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Montana churches rap "hate groups"

Responding to extremist groups in its state, the Montana Association of Churches has charged them with promoting a "theology of hate."

In a "Declaration on Distortions of the Christian Gospel," MAC --which includes the ELCA Montana Synod--said, "At critical moments in history Christian churches have taken a clear stand for the gospel by professing allegiance to Jesus Christ and denouncing uses of the Bible that sow suspicion, hatred and injustice. We believe the present time to be such a critical moment."

The declaration was passed at MAC's assembly Oct. 19 and directed at such groups as the Aryan Nations, Ku Klux Klan, Freemen, neo-Nazis and Christian Patriots. It affirms "the sovereignty of God's just and loving purpose in Jesus Christ" and says that "salvation from sin, evil and death comes through God's free gift of grace in Jesus Christ."

Montana Synod Bishop Mark Ramseth said, "It is significant that 10 mainline churches in Montana could unanimously agree to make a theological statement against a theology of hate that is contrary to our understanding of the Christian gospel."

MAC's faith and order commission, chaired by ELCA pastor Jessica Crist, decided to develop the document. Paul Seastrand, the Montana Synod's adjunct staff for ecumenism, was the principal author.
The Montana Synod also signed a 1996 agreement with the Montana Association of Jewish Communities condemning anti-Semitism. The agreement urged Lutherans and Jews to "work toget

her for the common good and for peace and justice as our authentic response to the will of God."


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