Correlation is not causation in study of ELCA racial diversity

More evidence that scientists–especially social scientists–need to study philosophy, particularly the complicated question of what constitutes causality:  A study of ELCA congregations has found that the more racially diverse  a congregation is, the more it has declined in attendance.  The implication being that white people leave when minority races show up.  This effect is especially evident, the study says, in older congregations.

But there are lots of reasons that ELCA congregations have been declining in membership!  The study says nothing about the theological shift leftward that has caused so many members to leave.  Or, even more to the point, neighborhood demographics.  “Older congregations” originally started in big cities are nearly always in decline as assimilated immigrants and young families move to the suburbs.  These congregations do pick up some racially diverse members from the neighborhood, but since African-Americans don’t have a tradition of becoming ELCA Lutherans (though they could well be Missouri Synod Lutherans, which has a long tradition of black membership), there will be a net loss.  But to interpret this as racism is grossly inaccurate.  To use statistical terms, correlation is not causation. [Read more…]

Niebuhr on racism

More from Barton Swaim’s review of the Library of America’s new edition of the works of Reinhold Niebuhr, giving the theologian’s analysis of racism. [Read more…]

My take on “Huckleberry Finn”

Justin Taylor, the publisher at Crossway and a notable blogger, is running a series on “novels that every Christian should consider reading.”  He asked me to write about the great American novel that is Huckleberry Finn.  Mark Twain fan that I am, I was glad to do so. [Read more…]

The moralistic approach to filmmaking

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A lexicon of new racist words

One argument we are already hearing is that if you are against President Obama you must be racist.  That’s a powerful subliminal argument, though when it’s made explicit it can get pretty ridiculous.  Thus Democrats are taking umbrage (or pretending to do so) at a raft of seemingly-innocent words that they claim are actually code for racism.  Among them:

angry

Chicago

Constitution

Experienced

Golf

Food stamps

Holding Down the Fort

Kitchen Cabinet

Obamacare

Privileged

Professor

You people

For explanations and quotations see That’s Racist! – Michelle Malkin – National Review Online.

Black Cherokees

I grew up in northeast Oklahoma: Cherokee country.  Many of my African-American friends growing up were also members of the Cherokee tribe.  The “Five Civilized Tribes,” which include the Cherokees, assimilated quite a bit into the white man’s ways–which is why the white men called them “civilized”–and that included, since they mostly lived down south, owning slaves.  On the Trail of Tears, they took their slaves with them to Oklahoma.  After the Civil War, in which conflict most of the Cherokees sided with their fellow slave holders in the Confederacy, the slaves, of course, were freed.  In 1866, the tribe signed a treaty that included the provision that all of the Freedmen, the ex-slaves and their descendants, would be granted full membership in the Cherokee tribe.  I always thought that was a noble gesture, accepting the former slaves as equals.  And the Cherokees in the past have not been particularly insistent on “Indian blood,” since tribal rules also allows for white Cherokees, who are as little as 1/16 Native American.

But now the Cherokees have voted to kick the Freedmen out of the tribe.  That was a few years ago, but now the tribal court has ruled on the matter, saying the black Cherokees can be kicked off the tribal rolls, which also means that they will be cut out of the health care and other benefits the federal government gives to Native Americans.  A federal court, though, has stepped in, forbidding the racial discrimination and insisting that the 1866 treaty is still valid.   So now the tribe is up in arms (not literally, not like the old days), insisting that a nation has the right to determine who its citizens can be.  (I suspect that another dynamic here is a bitter election for tribal chief.  A recent vote was nearly a tie, and it was contested to the point that a new election is in the works.  I suspect that disenfranchising a block of voters might be to one of the candidates’ advantage, though I don’t know who.  And there may well be other issues.  I’m pretty much out of touch these days.  I’d be glad to hear from any Cherokees of any color who might be reading this.  Feel free to correct me.)

Cherokee Indians: We are free to oust blacks – US news – Life – msnbc.com.