Jesus First on low nominations: We meant to do that! (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

I’m sure you’ve seen a TV show or movie where the character slips and falls awkwardly, and then, in an attempt to save face, gets up and says, “I meant to do that!” Well, that’s kind of what the political organization Jesus First is doing now. In their April 2010 newsletter, they attempt to explain away the low nominations for their candidate by saying, in effect, “We meant to do that!”

The candidate Jesus First has campaigned for–for four election cycles now–has fallen off badly in his number of nominations. President Jerry Kieschnick’s nomination numbers have dropped by 28% from last time, down to 755, the lowest ever for an incumbent. But rather than admit that this could be a sign of dissatisfaction over President Kieschnick’s performance, Jesus First tries to save face:

“Many years ago when Jesus First recommended Rev. Gerald Kieschnick (LCMS President) and Rev. Donald Muchow (LCMS Chairman of the Board of Directors,) we worked to get enough nominations that each one would be on the ballot. This year we realized that President Gerald Kieschnick and First Vice President William Diekelman would easily receive enough nominations to be on the ballot. There seemed to be little reason to rally congregations to create more nominations.”

Yeah, those low nomination numbers? We meant to do that! If we had tried, we could have gotten our guy a LOT more nominations! But we didn’t bother this time.

“We give thanks for the fact that with no Jesus First effort beyond an announcement in this newsletter, both men are on the ballot.”

Jesus First is claiming: We didn’t do any political campaigning this time. You know, Jesus First is not a political organization.

Oh, really? Let’s take a look at this sampling of Jesus First articles, just in their last few issues:

January 2010: Nominate Candidates for Synod Leadership

“For a healthy Synod congregational involvement is really important. Start now by filling out and sending in this nominating ballot.
“Jesus First recommends the following candidates:
“President: (Nominate both)
“Rev. Gerald Kieschnick
“Rev. William Diekelman”

November 2009: Be Sure to Send in Nominations For Synod Officers

“For a healthy Synod congregational involvement is really important. Start now by filling out and sending in this nominating ballot.
“Jesus First recommends the following candidates:
“President: (Nominate both)
“Rev. Gerald Kieschnick
“Rev. William Diekelman”

October 2009: Your Influence Is Important

“With a Synodical election right around the corner, this is the time to exercise your influence by taking an active role. Get involved. Speak your mind. Encourage those around you to take an active role in Synod’s decision making process when it comes to electing delegates, nominating worthy candidates and discussing proposed actions the Convention might pass.”

October 2009: Does Jesus First Have a “Party Spirit”?

“With their permission, we recommend nominees to the convention delegates. Is this political work? Yes, this is politics in the best sense of trying to influence institutional decision making in the direction of strongly held values. . . . Does organized politics have any place in a church body? Until high agreement on values and ministry practices has emerged, we think so.”

September 2009: The Matter of the Convention Delegates

“We are all aware that the choice of delegates is very significant for any Synodical Convention. This is especially so for the 2010 convention. These circuit elections (to be reported by October 10) are very important.”

You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say Jesus First has been rather busy campaigning for their candidate! And for a long time. You can find similar articles going back a decade.

The truth is, Jesus First is a well-oiled political machine, funded by a few donors with deep pockets, churning out scads of slick, full-color newsletters. And they show no signs of letting up. They plan to bombard delegates with TEN of their newsletters over the coming weeks!

Jesus First is arguably the most political organization in the history of the synod. They have been busy campaigning for their candidate, Jerry Kieschnick, for a long time. But now, when their candidate didn’t do so well on the nominations, they suddenly claim to have not been trying! Low nomination numbers? “We meant to do that!”

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