During the last few years we heard plenty from the Kieschnick administration about lawsuits being really bad. Of course, that was when the Kieschnick administration was on the receiving end of a lawsuit. So, for instance, at the 2007 convention in Houston, candidates for boards and offices, if they had participated in that lawsuit, were labeled with a “scarlet letter.” Second Vice-President Paul Maier cited as an example of promoting division: “Lawsuits against the Synod and its leadership. . . . Bottom line . . . ‘Don’t go to law: this is sin!’ And that is quite apart from the other sin of draining Synod resources for having gone to law in the first place!” (Convention Proceedings, p. 98) The convention passed Resolution 8-02A, “To Affirm Christian Resolution of Disputes,” which begins its first “whereas”: “God has clearly stated in I Cor 6:1ff His intent that brothers and sisters in the faith not enter into lawsuits against one another” (p. 163). As recently as February 2008, in his “President’s Journal,” Jerry Kieschnick wrote: “Unresolved conflict . . . can lead to unhealthy–even sinful–emotions and feelings toward another person. It can find expression in such behaviors as gossip, slander, the bringing of lawsuits. . . .”
So lawsuits are really, really bad, right? Well, I guess that depends on who’s doing them. Because now, apparently, the Kieschnick administration is threatening legal action against Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz over the use of the name, “Issues, Etc.” As though the Synod doesn’t have anything better to do than to pick on poor little ol’ Todd and Jeff over a name the LCMS isn’t using anymore, from a show they got rid of, that they think nobody listens to.
LCMS didn’t care enough about the name to renew the copyright/trademark some ten years ago. When they fired Todd and Jeff last March, they didn’t make a big deal out of the name. In “An ‘Issues, Etc.’ Q & A,” the BCS Exec even concluded, “The show had a voice that resonated with people in the LCMS and some outside the LCMS. One hopes this voice can continue to be heard through other communication channels.” So that’s what Todd and Jeff did–got the “Issues, Etc.” voice heard through other communication channels. And when the new “Issues” debuted last summer, no one objected to the use of the name.
But now President Kieschnick and the BOD have decided to play hardball and threaten legal action. Hey, don’t you guys have some critical events to do, instead of wasting precious time and resources over this? Why does this threat seem cheap, petty, and vindictive? What happened to lawsuits being so inherently evil? Are we going to see t-shirts and coffee mugs next? “It’s OK to Prosecute!”
Todd Wilken, The Issues, Etc. Trademark Dispute and LCMS Legal Threat.
LCMS Board of Directors, October 2008 “Board Briefs” (go to p. 3).