Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Please Sign the New Issues, Etc. Trademark Petition

Dear Readers,

I've begun a new online petition to help defend Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz in their dispute with the LCMS over the Issues, Etc. trademark. You can view and sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/trademark/. Note: When signing the petition, it asks you to donate to iPetitions. There is no need to donate to register your vote. If you don’t want to contribute, just hit your back button or close the page. Your signature has already been recorded at that point.

Pasted below is a letter which explains in more detail what this dispute is all about. I hope you'll give all this a read, sign the petition, and spread the news.

Yours in Christ,

Scott Diekmann


Dear Brother in Christ,

Nearly one year ago, Issues, Etc., the LCMS apologetics talk radio program, was canceled. Host Todd Wilken and Producer Jeff Schwarz were unceremoniously fired without explanation during Holy Week. Since that date, many things have changed. Issues, Etc. has been resurrected, now broadcasting as a private entity completely independent of the LCMS on Pirate Christian Radio.

One thing that hasn’t changed at Issues, Etc. is the show’s enduring Christ-centered cross-focused ministry. The Gospel is proclaimed clearly day in and day out to listeners all over the world. Since their comeback the number of on-demand listeners has increased by three to four times over its pre-cancellation levels, affording many more people the opportunity to hear Law and Gospel, to be catechized, and to be warned about false doctrine. Yet the show still needs our help.

After Todd and Jeff were figuratively yanked from their studio chairs and booted out the back door of the International Center in March of 2008, the relationship with LCMS, Inc. has been a tenuous one. For instance, they weren’t allowed to return to retrieve personal effects from their offices for weeks. But there did appear to be one bright spot in an otherwise cloudy sky. The Board for Communication Services and the Chief Administrative Officer of the LCMS were willing to permanently transfer ownership of the Issues, Etc. name and other materials to Todd and Jeff. As things played out however, that break in the clouds quickly closed. The Synod did an about face, offering to grant them permission to use the trademark, but without ownership, and with strings attached. That permission came at a price Todd and Jeff were unwilling to pay -- a gag clause, plus a restriction that waived the right to a jury trial if the agreement was breached. Agreeing to those restrictions would have been the equivalent of being bound by duct tape and handcuffs. Because of their refusal to cut a deal, Todd and Jeff walk the streets with their Christian freedom intact, and their ability to speak the truth unfettered. But there may yet be an even bigger price to pay.


Shortly after the cancellation, a forward thinking man by the name of Harry Madsen discovered that the LCMS had allowed the Issues, Etc. trademark to lapse in 1999. He subsequently moved to trademark the Issues, Etc. name himself, a process that is ongoing. Pastor Wilken has reported that the LCMS is now playing hardball. They are trying to block Mr. Madsen’s trademark application, and appear to be threatening both Todd and Jeff, via LCMS lawyers, with personal lawsuits. As you can see, what was a tenuous situation has now turned very, very ugly. I won’t speculate on why the Synod’s leadership would chose this course, but the results of their action are there for all to see – division, ill will, and a potential threat to the viability of the Issues, Etc. ministry. Why would Synodical leadership possibly want to stop the Word from being spread? And why do they feel a need to continue to pick on their former servants and brothers in Christ? It is inconsistent to, on the one hand, have the Synod President saying he is unaware of any threat of a lawsuit, and on the other hand, have the Synod’s designated attorneys doing exactly that – threatening Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz.

The Synod’s threat of a lawsuit against Todd and Jeff is not only un-Christian, it is spurious, because Todd and Jeff have nothing to do with the trademark application. It is Mr. Madsen who is holding the legal cards in this game. It is also highly ironic that our Synod President would allow Synod lawyers to threaten a lawsuit in light of his past perceived devotion to avoiding lawsuits against fellow Christians. His insistence in the past on “taking the high road” seems rather disingenuous in light of the current circumstances.

At a time when our Synod is in dire financial straits, Synod, Inc. is simultaneously employing an array of attorneys who are burning through cash at a prodigious rate, for the sole purpose of shooting themselves in the foot, and scuttling Issues, Etc.’s evangelistic efforts.

With all this Synodical maneuvering, the deck seems to be stacked against Issues, Etc., and a bully is dealing the cards. It is once again time for us to stand firm. It is time for us to let our Synodical leadership know how we feel – we will not tolerate the mistreatment of Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, or other hindrance that prevents the Word from being freely preached. Let us call upon the leadership of the LCMS and demand that they allow Issues, Etc. to go in peace.

How can you help?

1) Pray.
2) Sign the online petition at http://www.steadfastlutherans.org/petition/. Note: When signing the petition, it asks you to donate to iPetitions. There is no need to donate to register your vote. If you don’t want to contribute, just hit your back button or close the page. Your signature has already been recorded at that point.
3) Educate your friends and ask them to sign the petition.
4) Email, snail mail, and phone the LCMS President and Board of Directors, and your District Presidents (see below).
5) Do not be deceived by fine sounding arguments. Continue to voice your opinion until there is a complete and satisfactory resolution for the Issues, Etc. team.
6) If circumstances continue to deteriorate, consider withholding contributions to Synod in areas where those funds could potentially be used against Issues, Etc.
7) If necessary, at the appropriate time, start a defense fund.

Please act now. Further information can be found at The Brothers of John the Steadfast website.

Thank you for your time, and God’s blessings to you.

Scott Diekmann
LCMS Layman


Email address for President Gerald Kieschnick:

LCMSPresident@lcms.org

Mailing address:
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Attn: Office of the President
1333 S Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

LCMS Fax number: 314-996-1016

Phone Numbers for the Office of the President:

St. Louis Metro: 314-965-9000
Toll-free: 888-THE-LCMS (843-5267)

Email addresses for the Board of Directors:

Rev. Victor Belton: Victor.Belton@lcms.org
Mr. Walter Brantz: Walter.Brantz@lcms.org
Mr. Kermit A. Brashear: Kermit.Brashear@lcms.org
Dr. William Diekelman: William.Diekelman@lcms.org
Dr. Betty Duda: Betty.Duda@lcms.org.org
Dr. Gloria Edwards: Gloria.Edwards@lcms.org
Rev. Raymond Hartwig: Raymond.Hartwig@lcms.org
Mr. Tom Kuchta: Tom.Kuchta@lcms.org
Dr. Robert Kuhn: Robert.Kuhn@lcms.org
Chaplain Donald Muchow: Donald.Muchow@lcms.org
Mr. David Piehler: David.Piehler@lcms.org
Mr. Curtis Pohl: Curtis.Pohl@lcms.org
Mr. Roy Schmidt: Roy.Schmidt@lcms.org
Rev. Jeff Schrank: jeff.schrank@lcms.org
Dr. Kurt Senske: Kurt.Senske@lcms.org
Mr. Walter Tesch: Walter.Tesch@lcms.org
Mr. Ron Schultz, Chief Administrative Officer: ron.schultz@lcms.org

Mailing Address:

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Attn: Board of Directors
1333 S Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

Phone Numbers for Board of Directors:

St. Louis Metro: 314-965-9000
Toll-free: 888-THE-LCMS (843-5267)

District President information can be found by going here.

3 comments:

Jim Pierce said...

Scott,

Thank you for all your work on this issue and for the information you have provided. I have linked to this page and to the Brothers of John the Steadfast page off of my blog.

orthodoxy hunter said...

Nice work brother. :)

Elephantschild said...

Thank you!