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.

    3. What you have to understand about WELS is that the Synod encourages a culture of bullying people into submission. I mean, they kicked out a Pastor for arguing faith saves instead of universal objective and subjective justification (Paul Rydecki). Furthermore, to them, no one's family is more important than the Synod, which is God on Earth and the most precious thing they have in this life. So if they have to manipulate you in order to get you out but keep your family in, they will do so without thinking twice about it. Members are programmed to believe the church is their family. Too frequently people hear verses about hating their own family but that the church is their real family (this is cult 101). Sadly, this church actually destroys many families. Despite being somewhat limiting with respect to women, many women in this church are programmed and deluded into believing that the best and most right thing that they can possibly do in this life is to be in a WELS church every Sunday, and this church is more than happy to separate these women from their husbands and families for this to happen. I suspect they get a sense of validation from it and so don't discourage it. The church does not respect men, unless they go to WELS. Slowly, those families start to die.

    4. Same poster as above.... How could I forget to mention the hazing at their seminary, which you can read about in a piece called "Time to Spill the Beans" on Intrepid Lutherans, which talks about the hards and softs in the church and manipulation of others. Again, WELS has a culture of bullying and shaming into submission. Get your family out and go somewhere else.

  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.

  8. Apart from the article here, I can't recommend WELS. WELS doctrine is not clear and they require faith in what they say the Bible says, above and beyond having faith in Jesus. As an example, their explanation of the Lord's Supper is made up and is not clearly supported by the Bible, even though they teach faith by scripture alone, but to them their explanation is truth and is reason for division among Christians. The gospel that they preach contradicts itself over and over and is full of mixed messages because it is built on assumptions, not truth. Apart from doctrine, WELS checks too many of the wrong boxes as a church. It feels wrong to be there. I advise staying away.

  9. WELS is an abusive church body

  10. Wels is trash

  11. I am a WELS Lutheran. I grew up a LCMS but I made the conversion to WELS. I have never been told to disrespect my parents and extended family which is all LCMS. My LCMS parents have visited my church many times and are treated with respect. My WELS pastors actually like my LCMS parents. Yes, the WELS is very strict in church discipline but I think they are doing people a favor. Would you waft to be a member of a church body that teaches something you do not believe? If you do not agree with the WELS you should not be a member. You need to find a church body that you do agree with. It is your right to have your beliefs and we respect that. We do not condemn people who have different beliefs than us to hell. I personally would rather be a member of a church that knows where it believes inferred of a church like the LCMS or ELCA that have no definite beliefs and hold that all beliefs are open to debate and very from church to church. I seek to find out what the truth is, not debate it!

  12. Lost my job in a WELS school (after being deep in the WELS cult for my entire life) for divorcing my abusive husband YET I had a male teacher there growing up who literally screamed and swore at us all day long and was not asked to leave. In fact, he became the principal when he should not be allowed around children. Thank you for speaking the truth about this abusive sect of the church.