08 April 2008

Letter on Pro-Life Issues

Here's a great letter with some very fine research by a former Field Education student at my congregation, Mr. Mike Bahr (posted here with his permission). In light of this long list of Issues, Etc. programs on various pro-life matters, and listing only one calendar year, we must continue to ask, "Why was such a strong voice for God's gift of life canceled? Why was Issues, Etc. canceled, when it was doing exactly what the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod claims that it stands for? One truly wonders if the LCMS will ever have the wherewithal again to produce and air a show that is so willing to dive into the turbulent seas of such a pressing social and moral matter! Here's Mike's letter:
Dear Mr. Strand:

In November 2006, the voters of the State of Missouri narrowly approved Amendment 2, which grants a constitutional right to human cloning for research purposes and protects embryonic stem cell research. This issue polled a very high positive number early in 2006, but as more information was given to the voting public, the poll numbers supporting the issue went down, to the point where the measure barely passed in the general election. What happened?

Information was given to people. This information included moral and ethical questions on this type of research. It also included real medical information as to what the science actually was behind all of the buzz-words and catch-phrases. This information also included Scriptural guidance as to what God's will is for His gift of life.

Issues, Etc. was one of the faithful soldiers fighting for God's gift of life in 2006. Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz devoted hours to the subject of embryonic stem cell research in an effort to defeat Amendment 2. In 2006 alone, they had the following guests on the show discussing embryonic stem cell research:

January 10, “The Stem Cell Debacle in South Korea & Using Embryonic Stem Cells on Dying People”, Wesley Smith, The Discovery Institute
February 13, “Sen. Jim Talent's Position on Stem Cell Research”, Wesley Smith, The Discovery Institute
February 15, “Open Lines: Stem Cell Research in the UK”
February 19, “Stem Cell Research”, Wesley Smith, The Discovery Institute, Jennifer Lahl, Center for Bioethics and Culture, and Dr. William Hurlbut, President's Council on Bioethics (broadcast nationally)
February 27, “Stem Cell Research: 60 Minutes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch & Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures”, Jennifer Lahl, Center for Bioethics and Culture
February 28, “Open Lines: 60 Minutes Piece on Stem Cell Research”
March 27, “Audio Open Lines: Mice and Stem Cells”
April 4, “Missouri's Stem Cell Initiative”, Donn Rubin, Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures
April 5, “Missouri's Stem Cell Initiative”, Dr. William Hurlbut, Stanford University
April 12, “Missouri's Stem Cell Initiative & Reaction to Our Interview with the President of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures”, Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute
May 3, “Audio Open Lines: The Missouri Senate Race and Stem Cell Research”
May 17, “A New TV Ad on the Missouri Stem Cell Initiative”, Barbara Quigley, St. Louis Center for Bioethics and Culture
June 2, “Stem Cell Deceit”, Dr. James Lamb, Lutherans for Life
June 22, “The Use of Stem Cells to Reverse Paralysis in Mice and Embryo Testing”, Jennifer Lahl, Center for Bioethics and Culture
June 26, “Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative”, Dr. Richard Chole, Washington University
July 17, “Audio Open Lines: TV Documentary 'The Stem Cell Initiative: Why It's needed, What It Does”
July 18, “U.S. Senate Vote on the Expansion of Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research”, Lanier Swan, Concerned Women for America
July 19, “A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial on Stem Cell Research”, Dr. Richard Chole, Washington University
July 31, “A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Story on Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Missouri”, Dr. Richard Chole, Washington University
August 7, “Human Cloning”, Maggie Karner, LCMS Life Ministries
August 7, “A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Story About Eggs Needed for Embryonic Stem Cell Research”, Wesley Smith, The Discovery Institute
August 21, “The Missouri Stem Cell and Research Cures Initiative”, Dr. Rick Scarborough, Vision America
September 5, “Missouri's Stem Cell Research & Cures Initiative”, Jaci Winship, Missourians Against Human Cloning
September 18, “A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Story Titled 'Stem Cell Proponents Cite Money”, Jaci Winship, Missourians Against Human Cloning
September 24, “Stem Cell Research”, Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute (broadcast nationally)
September 26, “Amendment 2 in Missouri & The Blessings of Life”, Dr. James Lamb, Lutherans for Life
September 26, “Ellen Goodman's Definition of Pro-Choice & a St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Titled Eggs and Ethics”, Greg Koukl, Stand to Reason
October 10, “Audio Open Lines: Sen. Jim Talent & Claire McCaskill Discussing Stem Cell Research & Abortion on Meet the Press”
October 10, “Audio Open Lines: Choose the Best Anti-Amendment 2 Ad”
October 11, “Audio Open Lines: Choose Your Favorite Anti-Amendment 2 Ad”
October 12, “Choose Your Favorite Anti-Amendment 2 Ad”
October 18, “Choose Your Favorite Anti-Amendment 2 Ad”
October 19, “Choose Your Favorite Amendment 2 Ad”
October 24, “The Incarnation & Embryonic Stem Cell Research”, Rev. Walt Snyder, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, MO
October 24, “Michael J. Fox & Embryonic Stem Cell Research & a New Pro Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ad”, Wesley Smith, The Discovery Institute
October 25, “Audio Open Lines: A New Anti-Amendment 2 Ad Featuring Sports & Media Celebrities & a CNN Story on Michael J. Fox's Support of Several Senatorial Candidates”
October 30, “Audio Open Lines: Michael J. Fox's Interview on ABC's This Week & an AP Story on the Missouri Senate Race”
October 31, “Myths About Missouri's Amendment 2”, Cathy Ruse, Missourians Against Human Cloning
November 8, “The Passage of Amendment 2 in Missouri”, Jaci Winship, Missourians Against Human Cloning
November 9, “Audio Open Lines: Reuters Story on the Use of Adult Stem Cells to Cure Blind Mice”
December 21, “A Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Ban All Forms of Human Cloning in Missouri”, Rep. Jim Lembke

In one year, regarding a single pro-life topic, Issues, Etc. had 41 shows on embryonic stem cell research in 2006. Guests included a politician (Rep. Lembke), the head of the group supporting embryonic stem cell research (Donn Rubin), a researcher (Dr. Richard Choles), political activists (Jaci Winship, Cathy Ruse), theologians (Dr. James Lamb and Rev. Walt Snyder), an apologist (Greg Koukl), a lawyer (Wesley Smith), and an ethicist (Dr. William Hurlbut). Many of these guests are well-respected within their areas of expertise. Two of the shows were broadcast nationwide on Sunday night.

What other resource in the LCMS has the ability, skills, and intelligence to put forth such an effort on any pro-life issue? What other resource in the LCMS can reach many people in a timely way on pro-life issues? What other resource in the LCMS can make available in MP3 format the quantity and quality of pro-life material that I have listed above? What other resource in the LCMS do we have to engage and shape public policy as Issues, Etc. had attempted in 2006 regarding Amendment 2?

In the 2007 Synodical Convention, delegates approved Resolution 6-02 “To State LCMS Position on Stem Cell Research.” This vote was a truly unified vote, garnering the second highest “Yea” total of any resolution presented to the convention (www.lcms.org/ca/www/convention_2007/statusupdate.asp). This resolution states, “That in our preaching and teaching we emphasize that it is God alone who gives life and who is to take human life.” Further, the resolution also states, “That the Synod urges its members to _give public witness against the destruction of human life in embryonic stem cell research_.” [emphasis added].

Issues, Etc. was the public witness of our synod against the destruction of human life in embryonic stem cell research. That voice in defense of God's gift of human life is now silenced.

All Christians have a responsibility to make this pro-life voice heard as loudly as possible. Blessed Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism regarding the fifth commandment, “[This commandment] also applies to anyone who can do his neighbor good, prevent or resist evil, defend, and save his neighbor so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him – yet does not do this... So also, if you see anyone innocently sentenced to death or in similar distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. It will not work for you to make the excuse that you did not provide any help, counsel, or aid to harm him. For you have withheld your love from him and deprived him of the benefit by which his life would have been saved.”

Why was Issues, Etc. taken off of the air?

In Christ,
Michael Bahr


  1. Excellent letter! Way to hit where it counts, that is, Issues Etc was doing everything the synod supposedly is in favor of doing.

  2. Rev. James LeisticoApril 9, 2008 at 8:53 AM

    similar to this, I thought that one could respond to Pres. Kieschnick's article in the April Lutheran Witness. In a small way, God used Todd to mold and shape my (our) values (as Mr. Bahr's letter points out in the Stem Cell issue), and I give thanks to God for Todd.
    Issues took on "the new opportunities we have... to bring new life and new hope in Jesus Christ to... our culture and society, which increasingly disregard, or give no thought to, God as He reveals Himself in Holy Scripture."
    Issues, etc. helped us "come to grips with the changing cultural landscape in America."
    Issues, etc. did not simply define itself "as a confessional, orthodox, Lutheran, Christian [radio show] over against other Christian [organizations] - those that do not teach fully in accord with Scripture, and Scripture alone" - it actually lived and behaved according to this definition. Unlike the LCMS, which tolerates, and promotes, congregations with heterodox worship and communion practices; not to mention the voices that go unrebuked which speak favorably of women's ordination.
    Issues, etc. not only examined and addressed the false theology of "heterodox Christian church bodies but also [the] new challenges to the Christian faith from outside Christendom - for example, from Islaam, Mormonism, even the so-called 'New Atheism' - that are indifferent to or deny the Gospel and even are hostile to biblical Christianity."
    Issues, etc. WAS "moved by the Gospel to proclaim the Good News about Jesus boldly and intentionally in the face of a culture that today opposes the faith - not for the sake of an institution, but because God loves all people and would have them to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4)." As the petition has shown, it WAS through Issues, etc., two people of God and their supporters, "that God [brought] the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone to a lost world (2 Cor. 5:18-21)."
    "May God grant us hearts that long for the salvation of people in society so that we do what it takes [even if it means repentance over a bad decision and restoration of a radio show that "LOST" approximately $250,000 in the last fiscal year] to reach them with the Good News that God loves them and through the merits of Jesus Christ offers them the free gift of eternal life!"
    Again, we must ask: Why was Issues, Etc. taken off the air?

  3. Well said, James! I think I'll copy your comments into a full-blown post!