RNS: Pension Fight Raises Moral and Legal Concerns for ELCA, Publisher

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) fights to stay out of a legal battle over unpaid pension benefits, all sides agree on at least one point:

More is at stake than the millions of dollars owed to some 500 pensioners of Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA’s publishing arm.

Last month, the ELCA asked a federal court to be dropped from a suit filed by stakeholders in Augsburg’s recently dissolved pension plan. The ELCA contends it bears no responsibility under the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act because Augsburg Fortress’ pension program is a “church plan.” Church plans are exempted from ERISA requirements, which include sufficient funding to meet promised obligations.

Some Lutherans, however, don’t like what they’re seeing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePensionsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran

Posted July 30, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Sad, very sad all around.  Certainly the ELCA can’t have it both ways, i.e., wanting exemption from liability because the publishing company is church affiliated, and then refusing to do anything to help its pensioners.

Seabury Press went belly up years ago, and TEC pulled the plug on that publishing venture.  But Augsburg Fortress is a much bigger outfit.  I buy lots of scholarly books from them, like the Hermeneia commentary series.  I’d hate to see that marvelous company flounder and sink like Seabury did.  But clearly, if they can’t honor their commitments to their retirees, they are in some trouble.

So much for the ELCA’s vaunted concern for social justice…

David Handy+

July 30, 4:28 pm | [comment link]
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