Wisconsin Lutheran Pastor Resigns Over Internet Bullying


A Lutheran pastor in La Crosse resigned on Tuesday, four days after a vulgar and virulent email threatening to gang rape a Milwaukee blogger who criticized police work was sent from his home email address, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod said.

The Rev. David Wendt of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in La Crosse tendered his resignation to the church council, a day after blogger Claire Van Fossen posted the email on social media.

Synod spokesman Lee Hitter said he did not know whether Wendt admitted sending the email, and efforts to reach Wendt and church President Mick Schwedler were unsuccessful.

Hitter said Wendt told synod President Mark Schroeder earlier in the day that the email address in question was his, but he denied sending the threat.

“Obviously, the email was completely unacceptable,” said Hitter.

Van Fossen, a liberal Milwaukee activist and blogger, said she was inundated with emails and telephone calls critical of a blog post in which she declared that police cause more harm than good. Much of the anger was directed at the timing of the post — one day after State Trooper Trevor Casper , 21, was shot and killed by a bank robber in Fond du Lac.

The email was one of dozens of angry and sometimes vulgar responses that came after Van Fossen wrote on Purple Wisconsin, a collection of independent bloggers hosted on JSOnline, that police departments do “more harm than good” in society and envisioned “a more just, free, and equitable world” where they would not be needed.

“They threaten us with violence and incarceration and target the most oppressed and vulnerable people in our society. By blaming ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’ instead of systemic oppression for society’s ills, the police exacerbate societal problems, harm citizens, and bar the people from liberation by maintaining the capitalist social order,” Van Fossen wrote.

The post and associated comments have been removed from Purple Wisconsin.

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SOURCE: Journal Sentinel
Annysa Johnson

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