Nadia Bolz-Weber

Bolz-Weber’s Middle Finger Intolerance

on February 3, 2020

Nadia Bolz-Weber is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a fast declining liberal Mainline Protestant denomination. Heavily tattooed and often obscene, she’s different from typical Mainline clerics. Formerly pastor of a small Denver church she founded, she’s a fairly popular writer and speaker. Wikipedia calls her a “public theologian.” Ostensibly her vulgarity makes her more authentic.

Perhaps she was being authentic when she recently tweeted to her 93,000 followers a pic of her middle finger aimed at a metro Denver bakery, declaring: “My 12-step program is next door to Masterpiece Cake Shop (of anti-gay fame) so as an act of resistance I always I always choose to take up their best parking places. It’s the little things…”

Masterpiece is owned by Jack Phillips, an Evangelical Christian who in 2013 declined to bake a cake for a same sex rite, which led to five years of harassment by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation would have destroyed his business but for the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, which took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 7-2 ruling in 2018, the court ruled for him, judging the human rights commission had disdained his religious beliefs as protected by the First Amendment.

Evidently Bolz-Weber also disdains the baker’s religious beliefs and his rights to freedom of speech, which she rightly guards for herself and regrettably exploits for obscene and other dubious causes. That Philips is an Evangelical who upholds traditional marriage teaching makes him contemptible and an easy target for her and for much of secular culture.

Would Bolz-Weber have given her middle finger to Phillips if he were a Muslim upholding Islamic teaching? Or a Hindu? Doubtful. She likely portrays herself as a champion of non-Christian minorities even while ignoring their traditionalist views. Evangelicals in contrast are uniquely viewed as justified targets, especially when upholding historic Christian teaching on marriage.

Angry critics like Bolz-Weber like to shame traditional Christians for not surrendering to secular demands, while forgetting that their own liberal Protestantism is itself a tiny and shrinking percentage of global Christianity. Her own liberal denomination didn’t liberalize its marriage teaching until about a decade ago, followed by accelerating membership decline.

Less than 5 percent of Americans belong to denominations with liberal sexual teachings. The percentage of global population belonging to sexually liberal religions is even smaller. Yet persons like Bolz-Weber, because they echo Western secular culture and its elites, presumptuously assume they speak from a majority perspective and owe no respect to Christian traditionalists.

Supposedly Bolz-Weber and other progressive religionists are advocates for minorities and underdogs. But they champion only politically correct underdogs and causes. Religious people who are despised and mocked by secular culture are likewise despised and mocked by Bolz-Weber and her kindred progressive spirits.

Purportedly Bolz-Weber is a brave nonconformist. But she’s not brave enough to defend the rights of unpopular persons. She presumably was just fine with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, with its levers of authority and coercion, demanding that Jack Phllips relinquish his freedom of speech. And she apparently was fine when the commission tried to browbeat him into submission and/or bankruptcy.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately had more respect for the humanity and basic rights of an isolated religious small business owner than did Bolz-Weber, the pastor/activist/advocate for the downtrodden who supposedly cares for the voiceless. Such is her contempt for Phillips and his small business that she tweets her middle finger aimed at him while noting she routinely uses one of his parking places, merely from spite. How very Christ-like.

According to her expletive-laden writings, Bolz-Weber wants to make room for non-conformists in Christianity. But she in turn evidently demands her own form of conformity and her own form of rigid orthodoxy, from which dissent is not respected. They who are insufficiently progressive merit a big middle finger and perhaps more.

Traditional Christianity created concepts of pluralism, tolerance and free speech in civil society in which individuals and organizations are protected from coercion by government or other actors. Under the First Amendment, nobody has to participate in a same-sex rite or any other ceremony.

But under the doctrine of progressive religion promoted by Bolz-Weber and others, including the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, conscience rights are not protected in civil society. There is instead the imposition of a rigid orthodoxy in which all must actively burn incense before the altars of progressivism or risk punishment.

Bolz-Weber sees herself as a rebel against dogma. But she is herself dogmatist. And it’s easy to picture her as a heavily tattooed Madam Dafarge, angrily knitting the names of despised counterrevolutionaries for when vengeance can be enacted. From this perspective, there is no grace, just fierce retribution.

To her credit, Bolz-Weber ultimately did delete her middle finger tweet against baker Jack Phillips, even if without explanation or apology. Maybe she realized she had gone too far for an ordained Christian pastor. Or maybe she prefers to await a later day for retribution. In the interim, is she still, as an “act of resistance,” always choosing to take the bakery’s “best parking places” when he visits her nearby 12-step program? Maybe her future tweets will reveal.

Meanwhile, Christians might ponder: might we expect better from a “public theologian?”

  1. Comment by Eternity Matters on February 5, 2020 at 11:07 am

    She only deleted it when she got hit with the backlash. What a petty wolf she is! So loving, tolerant, and kind, and eager to turn the other cheek or something.

    And of course she was BFFs with Rachel Held Evans.

  2. Comment by Jeff on February 5, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Bolz-Weber is one reason I am so glad to have left the ELCA Lutheran apparently along with a million others. I grieve that not all those who left have continued with Christian faith.

  3. Comment by Jeffrey on February 5, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    The majority of those who stayed in the ELCA have not continued in the Christian faith either. Perhaps the ELCA will unite with the Unitarian Universalist Association.

  4. Comment by John Smith on February 7, 2020 at 6:17 am

    Don’t forget the ELCA and UMC are in full communion; perhaps they could merge to try and hide the decline?

  5. Comment by CBByrd on February 13, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Some of us hoped that by instituting that “communion” that the progressives of both groups would lock arms together and skip off into their fantasy dream world and leave the *trads* alone. Alas, it just further confirmed the leadership of The UMC as sold-out to a path to nowhere and intent on dragging the rest of us with them.

  6. Comment by Joseph on February 5, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    … and almost anyone who stayed is outside the faith (excepting the elderly who probably refuse to believe what the church has become). Revelation 18:4 is applicable to these dying churches (I know that’s so out of context).

  7. Comment by Sean on February 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    I have been known to occasionally give someone “the middle finger” in a fit of anger. It’s a sin I struggle with and something I always feel ashamed about later, no matter how justified my action may have felt at the time.

    But Bolz-Weber went far beyond that. She planned it, took the photo, posted it online with extreme pride, and only took it down due to the backlash. She has expressed no signs of regret or remorse. What kind of Christian does that?

    Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

  8. Comment by JR on February 5, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    “From this perspective, there is no grace, just fierce retribution.”

    I laughed.

  9. Comment by Palamas on February 5, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    You would.

  10. Comment by JR on February 5, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    The irony is delicious.

  11. Comment by John10 on February 5, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Recently I’ve realized that Mainline Protestantism is basically the HR Department of the typical woke corporation (nagging people to celebrate weirdness and not to Wrongthink), with a little religion thrown in.

  12. Comment by Tim on February 5, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    With more and more people not reading nor knowing what is in the Bible nor believing what is in the Bible we will have more persecution right here in the USA. As persecution grows we will have less of the Sunday only Christians at church. But those who know the Lord, their faith will grow because of this hatred! Then the church may grow again as the non-churched see what real Christianity looks like. Love of God and love of neighbor at any cost.

  13. Comment by Dee on February 5, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    Other side of the coin:

    Faith based discrimination within the public sphere is essentially the raising of the middle finger to its victims. Before the Supreme Court’s ruling removing teacher-led school prayer in the 1960s, I attended public schools where a sizable number of students were Roman Catholic or Jewish. The Protestant majority (United Methodists being the dominant denomination) dictated each school day would begin with the recitation of the Protestant King James’ Version of the Lord’s Prayer. Protestant students like myself were well aware that this was a daily exercise meant to denigrate non-Protestant taxpaying families and their children. Protestants were giving the middle finger to non-Protestants.

    Meanwhile, Roman Catholics at the local government-subsidized Roman Catholic Hospital engaged in cruel, faith-based discrimination when my aunt was denied a doctor-ordered tubal ligation following a difficult fifth pregnancy/delivery. The doctor believed a sixth pregnancy would likely kill her. The Roman Catholic administrators gave her life the middle finger. She never forgot their hatred of her.

    The faith based discrimination of lgbtq citizens by tax-subsidized businesses serving the public likewise denigrates tax-paying citizens. It’s a form of giving the middle finger to lgbtq folks.

    I taught children in a public school who were born to unwed, teen moms at a time when this sexual behavior was deemed immoral. I had no right to engage in faith-based discrimination by refusing to teach these kids even if I was a staunch religious objector of out-of-wedlock births. I know teachers who devalued these kids and their families on a daily basis.

    To date, the life-partner of my late brother has been denied more than $100,000 over a span of ten years in Social Security surviving spouse benefits. As tax-payers, they both paid into Social Security. They were denied marriage equality, primarily on the basis of conservative religious beliefs of voters (my brother died before the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality…he and his partner of 25 years were denied legal marriage). As American citizens, their Social Security benefits were confiscated and distributed to the SS pot from which opposite-sex, legally married partners have never been barred when one partner is widowed and becomes eligible for surviving spouse benefits. Even divorced individuals who do not re-marry and who were in an opposite-sex marriage for at least 10 years – and whose former partner dies after the divorce – are entitled to SS surviving spouse benefits. Countless same-sex couples who lost a partner prior to the Court’s decision have lost thousands of dollars in SS income. The reason heterosexual people voted to ban same-sex marriage in many states was clearly one of greed: they financially benefitted because the consequence denying same-sex marriage was the confiscation/wholesale theft of lgbtq tax dollars for widowed heterosexual spouses.

    Oh, and btw, those accused of witchcraft by born-again Christians in 1692 Salem had their property confiscated by the government, too. Their accusers were well aware of this consequence. Not much has changed.

    Religious liberty has its limits when religious belief is used to deny services and benefits in the public sphere where services are tax-subsidized. Feel free to discriminate within your religious community -giving the middle finger is protected in that space.

  14. Comment by JR on February 6, 2020 at 8:49 am

    ” The reason heterosexual people voted to ban same-sex marriage in many states was clearly one of greed: they financially benefitted because the consequence denying same-sex marriage was the confiscation/wholesale theft of lgbtq tax dollars for widowed heterosexual spouses. ”

    I only disagree with this part. I don’t think greed had any factor in it. I (and most of America, now) disagree with their view, but I think it wasn’t even necessarily fully ‘religious’ in it’s aspect, it was more of the ‘ick’ perspective that lots of people have had about lgbtq relationships. Silly, but not greedy.

  15. Comment by td on February 6, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    You do realize that the catholic version and the protestant version of the Lord’s prayer is the same, right?

  16. Comment by Scarborough on February 9, 2020 at 12:17 am

    Actually, it’s not. The Catholics end after “… deliver us from evil.” Protestants add ” “For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory now and forever.”

  17. Comment by td on February 12, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    The catholic version at mass says…for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours for now and forever.

  18. Comment by td on February 12, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    What i am saying is that the text is exactly the same except for the add-on at the end- which catholics leave off outside of mass. It is simply not substantively true that these versions are different in any way.

  19. Comment by Amy Estrada on July 7, 2020 at 12:55 am

    Catholics say it, just with a pause. Then continue on…. “For the kingdom, and the power at Yours, forever and ever.”

  20. Comment by Amy Estrada on July 7, 2020 at 1:00 am

    Catholics say after a pause: “For the kingdom, and the power, and the glory are Yours.”

  21. Comment by Slalom5 on February 7, 2020 at 12:55 am

    What you’ve said is true – many of those examples of discrimination did take place. But it took place worldwide, for generations – in all forms of gov’t, under all types of religions – so the cause isn’t exclusive to Christian beliefs.
    But the bigger point is that this is supposedly a open minded, tolerant, forgiving, compassionate, pastorette, who’s intention is to espouse the Word of God, and who by example should emulate Christ’s all encompassing love is instead making a very public display that encourages division, hatred, and harassment. And I’m sure its regularly conveyed and encouraged to her congregation to follow her example.

  22. Comment by JR on February 7, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    “But the bigger point is that this is supposedly a open minded, tolerant, forgiving, compassionate, pastorette, who’s intention is to espouse the Word of God, and who by example should emulate Christ’s all encompassing love…”

    I don’t know why you would suppose any of that. Do you think all pastors should fit those criteria, or only progressive female pastors?

  23. Comment by Rebecca on February 10, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, God is only for time bound agriculturalists, like the men who founded America. You are sooo much smarter than they were… Jesus came into the world to save us from our sexual sins, not to tell us to sin all we want.

  24. Comment by Samuel W. Setliff on February 6, 2020 at 4:32 am

    Whether it be this Lutheran denomination, the Episcopal church, PCUSA, the United Methodist church (post-split), the Church of England, or any of the other pseudo-Christian Progressive “churches”, is it not time to accept that they are past redemption and unworthy of our attention? They are no longer Christian and they have no interest in becoming Christian, so why do we keep addressing their gross deviations from Christianity as if it is newsworthy? It has been established beyond any doubt whatsoever that they are apostate heretics hell-bent on revolt against God and they are simply acting in according to their deepest beliefs.

  25. Comment by John Smith on February 7, 2020 at 6:23 am

    Who are we to say someone is beyond redemption? We can show their behavior and teachings are wrong but we cannot claim they are lost forever.

  26. Comment by Judith Foster on February 9, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    I agree. Beyond redemption. Nice try “John Smith” but I believe in calling a spade a spade. No more go-along-to-get-along for me. This apparent split in the UM Church has hardened me to people like the subject of this article.

  27. Comment by John Smith on February 12, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Who said go along to get along? I’m against deserting the fight because “its too hard”, “we can’t win” and “they aren’t worth it”.

  28. Comment by Dee on February 6, 2020 at 6:07 am

    Be careful on those you deem heretics. My ancestor (collateral kin, umpteenth great-uncle) John Tarbell was judged to be a hell-bent heretic and was thus, ex-communicated from the church. Tarbell was married to the daughter of witchcraft-accused 1692 Salem Village church member Rebecca Nurse. He led several others in a rebellion against the trials, convinced that his mother-in-law was not the evil, embodiment of the devil. He risked his life in doing so. His dissent was contrary to the orthodoxy of devout leadership and members of the church. The laws of Salem were biblically based; church folk, the born-again Christians in that era, knew their bibles and biblical mandates. They were absolutely certain they knew God’s laws, God’s judgment, God’s will. Their absolutism was their sin. John Tarbell was expelled from the communion as a leftist, hell-bent liberal, though that precise language would not have been used in that day. History will be the judge of today’s current orthodoxy.

  29. Comment by Yorktown on February 6, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Straw man.
    The Bible does’t really say what we think it says.
    It’s been 1 man and 1 women for 1000s of years in Christianity.
    Now with in the last 10 years we know that the Bible always intended to have 1man with 1 man; 1 woman with 1 woman; 1 sometimes I’m a man or woman with 1 sometimes I’m a man or woman.

    Yea lets compare that with the Salem Witch Trials.

    It would be better that people reject Christianity then to pretzel bend it to conform to their personal preferences.

    Christ changes you.
    You don’t change Christ.

  30. Comment by Dee on February 7, 2020 at 12:08 am

    Yes, opposite sex marriage is the biblical rule. One would not expect otherwise given the time-bound concepts of an agricultural society living a few thousand years ago or even up until the twentieth century. It was an outwardly external occurrence that folks saw in farming: place a seed in fertile ground and with a little tending, it sprouts and thrives. The seed was first and primary.

    Accordingly, men are never referred to as infertile or barren in the bible because understandings of conception, sex roles, etc, are biblically time-bound. Women were always to blame when conception failed to occur in biblical texts. There was no knowledge that women, too, produced a seed, ie, an egg. That was not discovered until the late 1800s. That conception was 50/50 and that a man might be sterile and to blame for a woman’s inability to conceive was not known to biblical writers.

    So the admonition in Leviticus, ie, “A man shall not lie with another man as with a woman” is not only sexist, it’s a time-bound teaching.

    Based on today’s knowledge, we might expect biblical writers to apply the same logic, admonishing, “A woman shall not lie with a sterile man, as it’s no different from lying with a woman”. Or, “a woman shall not lie with a man who’s had a vasectomy..or uses a condom”. Or, “a man shall not lie with a woman of reproductive age on birth control pills,” as the outcome is unnatural…it’s no different than a man lying with a man. No life can come from these arrangements.

    Opposite sex marriage in the Bible is a time-bound concept because it is based on time-bound, false ideas about conception/reproduction. Homosexual men and women can produce offspring or not. We have petri dishes and surrogates to assist in reproduction. Heterosexuals do not always choose to reproduce and both men and women, regardless of sexual identity, can be sterile or make themselves sterile.

    In America, where equality is valued, rewarding widowed persons who were in opposite sex marriages with the earned SS tax dollars of lgbtq Americans, while denying same-sex marriage, is discrimination. Everyone has the right to believe what they will in regard to marriage and live their individual lives accordingly. Using religion to argue for rewarding and supporting opposite-sex married couples with SS tax dollars (paid into the system by lgbtq folk) and other entitlements, while denying same-sex couples equality is a supremacist, discriminatory practice.

  31. Comment by John Smith on February 7, 2020 at 6:33 am

    Without intending you have shown where the basic breakdown occurs. You consider the bible to be the product of man and his knowledge and conception of the times. If you are correct then your argument has merit.

    The orthodox believe the Bible is authored by God and thus there is no new knowledge to supplant, mitigate or correct the writings.

    There is no way to reconcile the two and it is tragic that this battle within the UMC came to a head under the current crisis. This confuses and hides the real issue. And, I admit, for many they are bothered more by homosexuality instead of the attack on scriptural authority. Sad and tragic.

    Personally I don’t understand why anyone who held the Bible was a collection of writings from the Bronze to Iron age would pay attention to it except as an aid to historical research.

  32. Comment by Judith Foster on February 9, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Dee … all I can say is “wow”. And not in a good way.

  33. Comment by Jerry on February 11, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Dee, your “theology” is nothing more than abject humanism. You proof-text, isogete and opinionize Scripture. You want so badly to make Scripture read like you want it to, it does not.

    You have become so open-minded that your brains have fallen out.

  34. Comment by JS on February 6, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    petty, ugly, wrong

  35. Comment by Loren J Golden on February 6, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
    “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Lk. 6.27-36)

  36. Comment by Richard on February 6, 2020 at 11:08 pm


  37. Comment by Bryan on February 6, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    NBW is a vile pig

  38. Comment by Dee on February 7, 2020 at 12:31 am

    Bryan, can you not say, “she is my neighbor?”

  39. Comment by John Smith on February 7, 2020 at 6:36 am

    My neighbors are vile pigs, as am I, some are less vile. We all live in the same sty but some of us are waiting for the owner to come muck it out while others are content to wallow in the filth.

  40. Comment by CBByrd on February 13, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    And some came to their senses, got out of the sty and started walking home……

  41. Comment by John Smith on February 14, 2020 at 6:45 am

    When you find a way out of this world short of dying let me know.

  42. Comment by Douglas E Ehrhardt on February 7, 2020 at 3:35 am

    And how did Jesus treat false teachers?

  43. Comment by J. Lee on February 8, 2020 at 3:30 am

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

    I really don’t see any difference between her actions and that of the Westboro Baptists. Its pretty clear according to this verse in Galatians that such actions arise out of that part of ourselves that is alienated from God and in rebellion to his rule in our hearts.

  44. Comment by Michael on February 10, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    ELCA – Everything Luther Counseled Against

  45. Comment by David Taylor on February 10, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Whenever I reflect on the menagerie that goes by the name “clergy” today, I keep returning to the bar scene in Star Wars.

  46. Comment by Sam Platts on February 10, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    I find the ELCA is trying to do God’s will and paying close attention to Our Lord’s Word. This web site seems to think that
    the mainline churches are not faithful to God. In my experience,
    this is not true. They are all fine, loving God, loving mankind churches, and willing to call out sin where it occurs in high places. For example, Donald Trump has become a cult.

  47. Comment by John Smith on February 12, 2020 at 6:48 am

    No they are not willing to call out sin where it occurs. They are, however, willing to call out political opponents confusing the two.

  48. Comment by Douglas E Ehrhardt on February 12, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Oh no Sam no!

  49. Comment by Damon on February 16, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    I love her so much. She’s genuine. Jesus would have welcomed her.

  50. Comment by Paul Fail on April 4, 2020 at 7:51 am

    And to think that you wrote your article with a pen dipped in the precious blood of Jesus love for all human beings. Would I be correct in thinking that you believe that Donald Trump is God’s man? Your theology obviously fits into the bucket of conservative (American) evangelicalism and places reverence for the US Constitution over a true love of God and adherence to the true teachings of Jesus. Ms Bolz-Weber lives love – you could learn something from her.

  51. Comment by Dave Miller on April 7, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Can Nadia Bolz-Weber even be considered Christian. She denies the integrity of the Bible retranslating it to fit her personal desires.

  52. Comment by Michael Sandeen on September 14, 2020 at 1:21 am

    Paul, If Ms Bolz-Weber’s version of living love is to give the finger to a small business owner that is persecuted for not violating his conscience, for using petty harassment against him, and expressing her intolerance for someone that believes differently from her…well…I don’t think I want to learn that kind of love.
    I would also think that your assessment the author’s thoughts on politics are a bit presumptuous. I would also suggest you read the new testament again and reacquaint yourself with the true teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

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