This week, Newtown Connecticut Lutheran pastor Rob Morris offered an apology to members of his own Christ the King Lutheran Church for an appalling lapse in judgement. The uncut video of his transgression is below:
Pastor Morris's crime? Participating in a December 16 prayer vigil that also involved Muslim and Jewish leaders. The vigil aimed to unite the community in the wake of the murders of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandyhook Elementary.
One of the dead was 6 year old student Noah Pozner. Pozner's devout Jewish family had moved to Newtown not long before the shooting to escape the danger of New York public schools. Noah's mother gave a stirring account of her decision to view his body after 11 bullets fired from close range had destroyed his face.
Morris was called to task by Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. At 2.3 million members, the LCMS is the second largest body in the Lutheran Church, after only the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
...vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities and the world
When he was elected in 2010, Harrison said he would “work as hard as I possibly can for unity." I don't believe Pastor Harrison was working for unity by demanding an apology from Pastor Morris.
Morris's letter said, in part, "I apologize where I have caused offense by pushing Christian freedom too far, and I request you charitably receive my apology."
This is not the first time the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has disciplined one of its pastors for attempting to comfort sheep on the wrong side of the fence.
In September, 2001, Pastor David Benke was suspended after participating in a prayer event at Yankee Stadium which involved leaders of other faiths. Benke was accused of "violating the Bible's commandment against worship of other gods." That suspension went into effect in July, 2002, but was overturned in April, 2003.
Noah's devout Jewish family was grieving just as much as any of the other families involved in this unspeakable tragedy. Noah's young life had just as much value as any other life snuffed out by Adam Lanza that day.
Matthew Harrison calls himself a mouthpiece of God's unconditional love. For Harrison to disrespect the memory of Noah Pozner--and the other 25 victims--by demanding an apology from a pastor who was merely trying to comfort those affected is unconscionable.
In my view, Harrison needs to offer his own humble apology to the 2.3 million members of the Missouri Synod for being an intolerant douche. And for that moustache.