Two of many Issues, Etc. questions (Mollie)

So much information is coming out about the curious decision by LCMS leadership to pursue legal action against Issues, Etc. after they claimed the show was canceled solely for financial reasons — and that they wanted to resolve the cancellation peacefully.

Anyway, one commenter raised two interesting points:

1.  The public rationale for cancelling Issues, Etc. was to curtail deficit spending.  Have all fees of LCMS legal counsel related to retaining rights to the name Issues, Etc., been waived? That is, are the synod’s lawyers working pro bono?  Surely, in the synod’s current financial crisis, no synodical funds have been used in this quest to regain rights to the name.

2.  Why is the synod trying to regain rights to the name?  That is, what are the synod’s specific plans for using the name Issues, Etc., in the future?

As to the first, the Patent and Trademark Office has a schedule of hearings and filings that stretch into March 2010. There are four attorneys that I know of who are working on this issue for the LCMS. The billable hours are certainly already significant. It’s interesting that the LCMS feels that this is a good use of funds.

As to the second, the LCMS has already stated that it has no intention whatsoever of resurrecting Issues, Etc. The Trademark Office doesn’t grant trademarks to be held, but not used. How do they plan to use it? Have the BOD and the President’s office decided to launch a new radio show? And, if so, how does that jibe with their original claims that this was not a political firing?


Two of many Issues, Etc. questions (Mollie) — 27 Comments

  1. Why do I keep thinking “how can Christians hold such double standards about lawsuits, division, and profligate spending?”

  2. The legal documents that have been posted here seem to indicate Synod Inc. is afraid that Todd and Jeff will use the Issues name to speak against the LCMS (coupled with the BOD’s request that they sign a gag order). It’s not that they want the name, they just don’t want it used “against them”.

    In the polarized environment the LCMS has sadly become, I can understand the fear. The emperor doesn’t want the child to point out he has no clothes, so to speak. It’s really the same reason they were cancelled, I fear.

    Not that the guys have been anywhere near as critical as they could be. But I doubt many of the power players in LCMS Inc. camp would know that since they don’t actually listen to the show. (It sort of reminds me of the criticism Rush Limbaugh often gets from detractors who don’t actually listen to what he says).

  3. The little man at the Purple Palace has to do something! Give him a break! We can’t have folk telling the truth around here. After all what might happen if that catches on?

    The expenditure of these funds is vital to maintaining the image of the synod – whatever that image might be. The PotS knows the danger Issues, Etc. along with about a half dozen other organization, present to his him and his syncophants. They must be marginalized, trivialized and or silenced. Give the man a break – he’s only doing what is his nature.

    One good thing is happening, however. We now know how many are willing to sell their inheritance for a nice job, and good retirement plan. And the number is not insignificant!

  4. FOUR ATTORNEYS! That’s the size of a small department in most companies! That is NOT cheap!

    This is a gratuitous misuse of our tithe dollars! When I put my hard earned tithe money in the plate at my church I expect that money to be used to fund the work of valid Christ exalting ministry. There is no way I want even a dime of my money being used to forward a self-focused political agenda that attacks those who are doing actually engaging in Christ exalting ministry.

    I cannot support a president who is WASTING this much money on a trademark they abandoned a decade ago and have no intention of using in the future!

  5. It’s all quite simple. In my opinion, someone in the Purple Vatican, at LCMS, Inc., is spiteful and vindictive, and feels threatened by Todd & Jeff. They never expected Issues, Etc. would start up again and see such a massive growth in listeners. They thought that firing Todd & Jeff in March, and canceling the show, would remove the threat to their power. What has happened since March has taken the PV by complete surprise and now it makes Issues, Etc. a real and greater threat to the corporate minds than it was before, in that Todd & Jeff have been quite effective in exposing what is going on at LCMS, Inc., and that they have been providing such a strong voice for confessional Lutheranism – now reaching an even bigger audience.

    Make no mistake, this is all about power. The PV feels threatened by the continued presence and success of Issues, Etc., and therefore they are trying to strong arm Todd and Jeff into signing a gag order through legal intimidation. That’s wrong, that’s against scripture, that’s unchristian, and, in my opinion, that makes it evil.

  6. I think we’d be within our rights to demand an explanation, a justification, for why this is a good use of the synod’s limited financial resources.

    But, just like the BRTFdeepbreathSSG stuff, I’m not expecting we’ll get an answer to our “WHY is this neccessary?”

  7. Elephantschild,

    It goes further than that. The excuse given by Kieschnick and the BOD back in March was that Issues, Etc., was canceled purely for financial reasons. These events, in my opinion, expose that cover story for the lie that it was. There is no possible reason LCMS, Inc., could be threatening legal action against an ordained Lutheran pastor and Christian brother over a trademark they gave up ten years ago, except for the one stand out clause from the legal documents – the gag order that would prevent Todd & Jeff from saying anything negative about LCMS, Inc. It totally discredits the excuse given in March. This has always been about Issues, Etc. exposing, decrying, and standing up to the corporate mindset and Church Growth Movement in the LCMS (Ablaze!).

    I’m sorry but in my opinion, the excuses about Issues, Etc. being canceled due to financial reasons, have been shown to be a complete and bald faced lie in light of these events.

  8. “Elnathan” brings up a good point. All sarcasm aside, President Kieschnick is just being who he is. I’ve said this all along. He really believes that these sort of strong-arm tactics are not only justified, but necessary. It’s just part of the strategy needed to accomplish the mission to take our “grandfather’s synod” and turn it into our “not-your-grandfather’s synod.” In his estimation, the end justifies the means, no matter how nasty and vile those means may be. Anything that gets in the way of accomplishing the very specific plans he and others (including many paid, non-Lutheran “consultants”) have determined necessary to bring our synod to where they think it needs to be must be stopped at all costs. Who could possibly look at the litany of strategic actions employed over the past 8 or so years by Kieschnick and Co. and not see the clear agenda behind them? Thus, it is not as though Kieschnick and Co. are acting contrary to who they are and what they believe. Their actions are justified in their eyes, because, after all, the end result will be what’s best for the synod and its people.

    It’s really nothing more than the strategy employed by pastors and congregations who have embraced the principles of the “Church Growth Movement” played out on a much bigger scale. I mean, this is just text book stuff. The program is far more important than the people. Objections and detractions are not simply ignored, but dealt with immediately and harshly. Either get with the program or move along. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. Casualties are expected, but the program must endure. Besides, there are more people out there to replace those we lose. They’re our focus. They’re all that matters.

    All of this is to say that the actions of Kieschnick and Co. do not surprise me. They sicken me, to be sure, but I would expect nothing different. They’ve got a strategy and they are committed to seeing it through. They’re willing to endure casualties and criticisms along the way because they really believe they are doing the Lord’s work here.

    And, as outrageous as this sounds, I, for one, am glad that their strategy has been brought more and more into the light these last few years. The public moves they’ve made and continue to make, including the cancelling of, and continuing opposition to, Issues, is a blessing in disguise. Much easier to fight a seen enemy than an unseen one. With every step they take, they further reveal who they are, what they believe, and where they desire to take our synod. This can only be a good thing, for it will serve to further rally the troops on both sides and hone us in on answering the underlying question in this battle: “What is Lutheranism?”

    So, thank you President Kieschnick and Co. for being true to yourselves and for being committed to staying your course. Please continue to do so, for the line in the sand is becoming clearer and clearer to a whole bunch of people who never realized there was a line there to begin with.

  9. Prez K seems to have the same disease that afflicts Bishop Schori (ECUSA).

    Both seem to be pretty full of themselves and have a compulsive need to sue orthodox dissenters that don’t buy into their nonsense.

  10. So now that it has been shown that the Issues issue was a lie.
    Can I please run around the Purple Palace screaming
    “liar’s , liar’s pants ablaze!”
    And since their pants are ablaze shouldn’t we fan it into flames?


  11. Just remember John, before you go screaming hog wild, that protests like you are proposing can only go so many feet up the sidewalk toward the palace. 🙂 (Those who were at the Issues protest will remember our limits.)

    Pastor Rossow

  12. Pastor Rossow
    Actually, I feel those kind of protests usually get you nothing but sore feet.
    The time is coming close where the lies will be exposed one by one and the liars will be exposed also.
    My Pastor tells me to let God work. But I too have fallen into the what “I” need to do trap.

  13. You can always tell spring is coming, the flowers bloom, the birds sing the days grow longer and the Synod does something stupid.

  14. Mollie,

    Here is a BIZARRE FACTOID.

    At the EXACT SAME TIME that president Kieschnick published a memo on “theological harmony and concord in the synod” (November 2008) He was directing a team of attorneys to draft that legal document that would cause Todd and Jeff to surrender their first amendment rights to freedom of speech.

    Take a look at this document.

    This makes you wonder how Kieschnick is defining ‘harmony and concord”.

  15. “Every prince, nobleman and city should boldly forbid their subjects to pay the annates to Rome and should abolish them entirely;[1] for the pope has broken the compact and made the annates a robbery, to the injury and shame of the whole German nation. He gives them to his friends, sells them for large amounts of money, and uses them to endow offices. He has thus lost his right to them, and deserves punishment.”

    Martin Luther, “Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate (1520)”, published a year before Luther’s excommunication in 1521 (Decet Romanum Pontificem) by the Roman Pope.

    80] But they themselves should remember that riches [estates and revenues] have been given to bishops as alms for the administration and advantage of the churches [that they may serve the Church, and perform their office the more efficiently], as the rule says: The benefice is given because of the office. Therefore they cannot with a good conscience possess these alms, and meanwhile defraud the Church, which has need of these means for supporting ministers, and aiding studies [educating learned men], and caring for the poor and establishing courts, especially matrimonial.
    Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,
    The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 80

  16. Maybe Pres. Kieschnick has a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality. Why else would he publish a memo on harmony and concord and then hours later try to find a way to “muzzle” Todd and Jeff who have the best Christian programming on the airways ?

  17. “If the bishops wanted to be true bishops and to attend to the church and the gospel, then a person might — for the sake of love and unity but not out of necessity — give them leave to ordain and confirm us and our preachers, provided all the pretense and fraud of unchristian ceremony and pomp were set aside. However, they are not now and do not want to be true bishops. Rather they are political lords and princes who do not want to preach, teach, baptize, commune, or perform any proper work or office of the church. In addition, they persecute and condemn those who do take up a call to such an office. Despite this, the church must not remain without servants on their account.”
    + Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article 10,1-2 +

    “St. Peter prohibits the bishops to rule as if they had the power to force the churches to do whatever they desired [1 Peter 5:2]. Now the question is not how to take power away from the bishops. Instead, we desire and ask that they would not force themselves into sin. But if they will not do so and despise this request, let them consider how they will have to answer to God, since by their obstinancy they cause division and schism, which they should rightly help to prevent.”
    + Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII,76-78 +

  18. If I could return to Mollie’s first point; “1. The public rationale for cancelling Issues, Etc. was to curtail deficit spending.”

    Well, has this happened? Noooooooooooo.

    Please check the KFUO budget for 2009 on the LC-MSinc. webpage. I seem to recall (please correct me if I err) our executive director for communication, mr. david strand, claiming Issues.Etc was causing a $600,000 yearly deficit. So, you tell me (or tell yourself and your neighbor) – just how much has the budget for KFUO decreased since the abrupt termination of Issues.Etc during Holy Week.

    For Peace We Pray – Maranatha

  19. Rev. Messer,
    You are right on. I didn’t see the line in the sand until last year. Consider this troop rallied. Sometimes it seems this synod isn’t worth fighting for, but then I am reminded of Nineveh and I say, “Call this synod and her leaders to repentance.”

  20. Looking at the 2008/2009 budget on and there is $87,000 more budgeted for legal compared to last budget year. I guess they are just trying to spend it before it’s gone.

  21. Is it possible that the Issues Etc. program is seen as a threat by Pres. K & Co, since it is a rallying point and voice for the confessional Lutherans who disagree with the direction Pres. K & Co are attempting to take the synod?

    As such, Pres. K & Co would want to attempt to silence and/or disrupt and scatter their opposition before the next election? Legal actions are expensive and could be an attempt to drain finances and distract the focus of the confessionals?

    I have no inside info, but I wonder if this could be an attempt to distract the confessionals… is the synod up to anything else in preparation for the upcoming election?

  22. Another dumb question… does anyone know what has happened at KFUO since Issues Etc. was canceled? Have their donations and/or listener base been adversely affected?

  23. I don’t think JK is really concerned about the backlash.

    There are roughly 6000 LCMS congregations.

    Approximately 6000 have signed the petition – many are not LCMS members.

    1 upset member in each congregation – nothing to worry about.

  24. I find it ironic that the synod wants a gag order and basically full control of the content on a show that they had. They had a certain amount of control and they gave it up in hopes it would all wither and die. Luckily for us Issues Etc. grows in good soil. Of course now they want Todd and Jeff to conduct the show completely on their own AND submit to whatever the synod thinks would not violate a self-imposed gag order? If they see Issues Etc. as a problem then they had their chance to keep their enemies closer and on a leash, but they gave it up and Todd and Jeff are free to talk about whatever they want and are completely unhindered by any bureaucracy. Before they could only address the theology and non-Lutheran examples of the CGM. Now that the emperor fired them they are free to point out his lack of clothes as well. On their first show back Todd and Jeff had noted that they had joked about the best thing that could happen was the show getting canceled. We begged synod to keep the show, but they refused and now they want to control the show again.

    When everything was internal it was easy to hide everything and demand everyone put the best construction on whatever information they chose to release. Now they bring it to the courts and everything is very public and cannot be concealed as easily. They may hold all the cards in the purple palace, but outside, where they have pushed Todd and Jeff, they are the same as everyone else.

    So much of synod is run more like a corporation than a church. Even taking detractors to court fits this model. However when they are on the receiving end of a lawsuit, even though it fits their model of operations, it is a bad thing because this is a church. Is this a church or a corporation? Decide and run it accordingly.

    Even if Todd and Jeff are not allowed to use the Issues Etc. name under reasonable circumstances the same show under a new name will still be spreading the Gospel and helping people all over the globe. Maybe something like “Your Grandfather’s Church” so that it would be clear that it is not endorsed by synod since that seems to be one of their concerns. I’m not sure how far away the synod has to push Todd and Jeff to figure out that they cannot restrict free speech. Synod took away facilities and airtime. Even if they take the name they will not be able to hamper the message.

    Sometimes I wonder, if objective observers attended services at all LCMS churches how many would be recognized as LCMS or even Lutheran and how many would seem like generic non-denom evangelical churches? What happens when we try to walk together while, at least in my sad little corner of the LCMS, more and more new members are only interested in having a good time and have no idea how Lutheranism is different from any other branch of Christianity. With such increases how long will it be until our synod cannot objectively be considered Lutheran? If more and more members want less and less to do with Lutheranism, when will we reach a tipping point? Our theology is such a great gift. To take this proper understanding of scripture and let it fall to the side while chasing fads will get you a mile wide but a foot deep. Sure CGM tactics may draw people and some of them may even be able to grow into strong Christians despite being surrounded by poor theology, but why not provide good fertile soil, why depend on scattering as much seed as possible and hoping some of it makes it to good soil? If you put on a concert to get people to listen to a couple minutes of scripture reading and call it a worship service wouldn’t you get at least as good exposure to the Word by papering a city with Bibles and moving on? Sure you may not be providing any nourishment with good soil, but there is a seed planted with exposure to the Word so why bother with anything extra? Maybe it will grow well, maybe it will wither, maybe it will be choked out and maybe it will never even grow at all. If you want a big crop just indiscriminately sow lots of seed and don’t bother to care for it, right? You can sow more if you don’t bother to cultivate the soil.

    My church has done all the district recommended programs, offered the district recommended classes and read the district recommended books. I have seen people leave because they needed spiritual solid food, not just milk. We get more than enough people in to replace those that leave but it is always hard to find enough volunteers to be on boards, usher, lead bible studies or even to find youth to acolyte. The answer is always sought in this program or that book about running a church. The problem is always thought to be that we are too stuffy and need to be more open and outreach oriented, if we are more casual and less liturgical then we will have more members and thus more volunteers. The answer is never sought in the consistent preaching of law and gospel. When in the history of the church has a worship service ever been the mode for outreach? It seems lazy to not expect outreach to be people sharing the joy of their salvation with others, just invite them to service and you don’t have to bring up Christ at all. If people come to just have fun and not to be refreshed by the means of grace, is it any wonder it does not impact their life enough for it to be a priority? I do not mean to suppose that only people who volunteer at church are strong Christians, only that if a church is serving its members and helping them to grow in their faith into mature, strong Christians that it shouldn’t be like pulling teeth to find somebody to help. Also of course, an abundance of volunteers does not a good church make. But when it is so hard to find someone to help among so many people a certain amount of concern seems warranted.

    It always seemed to me that even from a marketing standpoint our theology of Christ crucified, properly distinguishing law and gospel and properly administering the sacraments sets us apart from other churches and is something that can be stressed so that we are not lost in the crowd of everyone else following the current fad. Sure, copying everyone else might make you popular, but what does that have to do with the mission of the church? What happened to being in the world but not of the world? Assimilating into secular culture and retaining the label “church” does little increase the body of Christ. If the Word is properly preached and the sacraments properly administered you will be doing far more for the church regardless of attendance numbers.

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