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Sep 29 2013

Martin Luther College looks like a total waste of time and money

New Ulm is a town in Minnesota. It hosts Martin Luther College (MLC), which, as you might guess from the name, is a religious school. An acting group in New Ulm planned to put on the play “Inherit the Wind”, but now they won’t be — MLC refused to allow them to use any of their facilities for practice, and also pressured the actors to drop out because evolution is contrary to their teachings.

MLC is the college of ministry for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), which believes in creationism that teaches the Genesis story as a factual, historical account. Schone said MLC was concerned about making it absolutely clear to its students, WELS members and the public about its beliefs and teachings on creationism. He said he recognizes the subtext of the play, but feels it is unfairly critical of creationism and that most people would only see the criticism.

"We felt it was not compatible with what [the school] teaches the Bible says about the universe and the world,"? said Schone. "This is a ministerial school. People employing our students need confidence about their views."

It is not unfairly critical to the bankrupt fairy tale of creationism, it is unfairly generous. I really like that last line, though. Apparently, one of MLC’s selling points is that they work hard to keep their students safely and confidently ignorant of any perspective outside the Wisconsin synod’s accepted interpretations.

That’s not an education. That’s carefully nurtured stupidity.

30 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    WELS also have the official position that the Pope is the antichrist.

    It’s all very traditional inasmuch as the Lutherans fought bloody wars with the Catholics just a few centuries ago.

    Michelle Bachmann was and may still be…a WELS.

  2. 2
    abewoelk

    Here’s all you need to know about that synod:

    http://www.wiscnews.com/news/article_9fafd6da-3629-11df-94db-001cc4c03286.html

  3. 3
    sirbedevere

    “I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.” — Edith Sitwell

  4. 4
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    How can one be unfairly critical of creationism? How is pointing out the absurdity of their own stated positions unfair?

  5. 5
    johnmarley

    “This is a ministerial school. People [considering] employing our students need confidence about their views[, so they know not to bother].”

    Fixed that for the non-loonie job market.

  6. 6
    gordonsowner

    Well, I grew up very close to New Ulm, and it was then called Dr. Martin Luther College, or DMLC. Since at least the 50s, from the stories I grew up hearing, the joke was that “DMLC” stood for “Dumb Man’s Last Chance.” It was where farmers sent their kids who couldn’t hack it at other colleges or universities, but still wanted degrees.

  7. 7
    colnago80

    Much like their compatriots in Missouri, the Missouri Synod, which didn’t accept heliocentrism until 1925.

  8. 8
    sundiver

    The first Wisconsinite I met was a graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran High School, a WELS operated private school. At the time, he was a typical creationist due to the poor education he got there. I used to kid him, saying I got a better education in Northern VA in a public school than he did from an expensive northern private one, given I wasn’t taught a bronze-age fairy-tale as science. Mind you, he’s since become an agnostic as he got exposed to real science later on; still, he bristles a bit when I remind of the fact he got so totally duped. It is a bit depressing that moronic fuckwittery is still being taught.

  9. 9
    Rey Fox

    So it’s safe to say that this town won’t be producing another Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft?

  10. 10
    Larry

    Rey @ #9

    Please tell me you did a cut-and-paste of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft’s name. Its a real stretch of credibility that anyone could remember Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft unless you’re John Cleese.

  11. 11
    cag

    That’s carefully nurtured stupidity.

    So, just like every other religious institute of “education”.

  12. 12
    Scientismist

    Schone said MLC was concerned about making it absolutely clear to its students, WELS members and the public about its beliefs and teachings on creationism. He said he recognizes the subtext of the play, but feels it is unfairly critical of creationism and that most people would only see the criticism.

    OK, so Schone just wants the subtext of intolerance, and the damage it does to your own community and institutions, to be brought to the fore. Well done. House well troubled.

  13. 13
    Rey Fox

    I assure you, my use of the name of the criminally underrated German Baroque composer Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm was a simple cut and paste. I do not wish to take up precious mental space with the name of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, criminally under-remembered though he may be.

  14. 14
    laurentweppe

    At first, I thought “Hey, they’re naming a college in honor of Martin Luther King. What’s wrong with that?

    Then I realizd that it was MLC and not MLK, and it all went downhill from here

  15. 15
    robro

    The Southern Baptist college in East Tennessee that I went to in the late 60s staged Inherit the Wind. I wonder if they would show it now. I feel this era of widespread religious fundamentalism and rabid creationism is relatively recent, and that school got a lot more conservative after I graduated in 1970. It wasn’t exactly “liberal” when I was in the school, but there were quite a few liberal-ish, rational professors and students on the campus.

  16. 16
    Inaji

    Robro:

    I feel this era of widespread religious fundamentalism and rabid creationism is relatively recent, and that school got a lot more conservative after I graduated in 1970. It wasn’t exactly “liberal” when I was in the school, but there were quite a few liberal-ish, rational professors and students on the campus.

    Things may have felt more relaxed back then because there were fewer challenges to religion as a whole. Religion was still very much accepted and considered to be the norm for people in the late ’60s and ’70s, in spite of the counterculture. Atheism and secularism hadn’t quite made it all the way out of the closet at the time, so people may have felt a bit more secure about challenging viewpoints.

  17. 17
    Reginald Selkirk

    New Ulm isn’t a total wasteland. Schell’s Brewery produces 1919 root beer.

  18. 18
    Mike

    It’s worse than that, It’s a deliberate sabotage of an education. In a decent world that would be a hanging offense in my opinion.

  19. 19
    Al Dente

    Larry @10

    Its a real stretch of credibility that anyone could remember Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft unless you’re John Cleese.

    The name Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm is actually recited in its entirety by Graham Chapman. He does it twice.

  20. 20
    Inaji

    Mike:

    In a decent world that would be a hanging offense

    Hanging isn’t generally considered to be an act of decency, by decent people in a decent world.

  21. 21
    LykeX

    This is a ministerial school. People employing our students need confidence about their views

    Translation: We don’t care about teaching our students facts. We just want to make sure they never change their minds about anything. We’d prefer if they never find out when they’re wrong.

    These people make me sick to my stomach. There are few things worse than those who actively keep others ignorant.

  22. 22
    WhiteHatLurker

    This organisation actually has a department of science (well, Math/Science) and produced a 370 page document on science teaching (okay – it’s called “Discovering God’s Creation” but it says it’s about science).

    And of one of their science instructors has a PhD (subject unknown).

  23. 23
    neuroturtle

    Lolz.

    This is the church I was raised in. At one point, my Sunday school teacher said something so over-the-top wrong about science (to this rock-collecting stargazing voracious reader), and that started my journey to atheism. I was a good little Lutheran Girl Pioneer – subservient to men, of course – until eighth grade, when I managed to quit.

    It wasn’t until much later that I realized what a batshit group that was, and how toxic their misogyny and racism could be. They were anti-Semites with the best of them.

    (This was in Missouri, btw. The state denotes the origin of the synod, but MO and WI synods are all over.)

  24. 24
    Erp

    WELS is a group that is probably against school prayer (except in WELS schools) because WELS members aren’t suppose to pray with people who aren’t in agreement with WELS on all doctrinal points (it is against the Boy Scouts because they have interfaith prayers). As someone pointed out Bachman was and perhaps still is a member; this is in a church that decrees women should have absolutely no official voice in church decisions (adult male members are allowed to vote and speak in church meetings, women aren’t).

    The math/science division have several professors whose terminal degrees were masters plus
    James Grunwald, is “Ph.D. in Computing Technology in Education from Nova Southeastern University (1999)”
    Roger Klockziem who has a PhD on curriculum and instruction of science (University of Minnesota).
    Kenneth Rupnow PhD from Marquette University (probably mathematics)

    The most eminent (relatively speaking) seems to be Martin Sponholz who has retired but was a meteorologist who seems to have done some serious work in the Antarctic back in the 1960s.

    Personally I would be interested in seeing the course outline for “history of science”
    SCI2120 History of Science
    3 credits. An overview of science from ancient times to the present, using the scientific ideas of people set in their historical times and places with their unforeseen limitations. Success of scientific explanations in their times will be shown by demonstrations and experiments. The change of scientific thought and its process will be emphasized.
    and
    SCI4105 Science in Our Society
    3 credits. A seminar approach to the examination of the nature of science and the role of science in society through a comparison of secular and Christian perspectives. Current areas: energy, the environment, and bio-ethical issues. Open to science majors for whom it is a required capstone course.

  25. 25
    bryanfeir

    robro@#15:

    Fred Clark over at Slacktivist posted an article a year and a half ago called “The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal” in which he shows, with citations from the 1970s, that the entire focus on abortion as one of the doctrinal requirements of evangelicals in general and Southern Baptists in particular is entirely a modern invention and happened within living memory of many of the people currently enforcing it as a doctrinal requirement.

    So yeah, people have been watching exactly how this has changed over the last forty years or so as the evangelical movement has become far more of a political movement than a religious movement; up to and including jettisoning previously-held ‘universal truths’ entirely and going into ‘We have always been at war with Eastasia’ territory.

  26. 26
    Alex SL

    The university where I did my first postdoc is called Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, and it is government run and not religious at all. In Germany we name things after famous local people but that does not necessarily mean a lot. Funnily, American colleagues sometimes wonder whether it was named after Martin Luther King, as if they had never heard of the man from whom MLK got his name in the first place…

  27. 27
    rorschach

    Genesis, huh.

    DARROW: Did that come about because Eve tempted Adam to eat the fruit?

    BRYAN: I believe it is just as the Bible says.

    DARROW: And you believe that is the reason that God made the serpent to go on his belly after he tempted Eve?

    BRYAN: I believe the Bible as it is. And I do not permit you to put your language in the place of the language of the Almighty. You read that Bible and ask me questions and I will answer them. I will not answer your questions in your language.

    DARROW: I will read it to you from the Bible: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. Upon thy belly shalt thou go and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” Do you think that is why the serpent is compelled to crawl upon its belly?

    BRYAN: I believe that.

    DARROW: Have you any idea how the snake went before that time?

    BRYAN: No, sir.

    DARROW: Do you know whether he walked on his tail or not?

    BRYAN: No sir, I have no way to know. [Laughter.]

  28. 28
    Ysanne

    This is just wrong on so many levels…
    ML got a lot wrong, but the one thing he managed to get right was that applying religious ideas to understand the natural world, and scientific thought to justify religious belief is both doomed to failure. He’s quite explicit about this, it’s exactly what those famous “reason is a whore” lines talk about in their original context. The people naming this college after Luther should have at least read him.

  29. 29
    saganite

    Man, wouldn’t it be nice if religious colleges at least taught some form of compatibilist notion? Theistic Evolution or something? But they proudly wallow in Biblical Literalism. Sad.

  30. 30
    feralboy12

    An acting group in New Ulm planned to put on the play “Inherit the Wind”, but now they won’t be — MLC refused to allow them to use any of their facilities for practice, and also pressured the actors to drop out because evolution is contrary to their teachings.

    Perhaps as a backup plan the group could put together a musical adaptation of On The Jews And Their Lies.

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