My Lutheran friends, and perhaps all Christians and South Dakotans, will want to review this pastoral message from Bishop David Zellmer of the South Dakota Synod, ELCA:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
With the events that have unfolded with ever-increasing public displays of fascism and anti-Semitism, culminating in the violence and deaths in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend; it is now more important than ever that each of us live lives that reflect our calling to follow Jesus.
We, as Lutherans, need to stand against all forms of hatred and discrimination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America believes that all cultural, ethnic and racial differences should be seen and celebrated as what God intends them to be—blessings rather than the focus of oppression and discrimination (see the ELCA’s social statement “Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture”).
I have strived to live a life that is reflective of this prayer and I share it with you today. Sisters and brothers, this is the time we stand together with our neighbors and let our lives resonate with these words:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Prayer attributed to St. Francis
May the peace of Christ be with you all,
Bishop David B. Zellmer
South Dakota Synod, ELCA [2017.08.16]
That Lutheran Social Statement to which Bishop Zellmer refers includes these relevant lines:
Scripture speaks of one humanity, created by God. It recounts our rebellion and enslavement to sin. Scripture tells of a diverse people reconciled to God through the blood of the cross, a people set free for the work of reconciliation….
Racism—a mix of power, privilege, and prejudice—is sin, a violation of God’s intention for humanity. The resulting racial, ethnic, or cultural barriers deny the truth that all people are God’s creatures and, therefore, persons of dignity. Racism fractures and fragments both church and society.
…the Church must cry out for justice, and thereby resist the cynicism fueled by visions that failed and dreams that died. The Church must insist on justice, and thereby refuse to blame victimized people for their situations. The Church must insist on justice, and thereby assure participation of all people [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture,” churchwide social statement approved 1993.08.31].
Again, I can’t speak with any Christian authority, but I can certainly agree with solid Christian thinking. Scripture makes clear that racism is a sin. Those who believe Scripture have a duty to cry out against racism.