As active as our commenting community here at BJS is, our posts produce even more activity that goes on behind the scenes. Like clockwork, every time I post on something, I get calls from folks in the International Center or elsewhere in the country.
Well, as soon as Letter #9 was released, I heard from many people who wanted to talk about one thing that troubled them in particular: the letter’s bylined author.
Now, JesusFirst as a group stands behind the accusations and bears full responsibility for publishing these accusations – now thoroughly discredited by accountants and other knowledgeable folks. But the “author” of the piece is one Rev. John Coyne. I do not know this man and I have never met him, but many of my sources were absolutely aghast that JesusFirst was using his byline to make unfounded, scurrilous accusations . . . again.
That’s right — AGAIN.
Jesus First and Jon Coyne did the same exact thing in 2007! They put out a newsletter with an article bylined by Coyne that was full of inaccuracies, misinformation and lies. The target at that time was Ray Hartwig, Secretary of Synod.
After the convention, and only after the convention, Coyne retracted his charges. You can read more about this saga here.
I wouldn’t be surprised if JesusFirst uses the same m.o. this year. They know they’re wrong — there’s no credible dispute about this.
And they know that if they simply apologize in a few weeks, most people will forget until the next election.
The bottom line, however, is that Jon Coyne has a history of lying and only repenting after the damage has been done.
It is truly sad to see that happening again this year. And while everyone — regardless of their candidate of choice — has every right to be angry, let us not forget to pray for him and his collaborators. This is serious stuff. I think of how the folks at World Relief and Human Care responded to Coyne’s lies — they had more right than anyone to be livid at the slanderous accusations. But they responded gently and lovingly, allowing truth to speak loudest. Their behavior should be modeled.
God will, in his mercy, provide for the Rev. Matthew Harrison and confessional Lutheran outreach to the poor and vulnerable. Let us all ask for the strength to behave in a God-pleasing manner as we prepare for this important convention that will tell us much about where Lutheranism in America is heading.
Coyne’s lies about Hartwig certainly had a negative affect on the last convention, but it’s worth noting that they didn’t serve to unseat Hartwig.