Government (Civil)

Socialism: A Reality Check

[1] Eleven percent of the American public thinks President Obama is a Muslim. But another label, true only in the loosest and most attenuated sense, has been attached to him and his political allies. Back in May the state chairs of the Republican Party, meeting in Maryland, declared themselves alarmed at the Democrats’ drift toward […]

Lutheran Sermons on Lincoln’s Assassination: Part 2

Sermons on a National Day of Prayer [1] When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Lutheran ministers preached about him and the events of the time. Five long-forgotten sermons tell us what people heard from some Lutheran pulpits following his death. Attention to these published sermons is one way to remember Lincoln during this year that marks […]

Lutheran Sermons on Lincoln’s Assassination: Part 1

The Creation of Lincoln’s Image [1] Those who knew Abraham Lincoln personally or at a distance, those who lived with him through the trials of the Civil War, those who experienced the shock at his sudden and violent death enjoyed a privileged position in accessing the sixteenth President. What such people said publicly about Lincoln […]

A Lutheran Resolution on the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s Response to a Lutheran Delegation

[1] The General Synod met in May 1862 for the first time since the beginning of the Civil War and adopted a resolution on “the State of the Country” prepared by a committee headed by W.A. Passavant. By this time ecclesiastical ties between the Southern synods and the Northern synods were broken, and no delegates […]

American Exceptionalism and International Human Rights

Introduction [1] Thank you for inviting me to join you today to discuss American exceptionalism and international human rights. It is a pleasure to be here. [2] The U.S. repudiation of international human rights legal standards in the post-9/11 “war on terror” has been widely documented, passionately condemned and legally challenged. Torture at Abu Ghraib, […]

Wrong Story

[1] You don’t have to be an aficionado of YouTube to have witnessed the most profound public abuse of the Christian pulpit in recent memory. [2] At the end of May, Father Michael Pfleger ascended the pulpit steps at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Barack Obama’s former congregation. Pfleger is a maverick, politically […]

One Man, Alone; One Not So

Eliot Spitzer and Barack Obama reveal sharply divergent attitudes toward human community. Which one do Americans really want … or understand? [1] Don’t get me wrong. What Eliot Spitzer did is reprehensible. But my first reaction to the scandal was not, “throw the bum out.” [2] The former New York governor climbed the political ladder […]

Gay Christian Marriage in American Civil Society: Beyond Natural Law Theory, in Response to Carl Braaten

[1] Gay marriage! It’s not about sex you know! It is about ethical and legal Love. When our children come home to announce they are “in love”, and intend to be married, we examine them very closely. “It’s not just about sex, you know. Are you in love with this person for her or himself? […]

What Should a Christian Consider?

[1] For the last couple decades, conservative political candidates have made overt appeals to Christian voters, pushing the political agenda of the Religious Right. They talked as if they represented all of Christianity. Most moderate and progressive political candidates did not make such appeals, frequently citing their opinion that religious beliefs are a personal matter, […]

Introduction to the JLE Symposium on an important aspect of the religion and politics debate

[1] In a recent issue of Time, Michael Kinsey, the well-know liberal pundit, made a rather startling claim. Contrary to much secular liberal opinion that the religion of a political candidate does not and should not influence his or her political life, Kinsey argues this: “If religion is central to their lives and moral systems, […]