Lutheran Confessions: Exposing "Exposing the ELCA": Meet Dan Skogen. He's the voice and face behind a blog titled "Exposing the ELCA." Well, he does more than blog. He tweets, tr...Like Clint, I'd been doing my best to mostly ignore Dan for at least six years. Usually that's the best response to trolls and others working out their pathologies through the means of social media. In fact, just this week I recommended that fellow Iowans ignore the ridiculous "halftime show" the Stanford Band performed at the Rose Bowl. It was so obnoxious and insulting that anyone with an ounce of decency wouldn't believe anything about it for a second. In the same vein, the posts at ExposingtheELCA.com are so thinly connected to reality that anyone with the ability to critically engage what he says about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can see his agenda for what it is - and adjust their expectations for truth and decency accordingly.
What changed matters for me this week was what Clint revealed about some of Dan's other internet work, particularly this information about domains that Dan has purchased. No longer content to post at his own blog, Dan Skogen has gone out and purchased domains that might be mistaken for genuine links to the ELCA and its synods, and they're all redirecting to his website theelcaca.com, where Dan continues his "ministry" of "exposing" the ELCA as he understands it.
Disagreements are nothing new for faith communities. Denominations are composed of sinners who sometimes feel strongly about how God is working in their church. Sometimes those disagreements can fracture relationships within churches. It's a sad reality we all face in this work. By way of example, I'll share two stories from my own career. In the early 2000s, I was part of a movement within the ELCA called the WordAlone Network, which started in protest of a full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church-USA. When I joined WordAlone I had genuine theological disagreements with some of the requirements of our full communion agreement. In fact, I still do. But over time it became clear to me that some within the network were using it as a means of continuing personal vendettas against leaders in the ELCA, vendettas that had nothing to do with theology or faithfulness to Lutheran ministry. I left the group not long after I graduated from seminary. In 2009, the ELCA adopted a policy on ministry and sexuality in which we pledged to honor "bound conscience" as individuals and congregations, and in so doing we cleared the way for some churches to bless same-gender marriages and ordain pastors in monogamous, same-gender relationships and others to choose not to do so. For some of our churches, this was a bridge too far, and they left the ELCA. It was a hard time for us as a church. You never want those disagreements to be fracturing disagreements. But it happens. All of this is part of living in a world where we are always interpreting faith and God's Word through imperfect eyes and minds.
Unfortunately, there are those who believe their eyes and minds are not imperfect. Dan Skogen is one of those unfortunate souls. Internet bullies and disaffected trolls are nothing new in the world wide web. If Dan had just kept spouting his invective at his own website I wouldn't have joined in this little melee - frankly, his misinterpretations of every single thing happening in the ELCA at present are so laughably off the mark that refuting them isn't worth my time. But it's another thing entirely to build domains and embark on a campaign to "expose" the ELCA through false pretenses.
In a disputation in Heidelberg in 1518, Martin Luther wrote "a theologian of the cross calls a thing what it is." Dan Skogen is lying to the internet about the ELCA. His pronouncements are slanted toward his own interpretation of reality, often using just a piece of data or an article as an opportunity to create straw man arguments that have no basis in fact. He rarely posts his own name on his Twitter feed, and he has purchased a number of domains for the sole purpose of continuing his campaign of propaganda against the ELCA under disguise.
This probably won't accomplish much. I have no illusions that anything I've said here can make Dan Skogen go away. But having shone what light I have to offer on him, I feel better. I don't mind that Dan and I disagree on things. I do mind that he's lying about my church and calling it truth. That's the sort of thing that needs to be exposed.