Kieschnick shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment (Mollie)

So we have some minor updates on the issue of legal threats made against Issues, Etc. Apparently a gazillion people have been emailing LCMS, Inc., upset about the bad form and waste of money involved with these legal threats.

President Kieschnick, who at the very least has been kept aware of the legal threats but not done a thing to stop them, has weighed in. Or, rather, he asked his senior assistant Rev. Jon Braunersreuther to do that for him. In an email sent to various outlets, Braunersreuther writes:

President Kieschnick has neither initiated a lawsuit against anyone connected with the radio show “Issues, Etc.,” nor has he threatened or encouraged a lawsuit or any other type of legal action. Any allegations to the contrary are simply untrue. The President of the Synod has neither the authority nor the desire to initiate legal action on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. That authority is vested solely with the Board of Directors of the Synod.

In his role as a member of the Synod’s Board of Directors, President Kieschnick is not aware of any lawsuit or threat of any lawsuit against Rev. Todd Wilken or Jeff Schwarz. By means of a copy of this email, Mr. Ron Schultz, Chief Administrative Officer of the Synod, is being requested to further respond on behalf of the Board of Directors.

President Kieschnick desires a speedy and God-pleasing resolution to matters connected with the proposed transfer of the trademark in accordance with the Board’s previous action and prays that those involved are working together to conclude the matter.

Okay, first off, it’s beyond odd that President Kieschnick would deny initiating a lawsuit. I mean, no one has accused him of initiating a lawsuit. It’s like beginning a letter by saying, “I deny that I stole that cookie.” No one accused him of any such thing.

But beyond that, I have reliable information from various people that this letter is not exactly forthright.

I know for a fact that President Kieschnick was made aware of the legal threats, for instance. So his claim that he was unaware of the threat of legal action is just not true. All members of the Board of Directors, including President Kieschnick, were, in fact, made aware that legal counsel was sending threatening letters to Todd and Jeff. What’s more, they were repeatedly made aware of that fact in multiple ways. So, again, not true.

But the letter is interesting beyond that. While I have multiple sources who contradict President Kieschnick’s claim that he’s not behind the legal threats, and while, unlike President Kieschnick, those sources have never misled me or made untrue statements on previous stories, I can’t know which side is telling the truth since it basically boils down to a “he-said, they-said” thing. But putting that aside, it is interesting that President Kieschnick was willing to admit he knew that Todd and Jeff were going to be fired before they did but he’s unwilling to even admit knowledge about these legal threats now.


Kieschnick shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment (Mollie) — 49 Comments

  1. Well, at least now there can be no doubt that he is aware. It will be quite interesting to see if these matters are dropped or continue. If they continue much longer, he will no longer be able to truthfully deny supporting the actions being taken with respect to the threatened lawsuits or trademark issue. Personally, I expect him to do nothing to put an end to these things and thereby confirm support for these immoral actions.

  2. Does the buck EVER stop at Kieschnick’s desk?

    Seriously, he is PRESIDENT of the LCMS yet whenever something politically negative happens in the LCMS he is somehow not responsible, unaware or in the dark.

    How is that possible?

    This email stretches the limits of credulity beyond reason.

    If we are to believe this email then Kieschnick had ZERO knowledge about the ‘threatened’ lawsuit against Todd and Jeff and it was a rogue and renegade Board of Directors that instructed the LCMS’s attorneys to pursue a legal remedy for this trademark dispute. How is it possible that the PRESIDENT of the LCMS was completely unaware of this hostile activity. Was this happening behind his back? Are we to believe that Kieschnick was too busy reading his Bible and singing praise songs while the real culprits were sneaking around behind his back?

    Is it even possible for the BOD to interface with the LCMS’s law firm and instruct them to challenge the trademark filing and threaten Todd and Jeff without the knowledge of the President of the LCMS?? I DON’T THINK SO!

    President Kieschnick’s Pants Are Ablazeâ„¢.

  3. Hey – just another reason to seek a new Synodical President. He can’t keep control of or even follow the threats/lawsuits/trademarks, etc. actions of the Board of Directors. That along with the “happy-clappy” direction of the Ablaze!(tm) movement should disqualify this man from the office.

    Paul in O’Fallon

    PS: Chris #2 – you forgot the “!” in Ablaze!(tm) beware trademark issues… I continue to enjoy the audio of your presentations at the BJS Convention.

  4. Has a Synodical President ever resigned his post? I know the answer is no, but the answer from Braunersreuther is hard to stomach. Mollie already listed how Braunersreuther’s message strained at honesty. Sadly the answer that was posted was not shocking.


  5. One more thing.

    Did anyone see the blatant contradiction in this email???

    At the end of the first paragraph President Kieschnick claims the the Board of Directors has the sole authority to initiate legal action. But then in the first sentence in the second paragraph it states that President Kieschnick has a “role as a member of the Board of Directors”.

    How is it humanly possible for President Kiechnick to have a “role as a member of the Board of Directors” YET have ZERO knowledge of the Board of Directors initiating legal action against Todd and Jeff.

    Kiechnick is either LYING or he is the MOST inept and detached President the LCMS has ever had.

  6. Chris – I’ve come to the conclusion the only way the “buck” will ever stop at our SP’s desk is if is roadkill. Perhaps his unawareness of the actions taken by Pleban and Assoc. for the LC-MS is:
    A. He’s no theologian (true, but not applicable in this case.)
    B. He has no contact with the BOD (no, their minutes state otherwise.)
    C. Our beloved SP was busy listening to Issues.Etc on his I-pod while the BOD was discussing this “issue”. This is the only answer I am willing to accept. If only we had a “Stephen” around 1333 Kirkwood Blvd to explain what he was hearing.

  7. I may be misunderstanding the situation, but if I am correct, then the words of this e-mail are all, technically (and therefore legally)correct, regardless of who knew what when. Isn’t the proposed lawsuit against Harry Madsen? As the letter declares, “Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz are not parties to this TTAB proceeding.”

    Now, I teach my catechumens that the eighth commandment condemns intentionally mis-leading statements as well as bald-faced lies. Since I must explain everything in the kindest way, I will assume, absent more info, that President K. has been unaware of the considered lawsuit conscerning the Issues Etc. name and trademark. Otherwise this would be sinful dissembling.

    Rev. Steve Bagnall

    Of course, I’d still like to hear from the president’s office something like, “Wow. A lawsuit? I’ll look into that and get back to you as soon as I can.” Perhaps that segement of the response is still lost in the ether.

  8. I appreciate the Casablanca reference. Claude Rains was great in that movie. I know that has nothing to do with the intent of the post but still, it touched a cord. 🙂

  9. Frankly, if I was on the BOD I would be really ticked off to be thrown under the bus again.

    “Thank you sir may I have another!”
    “Thank you sir may I have another!”


  10. I largely agree with the sentiments above. However, Mollie, I do not think that “no one has accused him of initiating a lawsuit” is quite true. In fact, when I was fed that line, I referenced the person back to the Open Mic Extra which Wilken and Schwarz made on 9 Feb. At around minute 6 Pr. Wilken does say that he had learned that Pres. K. was behind it. Just wanting to be accurate. Keep on bringing us the facts, Mollie.

  11. Rev. Wollenburg,

    Put the emphasis on “initiating a lawsuit.”

    There is a difference between threatening a lawsuit and initiating one.

    To my knowledge, no lawsuit has been initiated and no one has accused anyone — Kieschnick included — of initiating a lawsuit.

  12. I want to say from the outset that I do not like what Kieschnick is doing to the LCMS *at all*, and because of him I would leave the LCMS today if a viable Lutheran alternative were available. Having said that, something is happening here that concerns me.

    When I was first considering joining the LCMS, one member I knew tried to warn me away. (This same person finally jumped ship herself last year when Issues Etc. was canceled.) She told me horror stories about Kieschnick’s election being fraudulent, and told me that law suits were going to be filed against him.

    With that kind of language having already been used by Kieshnick’s opposition from the moment he was elected, we can hardly blame him for surrounding himself with lawyers and speaking in legal jargon specifically designed to protect himself from law suits.

    Now the fact that he has to do this at all indicates to me a colossal failure of leadership on his part, to add to his already bad policies and questionable theology. But unless someone can produce specific documentation of his personal intent to sue Tod and Jeff, the comments I see here simply go too far. You all would do well to remember these words from the Small Catechism (emphasis mine):

    The Eighth Commandment: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
    What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, OR HURT HIS REPUTATION, but defend him, speak well of him, AND EXPLAIN EVERYTHING IN THE KINDEST WAY.

    Is there any error in what I’m saying here? If so, could someone point it out to me, please?

  13. Anonymous #13,

    With a challenge like that it would be good to add your name to the post. Short of that, let me explain.

    Two parties who I know to be above trustworthy, Todd Wilken and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, have given their word that they have clear evidence of President Kieschnick’s direct involvement. I do not know that they are bound to share the details of such.

    If you do not accept that, it is clear from all that has been said that, that the Board of Directors that President Kieshcnick sits on, has initiated this action, thus he is directly involved in the threatened legal action.

    Also, if he abstained (shame on him) or if were a part of a minority opinion, let him say so. That happens all of the time with synod committees.

    Pastor Rossow

  14. anonymous #13 –

    a couple clarifications –

    1) you are a member of a congregation that, at any point in time, is affiliated with the LCMS – you are not a member of the LCMS. Your congregation should have the Bible and the Confessions as their standard, not LCMS pronouncements.

    2) you are “late to the party”, as most of your concerns have been voiced and answered in previous posts. I would encourage you to click on the link to Mollie’s columns on the right sidebar, read her posts, get all the background to this series of events, then come back to this thread.


  15. Mollie #12:
    A distinction without a difference. Legal parsing.
    Of course, it all depends on what the definition of “is” is, doesn’t it!

  16. I concur with #6!

    I am absolutely disgusted by our Teflon Pope. Can I bring the rail to the convention in 2010?

  17. “President Kieschnick is not aware of any lawsuit or threat of any lawsuit against Rev. Todd Wilken or Jeff Schwarz.” In fact, I’m sure President Kieschnick would use the full weight of his office to PREVENT such a lawsuit, right? I mean, all we heard from Kieschnick & Co. for two years was how BAD it was to bring a lawsuit against a fellow Christian. For instance, in his February 2008 “President’s Journal,” Jerry Kieschnick said, “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 now I’m sure President Kieschnick would NOT ALLOW even a veiled legal threat against Wilken and Schwarz. Otherwise, somebody might get the crazy notion that Kieschnick is some sort of hypocrite.

  18. “President Kieschnick desires a speedy and God-pleasing resolution to matters connected with the proposed transfer of the trademark. . . .” Uh, WHAT “transfer” of the trademark, Jerry? I thought LCMS let the trademark lapse some ten years ago. So how can there be a “transfer” of a name you guys don’t own?

  19. I think the president played the wrong card in his establishment, even though (wink, wink) he didn’t know of the gambling going on. The poor guy just got trumped.

  20. Just call the show ‘Issues, Schmissues’ and be done with it. Or ‘Not Issues, Etc.’
    Yes, Charles Henrickson; that sentence jumped out at me as well. All his protests to the contrary, there’s apparently still an issue to resolve, and apparently it can’t be resolved by Synod simply saying, ‘Take the name as we’d said you could.’ Apparently, it’s not that easy to just hand over something that’s not yours and that you don’t want, but that you’d already agreed to give away. Apparently, it takes a bit of posturing, parsing, and obfuscating–and a village of attorneys–to accomplish such a feat.

  21. We’ve heard this before, approximately 11 months ago:

    “The KFUO decision transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction.”

  22. Frankly, this is looking like it could add up to the problems that Ralph Bohlmann brought upon himself by trying to forcibly retire Robert Preus as president of CTS Fort Wayne some years back.

    Obviously we are going through a generational transition. Some would like to see the LCMS go the way of either the Baptists or the ELCA. In many ways it is already around that corner.

    No matter who we elect president of the LCMS next time, much of the LCMS will not be turned around.

  23. BTW, I hope many more are planning to become part of the Issues Etc 300, along with supporting the Augustana Ministerium, which helps other unsung victims of similar treatment across the beloved synod.

  24. I just received this via e-mail:

    A message to all members of The Wittenberg Trail


    If you haven’t heard, the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has legally opposed the trademark application for the name “Issues, Etc.,” and through its legal counsel, threatened to bring legal action against Jeff Schwarz and me.

    Jeff and I are disappointed by this to say the least.

    These latest actions by the LCMS Board of Directors have occasioned another ONLINE PETITION.

    Please read the petition, and if you agree with it, please sign it. It can be found at:

    Wir sind alle Bettler,

    Todd Wilken

  25. Remember Holy Week ’08: “The firing was done with my awareness but not at my direction”

    … or some schlock as that.

    And now this.

    Not only an ineffectual leader, but an embarrassment.

    What’s so scary, Jerry?

    I really don’t get this. But I don’t give to LCMS,Inc., anymore, either.

  26. Re: #7, Pleban & Associates appear to be the legal firm repping Wilken/Schwarz, at least, that’s where a letter was sent to W/S representatives by Thomspon, Coburn attorneys.

    Thompson, Coburn – where LCMS Comm. Director David Strand’s wife is a partner – is the firm representing LCMS,Inc.

    Can’t keep ’em straight without a scorecard, I know!

  27. So is this what happens when we stop being “your grandfather’s synod”? At least we could trust grandpa.

  28. Now this synod sues grandpa. Have you seen Mr. Harry Madsen? He looks like a prototypical grandpa to me.

    Do we really want these guys in charge of restructuring the LCMS or Lutheran Church – USA or whatever they want to call it?

  29. If it was still my grandfathers church he would have been in a boat heading downstream long ago.

    Perry Co. MO. descendant.


  30. To #28

    Me neither. What little I still do give to my church and not independent ministries is earmarked so none of it goes to Synod.

  31. Anyone who presumes to sit in the seat of Luther or Walther should be able to speak with clarity, conviction and courage.

    This Clintonian obfuscation is shameful. If Kieschnick thinks Wilken is sinning against him or the church, he should have the eggs to say so.

  32. “Pope John Paul II’s strong voice in confronting issues crucial for our age with courage and conviction for more than a quarter of a century will be missed. He provided inspiration and leadership, not only to Roman Catholics but also to the greater Christian world and beyond with his uncompromising stances in favor of life and against the culture of death.”

    Who issued this statement? You guessed it, our dear President Kieschnick. Oh, that he would say the same thing about Pastor Wilken. But then again what do you expect from the Archbishop of Missouri synod?

  33. I really like your comment, Matt!

    “Anyone who presumes to sit in the seat of Luther or Walther should be able to speak with clarity, conviction and courage.”

    Very well-put! I’ll have to remember it.

  34. In regards to the Dispute Resolution Process, how does the legal threatening fit in with the statement

    “The resolution referenced the Synod’s Bylaws, and noted a 2005 opinion of the Synod’s Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM). That opinion states that Synod members must resolve matters of dissent or disputes using the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod “without resorting to secular courts and without resorting to avenues, means, structures, or communications that are foreign or contrary to the synodical agreements and which are not in harmony with the polity of the Synod.”” located here:

    Does this situation fit nor not?


  35. Good find, Kiley! From the May 10, 2008, BCS Minutes: “Are the Issues, Etc. name and associated material goods available to Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz should they want to have them? The name is no longer a registered trademark, but the release of any property would need the permission of the Board of Directors, who have control over the property of the Synod.”

    SOOO . . . the BCS Minutes even acknowledge, “The name is no longer a registered trademark”! Therefore the Synod does not have rights to it!

    As far as “the release of any property,” that would refer to things like coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc. But not the name!

  36. Given the interfering behavior by the President of Synod after Rev. Wallace Schulz was given the authority to decide on the suspension of DP Benke, one should not be surprised at or give a femtogram of credibility to the recent snake oil coming out of the Office of the PoS.

  37. Mollie #12, for the record, I do not agree at all with Califiowan’s #17. I accept and agree what you were saying. Frankly, I know enough fo Wilken and schwarz to know that they would not say it if they could not back it up. I was just trying to be clear for everyone’s sake. Thanks for understanding. The whole thing is a plain mess b/c some just cannot seem to leave IC alone – sheesh.

  38. Pr Bagnall #8

    You write
    >>>I may be misunderstanding the situation, but if I am correct, then the words of this e-mail are all, technically (and therefore legally)correct, regardless of who knew what when. Isn’t the proposed lawsuit against Harry Madsen? As the letter declares, “Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz are not parties to this TTAB proceeding.”>>>

    Um no. You’ve got it a little off… The letter from lawyer to lawyer was to Pr Wilken and Mr Schwars’s lawyer threatening them personally with legal action. The involvement of Mr Madsen is that he filed for ownership of the trademark and LCMS inc is objecting to that request. They have, however, it seems, gone about it all wrong and haven’t filed everything properly so even that claim doesn’t seem to be holding much with the Trademark office.

    So, no the legal threat wasn’t to Harry Madsen – it was to Wilken and Schwarz (C Rosebrough actually reads the text of the letter on Fighting for the Faith – I believe this week, but it might have been last week).

    What I find interesting is their willingness to stick to their guns about a trademark that they dropped 10 years ago (which is easily provable by going to the trademark website). Apparently in addition to being too dumb to learn theology we laity are too dumb to look up information on trademarks too.

    Mollie – Great work I’m glad you have a little bird to keep you accurately informed so you can keep us informed and writing letters on this!

  39. My Bad… Pr Bagnall – you can read the text of the letter here on BJS. 🙂 Maybe I’m not smart enough to learn theology after all… should learn how to read the whole site first! 😉
    In Christ
    Jenn W – never did take journalism or I’d know how to do all my research! 😉

  40. “He must be helpless in the wake of this runaway BOD.
    Or all those rogue attorneys.”
    Comment by Susan R — February 19, 2009 @ 12:09 am

    Well, Susan, there are more of them.
    And with the possible exception of Mrs. Strand, (I’ve never seen her.) they may be bigger guys & gals, too. 🙁

  41. Being a little behind the times, I just send Dr. K. a letter scolding him for letting Dr. Schulz take the rap for the Yankee Stadium affair and losing his position with The Lutheran Hour, for letting others ‘do his dirty work’, paraphrased from his (Dr. K’s) comments at a recent NID convention. Not surprisingly, I received a letter from Jon B. talking of diferences of opinion or perspective totally ignoring my concern that Dr. K. and Rev. Behnke knew fully well that what they were doing then was contrary to LCMS faith and constitution and deliberately abdicated their responsibility as elected leaders of LCMS.
    I would hope they would have behaved more responsibily since then.

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