.

    We would be if we, too, were syncretists – allowing Lutheranism to be blended with ethnic religions. But then Lutheranism, too, would have to be about works righteousness – which fits seamlessly with ethnic religions.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Excellent point, Tom.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Excellent point, Tom.

  • Porcell

    Tom: We would be if we, too, were syncretists – allowing Lutheranism to be blended with ethnic religions.

    The Catholic Church, while accepting of some of the customs of assorted of its ethnic groups, is hardly a syncretist religion. Its Magisterium and Catechism are quite clear and unequivocal, though capable over time of change, however glacial. That’s why, over millennia, it has held together and those “reformation” sects have become as chaff.

    The Catholic Church quite knows how to charitably tolerate the detritus of assorted ethnic groups, while in the long run establishing its fundamental faith. While assorted Protestant denominations have accommodated, or, better, caved, to secularism, the Catholic Church has held to both Christian Gospel and Judeo-Christian moral law.

    Terming the Catholic Church as syncretist is absurd. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • Porcell

    Tom: We would be if we, too, were syncretists – allowing Lutheranism to be blended with ethnic religions.

    The Catholic Church, while accepting of some of the customs of assorted of its ethnic groups, is hardly a syncretist religion. Its Magisterium and Catechism are quite clear and unequivocal, though capable over time of change, however glacial. That’s why, over millennia, it has held together and those “reformation” sects have become as chaff.

    The Catholic Church quite knows how to charitably tolerate the detritus of assorted ethnic groups, while in the long run establishing its fundamental faith. While assorted Protestant denominations have accommodated, or, better, caved, to secularism, the Catholic Church has held to both Christian Gospel and Judeo-Christian moral law.

    Terming the Catholic Church as syncretist is absurd. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom (@43), here is what you (appear to) have said: We Lutherans would be successful at attracting (and keeping) non-white people in our churches if we were syncretists.

    Now, it is not necessarily true that you also believe in the contrapositive of that statement — that, since we Lutherans are not syncretists, we therefore cannot be successful in attracting non-white people. But I would be more comfortable if you did deny this latter conclusion explicitly. Because that would be tantamount to saying that God’s Word is necessarily ineffective on some cultures and races, or even that we shouldn’t bother with them, since they’re only reachable through false doctrine, which would be pointless.

    I’m pretty certain we’re in agreement on this topic, but your original statement makes me a little leery, all the same. While it’s almost certainly true that accepting any false teachings into our churches would make us more popular (cf. the wide and narrow paths), I think it’s hardly true that a strict adherence to the true doctrine is the only thing holding us back in this regard.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom (@43), here is what you (appear to) have said: We Lutherans would be successful at attracting (and keeping) non-white people in our churches if we were syncretists.

    Now, it is not necessarily true that you also believe in the contrapositive of that statement — that, since we Lutherans are not syncretists, we therefore cannot be successful in attracting non-white people. But I would be more comfortable if you did deny this latter conclusion explicitly. Because that would be tantamount to saying that God’s Word is necessarily ineffective on some cultures and races, or even that we shouldn’t bother with them, since they’re only reachable through false doctrine, which would be pointless.

    I’m pretty certain we’re in agreement on this topic, but your original statement makes me a little leery, all the same. While it’s almost certainly true that accepting any false teachings into our churches would make us more popular (cf. the wide and narrow paths), I think it’s hardly true that a strict adherence to the true doctrine is the only thing holding us back in this regard.

  • Tom Hering

    Todd, I do most certainly abhor and condemn the contrapositive of my statement.

    Porcell, not only is the Roman Catholic church syncretist in practice, it goes so far as to teach that men of other religions may be saved, so long as they practice their religion sincerely.

  • Tom Hering

    Todd, I do most certainly abhor and condemn the contrapositive of my statement.

    Porcell, not only is the Roman Catholic church syncretist in practice, it goes so far as to teach that men of other religions may be saved, so long as they practice their religion sincerely.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Okay maybe I misunderstood, but I thought Tom meant that the works orientation vs. solas of Lutheran theology was more attractive or easier to grasp, thereby getting folks in the door. As for the true invisible church, of course we don’t know which pew sitters are which, nor does the pastor. Obviously the true invisible church is in many places where the gospel is preached.

    “Lutherans are not syncretists, we therefore cannot be successful in attracting non-white people.”

    Likely no one believes that since it is straight out contrary to fact, as you already noted there are tons of Lutherans in Africa.

    More likely it seems the devil’s hand is somewhere in there causing us to worry and contrive rather that trust God and His Word. I mean why are we so concerned that we have some statistically representative membership? We already know the historical denominational affiliations like you said. So long as the pastors faithfully preach and teach and we send missionaries to the various folks here and abroad, I mean, what else is there? All you can do is be faithful. I am alarmed at folks not teaching kids the faith. I mean, if we can’t reach our own kids, do we think we can reach strangers? Remember Dr. Veith’s post on youth ministry? How many folks outside the church would want to come to a place that was doing that stuff with their youth?
    http://www.geneveith.com/2010/08/26/youth-group-madness/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Okay maybe I misunderstood, but I thought Tom meant that the works orientation vs. solas of Lutheran theology was more attractive or easier to grasp, thereby getting folks in the door. As for the true invisible church, of course we don’t know which pew sitters are which, nor does the pastor. Obviously the true invisible church is in many places where the gospel is preached.

    “Lutherans are not syncretists, we therefore cannot be successful in attracting non-white people.”

    Likely no one believes that since it is straight out contrary to fact, as you already noted there are tons of Lutherans in Africa.

    More likely it seems the devil’s hand is somewhere in there causing us to worry and contrive rather that trust God and His Word. I mean why are we so concerned that we have some statistically representative membership? We already know the historical denominational affiliations like you said. So long as the pastors faithfully preach and teach and we send missionaries to the various folks here and abroad, I mean, what else is there? All you can do is be faithful. I am alarmed at folks not teaching kids the faith. I mean, if we can’t reach our own kids, do we think we can reach strangers? Remember Dr. Veith’s post on youth ministry? How many folks outside the church would want to come to a place that was doing that stuff with their youth?
    http://www.geneveith.com/2010/08/26/youth-group-madness/

  • Tom Hering

    “… I thought Tom meant that the works orientation vs. solas of Lutheran theology was more attractive or easier to grasp, thereby getting folks in the door.”

    sg, yes, that was part of it. The other part was being compatibly superstitious.

  • Tom Hering

    “… I thought Tom meant that the works orientation vs. solas of Lutheran theology was more attractive or easier to grasp, thereby getting folks in the door.”

    sg, yes, that was part of it. The other part was being compatibly superstitious.

  • Stephen

    Great discussion!

    What Tom notes is not unlike the Rick Warren mega-church phenomenon sweepin’ the nation. Just because it’s popular and well-attended doesn’t make it, well, much of anything that’s true. What I take away from what Tom says is that so many churches take the “whatever works” strategy, taking them wherever they think they are supposed to be going. Not faithful if you asked me, but it is not unlike the accommodations made over the centuries by Catholicism that Tom is talking about.

    I will note my former ELCA where I spent the past 20+ years, with my apologies to all the faithful Lutherans there (and there are many). I would say that from the looks of it, officially at least, they’ve become like a veritable social service agency, as if they are checking off a list they keep in Chicago. The bishop preaches very moving sermons that seem to me to be designed to do one thing – motivate action to assuage white guilt. I’ve heard plenty of them. It is a lot of love talk that is all law talk. They are out to fix what is wrong, and in the process making a mess of it in my view. Homosexuality, per se, is not the problem. Nor is it women in the pulpit. These can all be dealt with. Preaching is. Teaching is. Doctrine is. When these go missing, when Christ and his gospel gets pushed into the background or becomes hazy, when it is not distinct and pure apart from the law, there is no program or ministry strategy to fix that. Neither can these things make the Lutheran church look like we think it ought to look.

    And I hate to say it, but even being back in the LCMS I see the same problem cast in a different way. My old home church has an awful pastor right now who can’t preach the gospel worth a flip. It took us a good while to find a good gospel preaching church in the LCMS, which was surprising. The hymnal is so much better in the LCMS in my opinion for a number of reasons, but it is going into disuse from what I see. That’s does not have to be an issue as long as we don’t lose the proclamation it contains, though the older I get the more I understand why Lutherans before me have treasured the hymnal so very much.

    I have had some experience working in cross-cultural ministry settings. In inner city Detroit I discovered African Americans who liked the Lutheran liturgy because it was ordered in an otherwise chaotic world. There were bars on every window and door of every home and business. But at the heart of it is the gospel. That’s what people respond to, and being welcomed to come and hear it. Congregations have to figure that out, and it is not easy.

    Yes, people like there own music. So? Sing unto the Lord a new song. We can work that out. It is for pastors to do with their congregations. Imagine Dietrich Bonhoeffer coming home to Berlin from his time in Harlem and singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with his family of highly educated, Bach-loving German aristocrats. We all need to learn to lighten up on style and worship together, myself included. We can serve each other this way. I have worshiped with Indian Lutherans in India and received the sacrament in several Indian languages I couldn’t speak. But I know what was being said and promised. Our confessions say that true worship is faith in Jesus Christ. Preach, teach them to obey, baptize. Do not give up meeting together. That’s really it, no?.

  • Stephen

    Great discussion!

    What Tom notes is not unlike the Rick Warren mega-church phenomenon sweepin’ the nation. Just because it’s popular and well-attended doesn’t make it, well, much of anything that’s true. What I take away from what Tom says is that so many churches take the “whatever works” strategy, taking them wherever they think they are supposed to be going. Not faithful if you asked me, but it is not unlike the accommodations made over the centuries by Catholicism that Tom is talking about.

    I will note my former ELCA where I spent the past 20+ years, with my apologies to all the faithful Lutherans there (and there are many). I would say that from the looks of it, officially at least, they’ve become like a veritable social service agency, as if they are checking off a list they keep in Chicago. The bishop preaches very moving sermons that seem to me to be designed to do one thing – motivate action to assuage white guilt. I’ve heard plenty of them. It is a lot of love talk that is all law talk. They are out to fix what is wrong, and in the process making a mess of it in my view. Homosexuality, per se, is not the problem. Nor is it women in the pulpit. These can all be dealt with. Preaching is. Teaching is. Doctrine is. When these go missing, when Christ and his gospel gets pushed into the background or becomes hazy, when it is not distinct and pure apart from the law, there is no program or ministry strategy to fix that. Neither can these things make the Lutheran church look like we think it ought to look.

    And I hate to say it, but even being back in the LCMS I see the same problem cast in a different way. My old home church has an awful pastor right now who can’t preach the gospel worth a flip. It took us a good while to find a good gospel preaching church in the LCMS, which was surprising. The hymnal is so much better in the LCMS in my opinion for a number of reasons, but it is going into disuse from what I see. That’s does not have to be an issue as long as we don’t lose the proclamation it contains, though the older I get the more I understand why Lutherans before me have treasured the hymnal so very much.

    I have had some experience working in cross-cultural ministry settings. In inner city Detroit I discovered African Americans who liked the Lutheran liturgy because it was ordered in an otherwise chaotic world. There were bars on every window and door of every home and business. But at the heart of it is the gospel. That’s what people respond to, and being welcomed to come and hear it. Congregations have to figure that out, and it is not easy.

    Yes, people like there own music. So? Sing unto the Lord a new song. We can work that out. It is for pastors to do with their congregations. Imagine Dietrich Bonhoeffer coming home to Berlin from his time in Harlem and singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with his family of highly educated, Bach-loving German aristocrats. We all need to learn to lighten up on style and worship together, myself included. We can serve each other this way. I have worshiped with Indian Lutherans in India and received the sacrament in several Indian languages I couldn’t speak. But I know what was being said and promised. Our confessions say that true worship is faith in Jesus Christ. Preach, teach them to obey, baptize. Do not give up meeting together. That’s really it, no?.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    superstitious? That word carries a lot of connotation for me. I mean most atheists I know would call all religion superstition. How about mysticism? Would that also be the same as what you mean? I mean I think both Catholics and Lutherans would agree that Roman Catholicism would score higher on the mysticism scale what with Teresa of Avila as a doctor of the church and all.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    superstitious? That word carries a lot of connotation for me. I mean most atheists I know would call all religion superstition. How about mysticism? Would that also be the same as what you mean? I mean I think both Catholics and Lutherans would agree that Roman Catholicism would score higher on the mysticism scale what with Teresa of Avila as a doctor of the church and all.

  • Tom Hering

    Superstitious is just a fun way of saying non-biblical. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    Superstitious is just a fun way of saying non-biblical. ;-)

  • SKPeterson

    Happy Sunday everyone.

    sg- It is good to hear your experience is positive. My own congregation has several African-American members, about representative of the population in the community we are located in. This is/was done without any specific ministry focus.

    You example though is heartening – younger Hispanics that do speak fluent English are feeling welcome enough to attend the “Anglo” service. And, I am not saying that there should not be ministries designed to reach out to immigrant communities that may have large numbers of individuals who are not fluent in English. What I am advocating ever so tentatively is that we need to reach out to Hispanics the same way we reach out to Anglos, without the presumption that we just know that a Spanish speaking or Hispanic surnamed pastor is the key. Unfortunately, that is the limit of my answers to this problem. I only await the missionaries to come from Africa or South America or Asia to give my grandchildren catechism instruction.

  • SKPeterson

    Happy Sunday everyone.

    sg- It is good to hear your experience is positive. My own congregation has several African-American members, about representative of the population in the community we are located in. This is/was done without any specific ministry focus.

    You example though is heartening – younger Hispanics that do speak fluent English are feeling welcome enough to attend the “Anglo” service. And, I am not saying that there should not be ministries designed to reach out to immigrant communities that may have large numbers of individuals who are not fluent in English. What I am advocating ever so tentatively is that we need to reach out to Hispanics the same way we reach out to Anglos, without the presumption that we just know that a Spanish speaking or Hispanic surnamed pastor is the key. Unfortunately, that is the limit of my answers to this problem. I only await the missionaries to come from Africa or South America or Asia to give my grandchildren catechism instruction.

  • Stephen

    SK -

    Those missionaries are here, and the church sends them into a ghetto from what I have seen, instead of just having it be one river (to mix my metaphors). I think, for one thing, there does need to be a more deliberate attempt to “integrate” (only word for it) in the way you describe if we value a more open church. I think the idea that pastors need to be “among there own kind” is just a plain mistake. St. Paul himself blows that out of the water. There is incredible value in learning and hearing the Word from those who received it in a different context. I’d say this is especially true for young people forming their sense of what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ. The mission trip experience is helpful, but what you say about learning the faith from someone so unlike themselves in a catechetical setting seems to me to be even more profound for the larger church. I’d pray for that too.

  • Stephen

    SK -

    Those missionaries are here, and the church sends them into a ghetto from what I have seen, instead of just having it be one river (to mix my metaphors). I think, for one thing, there does need to be a more deliberate attempt to “integrate” (only word for it) in the way you describe if we value a more open church. I think the idea that pastors need to be “among there own kind” is just a plain mistake. St. Paul himself blows that out of the water. There is incredible value in learning and hearing the Word from those who received it in a different context. I’d say this is especially true for young people forming their sense of what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ. The mission trip experience is helpful, but what you say about learning the faith from someone so unlike themselves in a catechetical setting seems to me to be even more profound for the larger church. I’d pray for that too.

  • moallen

    I heard not long ago on Issues Etc. that there are more Lutherans in Africa than in Europe and the U.S. combined. I doubt they are all of European descent. I myself attended a Lutheran Church (for several weeks) while working in New Orleans whose pastor was from Zimbabwe – I was the only “white guy” there most of the time. This Church has been there since the 1860s and has been primarily African American since it’s founding, yes, racially secluded, but I don’t think they feel put out by it and they often do things in conjunction with other local Lutheran Churches (about which I have no first hand knowledge). I have been going to another Church in Houston that has some diversity, mostly white but there are some Hispanics and African Americans – which is not different from the neighborhood. I don’t think Lutheranism has any inherent theological problem.

  • moallen

    I heard not long ago on Issues Etc. that there are more Lutherans in Africa than in Europe and the U.S. combined. I doubt they are all of European descent. I myself attended a Lutheran Church (for several weeks) while working in New Orleans whose pastor was from Zimbabwe – I was the only “white guy” there most of the time. This Church has been there since the 1860s and has been primarily African American since it’s founding, yes, racially secluded, but I don’t think they feel put out by it and they often do things in conjunction with other local Lutheran Churches (about which I have no first hand knowledge). I have been going to another Church in Houston that has some diversity, mostly white but there are some Hispanics and African Americans – which is not different from the neighborhood. I don’t think Lutheranism has any inherent theological problem.

  • Elizabeth

    Any woman who has given birth will tell you there is a God. That’s why there aren’t many atheist women.

  • Elizabeth

    Any woman who has given birth will tell you there is a God. That’s why there aren’t many atheist women.

  • Porcell

    No question, it has become increasingly clear that a large part of the future of Christian religion lies with Africa, Asia , and South America. These poorer peoples understand that the Judeo-Christian religion is about both Gospel and Law, essentially rejecting secular Western tenets of the sexual “revolution” among other liberal pieties.

    For example, the African and Asian Anglicans consider homosexual marriage and behavior, along with abortion, to be grave sins, contradicting the Western Christian conceit that “advanced” Christians must advocate the “diversity” of the sexual revolution.

    Lutherans and other minority traditions are hard at work converting Third World folk, though most of them over time will understand that the Catholic Church shall most probably lead the movement along the lines of Ut Unum Sint.

    Providence is most probably at work here.

  • Porcell

    No question, it has become increasingly clear that a large part of the future of Christian religion lies with Africa, Asia , and South America. These poorer peoples understand that the Judeo-Christian religion is about both Gospel and Law, essentially rejecting secular Western tenets of the sexual “revolution” among other liberal pieties.

    For example, the African and Asian Anglicans consider homosexual marriage and behavior, along with abortion, to be grave sins, contradicting the Western Christian conceit that “advanced” Christians must advocate the “diversity” of the sexual revolution.

    Lutherans and other minority traditions are hard at work converting Third World folk, though most of them over time will understand that the Catholic Church shall most probably lead the movement along the lines of Ut Unum Sint.

    Providence is most probably at work here.

  • Stephen

    Well, once again Porcell, you’ve said just about nothing about faith and hardly much more about the Christian “religion.”

    The fact that Asians and Africans have a hard time accepting homosexuality is just as much a cultural factor as it is anywhere else. In those parts of the world, the very real threat of violent Islam puts enormous pressure on Christians to conform and to be in some cases quite circumspect about cultural conventions for reasons that we can barely understand, reasons that involve life and death. That may mean some clarity and precision when it comes to certain things, and the need to guard themselves, and that kind of intensity is to be respected and learned from, but that particular culture war in itself does not mitigate issues for others.

    In fact, its like the same argument used by conservatives who complain that their problems do not get fair hearing in the public square because of all the reparations and fence-mending that liberals are always up to for the sake of minorities. It’s actually true to some extent. We all suffer, isn’t that the point?

    And as for the Catholic church leading the way – to what exactly? “May they all be one.” Sure. Under the Pope. That is what they mean. No way, not until he lays down his phony crown. And I’m pretty sure “most of them” will figure out that it is phony. Luther did. But then again, even if it is only a remnant left it won’t matter. It will be whatever God makes it, not Rome or Lutherans for that matter. That is what our Confessions teach. That’s not what Rome teaches.

  • Stephen

    Well, once again Porcell, you’ve said just about nothing about faith and hardly much more about the Christian “religion.”

    The fact that Asians and Africans have a hard time accepting homosexuality is just as much a cultural factor as it is anywhere else. In those parts of the world, the very real threat of violent Islam puts enormous pressure on Christians to conform and to be in some cases quite circumspect about cultural conventions for reasons that we can barely understand, reasons that involve life and death. That may mean some clarity and precision when it comes to certain things, and the need to guard themselves, and that kind of intensity is to be respected and learned from, but that particular culture war in itself does not mitigate issues for others.

    In fact, its like the same argument used by conservatives who complain that their problems do not get fair hearing in the public square because of all the reparations and fence-mending that liberals are always up to for the sake of minorities. It’s actually true to some extent. We all suffer, isn’t that the point?

    And as for the Catholic church leading the way – to what exactly? “May they all be one.” Sure. Under the Pope. That is what they mean. No way, not until he lays down his phony crown. And I’m pretty sure “most of them” will figure out that it is phony. Luther did. But then again, even if it is only a remnant left it won’t matter. It will be whatever God makes it, not Rome or Lutherans for that matter. That is what our Confessions teach. That’s not what Rome teaches.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Here in Alabama, a large percentage of LCMS Churches are predominantly black. In many traditional churches in old neighborhoods you’ve got churches that reflect the mixed demographics of the area.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Here in Alabama, a large percentage of LCMS Churches are predominantly black. In many traditional churches in old neighborhoods you’ve got churches that reflect the mixed demographics of the area.

  • The Jungle Cat

    I have no idea as to why atheism lacks diversity, but the right place to start would be to ask what sort of psychological factors go into determining whether someone will or will not become an atheist. Atheism has a particular appeal with people who have a problem with authority, but is this disproportionately descriptive of white males? I don’t know.

  • The Jungle Cat

    I have no idea as to why atheism lacks diversity, but the right place to start would be to ask what sort of psychological factors go into determining whether someone will or will not become an atheist. Atheism has a particular appeal with people who have a problem with authority, but is this disproportionately descriptive of white males? I don’t know.

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