Atlantic District President Dave Benke has long portrayed himself as a champion of “dialogue” and “freedom.” After he engaged in the unionistic and syncretistic interfaith prayer service, “A Prayer for America,” he insisted, “It’s OK to Pray.” Indeed, it appears you can still purchase “It’s OK to Pray” merchandise, cotton hats, t-shirts, ceramic mugs–FREE “It’s OK to Pray” BUTTON WITH EVERY ORDER!–with checks to be made out to the David H. Benke Advocacy and Defense Fund.
So you would think “Mr. Freedom,” “Mr. Dialogue,” would be cool with people engaging in the free exchange of information and opinion. Think again. DP Benke has taken it upon himself to issue a “Cease and Desist” order (scroll down to April 23 and following) to the Interested Laymen taking a Survey on Blue Ribbon Task Force Proposals: “The Council of Presidents of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at its most recent meeting this week made a decision as a group to discourage anyone from completing this independent survey, and on their behalf I request you to cease and desist in promoting it.”
Hey, Dave: “It’s OK to Survey!” What’s the problem? What’s wrong with giving wider distribution to the Task Force proposals, so that more people can find out about them and read them? What’s wrong with showing a variety of opinions on these proposals, so that we can think through the pros and cons? Why so heavy-handed?
In fact, the Interested Laymen’s Survey website provides several features the Blue Ribbon Task Force website has so far failed to provide. Let me list them for you:
1) At the Interested Laymen’s site, you can access the text of the presentation to copy and paste, thus making the proposals easier to distribute and discuss. At the BRTFSSG site, you cannot copy and paste the text of the presentation.
2) At the Interested Laymen’s site, there are “Other Thoughts to Consider,” thus helping us think through the pros and cons of the various proposals. At the BRTFSSG site, you really only get a one-sided view.
3) At the Interested Laymen’s site, you can read and take the Survey that the Task Force is conducting at the district conventions, thus giving more opportunity for better prepared and informed input. At the BRTFSSG site, you cannot take that survey or even see it in advance.
4) At the Interested Laymen’s site, you can read “Comments from those Taking the Survey,” thus further helping us weigh these matters. At the BRTFSSG site, you cannot see such comments.
Now if the BRTFSSG website were doing all four of these things, that would reduce the need for the Interested Laymen’s website. But even then–which is not currently the case–what would be the problem with more people showing an interest in the proposals and engaging in the free exchange of information and ideas?
Why so heavy-handed? “Oh, we’re strong-armier now than we were eight years ago!”
Interested Laymen, prepare your coffee mugs! “It’s OK to Survey!”