I love reading Marc Ambinder and the rest of the folks over at the Atlantic, but one of his latest posts is just unbelievably wrong. I’ll go ahead and post the whole thing:
RNC Accidentally Mocks Messianic Lutherans
SPRINGFIELD, MO — The RNC has modified a page from their “Barack Book” mock social networking site because the church they associated Obama with — the Messiah Lutheran Church — turned out to be a real denomination affiliated with the Missouri Synod.
The site, styled after Facebook, included a link to a real Facebook page, and next to an entry for “employer,” the RNC wrote in “Messiah Lutheran Church.”
No subtlety there.
But there really are Messianic Lutherans. Most of them live in Missouri. The church has branches in California and Nebraska.
Since disaffiliating from the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago,
McCainObama has not formally affiliated with any other denomination.
This is a small point and a small mistake, but it’s something that will make some McCain allies cringe. Here in Missouri, the political climate is poor for Republicans and McCain can’t afford to alienate any evangelical group. His campaign can’t afford the perception that they use evangelicals to mock Obama.
Being a member of a Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation, I was surprised to find out we were in fellowship with a group I’d never heard of — Messianic Lutherans. So I went to that link that Ambinder provides for Messianic Lutherans and realized he’d done a Google link to congregations named Messiah Lutheran Church. One of my good friends is a pastor of a Messiah Lutheran Church in Wisconsin.
Naming your church Messiah Lutheran, or Immanuel Lutheran, or St. John’s Lutheran, or Martini Lutheran doesn’t make you part of a denomination called Messianic Lutherans, Immanuelite Lutherans, Juanite Lutherans or Martini Lutherans! It just means you’ve named your congregation. All of these congregations are Missouri Synod Lutheran congregations. Just like every other Christian church in the world, they have their own name.
So just to recap, there is no “real denomination” of Messianic Lutherans associated with the Missouri Synod. It doesn’t have branches in California and Nebraska. Most of them aren’t in Missouri. And we tend to self-identify as confessional Lutherans rather than as evangelical Christians.