At long last, a church has finally found the courage to publicly stand up to a chillingly powerful organization that is now at the heart of the debate over the Newtown massacre of elementary school children.
When everyone else was cowed by the National Rifle Association and its high-powered political arsenal, which immediately after this unspeakable tragedy called – unbelievably — for guns in schools, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod stood alone, standing up firmly for what it believed in by bravely demanding an apology… from the local Lutheran minister who offered comfort to the families of the Newtown dead.
Uh, how’s that again?
You read it right. The church went after one of its own, pastor Rob Morris, of Newtown’s Christ the King Lutheran Church.
His sin? Providing the closing benediction at an interfaith prayer vigil for the families of the 26 dead.
You see, according to the Lutheran brass, the good pastor “crossed a line” by daring to offer comfort and solace while sharing the pulpit with Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Baha’i religious representatives. (No offence was taken at the presence of some gate-crasher named Barack Obama; guess the church isn’t run by Republicans.)
Lutherans, apparently, don’t do that. Tolerance can only go so far, after all.
Somehow that message got lost on the pastor, who the church kindly spared from physical crucifixion, instead opting for a metaphorical public stoning. There’s the Christian spirit for you.
At least these Lutherans are consistent. This is the same group that suspended another of its pastors for participating in a different interfaith service, soon after 9/11. Yep, that 9/11 – the one that saw thousands of families lose loved ones.
We shouldn’t be too surprised, though. A recent study found that atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people. (Maybe the devout don’t have time to offer a hand because they are too busy chopping off the ones of those who disagree with their views.)
But we should be disappointed, and angry. The Lutherans are shunning other religions in a debate over whose method of worship is the best, when they should be uniting to confront the real issues of our society.
To paraphrase Alexander Pope: “To err is human; to really cause human suffering requires church participation.”
Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Yoda or David Beckham — the “god” at whose feet people worship matters little. It is the actions of the faithful that have significance.
Pastor Morris understands that. If there are any Pearly Gates, his “transgression” should land him in the Express Line for admittance. His bosses, who forced him to apologize for showing his humanity, may be filling out application forms for an eternity.
That should give them plenty of time to decide who really owes an apology for their actions.
Above: Mourners gather for the wake for Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Charlotte Helen Bacon, 6, at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Image credit: AP Photo/David Goldman