Racism in Primary Elections?

I spoke with an official of the Republican Party today who was distraught that a highly qualified and experienced Latino in yesterday's runoff was defeated by an Anglo who had far less experience and spent no money campaigning.  It appears voters voted for the ethnicity of the last names, not the qualifications of the candidates.

Several years ago, Judge Xavier Rodriguez of Abiding Presence Lutheran Church faced the same fate when a relatively unknown candidate with an Anglo last name defeated him in a Republican primary.

The church also faces racial discrimination in elections.  One year when I chaired a synod elections committee, we were told to nominate two candidates for each position so voters would have a choice.  As you might guess, candidates with names like Schultz won every election and candidates with names like Gomez were all defeated.  In order to get qualified Latinos in positions of responsibility, we had to find ways other than competitive elections to select them.

How might race be less of a factor in all elections?

Bishop Curry to Join Thursday Demonstration

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church who preached the highly acclaimed sermon at last week's royal wedding will join a number of religious leaders in a demonstration near the White House tomorrow.  As you may remember, our Bishop Eaton encouraged Lutherans to join her at a march on racism in Washington several weeks ago. 

Many religious leaders say the country is having its moral foundation eroded by the lack of moral leadership in Washington.  I expect the moral crisis in Washington to continue to be a major concern for many of us for the foreseeable future.

Luther Seminary Downsizing

The seminary Pastor Heather, Lynn, and I attended will soon be less than half the size it was when I attended in the 1970s.  Increased use of online resources and a drop in enrollment are the main reasons the school is selling so much real estate.  The campus had six major buildings when I was a student and soon will have just two or three.

CROP Hunger Walk Planning

The conversation at our last meeting strayed to how much all of our church bodies have changed in the last fifteen or so years.  The church today is almost unrecognizable from what we once knew.

The CROP Hunger Walk is the first Sunday in November.  Be watching for later details about a new location for the walk.

Father Maximus

I met some members of a Coptic mission church last Friday who would like to worship regularly in our sanctuary.  Kevin Ott is working on the details to see if we can share our building with this group.  Be watching for future details.

The Coptic Church is centered in Egypt and the people I met Friday are of Egyptian descent.

The Pre-Game Show

I am looking forward to this introduction to Sunday worship starting this Sunday at 9 am in the fireside room.  I plan to review the worship service and the elements of liturgy we will be following.  I also plan to share any congregational, denominational, or community news of interest.

We will stop having a lengthy announcing of the day near the start of worship  and I will stop my teaching section at the end of my sermons.

I solicit your feedback as I might adjustments from week to week.

Who Owns America's Guns

I read recently the United States has more guns than people.  Three percent of Americans own half of the guns.  The demographic group most like to own guns is older white males with less than average formal education.

Bishop Curry's Wedding Sermon

I have heard several compliments for the head of the Episcopal Church following his sermon last Saturday.  His message was the best proclamation of the gospel I have heard in a large setting for years.  I heard nothing with which Lutherans would want to disagree.

I did hear two people complain about his race and one asked if there was no white person who could be found for the sermon and why the preacher acted so black.

 Racism is alive and well, though many want to deny how serious racism is in our country.

I thought the service was much improved over the funeral for Princess Diana a number of years ago.  That service had no proclamation of the gospel that I can remember.  I do remember Elton John performing.

New Poor People's Campaign

I have been following efforts to revive the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.  A new effort is underway in the US to address the three major evils King confronted: poverty, racism, and militarism.  Over a period of forty days, these major issues are addressed.

I continue to support the program of Lutherans and Episcopalians to remember the poor is special ways on the 21st day of each month.  I will focus on this program instead and keep you informed of each month's topic.

Scouting and Gender Equality

A Mormon friend asked me recently what I thought about the decision of the Mormon Church to cut its ties with Scouts BSA.  He thinks we can have separate but equal programs for girls and boys.

I remembered the old argument for separate but equal public schools for blacks and whites.  Equality never happened there and I doubt two scouting programs could be made separate but equal.

Farm Bill Fails

The House of Representatives voted  down the Farm Bill today and Bread for the World was a leader in opposing the bill.  I quote a paragraph from their May 15 newsletter:

"Bread for the World continues to oppose H.R.2.  This bill would cut more than $20 billion from SNAP in order to create an onerous workforce development bureaucracy that the Congressional Budget Office has states will not have enough employment training slots or funding to help those who lose benefits enter into gainful employment training slots or funding to help those who lose benefits enter into gainful employment.  This bill would also cause over 200,000 children to lose access to free school meals."

This is not the first time efforts have been made to make people who receive government benefits work more, even though jobs and training resources do not exist to handle all the people who would be looking for work. 

Furthermore, many people who now receive benefits are already working, but at jobs that do not pay a living wage.

Church leaders warned last year when the big tax cut bill passed which primarily helped the rich that some would soon try to cut benefits for the poor.  The cuts for the poor are now being attempted.

Palestinian Rights

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was one of fourteen religious groups in the United States to sign a statement on Palestinian rights as violence broke out this week in Gaza and the West Bank.  I found the following paragraphs to be central to the statement:

"For us as US churches and ecumenical organizations, the reality of life is repeatedly and consistently shared with us by our closest partners, the Palestinian Christians, their churches and institutions.  Their voices echo that of the broader Palestinian society.  They speak with authenticity and honesty of the deplorable conditions of occupation and inequality in which they live; they yearn with great hope for a day when they will know the justice that is promised for them; they pray fervently for peace and for an end to the conflict, occupation, and dispossession; and they call out with clarity for people of conscience, particularly the global church and people of faith, to take action in support of their calls.

"In the US, we confess that we have not always done all that we can to amplify the voices of the Palestinians and Israelis who seek justice and equal rights, and who support an end to violations of human rights and human dignity.  Even so, we commit to persevere in our efforts to promote peace with justice, and equality of rights for all.

"We know that our own government's seemingly unqualified and unquestioning support for Israel is a significant enabling factor for Israel's continuing and repeated violations of international conventions and laws.  The US's unequaled military aid to Israel, its regular defense of Israel in diplomatic arenas, especially the UN Security Council, national and state efforts to criminalize the use of economic measures as a moral act, US support for the blockade of Gaza, and the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, are but some of the ways the US has acted without regard to Palestinian rights."

Neighbor v. Stranger

I recently read that in the Old Testament, there is one reference to loving one's neighbor but 35 references to loving one's stranger.  The strong emphasis on loving the stranger is significant in the current debate about immigration.  Do most of us consider strangers to be neighbors or are neighbors people we already know?

Money Counter Teams

My aunt in Friendswood is a money counter for her local Episcopal church and she said her church will not allow money counters to be of the same gender.  That struck me as being a bit strange since money counters are often working in seclusion and sexual misconduct is to be discouraged.

I spoke with an Episcopal woman in San Antonio who told me their auditor wants all money counting teams to include a congregation member and a congregation paid staff person.  Gender is not mentioned.

What guidelines have you experienced for money counters?

Bishop Eaton and Jerusalem

I forwarded to the congregation a recent statement by our Presiding Bishop critical of the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem.  Much of the news coverage focused on two megachurch pastors from Texas: Robert Jeffress of Dallas and John Hagee of San Antonio, two men with controversial views on race and religion among other topics.

I also heard recently of a Lutheran congregation which wants its new pastor to never say anything political.  If Lutherans and other mainline Christians never say anything political, men like Jeffress and Hagee will be the only voices being heard.

Is it any wonder so few young people want to have anything to do with the church when more moderate voices are never heard?

Confirmand Statements of Faith

I was honored to hear the statements this year of James Stephenson and Andrew Lockett.  I have not been part of this MacArthur Park ritual for several years and I enjoyed hearing about the confirmation experiences of our soon to be confirmed members.

Lynchings and the Cross

Lynchings are getting more attention recently and some black theologians are claiming being lynched is much like being crucified.

Some say the most true church in the United States historically is the black church, yet many white American Christians have never set foot inside a black congregation  or learned any of their teachings.

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