I was raised Lutheran and still prefer to associate myself with the Lutheran Church. However there is not Lutheran Church service where I am housed so I attend the Faithful Flock of Calvary, Seventh Day Adventist Church in this prison. However, let me say a number of things about religion. First, Martin Luther would be horrified if he knew there was a church named after him – his intention was merely to bring the Catholic Church back to the Holy Bible, to have the church comply with the Scriptures, to eliminate the selling of relics and other activities never sanctioned in the Bible. So, in effect, the Lutheran Church is just a reformed branch of the Catholic Church. Among other things, as a Lutheran, I read the entire Bible twice as a young adult; when I was around 10-11 and I took two years of Confirmation classes, with regular tests, as required of all Lutherans and graduated in 1964. I was elected Vice President of the Luther League at Christ Lutheran Church in 1963-1965, then attended a week long Luther Leadership program at Gettysburg College and then elected Vice President of the Potomac Area Luther League (32 congregations) in 1965-66. However I was unable to fulfill that position as I instead transferred to and graduated from a Lutheran high school, Augustana Academy, in Canton, South Dakota, in 1965-66, where I was again elected Vice President of the Luther League and took World Religions in my senior year and so was exposed to some of the basics of many other religions. Over the decades I have helped found several Lutheran congregations inside the Maryland prison system.
Second, I was primarily raised in Chevy Chase, Maryland so I was exposed to a wide number of religions and have no religious prejudices. Our next door neighbors were devoted Catholics and, in a spirit of ecumenism, our family on occasion attended their Mass service at their Catholic Church. I have a number of devoted Catholic friends to this day: 1) A Father at Loyal University, 2) a Father who retired from America magazine, where he was a writer, 3) a retired nun who lives in Pennsylvania and 4) a devoted Catholic friend who lives in Connecticut. For decades I have received and read the Catholic Worker and for years I have received and read America magazine.
Third, I had numerous Jewish classmates and my father had many Jewish friends and contacts and their extensive influence permeated the life of our family. One was our family attorney for four plus decades and the accountant for our family business was like a beloved uncle to me. I still laugh when I think of his jokes as he chomped on his cigar, wheeling around in what seemed like a new Chevy Impala every year, filling me in on the facts of life as we went traveling to different construction sites.
Fourth, I have been affiliated with a number of other churches over the years; for example, when I went to Hargrave Military Academy. There was no local Lutheran Church in town so my mother advised me to attend the Episcopal Church while I was at that school. She said the Episcopal and Lutheran churches are essentially the same and these churches have now joined ot recognize each others’ communion and related practices.
Fifth, I have attended many seminars or workshops on meditation, etc.; some even lead by world renowned Buddhist monks. My experiences in this area are even found in a book, Impressions Of Thich Nhat Hahn, Be Free Where You Are, Parallax Press, Copyright 2002, at pages 67, 68 and 69.
Finally, I have had almost 40 years exposure to Imams and leaders and people of such faiths as Muslims, Nation of Islam and many other religions predominant within the prison system. While at the Maryland Penitentiary in the 1980’s I read the entire Koran during their Ramadan feast period one year. I have found the many similarities between the Torah, the Bible and Koran to be fascinating and believe it is clear we all worship one and the same God.
I am not and have never been judgmental about any religion and any libel or slander to the contrary is solely in the imagination of anyone who makes this false claim. My mother was in Germany when Hitler’s unfathomable rise to power was so obvious it scared my grandparents - they foresaw World War II coming – and they compelled my mother to escape Germany in 1938, before the doors shut forever. Accordingly I have always been conscious of and kept myself from succumbing to the blatant prejudices and hurtful comments made by many people who have never been blessed to be exposed to many people of different faiths. My point is that, no matter what your religion or your lack of religion, or even atheism, you may feel free to write without fear of thoughts that I am discriminatory in any manner.