Social Statements

“This church shall develop social statements … that will guide the life of this church as an institution and inform the conscience of its members in the spirit of Christian liberty.”

– The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective

ELCA social statements are teaching and policy documents that provide broad frameworks to assist us in thinking about and discussing social issues in the context of faith and life. They are meant to help communities and individuals with moral formation, discernment and thoughtful engagement with current social issues as we participate in God’s work in the world.

Social statements also set policy for the ELCA and guide its advocacy and work as a publicly engaged church. They result from an extensive process of participation and deliberation and are adopted by a two-thirds vote of an ELCA churchwide assembly.

Thirteen Statements from 1991 to 2019

Faith, Sexism, and Justice (2019)

The experiences of women and girls from a variety of backgrounds, both in the past and in the present moment, reveal that they have often been restricted in realizing abundant life on the basis of sex (biological) or gender. We confess patriarchy and sexism as sin and name the resources of the Lutheran faith to identify what needs to be done both in the church and in society.

The church and criminal justice / La iglesia y la justicia penal (2013)

The ELCA is prompted to speak and to act because so many cries of suffering and despair emerge from the criminal justice system — from victims, the incarcerated, their families, communities, those wrongly convicted, they who work in the system — and have not been heard.

Genetics (2011)

Human sexuality / La sexualidad humana (2009)

Education / Educación (2007)

Health and health care / Salud y asistencia sanitaria (2003)

Health is central to our well-being, vital to relationships, and helps us live out our vocations in family, work and community. Each person bears some responsibility for his or her own health, but health and healthcare also depend upon other people and conditions in society and our communities.

Economic life / Vida económica (1999)

“For all” in the title of the ELCA social statement on economic life refers to the whole household of God—all people and creation throughout the world. We should assess economic activities in terms of how they affect “all,” especially people living in poverty.

Peace / Por la paz (1995)

Caring for creation / Medio ambiente (1993)

As stewards of this world, we are called to care for the earth and examine our behaviors toward creation. While we need to take from the land for food and sustainability, we also need to be careful that we maintain good stewardship and do not exploit the wonderful things the earth provides.

Race, ethnicity and culture / Raza, etnicidad y cultura (1993)

Abortion / Aborto (1991)

The death penalty / Pena de Muerte (1991)

Church in society / Iglesia en la sociedad (1991)

The description and procedures for developing and adopting these social teaching and policy documents are established by “Policies and Procedures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for Addressing Social Concerns.”