Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lutherans in Congress. . .

I have long lamented how few Lutherans there are among the elected representatives to our national assemblies.  This year there are a few more.  New Senators include Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado).  Among the others elected and re-elected, there are three other representatives who fail to give a more specific association other than Lutheran (Ryan Zinke (R-Montana), Brad Ashford (D-Nebraska), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and Glenn Brothman (R-Wisconsin).  The totals increase the number of Lutherans in the halls of Congress from 23 to 27.

While it would be foolish and downright wrong to identify to identify the Republican Party as the one that best expresses Lutheran confessional identity, I am somewhat surprised that a few of the folks from the ELCA who campaigned on conservative credentials will go to Washington, DC, disagreeing with the public positions taken by the leadership of their church body on a number of different and significant issues.  Oh, well, what do I know...

5 comments:

Jim Davis said...

27 of 535 is 5% of membership.
What percentage of the US population self identifies as "Lutheran"? I doubt that is is must more than 5%.

Jon Alan Schmidt said...

Good call - 4.6% per the latest U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted by Pew Research Center.

James Kellerman said...

Trivia question: Who are the only two Lutherans to have attained their party's nomination for the presidency under our current (1787) constitution? Hint: neither of them were nominated by a major political party and both of them lost. I'll give the answer in a couple of days.

Unknown said...

Why care about how many representatives in Congress belong to a certain Christian or even non-Christian confession? I don't care about that. They could all be pagans and as long as they were virtuous pagans and left me alone, I'd be very happy with that.--Chris

James Kellerman said...

As promised, I'm giving the answer to my trivia question. Please note, Chris, by the way, that it is a TRIVIA question. It is an interesting factoid, but nothing more. I agree that civil righteousness is more important than theological rectitude when it comes to electing leaders, and any decent pagan can come up with the former. That said, it is interesting to consider how many Lutherans take an interest in leadership in government. Missouri Synod Lutherans have largely been underrepresented in government, but I would argue that this is mainly due to sociological rather than theological factors.

At any rate, here is the answer: William Lemke and Frank Zeidler. William Lemke was a Republican congressman of a rather progressive bent (back when that would have been the norm) from North Dakota, who was upset that Franklin D. Roosevelt wouldn't support his farm bill. He ran on the 1936 Union Party ticket, which was the group that the isolationist and populist Fr. Charles Coughlin put together. Afterwards, Lemke went back to being a Republican and served several more terms in Congress. Frank Zeidler was the Socialist mayor of Milwaukee from 1948 to 1960. Because of its large German population, Wisconsin used to have a large Socialist contingent in politics. Zeidler helped found the Socialist Party USA and was its first presidential candidate in 1976.

From my understanding Lemke was LCMS and Zeidler LCA.