|Top Dog Is the Name of the Game in WELS.|
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Score reports? Anonymous has left a new comment...": GA was technically a "single" night--but a lot of "unsanctioned" events led up to it. GA itself was the "pinnacle" of the entire thing and fairly harmless w/lots of beer drinking--but there was more to it than just one night. I would agree that it was not secretive for the most part--at least not portions of it. There were some activities that were officially "sanctioned" by the Dean of Students and other activities that was not "sanctioned."As for sexual abuse. I have not heard anything at all in regards to that. However there was some sexual weirdness (for lack of a better term). For example at NWC, it was not uncommon for a first-year student to be told to "hump" the Sprinter (statue now up at MLC). I'm not saying it happened every year--but it did happen. MLSveteran--thanks for sharing your insight into what occurred at MLS in the past. We will not be sending our children away to any Lutheran school--even if that means our only option is public school. With or without initiation, I do not trust a few 22/23 year-olds to guide my children spiritually or to parent them properly (especially as they are not even parents themselves). I cringe when I hear Synod officials state they are more capable of raising my child in the faith than my husband and I. The church is there to assist the parents--encourage them, not to take over their God-given role.Anyways, I hope the Synod schools have done away with initiation of any sorts.I know a lot of the area Lutheran high schools did away with any form of initiation. My ALHS [Area Lutheran High School] put a strict anti-hazing policy into effect in 1991. I was never hazed and neither were my classmates. The fear of expulsion was enough to keep the bullies at bay.
MLS Veteran has left a new comment on your post " Score reports? Anonymous has left a new comment...":
The series of secretive hazing rituals have a lot to do with this
I am not sure how "secret" the hazing was at the prep schools, colleges (DMLC and NWC), although I had never heard of GA (before Ichabod, anyway).
I remember hearing about the hazing at the prep schools in my late grade school years (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) and was warned by some friends against going away from home to high school.
But I attended all 4 years anyway. Kind of questions my intelligence right there, doesn't it?
From my understanding, there is no longer a hazing of freshman (known as your "Zex" year) at MLS. I am not sure about Luther Prep. Since Luther Prep is a much newer school they may have avoided this "sentimental" tradition.
To a certain extent, the harsh treatment of freshmen (ala the plebes of West Point, Annapolis, or other military academies) was a means whereby control could be kept over 13 and 14 year olds living away from home for the first time. There were only 2 or 3tutors in the dorm with the responsibility of looking after 125 or more male students, so the upperclassmen often were used to keep discipline over the younger classes (hazing could occur through the Sophomore year).
This is much like the "trustee" system in prison, where certain prisoners are given power over other prisoners to assist in the control of the prison population.
Unfortunately, such a system is wide open to abuse. Much like any abuse, many of those abused take revenge not upon their tormentors, but upon those that follow after them.
So young people, 13 or 14, COULD be subjected to some pretty harsh treatment. Often a number of freshman would wash out, at least in part to this social phenomena.
Unlike the Seminary, where people are much older (22 years old or older), it was impossible to "opt out" of the activities. Or, I should say, opting out meant quiting school.
Some will tell you after initiation (held during the first 2 months of school) that the Zex year is basically over. However, the formal initiation was simply
more of a public ceremony with fairly harmless events.
Problems would occur during the normal 24/7 life of the dorm student.
In any organziation, there is always an unwritten rule against breaking the "bonds" of the institution. Sort of like Skull and Bones (famous Yale secret society) were some pretty freaky rituals go on, if the rumors are to be believed.
I can truthfully say that as far as I know there has not been any sexual type abuse in connection with this tradition of hazing. The real problem arise with the fear and hate that often accompanied the Zex year (nice for a Christian school dedicated to training pastors to have a tradition associated with fear and hate).
GA, a single evening, sounds fairly mild compared to a full year (and if one was especially targeted, it could continue into the sophomore year) in prep. That part about being naked within view of some female kitchen workers sounds kind of creepy though. It gives Ichabod's term "The Sausage Factory" a very graphic interpretation.
Thanks, Ichabod, I can't enjoy Hickory Farm summer sausage anymore!
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Score reports? Anonymous has left a new comment...":
Interesting. When we went through the Seminary (late 90s), there were no "score reports"--unless of course the people I knew just wasn't "cool" enough to be included..I don't know.
I will say that while most (maybe 99.9%?) WELS pastors went through initiation at both NWC (not sure what they do at MLC) and the Seminary. Not all agreed with it--but they still went through with it to fit in.
Not all men went through initiation though--I know of one man that did not. During his first year at NWC, he was told by the Dean of Students at NWC that he would never ever be a WELS pastor because he had chosen not to participate in initiation. He was ridiculed and mocked. He did not merge into the "brotherhood" as defined by the WELS.
When he hit the Seminary, he again refused to participate in GA. I remember 2 seniors (only 1 of which is still in the ministry) at the Sem approaching him in the Sem parking lot--trying to convince him that he needed to participate in GA to "build the bonds of brotherhood." I watched as he emphatically told them "NO."
He never ate lunch at the Seminary because the mockery during GA was too great. If you did not participate, you were isolated--making it very clear that you were not part of the "brotherhood."
This man's argument for not joining in on initiation is that humiliation and degradation is not how one builds the bonds of trust in Christ. The disciples of Christ were solidified together not by mockery or perversion--but by the teaching of Christ--as well as His love and patience with them.
I am not sure how many men have refused to participate in initiation over the years, but many participated not because they truly believed it was a "good" thing to do, but because it was what they felt was "expected" and they were too afraid to stand up for what was right.
It's a sad statement--especially as it is still remembered who did and did not participate. In that, many WELS pastors will know who I am talking about because literally 99.9% of all pastors that I know of prior to the 2002 "effigy" burning at the Seminary participated in GA.
This man has been in the ministry now for many years--but the ghosts of initiations ignored follow him to some degree. After all, "once and opty, always an opty" at least in the minds of some "brothers."
GJ - The weirdness of WELS is beyond comprehension. A college president was talking to me about a WELS pastor. In the middle of the conversation, the president said, in an aggitated voice, "He didn't like GA." That was apparently an indictment in WELS.
Two men went to Dean John Brenner at Mequon, expressing their opposition to GA. Brenner defended GA. Neither man finished at Mequon. Doesn't WELS teach that "you must express yourself to the person involved?" Yes, but that only makes the dissenter a target. That is the idea. Hazing promotes conformity and mediocrity. One only has to contemplate the faculty at the Sausage Factory to see the results.
When I sent an email about GA to various people, I received an email denouncing me for printing an article about it in Christian News. They could not say I had never witnessed GA, so they made up an accusation (as if it mattered). They could not deny the details because I saw the first-year class at Mequon disrobing outside (after looking for the pope's bowling ball in the sewer water pond). And I heard a circuit pastor laughing about the female kitchen staff watching this annual skin show. I know from WELS pastors about: someone's leg being broken, a tooth being knocked out, a NWC student knocked unconscious by being hit with a pillow case full of books. (That gives new meaning to the term pillow head.) One prep school student was held out of his second-storey window by the heels. Unfortunately, the morons lost their grip and dropped him. He broke some bones in the terrifying fall.
GA was highly secretive. Anyone who knew the outcome would get special treatment from the upper classmen. I was told repeatedly that no one was allowed to tell anyone else the secrets of GA, including spouse and children. Hazing was a freshman ritual at Michigan Lutheran Seminary and at Northwestern College. The senior year at NWC included Bonecruncher, a pre-GA hazing that included various humiliations, and sex jokes - with wives and girlfriends invited to watch. The Wisconsin sect confuses sadism with humor. I heard of many cases where students took a year off from Holy Mother School to get away from the abuse. The next higher class seemed to have a franchise on abusing the next lower class. Leaving for one year got away from that particular group's franchise.
WELS is an abusive sect with many characteristics similar what we see featured on TV. The micro-mini sects and nano-synods are similar. The core issue is corrupt doctrine, which I will take up later.
Same anon as before has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
GA is highly secretive. I always found this fascinating. I talked to a WELS pastor (second career btw) and when I questioned him on what occurred at GA, he stated he could not tell me. He went on to say that he had not even told his wife, so he couldn't possibly tell me. The goal of GA was secrecy--this secrecy is to further bond the men into the "brotherhood."
What I find interesting is that we criticize Masonic lodges for several reasons--but one reason is because they are based on a lot of secrecy. Yet here we see a history of WELS schools endorsing selective secrecy and I find that a bit hypocritical.
The "opty" I know, never participated in "Bonecruncher"(senior then at MLC)--so I have no idea if wives/fiances/girlfriends were there or what occurred.
He also didn't live on campus at the Seminary, so he was a able to just tune out most of it. He would go to class and leave right after. He was much more insulated from the whole thing at the Sem than he was at NWC when he was a dorming student.
So, does anyone know if hazing is totally removed from all levels of the WELS system? It seemed to affect the dorming schools moreso than the ALHS. I believe GA was technically abandoned in 2002 right? I was told by someone they built an effigy representing initiation and burnt it.
Is there any confirmation on this?
I think there is a lot of room in the WELS for spiritual abuse to occur. I am assuming you will be blaming UOJ--but I am not sure we can lay the blame of this all at the feet of UOJ. I am opening to hearing varying thoughts on this though.
Thanks for discussing this--I think it needs to be talked about because it explains a lot of why the WELS is the way it is.
GJ - I doubt whether hazing will disappear. Tiefel (aka Teufel) at Mequon is 100% for GA. He fought to get GA going again when it had been stopped. According to a very good source, there is an open and sanitized GA in operation at the Sausage Factory, plus a secret and abusive GA still in progress. Secrecy is the key for all these pathetic little brother-hoods (like my pun?), from WELS to ELDONA.
Names Changed to Protect the Innocent has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
I thank Dr. Jackson for pointing out the ills of hazing. In high school at LPS I was originally disappointed that hazing was virtually non-existent by then (mid 90s), except for a few trouble-making seniors, most of whom never made it past graduation, let alone college anyway. However, I now agree that it was a horrible practice.
At MLC I never once heard of anything remotely close to hazing. Not even a whisper.
At WLS I had heard GA was dead, and was glad to find out that it was. I know Dr. Jackson takes denials of GA as confirmation that it exists, so this comment is primarily for other readers. (Besides, if a denial constitutes and admission then it's a lose-lose situation as far as talking about the issue goes.)
GA at WLS now no more. I've heard of one person with whom a couple seniors messed around with, but it amounted to nothing more than a trip to check out the dark attic.
Nowadays there is an event planned for the first couple weeks of school. Seniors take groups of juniors to various fun places (e.g. batting cages, golf courses, restaurants) in the area like Milwaukee to get them acquainted with the region and to get to know the juniors. The seniors pay for this out of their own pockets. Afterwards, a large barbecue dinner is prepared and everyone eats together. A devotion is conducted afterwards by the student body president. The topic is usually about biblical brotherhood and how faith unites us, and not some superficial unity.
I suspect this drastic change comes from the harsh criticism by many, which is good, since the criticism was valid. It also appears that most (again, not all, a few still are stubborn) of the newer generation of students who had less hazing in high school and none in college view hazing as ridiculous and pointless and much prefer to build actual bonds of Christian brotherhood and friendship.
You can believe this report or discount it, it matters not to me because I and many others know and have experienced the positive changes.
Many problems remain, particularly theological ones and the rampant infatuation with church growth methods, but at least in this area of WELS, I can report that a dark chapter is being set aside.
Thanks for your time.
rlschultz has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
I am wondering if shedding light on all of this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Besides the doctrinal issues, the hazing in the worker training schools seems to be a type of conditioning that lays a foundation for all sorts of problems that the called workers experience in the real world. The Masonic type of secret rituals and the vow of silence is creepy enough as it is. It is no wonder that so many are now coming forward and saying publicly that the WELS is cult-like in their actions.
The brotherhood thing or "good ol' boy network" works to the advantage of the called workers when a lay member attempts to air a grievance through the circuit pastor or district bishop. Obfuscation and nepotism seem to describe that situation properly.
As indicated in this posting, the hazing has another aspect to it that would be equally important in a cult setting. This has to do with the "opters" or those who choose not to participate. One who more actively resists will surely be handled more harshly. The strangest twist on all of this is when members are admonished to bring their concerns forward. To the unsuspecting, this would appear to be fair and democratic. But, sometimes it is used as a means to identify those who will not "get with the program". They can be singled out and be given special treatment. In some of these situations, it would be better to remain silent and let "one rascal beat up another" as Luther once said.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
Yes...GA is dead. There is a new tradition...HB (another German abbreviation, which stands for something like "Brotherly functions" or something). It is a day when the seminary students get together in groups. Older students man certain locations, which are different every year; locations such as a mini-golf place, a driving range, Frisbee golfing, batting cages, restaurants etc., and the Juniors go from one place to another. It is a brotherly-bonding event where you actually sit down and chat with the new Seminarians and get to know them and they you. It's really quite fun and helps facilitate the family atmosphere of the Seminary.
GA is dead for a number of reasons, the prime reasons being it fostered anger/bitterness from some students toward others. There are greater numbers of second career students for which GA is inappropriate for; there is the issue of potential lawsuits that could occur if an injury of any kind occurs; and it is an out-dated tradition. The Seminary faculty unanimously approved the ending of GA, even warning students about there being harsh consequences if any aspect of GA ever happened.
GA is dead, and the Seminary is the better for it.
GJ - Those who doubt my doubts should reflect on the perfidious atmosphere of lying in the Wisconsin sect. "There is no Church Growth in WELS." (Wayne Mueller, in charge of Church Growth) "The Anschluss will only cost $8 million dollars, or we will pull the plug." (SP Gurgel, finessing the so-called amalgamation.) "Floyd Luther Stolzenburg has a Scriptural divorce." (VP Kuske, Kovaciny, etc.) "Al Just is innocent." (Lloyd Huebner, president of DMLS) "Tabor is innocent." (The Love Shack) "I didn't know nothing." (Fred Adrian, about his vicar Scott Zerbe).
If GA is indeed gone, that is good. If all hazing is banished from WELS, that is very good. Could the exposure in Thy Strong Word, the Internet posting of Thy Strong Word, and the Ichabod blog have been a cause for the loss of this great tradition of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse?
Lawyers may have frightened the WELS GA veterans and enablers more than any publication. The legal problem is this - WELS cannot deny knowledge when the facts are in print and on the Internet, years before and publicly commented upon. That is how they lost the Zerbe case, when the minor girl--"counseled" by the married vicar--sued in court. The judge, informed by the little girl's lawyer, forced WELS to tell the painful truth. The sect had a boatload of cases. The jury voted a large settlement. WELS immediately filed an appeal. (I call that going to court against a fellow Christian. No?) I still have the list of felons in my file.
Score Reports from 2008
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Another Triumphalist WELS Post":
Off topic just a bit, but relevant to the topic of the seminary/Sausage Factory/etc.
I was reading on an older post about "Score Reports" at the seminary.
What exactly is/was that?
I know what GA was (is?)--but am clueless on the Score Report issue...
A woman in the WELS who will be able to use her name once she leaves the WELS.
GJ - In a WELS gathering, someone brought up score reports. I think it was a pastor's wife. She objected to the custom. I wondered about the term. Her husband, a circuit pastor at one time, laughed and explained. The guys got together and described exactly what they had done with their dates. She continued complaining and he continued laughing. That may explain the Wisconsin sect's attitude toward women.
After Sig Becker left the LCMS for the Wisconsin sect, he complained to Herman Otten about the drunkenness and adultery of the WELS pastors. That suggests the amount of both was surprisingly higher than in the Missouri Synod.
A national traveler told East Coast (a WELS pastor) that the Wisconsin ministers were the crudest, most loutish, and and carnal of all the denominations he had seen.
The series of secretive hazing rituals have a lot to do with this. The doctrinal foundation is UOJ. Everyone is forgiven already, so whatever they do is fine. WELS also has a strong streak of antinomianism. The Law is obsolete, some of them will say. UOJ and no-Law go together quite well. Both have been thriving in ELCA for decades.