Saturday, 4 April 2015

Poisoned WELS

Various media are carrying the story of a Lutheran minister who "joked" about raping a female blogger whose political views didn't coincide with his own. Among those commenting has been Überblogger Hemant Mehta.

Indeed, when you read the comment, it's clear that "Pastor Dave" Wendt has a wide and expressive vocabulary that would crisp the eardrums of most of us at fifty paces.

My only observation - apart from agreeing that this guy is a contemptible dipstick - is to qualify what 'Lutheran' actually means in this case, especially for those of us beyond the borders of the US.

Pastor Dave doesn't work here anymore.
In America there are three large Lutheran bodies, each quite distinct from the other (as well as a bunch of little bodies, some of which are truly unique, such as the Laestadians). They are:
  1. The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) which is progressive, the largest of the US Lutheran bodies (just under 4 million), and a member of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). 
  2. The LCMS (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod) which is highly conservative and shares a number of beliefs - such as Young Earth Creationism - with fundamentalist churches. It's membership is a tad over 2 million.
  3. The WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) which is, to speak plainly, batshit crazy. With a membership below 400,000 it's the Missouri Synod on steroids.
This last body, the smallest of the three, is the original spiritual home of Michele Bachmann, who only abandoned WELS when it became apparent that continued membership could be a political liability (a move that could be termed the Bachmann Turncoat Overdrive.)

Now, ya wanna guess which of these bodies "Pastor Dave" belongs to?

Yup. We're talking WELS.

Pastor Wendt initially denied sending the email, but then up and resigned anyway. The congregation's website since seems to have been purged, Stalin style, of references to it's former pastor.

Good riddance.


  1. I was a baptized Lutheran as a youth and attended the Lutheran Church. I even went to a summer 'camp' of sorts as a teen.

    I would never have expected this sort of behavior from anyone, let alone a "Pastor".

  2. Thanks, Gavin -- I added an update to my post including this information. My apologies for not including it earlier.

  3. This strikes me as being some sort of foul catharsis. It makes one wonder what other stress factors might be ongoing in Pastor Dave's life. It is fairly safe to say that his career is over.


  4. It is fairly safe to say that his career is over.

    Well, no, nothing's safe any more.

    You just never know when and where some weird extreme group will pop up and welcome him warmly into their midst as being their sort of people.

    But let's hope not.

  5. Wels is definitely cultish....never go there. I was going to a church, committed a sin in the church, and they collectively formed together, along with the Pastor, to get between me and my wife and pit us against each other. There were hards and softs just likw they have in GA at their seminary. I am extremely tramatized and nearly committed suicide twice. When my wife and I approached the Pastor about what was going on at the church, he lied to my wife's face. This story sounds outrageous for a churchm...I assure you, it is true. Never let yoUr loved ones go to a wels church.

    1. Yup. It's a cult. I was in it from 5-22. Not a place for kids. Do not recommend.

    2. I can understand a church wanting to discipline a member for sin, but when a pastor lies about it, there is no accountability for the pastor if the lie is not corrected. The irony and double standard with this situation cannot be overstated, because a pastor carries a suggestive influence and general trustworthiness that comes from his/her position. This opens the door for abuse of the pastoral position and role, saying things to others that aren't true or that are embellishments, punishing people that are not liked, etc. If wels churches do not care that this happened or if it is standard for the sin that was committed, then wels churches are rightly considered cults. No wonder people have such a big problem with organized religion these days.

  6. I read the previous post and had eerie dejavue. I had a similar experience in a WElS church and nearly lost everything in my life. I have to agree with the recommendation: don't go to a WELS church or let your loved ones go to a WELS church.

  7. Yep can't help but feel sorry for the poor souls above. WELS is definitely a cult. Nobody is going to heaven except for them and they are very controlling. The WELS church takes precedence over everything because it is equivalent to the kingdom of God....a very abusive group.