I wrote in my most recent blog about last night’s sham town hall meeting organized by the 15th District Alderman Russell Stamper II on the proposed sale of a Milwaukee Public School building to the Lutheran voucher school St. Marcus. In it I discussed the reasons why the meeting was a sales pitch for St. Marcus and not an honest, neutral discussion about the pros and cons for the neighborhood. That’s what made Rev. Mark Johnson’s trip to the microphone so surprising.
With the entire agenda of the evening being so slanted towards the proponents of the building sale, I literally rolled my eyes when Rev. Mark Johnson, a Lutheran priest was called up to speak about the potential sale. But, what the Rev said surprised everyone in the room and demonstrated several more powerful reasons why the sale of this public building is a bad idea and must be stopped.
Transcript of Rev Mark Johnson’s public testimony:
Good evening! I’m Rev. Mark Johnson. I’ve been a Lutheran pastor in the city for nearly 20 years. I certainly know the neighborhood as a pastor at 35th and Garfield and 17th and Locust and so I do have to say that I’m against the sale of the building for this reason. It’s a public building and as a Lutheran pastor, I clearly get that (alluding to the fact that he would be inclined to usually support a Lutheran School), but I think there’s a clear separation of church and state going on. Because I know from first hand experience, one of your sister schools Superintendent (speaking directly to St. Marcus Superintendent Henry Tyson), where one of my young men went to school who’s father committed suicide and was told, as part of the curriculum, that those who commit suicide are going to hell. You know that was a painful thing, a very painful thing, so I know there is religious education going on there and separation of church and state would say that you don’t give a public building over to that kind of slanted interpretation of the scripture passage.”
Rev Johnson hit on a key argument against the sale to St. Marcus. Should a public building that will be drawing students and resources from the Milwaukee Public Schools be sold to a religious school that holds these as their core beliefs?
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) was founded in Milwaukee in 1850. Its core beliefs include:
Homosexuality is a sin.
Living together outside of marriage is a sin.
Women are not to hold positions of authority over men. (The synod’s web page notes: “God gave to the man the unique calling of being a loving head and to his wife the unique calling of being a loving helper to him.”
A literal interpretation of the Bible.
The theory of evolution is wrong. (In explaining the discrepancy between the scientific view that the earth is 4-5 billion years old and the Biblical timeline of about 6,000 years, the synod’s website notes: “The short answer is that the earth was created with the appearance of age. On the first day everything looked older than it was.”)
The Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church is the anti-Christ. (A “Doctrinal Statement on the Anti-Christ” from the WELS website ends with the statement: “Scripture teaches that the Antichrist would be revealed and gives the marks by which the Antichrist is to be recognized (2 Th 2:6,8), and since this prophecy has been clearly fulfilled in the history and development of the Roman Papacy, it is Scripture which reveals that the Papacy is the Antichrist.”
There will be additional upcoming hearings at the MKE Common Council and the MPS School Board as well as another Town Hall meeting next Wednesday, June 11th @ 6:30, at the Northside YMCA (1350 W. North Avenue, Milwaukee, 53205). Come and speak out against this proposed sale.