Monday, June 13, 2016

The Privilege Prepetuated by ELCA Economics

There is a movement within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that knows our identity as Lutherans is rooted not in ethnicity, but in the good news that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Led by such knowledge, this movement seeks to change the fact that we are whitest denomination in the country. This movement is known as #decolonizelutheranism. They are collecting incredible stories of Lutherans with cultural heritages that span the globe. I encourage you to read them.  

The theologian Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas recently wrote that she is tired of being asked to trot out her story of marginalization for no purpose other than to make white people feel good about themselves for paying attention to racism. She and other people of color have asked people with privilege to do the hard work themselves of identifying the structures that benefit them and dismantle those structures.  

I am a person of incredible privilege. Here are two structures within the ELCA that make sure this denomination caters to me and to people like me.

1) Our pastors must complete eight years of higher education at their own expense, and 2) local congregations pay their pastors.

From a purely financial analysis, these two structures are central barriers to being a church of and for the poor.  And in this country, class lines tend to follow racial lines.