The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Weighing advocacy

Some say the church should stay out of politics, but Lutheran advocates say it's central to the church's mission

Advocating for food stamps for legal aliens. Working to forgive international debts of impoverished nations. Coming out in favor of gun control. It sounds like the work of a U.S. senator or a political activist. But these initiatives are among those of the ELCA, as carried out by its Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs.

Staff members of LOGA, the church's advocacy arm, say they act daily on Christ's call to remember the least of these. The research of LOGA's national staff in Washington, D.C., along with that of its roughly 20 state offices, informs the ELCA's public policy statements, resolutions and pastoral letters on such issues as poverty, war, human rights and health care. In addition, they work with other churches and lay groups to advocate for or oppose legislation before Congress.

Although this sounds like admirable work to many, other Lutherans question whether the church should be involved in political advocacy. Individuals, churches and charities should help the poor and suffering, they say, but the ELCA as an organization shouldn't get mixed up in the political process.

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