Two recent articles on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation invite responses (“Minnesotans renew bond with Luther to revive faith,” Dec. 11, and “Lionization mustn’t mask Luther’s anti-Semitism,” Dec. 16). The first touched on various parts of Luther’s legacy. What was missing was what many regard as Luther’s most important contribution as a biblical scholar, in addition to translating the Bible into German. Luther reclaimed and proclaimed to the world the exuberant good news that God is a gracious God, not a grim bookkeeper. Bringing redemptive love to the world through Israel and in Christ, God offers humans the forgiveness of sins and new meaning for their lives. The key idea is “justification by grace through faith,” which Luther happily borrowed from St. Paul.
The other article rightly faces us with the darkness of Luther’s anti-Semitism. It is there in his writings and cannot be denied. Readers should know, however, that over a period of many years Lutherans and Jews have been meeting to discuss this and other Jewish-Lutheran relations, and Lutherans have repudiated Luther’s anti-Semitic writings. For example, in July 1983, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultation met with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation in Stockholm. This is one of the Lutheran statements: “The sins of Luther’s anti-Jewish remarks, the violence of his attacks on the Jews, must be acknowledged with deep distress. And all occasions for similar sin in the present or the future must be removed from our churches.” (See “Stepping-Stones to Further Jewish-Lutheran Relationships: Key Lutheran Statements,” 103. Edited by Harold H. Ditmanson. Augsburg Fortress, 1990.)
Joseph M. Shaw, Northfield
The writer is an emeritus professor of religion at St. Olaf College.
POLICING AND RACE
Author and his oft-published think tank seek to mislead us
Contrary to Peter Zeller’s Dec. 16 commentary, the facts do not prove that police bias is a “phantom” issue. Zeller claims that it is a folly to compare policing actions to population numbers, in part because “there is no magic principle guaranteeing that all racial groups speed, obey the law, or drive without a license or insurance at the same rates.”
However, the federal Justice Department’s investigation of the Ferguson (Mo.) Police Department found that cameras that monitor speeding caught people of all racial groups speeding at the same rates, yet, when police were the ones monitoring speeding, people of color were disproportionately likely to pulled over. I doubt that the speeding cameras were going out of their way to be politically correct; the more likely explanation, then, is that the police were biased.
Furthermore, discretionary police searches of vehicles driven by people of color were less likely to turn up contraband than similar searches of vehicles driven by white people. This does not necessarily mean that white people were more likely to carry contraband, but it may imply that the police were more likely to suspect innocent people of color than they were to suspect innocent white people.
Zeller calls out activists and academics for not engaging with the facts and instead using “off-base reasoning,” yet he is the one who starts with a few statistics about demographic groups’ age and income and reasons from there to differential rates of offending without engaging with facts about rates of offending themselves.
Linnea Peterson, St. Paul
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Zeller wants somehow to dismiss the results of the Dec. 15 Star Tribune report that black drivers are stopped much more often than white drivers by the St. Paul police by citing conservative author Heather Mac Donald’s bogus national statistics concerning black-on-black crime. The St. Paul traffic stops and overall crime rates are unrelated. Moreover, whether the St. Paul police are biased or not, the figures speak for themselves. Zeller and the Center of the American Experiment seem ready to jump on any issue that calls violation of civil justice into question. The Star Tribune is featuring this “think tank” far too often. No other organization gets as much ink in your paper.
William O. Beeman, Minneapolis
The writer is professor and chair in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.
Attention paid by police, task forces, prosecutor is appreciated
I’d like to extend a note of thanks for the efforts of law enforcement, multijurisdictional task forces and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman for their continued efforts to address the criminal aspects of the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. The Dec. 20 article “Police: Sting nabs dealer who sold fatal dose” wasn’t headline news, but it illustrates a positive shift in how these cases are being handled. Actively investigating and arresting dealers who contribute to the exploding public health crisis of opioid addiction will send a message to those who choose to profit from destroying the lives of others. I know I am not alone in my gratitude.
Colleen Ronnei, Chanhassen
U FOOTBALL CRISIS
Supervision, news conferences, the curriculum, role models
In all of the coverage of the University of Minnesota football controversy, one element has never been addressed. Surely the university has procedures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of young recruits when they are on an official campus visit. How could this system result in a recruit having sex with an inebriated woman at an off-campus party at 3 a.m.? Somewhere along the way there must be a responsible adult who didn’t do their job.
Richard Hall, Plymouth
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The Gopher football team has held more news conferences than President-elect Donald Trump.
Pat Proft, Medina
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Keya Ganguly, a professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the university, is calling for the elimination of the football program in the aftermath of the recent sexual-assault investigation. The professor questions the value of the team’s student-athletes and head coach to the mission of the university. Well, let me suggest that the value — the good — that this head coach and his team deliver to the university community and this state is enormous, notwithstanding the professor’s profound anger and the recent fiasco surrounding the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigation. Finally, after review of the university’s website outlining the professor’s course offerings, I think perhaps these endeavors need consideration for elimination. A real travesty in higher education is the price tag for such fields of study and the limited value to students in today’s marketplace.
Timothy Olson, Monticello, Minn.
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We had the pleasure of bringing our young daughter and son to a hockey event last weekend at the Roseville Oval skating complex. Although the weather was frigid, our daughter was able to witness members of the Gopher women’s hockey team assisting and officiating games of the young girls playing in the tournament. We took a picture of our friend’s child, who participated in the event, and the Gophers couldn’t have been more gracious in this moment. I said to our friend’s daughter, “This could be you in 10 years, a role model for someone else.”
There are plenty of young adult athletes willing and wanting to be role models for our children. Thanks to the Gopher women’s hockey players for a great afternoon, and the many other athletes who make us proud on and off the rink, court, field, track and in the pool.
Susie Valentine, Minneapolis