A reader writes:
Okay, I think your reference to Minnesota as a “bastion of midwestern Catholic values” is a first. There are plenty of Catholics in the state, but Minnesota is really a bastion of Lutheran decency. Rev. Tim Faust, who gave the speech on the floor of the Minnesota House to which you linked to last week [and seen above], is a Lutheran minister. His lilting drone is the drone heard throughout childhood by millions of small-town Minnesotans before they moved to the burbs and joined the megachurch. It is the boring, drumbeat drone of “do the right thing.” The political equivalent of the Lutheran drone would be a speech by Walter Mondale.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) now ordains non-celibate gay ministers. It is the largest denomination in Minnesota. The debate within the synod was intense, and it took place two years ago in every hamlet in the state. It was the debate within the Lutheran Church in Minnesota that broke the ground for people to talk about gay people. I am not Lutheran, but they laid the groundwork for this week’s victory. Even though a substantial number of their congregations split away from the ELCA, many churches picked up members after the decision.
To their credit, my Catholic Minnesota friends were strongly opposed to last fall’s anti-gay marriage amendment. Like much of the state, they relished voting against inequality.
Yes, you’re right. I guess I just see it as Catholic as that’s what I’ve been exposed to in the state. Another Minnesotan adds:
Minnesota’s culture is rooted in northern Europe, northern Germany and Scandinavia, as opposed to more Catholic southern Germany and southern Europe. Minnesotans place a high value on privacy – not in a libertarian sense, but in a “don’t meddle” sense. This emphasis on privacy makes it hard for an outsider or newcomer to make friends. On the other hand, it means there is some level of respect for “your business,” as in “Well I suppose who you marry is really your business, isn’t it?”
While this attitude is sometimes derided as “Minnesota Nice,” the truth is that Minnesota Nice does exist. Beyond politeness, it allows some space for private individuality. Minnesota’s culture may not much like it when someone stands out too much, but it also doesn’t like it when someone gets singled out for ill treatment.
Minnesota is not a secular place. Religion still has influence on the culture there. However, in my 13 years living in Minnesota, that influence is expressed in terms of grace more than in terms of sin. That is the Lutheran influence and I would suggest this religious value – graciousness towards others – is the one that prevailed today.