The comments below are from Steve's attorney, Jon Lewis, and his reading of the appellate decision.

The decision of the Committee on Appeals essentially boils down to this:

  1. It rejected our due process arguments on the basis that our complaints didn't fall within the ELCA definition of due process. Since the decision did not discuss that definition, or even set it forth, it is difficult to understand how the committee reached this conclusion.
  2. It rejected our argument that the policy had been improperly promulgated on the grounds that it does not have the authority to make such a determination. It did not discuss the fact that, if this body does not have the authority, then there is no such authority.
  3. It rejected our argument that the policy is unconstitutional (in the ELCA sense of the term - it violates the ELCA Constitution) on the same basis - it does not have the authority to do this. Since no other body is in a position to make such a determination, one wonders what the point is of having a constitution, if there is no mechanism for challenging purported legislation as unconstitutional.
  4. It stated that there was sufficient evidence on the record to support the disciplinary committee's finding that Pastor Sabin was a "practicing homosexual," despite the fact that this term is undefined.

We are disappointed, but not surprised at this decision. We are frustrated by the fact that, in this entire process, there seems to be no one who will stand up and say this is wrong. Actually, that's not entirely true. One member of the Committee on Appeals (one of eleven) dissented, but was not allowed to file a written dissent. His/Her dissent was summarized in a brief footnote. Also, some members of the disciplinary committee voted that Pastor Sabin not be expelled.

Other that those people, however, the remainder seem content to hide behind a process that is unfair and irrational. To have a judicial system that uses the terms "procedural fairness" and "due process," and then state that these terms have no meaning makes a mockery of the process.

14 September 1998