David D. Grafton “German Lutherans and Assimilation: Lessons in the Current Atmosphere of Islamophobia,” Journal of Lutheran Ethics May 2011 https://www.elca.org/JLE/Articles/209
 For much of the history of North America, German Americans in the East and Midwest (as well the Finish, Swedish and Norwegian Lutherans) were considered fringe ethnic communities. German Dissenters, Reformed and Lutherans were not part of the centrist denominations that defined much of the WASP Christian piety of the new Republic, such as the Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians. This “swarthy” race of non-English speakers spent much of their existence attempting to live out their own identity in a predominantly English-speaking country. These German communities had different ideas about assimilation.
 In fact, the heated debates about assimilating into English culture led to a split within the German Lutheran communities in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.6 This ultimately led in part to the development of two seminaries: Gettysburg, which followed Samuel Simon Schmucker in his move toward openness toward North American culture and American Evangelicalism; and Philadelphia, led by Charles Porterfield Krauth who articulated a German-Lutheran confessionalism. Further a field in the Midwest, the Missouri Synod Lutherans continued to maintain a German separateness throughout the nineteenth century. It was not until the middle of the twentieth century that they began to be seen as part of the mainstream of American culture.7
 Lutherans have traditionally been at the forefront of immigration concerns and refugee resettlement issues. This has been primarily because of the traumatic German, Latvian and Lithuanian experiences following World War II. Lutheran World Relief, which was organized to respond to the world crisis of the refugee problem after World War II, has continued to advocate on behalf of refugees, displaced persons and forced migrants. Even throughout the recession, American Lutherans from the ELCA and Missouri Synod have continued to provide generous support for Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
 Muslim Americans would very much like to participate in the civic and religious mainstream conversations that have now become standard among Protestant, Catholic and Jewish congregations in the United States.20 However, like the Lutheran communities of the early nineteenth century, Muslim Americans are not a homogenous community. They reflect a wide variety of ethnicities, backgrounds, and histories. They do not represent similar interests, nor do they speak as a whole. Their theological piety of individual responsibility before God generally prohibits their promoting public leaders to speak on behalf of other believers, which will frustrate media sources, and people of good will who wish to seek them out. Their journey toward the center of American life will be difficult. Assimilating into “English” culture is difficult. Reflecting back on our own experience, we as American Lutherans, especially German American Lutherans, have more in common with our Muslim neighbors than we might care to admit. Perhaps that is what is so unsettling for us.
David D. Grafton is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, and the Director of Graduate Studies of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Mark Granquist, “Religious Issues in American Immigration,” July 2006 https://www.elca.org/JLE/Articles/581
 For immigrants coming America with a prescribed religious identity, this new country provides multiple challenges revolving about a central issue– how to “translate” their religious heritage into an “American” idiom. No longer will religion be a constant, nor will it be provided to them by society at large; rather, if they wish to have religion their way, they will have to take the initiative to organize and fund their own groups. But funding, though a real problem for most immigrants, is hardly the most difficult issue. Questions of structure, power, and theological vocabulary have been, historically, some of the most difficult to resolve. For American Lutherans, the freedom of leaving the European state church system magnified the fault lines within Lutheranism, and caused tensions and divisions that are still unsolved in our own denominations today.
 American religious freedom is a heady experience for many immigrants. Though some immigrants come to the United States for freedom of religion, most immigrants have come for economic advancement or personal freedoms. Many immigrants, it seems, come rather for freedom FROM religion, the freedom to leave an externally provided religious identity, and to explore a new religion, or no religion at all, if they wish. One of the common mistakes in thinking about religion and immigration to assume that simply because an immigrant comes from a particular religious background that s/he will continue on in that religion. Far fewer than half of 19th century Lutherans coming from European state-church Lutheranism ever joined a Lutheran congregation in the United States. And no wonder! The whole idea of having to join a congregation, to directly support it financially, and to choose among the bewildering choices even within American Lutheranism often proved overwhelming. And there were so many other religious choices out there that promised greater interest, involvement, and entry into America public life. America is a religious supermarket, and immigrants often have great fun shopping in her aisles.
Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, “The Emperor Has No Clothes On: Lutheranism towards a Multicultural Landscape,” Sept. 2004 https://www.elca.org/JLE/Articles/737#ENDNOTES
 When exploring the geography of (U.S.) American religion, we study the social scenery, noting that particular locations and habitats attract certain types of people, which affects religion as an activity practiced by those particular groups. In early periods, Lutherans lived in the Upper Midwest farm belt, Baptists in the South, Roman Catholics in the Northeast, and Mormons in Utah and the other Rocky Mountain states. Today, the main strands of Lutheranism, based on theological and ideological differences, are the ECLA and Missouri Synod. Lutheranism remains predominantly, an ethnic or community church, and remains geographically concentrated. Based on the National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI), more than one third of the population of Minnesota and the Dakotas is Lutheran, with Wisconsin at 26%. Iowa, Nebraska, and Montana each have three times the national proportion of Lutherans, which is 5.2%, though migration during the late 20th century changed some of the overall distribution. According to Kosmin and Lachman, “Lutheranism is a moderate, formalistic Christian denomination not given to religious innovation or demonstrativeness. Lutheranism produces a sober, serious, industrious people, relatively tolerant but supportive of the political status quo. . . Lutherans take pride in their civic virtues and their strong sense of community, which their religion promotes.”8 Interestingly, the geographical distribution of religious groups in California unfolds thus: Roman Catholic (13.29%), Lutheran (8.57%), Methodist (6.02%), Presbyterians (12.05%), Jewish (15.39%), Mennonite (8.07%), Buddhist (38.04%), Baptist (6.21%). What do these percentages tell us? Do these 1990 numbers indicate how one must orchestrate a program regarding multiculturalism? Kosmin and Lachman remind us that the differences between the truth and stereotypes regarding religion and ethnic origin are mammoth.
 Second, are you willing to make the hard commitments, and face possibly losing funding from those who really want to maintain a Scandinavian Zion? Are you prepared to update liturgy, ritual, and ways of being and doing at the seminary and in the Lutheran church that would change substantively if you had more persons of color who are most often seen around the Equator, who are more festive and energetic? Do you want this?
 If so, these are some of the questions that must be asked: Are you willing to recruit racial ethnic students and pay for them to get PhDs so that they can help recruit others, to insure that you have persons of color in denominational leadership? Are you willing to analyze how you engage in enculturation and what is the Lutheran mindset? Are you willing to deal with internal matters of oppression? Are you willing to garner the support to make a difference? What if you fail? What if you succeed? The emperor’s new clothes were nil. What is the state of your new clothes?
Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan is a Professor of Religion at Shaw University Divinity School, Raleigh, NC