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The Lutherans

The United States has approximately seven million Lutherans, members of more than twenty different Lutheran church organizations. Lutheranism is particularly strong in the states of the upper Midwest because many German and Scandinavian Lutheran immigrants settled there.

The Lutheran movement began in 1517 with Martin Luther’s famous split from the Catholic church. Lutherans emphasize theological doctrine. A young person must engage in a long study of the Lutheran Catechism before becoming a full-fledged church member. Lutherans stress spirituality rather than strict living.

As the world’s oldest Protestant group, Lutheran worship retains many Catholic practices, such as holy communion, in a simplified form. These include altars, crosses, vestments and candles that many other Protestants find too elaborate, but that Lutherans use to enhance their religious devotions. Like most Protestants, however, Lutherans believe that Christ is spiritually present in the sacrament of holy communion, rather than physically present as the Roman Catholics believe.

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