Use more passive voice, please LCMS Reporter, by Mollie

You know, one of the great things about being a confessional Lutheran is that you can usually count on your fellow confessional Lutherans to be straight talkers. It sort of distinguishes us from much of the larger religious community. We certainly receive quite a bit of push-back for the trait and some folks could certainly stand to be nicer about how they work with others — but on the whole, it’s a great thing.

Which is probably why stories like this — on page 2 of the LCMS Board of Directors “Board Briefs” and tucked inside the latest Reporter — annoy me no end:

Toward Reconciliation

On March 18, 2008, the Issues, Etc. talk radio program was taken off the KFUO airwaves by the Board for Communication Services.

Well, the majority of the Board for Communication Services knew absolutely nothing about the firing of the Rev. Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz and the airbrushing away of Issues, Etc. during Holy Week until after it happened. President Kieschnick knew, of course, but the majority of the BCS didn’t know. Executive Director David Strand knew and he told the board chairman. Just to, you know, be factual here.

When it became clear that the program’s personnel, Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz, were interested in continuing to broadcast Issues, Etc. via a different venue, negotiations were begun regarding the use of the “trademark” Issues Etc. and hundreds of archived programs.

Is that true that negotiations were begun? I’m not sure that’s the best way to put it. It “became clear” that the program’s personnel — who’d been fired during Holy Week without notice — were “interested” in continuing to broadcast the program because the duo TOLD the Board they’d be doing that. It’s also true that the LCMS had neglected to reup the, uh, “trademark” of Issues, Etc. for a decade. So good luck with that negotiating. And what did those “negotations” involve? Oh, that Todd and Jeff agree to a gag order, to relinquish their right to a jury trial, to concede all authority to the Synod, and to force a third party to drop his application for the trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Oh, and what did the Board of Directors do to, um, “negotiate” with Todd and Jeff? They threatened them with a lawsuit.

EXCELLENT INCLUSION OF ALL THESE DETAILS, Board! Oh wait, that’s right you’re covering it up.

At its February 19-20, 2009, meeting, the Board of Directors resolved to “withdraw opposition to the trademark application and to the use of the trademark by Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz.” The board also agreed not to oppose the interest of Issues, Etc. in the archived programs.

Oh, so now we learn that the BoD resolved to withdraw opposition to the trademark application. But the board briefs — the official communication with members of synod and the public — failed to mention that the board had commissioned a legal team to do everything it could to fight for this trademark, including threatening lawsuits, etc. Way to keep the Synod informed. Seriously, this is just unethical and unbecoming of a church body. To announce that you’re withdrawing opposition without explaining that or why you were fighting the fired Jeff and Todd in the first place is just not okay.

Here’s the final quote:

In a separate resolution, the board also “invite[d] Todd Wilken, Jeff Schwarz, and Southern Illinois District President Herbert Mueller to meet with three members of the Board of Directors to pursue reconciliation and to craft a joint public statement by all six participants in the meeting(s).” The board will be represented by Dr. Raymond Hartwig, Dr. Robert Kuhn, and Mr. Walter Brantz.

I’m glad that the Board sees the need to reconcile with these brothers who have been so wronged. That’s good. But the phrasing here implies that the reconciliation is somehow a two-way street. In fact, it is the Board of Directors and Synod, Inc. in general that need to reconcile themselves. Again, thanks for the clear writing . . .

Why is the Synod so invested in obscuring and slanting the truth? If they’re not even willing to tell the truth here, it doesn’t provide much assurance.
A few things.

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