Lutheran Theologian: Gun Laws, Death Penalty Evince ‘White Supremacy’

Racism is at the source of American laws on guns, incarceration and the death penalty, according to tattooed public theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber. An ordained Evangelical Lutheran Church in America minister, Bolz-Weber is author of several New York Times Best Seller books including Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint.

The Unfinished Church Podcast is a production whose content is created for “all who are ready to unite and build a world in which racial prejudice has no power.” Hosted by United Methodist bishops LaTrelle Easterling​, Michael McKee, and Gregory Palmer​, the podcast has garnered support from a number of prominent figures. Its home website features quotes of praise from Wesley Theological Seminary President David McAllister-Wilson, and North Texas Conference United Women in Faith President Julie B. Noel. The podcast’s first episode featured an interview with Bolz-Weber touching upon race, American gun laws, self-defense and correcting – in the words of Bolz-Weber – “spiritual malformation” that has become commonplace in the American Church.

Bolz-Weber notes that on her international speaking tours in other Western nations, many of the citizens of these nations can’t understand how America deals with gun laws, incarceration and the death penalty. Racism, Bolz-Weber argues, is at the source of these issues.

“You cannot understand these spiritual maladies in our country unless you’re willing to look at white supremacy,” Bolz-Weber states, advocating the need of a South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The Lutheran minister claims the mentality of “we have to protect ourselves” and “we have the right to protect all of our (expletive)” stems from a failure on America’s part to properly address slavery and conflict with Native Americans.

Bolz-Weber detailed a tragic story about her 23-year-old nephew in treatment for alcoholism who went through a mental breakdown where he proceeded to break into a home he thought belonged to a family member and was shot and killed by one of the occupants. Though she acknowledged how terrifying it must have been for the home occupant to have their broken into by a mentally unsound man, Bolz-Weber believes the “sickness” behind the mentality that allows for Stand Your Ground laws (where people may use deadly force when they reasonably believe it to be necessary to defend against violent crimes) and the Castle Doctrine (the right to use force to protect against a home intruder) is rooted in a society permeated with violence. Bolz-Weber thinks restricting gun ownership will help alleviate these deadly situations. Part of her grieving process was a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Bolz-Weber says that when she told the story to people on the walk from different countries, she said they were “horrified” that the man who shot her nephew would not be facing charges or go to prison.

At one point, Bolz-Weber recounted her experience at a Lutheran worship service, mocking the use of multiple ritual books and the liturgy.

“The first time I went to a Lutheran service” Bolz-Weber said, “they gave me a red hymnal, a green hymnal, and they gave me a worship book that had code in it… it said the court on it… I don’t know what the hell any of this means” and claimed that churches need to know the difference between being “welcoming” and “friendly” to make sure people come back.

Throughout the interview, only one passage of Scripture was read, which was at the beginning of the interview, and the words “Jesus Christ” were only said once right at the end. Both of these references were made by one of the interviewers, not Bolz-Weber.

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