It’s OK to Bring Lawsuits–When They Suit You, by Pr. Charles Henrickson

February 10th, 2009 Post by

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).

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  1. Bob E.
    February 10th, 2009 at 23:10 | #1

    It boggles the mind why the LCMS, Inc. would think they still own rights to a trademark they abandoned so long ago. It baffles also why they would try to use this to “bully” Mssrs. Wilken and Schwarz into agreeing to something they have already stated they would not agree to. Is this a matter of “ego” that the LCMS, Inc. doesn’t want to allow these upstarts to get the best of them somehow? I just can’t understand their way of thinking about this issue, etc. Pardon the pun, etc.

  2. Jim Pierce
    February 10th, 2009 at 23:19 | #2

    Maybe someone can help me out here, but what role do the clergy have in the LCMS in stopping the SP from doing something that is sinful? I just don’t get this. Why isn’t Kieshnick getting a firm boot in the back end? Why is Kieshnick being allowed to do these things? Where is the accountability?

  3. February 11th, 2009 at 00:34 | #3

    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.”

    That was a horrible thing to witness. Once the motion was made and passed to label nominees with that stigma, Pres. Kieschnick asked if anyone had a list of the people involved in the lawsuit. The Eastern District President in charge of nominations pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket, “I have one right here!” Thoroughly disgusting.

  4. Paul
    February 11th, 2009 at 06:35 | #4

    Jim (#2),

    It was made crystal clear as Synod with its officials, pastorate, and laity worked in their respective camps to deal with the actions President Kieschnick approved actions of Atlantic District President Dr. David Benke’s actions in the Yankee Stadium prayer service on Sept 21, 2001. Through what I would call “political” maneuvering the final determination, as I understand it, is that the Synodical President (along with those whose actions are approved by him) can only be dealt with at convention.

    SOOOOO, first we pray. For as I have been told through a few wise clergy – Christ is still in charge and no matter what the LCMS does or becomes we should not be discouraged as He has built His Church “and the gates of hell[2] shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18b, ESV)

    Within this fallen world the only way for not just the LCMS Pastors but also the LAITY (a lot of us here at Steadfast Lutherans) have to deal with the things going on in our LCMS is through votes at the District and Synodical Conventions this and next year. We must educate all on the questionable or just plain wrong things going on under President Kieschnick and many District President’s watch so that those sending delegates can be informed. Not only Issues, Etc. but the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations, the missional (or lack of) focus, etc. need to be addressed.

    Steadfast Lutherans is obviously an awesome resource for education. I commend articles such as this one presented by Pastor Charles Henrickson for review. God has granted us a gift in his ability to analyze and educate on issues. Also, for the Blue Ribbon Commission, there were two Issues, Etc interview Todd did with Dr. Ken Schurb that were very enlightening. Please recommend other resources and get the word out.

    In Christ,

    Paul in O’Fallon

  5. February 11th, 2009 at 06:36 | #5

    That’s the “beauty” of the American legal system. Even if you don’t have a foot to stand on, you can make your opponent “bleed” plenty before the case gets thrown out by a judge.

    Might makes right for the big corporation when contending against the little guys!

    It makes me puke!

  6. Steve
    February 11th, 2009 at 08:47 | #6

    Perhaps the Administration would allow them to retain the name Issues, Etc. and use the name Tissues, Etc. for a new KFUO as they cry themselves to sleep in their big pilla’ because of their shrinking listenership!

  7. Jim Pierce
    February 11th, 2009 at 12:12 | #7

    Paul (#4),

    Thank you for the response Paul, but is it the case that nobody can take disciplinary action against Kieschnick until a convention? That is hardly an adequate system of holding leaders accountable if that is the case.

  8. February 11th, 2009 at 12:41 | #8

    I recently posted to one of Mollie’s posts on this subject to the same effect as here. Friends, there is something plain evil going on in all of this. Evil has no bottom. When this nonsense does not end and when the official checks & balances do not function as they should, then the evil begins to expose itself for what it really is. I can only conclude that this is why the Lord of the Church is permitting this rebellion against His call to love to continue. The cure for evil is to stand under the cross of Christ and in the power and blessing of His resurrection and, in continuing to “take it on the chin,” the evil is exposed. This, sadly and to the consternation of Christians of every age, is just how the dynamic of evil works. May the Lord give grace to Wilken and Schwarz to endure steadfast (yep, Rossow and Henrickson, that last word was intentional :-)).

  9. Justin Ohmie
    February 11th, 2009 at 12:51 | #9

    They may have been labeled with scarlet letters, but all I see are red badges of courage.

  10. February 11th, 2009 at 12:53 | #10

    Jim (#7)
    Hi Jim,

    sad, but true, as I understand it, the only time the SP has a supervisor, is Synod IN convention.


  11. Pastor Tim Rossow
    February 11th, 2009 at 12:59 | #11

    Rev. Wollenburg – ever since BJS got started we have been playing a little game at our church. The goal is to see how many times the word “steadfast” shows up in the propers of the day. It is amazing that not too many Sundays go by without it.

    I agree. Wilken and Schwarz are the picture of steadfastness!

    Pastor Rossow

  12. Smalltown Lutheran
    February 11th, 2009 at 13:11 | #12

    “Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen.”

  13. February 11th, 2009 at 13:24 | #13

    Since I was curious .. according to google’s translation tool, comment 12 says:

    “Here I stand. I can not do otherwise. God help me. Amen”

  14. Eric Ramer
    February 11th, 2009 at 15:39 | #14

    Thanks Norm. I sort of had it figured out, since they are one of Luther’s more famous quotes, but it’s nice of you to confirm it.

  15. Smalltown Lutheran
    February 11th, 2009 at 15:57 | #15

    Sorry, I should have included a translation. Yes, it is a quote of Luther’s at the Diet of Worms.

  16. helen
    February 12th, 2009 at 14:12 | #16

    “…sad, but true, as I understand it, the only time the SP has a supervisor, is Synod IN convention.” –Kiley

    He hasn’t got one then. He controls all the floor committees and rejects any resolution that doesn’t suit his purposes.

    I’d agree with those who call him “pope” except that Benedict isn’t trying to tear down his church.

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