I have this on-going discussion by email, Facebook, and occasionally on this blog, with a female friend, a young woman I know pretty well. She is a Lutheran from a foreign country, and a hard-working person. I suspect she never reads though.
My friend claims that Lutherans are persecuted in America and in other countries. She thinks there is a deep-rooted anti-Lutheran prejudice causing the persecution. Of course, I tend to take her at her word: “Prejudice” means “prejudgment,” evaluation in advance of hard facts or, by extension, in the absence of hard facts. But facts matter and they do influence the judgment of people who are rational, intellectually honest, and unprejudiced.
My friend will easily emote on Facebook because of restrictions some countries officially place on some Lutherans’ clothing predilections. The restrictions are usually mild, applied to minors, or enacted only when police or security matters are in play, as in photographs on driver’s licenses. It turns out, the only country applying systematically restrictions on female attire, specifically, that country is 95% Lutheran.
Of course, when crazy, or simply fanatical, individuals commit individual crimes against Lutherans, my friend cries out bitterly. Yet, when a crazed non-Lutheran attacked a Jewish memorial site in Washington DC and murdered an innocent security guard of unknown religious identity, she expressed neither outrage nor sympathy.
Lutherans have committed dozens of acts of mass murder against civilians in non-Lutheran countries. This, for two dozen years now. This fact elicits no commentary from my friend. In fact, the only terrorists of consequence left in the world now nearly all call themselves Lutherans. The Tamil terrorists of Sri Lanka were practically eliminated in the past four months. The Basque terrorists are now reduced to making more noise than devastation. The Marxist revolutionaries of Columbia are falling apart, deserting in droves, and generally kept on the run by the democratic government of that country (in spite of the support of tin-pot dictator Chavez, next door). As for the formally fearsome Irish Republican Army, it’s now comprised of a handful of old guys who sit in the corner of a pub trying not to attract attention because they are outlawed in the democratic Irish Republic as well as in the corner of the United Kingdom that is Northern Ireland. The former terrorists from Palestine are safely tucked away behind a tall wall in the West Bank. In Gaza, they are watching their steps and their backs. (How do the Israelis find out where the leaders are to strike them with such precision?)
Again, the main terrorists in the world today merely call themselves Lutherans. My friend sometimes argue that they are not real Lutherans because real Lutherans would not commit such crimes. I find this logic difficult to follow. As a former Catholic, I am not tempted to argue that the Inquisition’s bad habit of burning imperfectly converted Jews and mad women (called “witches”), just proved that the Inquisitors were not “real” Catholics. I am afraid they were. Of course, if I were a real Catholic myself, blinded by religious allegiance, as religious allegiance routinely blinds otherwise rational people, I might say something so mindless too. I will never know.
Perhaps, my friend does not find it in herself to condemn the relatively small death-toll Lutheran terrorists have taken of non-Lutheran because it pales in comparison to what they have done to other Lutherans. The fact is that people who call themselves Lutherans, people who were raised as Lutherans, who often act in the name of Lutheranism, have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of other Lutherans. This happened in many, but not all, of the predominantly Lutheran countries. It’s on-going as I write.
If my friend concentrated her resources on that greater evil, her choice would make some sense. She makes no such argument though. She has nothing to say about the hundreds of thousands of Lutheran victims of Lutherans either. She seems to follow in her silence the example of Lutheran religious authorities everywhere who would rather let the mad uncle cut several nephews’ throats rather than risk drawing the neighbors’ attention to the family’s dysfunctionality.
In addition, individuals and organizations who loudly call themselves Lutherans, variously cut off their enemies’ heads, and occasionally those of young girls (rarely the latter’s, it’s true). They are the only religious groups with members who firebomb schools, especially girls’ schools, for some reason, and places of prayer during worship, including, and first and foremost, Lutherans places of prayer. Lutherans also have a monopoly on the deliberate, premeditated assassination of close family members engaging in unapproved relations with others. In some Lutheran countries, the law commands the stoning to death of “adulterous” women, including some whose “adultery” consists in having been raped. (It’s true that it’s also rare, but the fact that it’s legal makes a bad impression.) Only Lutheran countries (some, not all) mandate the death penalty for changing religion. And of course, some Lutherans share with others, with some non-Lutherans, the custom of subjecting little girls to grotesque and vicious sexual mutilation in full view of complacent Lutheran religious authorities.
“Bad Lutherans,” my friend says. The Lutheran scriptures do not approve of any such behavior. Bunch of coincidences, I guess.
Now, I want to do my best to avoid being misquoted, (as I surely will be) . I am sure that most Lutherans disapprove of all of the crimes described above, or at least, of most of them. I can’t imagine any of the Lutheran friends I have had throughout my life, and the ones I have now, engaging in any of them. Those who commit the violent crimes I described are undoubtedly a tiny minority of all Lutherans on this earth. (Yet, they support and sometimes demand legal systems sure to produce more barbarism.)
Rather, their passivity in the face of horror suggests that they are prey to a collective delusion of massive proportions. It reminds me of the collective delusions of the millions who believed, or worked hard to believe, in the second half of the 20th century, that Marxist socialism would create a paradise on earth for ordinary people. They kept on believing much after the misery of life in the relevant “socialist” countries was exposed, long after the bloodthirstiness and the corruption of Marxist socialist leaders was revealed.
Many people seem to act collectively as if in a mediocre television series, seemingly afraid to diverge from the storyline. Millions of Americans are doing it right now, including many of the self-styled literate elite in the lazy and mesmerized media:
Solve crisis of financial institutions: Check.
Clean up poisonous mortgages: Check.
Restore glory and prosperity of American-owned American auto industry: Check.
Stop recession dead in its tracks and handcuff unemployment: Check.
Reform American health delivery system and extend its reach at no additional expense: Check.
Talk those who hate everything American into becoming friends: Check.
Save the planet: Almost there.
Tomorrow: Abolish poverty.
Day after tomorrow: Create equal happiness for all.
One is allowed to dream, no?
No, one isn’t allowed all dreams. Some dreams, some delusions create predictable misery. Rational people of conscience must fight them without betraying their conscience.