I’m already starting to make some progress on my research questions.
The following excerpt comes from Kathryn Galchutt’s book The Career of Andrew Schulze: Lutherans and Race in the Civil Rights Era, 1924-1968
“In the early 1920s, while Schulze was still a seminary student and assistant at Holy Trinity in Springfield, John Behnken already made a stand against integration. Holy Trinity’s youth society came under the administration of the local branch of the Missouri Synod youth organization, the Walther League, named in honor of C.F.W. Walther. Behnken, then a pastor in Texas, wrote a letter of protest to the Executive Board of the International Walther League. Behnken wrote, “If further Negro societies will be received into the league, it will eventually mean the withdrawal of all Walther Leagues below the Mason and Dixon line … As far as mission work among Negroes is concerned, our Southern people try to do their part, but we know it is absolutely impossible for us to sanction social equality.”
In 1936, shortly after John Behnken was elected president, he made very clear his position on integration. The biennial convention of the Synodical Conference in 1936 discussed the status of its two self-supporting black Lutheran congregations, St. Philips, St. Louis, and St. Philips, Chicago. It was proposed that self-supporting congregations become a part of the synodical districts in which they were located. The proposal did not mean real integration at the parish level, rather it meant merely administrative integration. Behnken reminded the convention that he was from the South and stated that the proposal “will never do.” It took another ten years before a resolution was passed that allowed black Lutheran congregations to join their local synodical districts.
In the late 1930s, Andrew Schulze became increasingly active in his promotion of better race relations within the church. Schulze began “quiet and peaceful agitation on all fronts. All the while he remained a faithful and beloved pastor who identified himself unreservedly with the Negro cause and gained the uninhibited confidence and allegiance of his parishioners.” Though Schulze began walking a lonely path, he found support along the way. As he recalled in his memoirs, “In the dry and thirsty land of the thirties and early forties, my loneliness was seldom if ever spelled out. Those who at that time were speaking against racism in the world and ignorance in the church toward racism were indeed following a lonely path, and ‘a cup of cold water’ offered by some friend was like the ‘balm of Gilead.’ Shulze mentioned that some of the friends that supported him and his ministry in the last chapter of his memoirs, but his sons emphasized that it was his relationship with Jesus Christ that gave Schulze the strength to carry on. Schulze had a very active prayer life and even when he was attacked for his views, Schulze prayed for his enemies. …”
It is the 1930s.
John Behnken of Texas is the president of LCMS. He served in that role from 1935 through 1962. Behnken opposed integration and social equality. The LCMS was segregated at the time. He wrote a memoir called This I Recall which includes a Foreward from none other than Matthew Harrison.
Also of interest, Andrew Schulze was a lonely marginalized civil rights activist at the time. In his memoirs, Schulze recalls how virtually no one in the LCMS in the 1930s and early 1940s was speaking out against “racism.” Schulze spearheaded the integration of the LCMS between the 1940s and 1960s.
The following excerpt comes from James C. Burkee’s book Power, Politics and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity
“From World War II to 1969, as society moved to the left, the LCMS moved toward the ideological left, becoming more liberal during the “years of liberalism.” Liberalism during those decades came to be defined less by those who wore the badge than by those who disparaged it. Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign helped circumscribe liberalism by defining his brand of conservatism as a populist and anti-intellectual “Dime Store New Deal.” Juxtaposed with Goldwater conservatism of limited government and nationalistic anti-communism was sixties liberalism, characterized by an openness to change and an aggressive promotion of individual liberties and government-directed equal opportunity. Tolerance was the watchword of the liberal, tolerance for alternative worldviews and tolerance for challenges to long-standing norms.
The Missouri Synod, by 1964, had become more liberal. It was more advocatory, more aggressive in the growth and use of its bureaucracy, and more tolerant of new social and theological ideas. Most Lutherans were happy with the direction of their country. In 1964, the Missouri laity voted overwhelmingly for Lyndon Johnson, but nearly half of LCMS clergy were more taken with Goldwater. …
As Behnken’s retirement neared, the Witness became increasingly vocal, even confrontational, in its advocacy of civil rights, social justice, and ecumenism. Overconfident moderates challenged synod conservatives with an “in your face” style of journalism, often provoking a reaction from readers. …
Moderates also were conflicted on the issue of interracial marriage. Marriage between people of the various races, asserted the Witness, is “not at all” unchristian. “On the other hand,” the editors hedged, many obstacles exist for the interracial couple—obstacles nearly impossible for even Christian couples to surmount. Moreover, “if interracial marriages are forbidden by legal statute, Christians will have to obey the law.” “It may be well to quote a sentence by Dr. Martin Luther King,” the editors later referenced, that “we ask only to be the white man’s brother, not his brother–in-law.” An ensuing article stated, “Miscegenation is almost as devastating socially as the nuclear bomb is physically,” using the assertion of Robert R. Moton, former president of Tuskegee Institute, that interracial marriage constituted “active disloyalty to the Negro Race.” As with many whites of the time, interracial marriage was a step few Missouri Lutherans, even moderates, could yet stomach …”
This is interesting.
In the 1960s, even the champions of liberalism and civil rights within the Missouri Synod were still queasy about miscegenation and interracial marriage and saw that as a bridge too far, but now in 2023 we are told it is “sinful” and “evil” to oppose these things. “Racism” has become such a grievous sin in recent years that excommunication is being considered as a penalty for it. And yet, we can also see that almost no one cared about “racism” until the Boomer generation and that “white supremacy” and segregation were once the norm in the LCMS (Missouri was a Jim Crow state) which was only integrated after World War II.
UPDATE: This is from the Foreward to John C. Behnken’s autobiography written by Matthew Harrison who would now excommunicate people from LCMS for having the same “alt-right” racial and cultural beliefs as his predecessor!