Post 9-11 Interfaith Prayer Sparks Controversy in Lutheran Church

July 10, 2004

Source: AP

On July 10, 2004 AP reported, "The Rev. David Benke caused a stir within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod by praying at a Yankee Stadium interfaith service days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Nearly three years later, that brief prayer will be a central issue in the denomination's elections scheduled for Sunday... The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, a first-term president of the conservative Missouri Synod, had approved Benke's participation in the New York event... The bad feeling lingers as about 1,200 church delegates prepare to vote in St. Louis on whether Kieschnick or one of four other candidates should lead the 2.6 million-member denomination from now on... The objecting pastors said Benke's actions violated denominational rules against syncretism — the mingling of Christian and non-Christian beliefs — and unionism — when people of different faiths worship together. The pastors filed formal charges against Benke and he was suspended for several months until a church review cleared him."