“Neil, You’re wrong about Yanke!” When being positive becomes an excuse for tolerating evil.

A Post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and  the Lutheran Church of Australia.

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“Neil. You are wrong about Yahnke. That was just a one-off seminar at one congregation. It was not sanctioned by the College of Presidents or the LCA as you claim.”

This was said to me recently by someone who has a genuine interest in the topic of homosexuality in the LCA with,  I believe, a desire to see things change. That person was aware of the Yahnke Tapes (see previous blogs)  but was quite defensive about my  continuing claim that the seminar was sanctioned by the church and that the church therefore has some responsibility for its content.

Obviously this concerned person has enquired further to check the veracity of my claims and simply reflected back to me what they had been told.

So, let me state the things that I know to be true. Then, Reader, you can make your own judgement.

I am not writing this for the purposes of self-justification (Although I confess to feeling a little bit self-justified as I write.) I am writing to hammer home one unavoidable fact.

Something really bad has been done and it is our church that has done it.

Therefore we all carry responsibility for the seminars and the continuing promotion of the Yahnke videos.

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In June this year I was informed by a friend about a seminar which was to take place in Mannum Congregation. They had seen the seminar advertised in The Lutheran. The seminar was called “Clear Conscience Courageous Living”.

A quick google search revealed the following pre-conference information on the Mannum Lutheran Church website.

1. Beyond the Noise, Inaccuracies and Political Correctness: Getting our Facts Right

The clamor to ensure that homosexuality be embraced by all enlightened, tolerant people has resulted in some breathtaking losses for all that is good, right and salutary. Apparently for some, the wisdom of God is insufficient to quell belligerent voices demanding that holy marriages be trashed and the sexual practices of the LGBT community be normalized among us…

2. Innocent Bystanders: Distraught Family and Friends of Homosexuals Who “Come Out”

For every homosexual person, there is also an “innocent bystander.” That person may be a parent, sibling, spouse or child who has been confronted by a family member who “comes out.” Does one tolerate, neglect, avoid, judge or affirm the errant soul? What does it mean to love someone who is caught in this horrible snare of sin?

It seemed clear to me what the “flavour ” of the seminar was to be. I showed these session information sheets to my District President. He seemed appropriately surprised and shocked by their content. I left it up to him to take any appropriate action.

After the seminar, in late August, I received a copy of the seminar handouts. They gave some indication that the content of the seminars was every bit as disturbing as the pre-conference information indicated. The handout spoke of the deviant sexual practices of homosexuals, the idea that homosexuality is likely caused by parents, that homosexuality can and should be changed through ex-gay agencies such as NARTH and that attempts to change sexual orientation does no harm.

I took that sheet to my District President and made him aware of the content. He mentioned that the prospect of this seminar  had been discussed by the College of Presidents at their February meeting this year. Obviously, he already knew about the seminars when I expressed my concerns to him a month earlier. He had full knowledge of the fact of the seminars and because I had expressed my concerns to him, he had a clear poicture of the likely content of the seminars well before they occurred.

My District President advised that retired seminary lecturer Dr John Kleinig had approached the College of Presidents  to talk about the seminar. He said that the  Mannum Conference was to be conducted by 2 members of an organisation called “Doxology”, a teaching arm, of the LCMS. Dr Kleinig is listed on the advisory board of Doxology.

According to my District President, Dr Kleinig told the College of Presidents that the Mannum seminar would provide  training, mentoring and consultation services for pastors seeking to improve their ability to provide spiritual care and counselling. He also advised the College of Presidents that the visiting presenters would be available for other pastor training seminars through the month of  August. The Presidents of the 2 largest Lutheran Districts (SA and Qld) organised for them to conduct pastor training seminars which were attended by a reported 130 pastors of the church.

In October the Mannum Congregation’s  website posted videos of the seminars. I began reviewing the videos and writing my posts. Early in November I discovered that the videos were being promoted on the LCA website. Late in November I was advised that the videos were also given a full page promotion in the South Australian District magazine.

The following pages on the LCA website continue to promote the presenters, Yahnke and Senkbeil and the Mannum Videos.

http://www.lca.org.au/church-workers-meet-for-soul-care.html

http://www.lca.org.au/church-workers-tackle-battles-of-mind-and-spirit.html

So, reader, make up your own mind. Are we talking about a one-off conference put on by one congregation or are we talking about something much wider than that?

It was sanctioned by the Council of Presidents who had a good indication of what the content of the seminars was likely to be.

The seminars were advertised as training  for pastors and church workers. The intent of the seminars was to teach LCA pastors how to “care for” (?) homosexual parishioners and their families.

The seminar was advertised in The Lutheran, the church’s official national publication.

The seminar videos continue to be promoted on the LCA website.

The SA District magazine devoted 1 full page article promoting the videos.

These visiting presenters went on to conduct Pastor training to an additional 130 clergy in separate events in SA and Qld.

Which all leads to one inescapable conclusion…

It was an LCA sanctioned event and all of us have a collective responsibility for what has happened. 

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I know why  the person who thought that I was wrong made that judgement. It seems right to believe the best of those in authority and to support them in the difficult job of leadership.  It is certainly much easier to sideline the views of one slightly angry and depressed observer (read: me) than to believe that the church really does sanction the propagation of material that does real harm… the propagation of evil.

But there comes a time when an appropriate response is not to believe the best of our leadership and trust that they have everything in hand. There comes a time when it is not appropriate to downplay the significance of genuinely horrible statements as just a “one-off congregational event”.

That time is now and the appropriate response is to  act to put things right.

1. The videos need to be taken down. Mannum Congregation are a congregation of the LCA and as such are not free to publish or present material that does not represent the views of the church and which does harm to individuals and to the reputation of the church.

2. The pages on the LCA website that promote and sanction the views expressed by Dr Yahnke need to be taken down.

3. Because the LCA has made public statements advertising and supporting the videos  they need to make public statements of equal prominence explaining that the videos do not represent the views of the church.

That is the very least that should be done.