From the Editor

Why did we print that advertisement?

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

In the January issue, Metro Lutheran published a display ad sponsored by the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (MNRCRC). An independent Lutheran group supports MNRCRC (which is not Lutheran), along with a number of mainline denominational groups.

Shortly after copies of the January issue were delivered to Twin Cities Lutheran congregations, the paper received an e-mail message from a congregation requesting copies no longer be sent to them. “We are a pro-life congregation,” the message explained. The appearance of the ad was clearly offensive to members of this faith community.

Metro Lutheran has a policy excluding publication of advertising for tobacco, alcohol, or the gambling and sex industries. The paper does not screen out ads advocating positions which some Lutherans support. While other Lutheran groups are officially against abortion in all cases, the ELCA has allowed for exceptions, saying that abortion in rare cases may be a tragic necessity.

Should Metro Lutheran screen out all advertising that might be controversial to some readers? The paper’s Editorial Committee decided more than a year ago that such ads should be included, trusting that readers will recognize there is a diversity of theological understanding in the church on certain issues.

This is not the first time MNRCRC has run an ad in Metro Lutheran. The previous time, it happened that an anti-abortion group based in St. Paul placed an ad of identical size in the same issue. Neither ad was solicited. (For the January 2003 issue, the paper actually did solicit a display ad from an anti-abortion group, explaining to them that it would help provide some balance. Such an ad did not materialize.)

Metro Lutheran takes no official position on abortion, because Lutherans are not of one mind about it. We publish letters to the editor from either position when we receive them. The paper invites commentary pieces on either side of the issue, and makes an effort to include news from groups such as Lutherans for Life, an independent group opposing all abortions.