Letters to the Editor: A church that doesn’t let a Black woman sit on its lawn isn’t Christ-like

Alex Marshall-Brown
Alex Marshall-Brown is seen in front of St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, where church members told her to leave the property.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Nita Lelyveld’s column about the treatment of Alex Marshall-Brown by members of St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in North Hollywood was well done, but I feel it was a missed opportunity. As a person who does not belong to any denomination, I wanted to find out why the major churches in our country have not done more to combat racism.

Is that not what Jesus Christ would have done?

With all the recent protests against police killing unarmed Black people, I was expecting every denomination of every religion to be speaking out against racism. The silence of those who have not is the same as if they were supporting the killings.

In this case, I would expect that St. Paul’s would be reaching out to the community and making amends for the way it treated Marshall-Brown, who was sitting underneath a tree on the church’s lawn. This is something I expect from all places of worship, regardless of religion or denomination.

Brent Trafton, Long Beach


To the editor: Ever since Marshall-Brown’s video appeared on social media a few days ago, the other Lutheran church in North Hollywood, St. Matthew’s, has been inundated with indignant responses. Pastor Stephanie Jaeger, who leads St. Matthew’s, has responded with grace and clarity.


It should be noted that there are Lutherans, then there are Lutherans. The church where this incident occurred is part of the Wisconsin Synod, which is not known for liberality. St. Matthew’s, on the other hand, is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We’re the “liberal” ones.

In any event, for the sake of clarity and distinction, it seems to me that a follow-up story on how St. Matthew’s has responded to the negativity that was misdirected at it might be worthwhile.

Steve Beckham, Long Beach

The writer is pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Long Beach.


To the editor: You have to read to the end of Lelyveld’s column to learn that “there had been incidents on the property — including vandalism, people defecating on the lawn and mentally ill people acting erratically.”

Since it is almost unheard of for a person to paint her fingernails — much less her toenails, as Marshall-Brown was doing — in a public place, it is completely understandable that people were watching her and concerned she might follow that innocuous activity with one that could cause damage to the property similar to what had previously incurred.

Stephanie Scher, Los Angeles


To the editor: Thanks to Lelyveld for writing about the woman sitting on a church lawn. I hope this will be a lesson to the church. Jesus always welcomed strangers and outcasts.

Black lives matter.

Lynn Thompson, Redondo Beach