Why do so many Laestadians seem to be prejudiced against blacks especially, but people from other cultures, as well? How can they justify that? Standing out in the parking lot after church, I don't even know how many times I've heard the n-word. . .There are so few blacks in the LLL churches that it's ridiculous. Well, wait a minute. Actually there is a small LLC congregation of blacks in Togo, Africa, now. Maybe that will help some of them get over their attitudes. . .
Growing up in the ALC, racism was a common theme as well. N-jokes were told alongside other ethnic jokes. Our church was a small one, in the rural upper Midwest. Looking back I'm not sure whether we were any more racist than the general population, or if we were reflecting the general population on this issue. Both the church and the general population was quite racist. As northerners we liked to think that we were above such things (on the winning side of the Civil War and all) but I remember the way that "the new kid," a Hispanic foster child was received at school in our small town. The epithets, the shunning, his isolation. He didn't stay long.
At church I remember hearing a story about the one time a black family visited our congregation. Apparently the pastor switched his sermon at the last minute to include a long-winded section explaining how nobody in our congregation was prejudiced.
I think the pastor was afraid that our visitors would find something lacking with us or in our church. There was so much fear growing up Laestadian. Fear of breaking the rules. Fear of "worldly" people and influences. Fear that God would punish harshly any failing. Fear of "The Other."
When angels speak to people in the Bible, one phrase they often utter is "Do not be afraid." I take this to mean that our fear can keep us from loving God, and from loving our neighbor. So much bad behaviour is motivated by fear.
How do we, as Laestadians and ex-Laestadians, step past the fear?