The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, evidently identifying a lagging demographic in its church membership numbers, has established an association for European Americans (news article here). That’s right. In a denomination that is the cultural progenitor of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone, we need an association to support and encourage the cultural faith expression of European Americans. Google News could find only three news articles related to this visionary, bold, prophetic act. The ELCA News Service failed to send out a press release announcing this great new initiative. Oversight, I’m sure. *CORRECTION: There was an official press release about this new association – link here. My apologies.*
One of the many reasons this is a lousy idea is that now, with their own cultural association, white Lutherans will now have another reason to fool themselves into believing that everyone in the church has equal voice. Perhaps white folk have felt left out – there’s a group for the African Americans, for the Asian Americans, for the Native Americans, for the Middle Eastern/Arabs, and for the Hispanics. Now, there’s a group for the European Americans, who have until have been denied a seat at the multicultural table. I guess that we European American Lutherans have a
cultural heritage that we desperately need to uphold and maintain in this church in
the face of cultural domination by, uh, well, white people. I get nervous when white people in this country feel the need to get together to rally for their cultural heritage.
The Lutheran Church is itself a European Cultural Association, a celebration of a European Christian heritage, a powerbase of white men. We can pretend that the Lutheran Church is somehow culturally neutral, and that culture comes to bear only through the bureaucracy of the Multicultural Ministries office, but that would be disingenuous. European culture is everywhere in this church – from its structure to its music to its liturgy to its teaching style to its preaching to the color and cultural heritage of 96.98% of the people in its pews . . .
There is no need for a European American association within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The whole concept makes my skin crawl. I am disgusted. Today, I am ashamed to be a (European American) member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
2 thoughts on “As if we weren’t white enough”
I can’t say I’m thrilled either, but I will give a couple of answers. A frequent refrain I’ve heard from people of color is that white folks don’t think they *have* a culture of their own and therefore they appropriate other people’s and pretend it’s their own. (Think of the way Native Americans get sentimentalized and marginalized all in the same gesture.) The idea (I hope) behind a European ancestry group is for Euro-Lutherans to stop thinking of themselves as “normal” and whiteness as “normal” and to think of it rather as one–very privileged to be sure–flavor among many.
Again, I’m not sure how rah rah I feel about any of this, but I wanted to continue the conversation.
Please see the link I just posted on 11/30/2006 regarding an exhibit at the U of M on the diversity of the Lutheran church in Minnesota.
or try http://preview.tinyurl.com/yhc3qd
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