MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It was another event-filled political week, but the political story most WCCO viewers wrote in about was the one on top Minnesota religious leaders urging a “yes” vote on the marriage amendment.

Pat Kessler reported the story and got most of the mail.

He said Minnesota Lutheran pastors are telling their congregations to vote “no” on the marriage amendment. Many pastors said he got a part of the story wrong, and they were right.

Catholic and Protestant leaders stood together at the Capitol this week to support the marriage amendment.

“Men and women provide unique gifts to each other and to their children,” said Carl Nelson, of Transform Minnesota, a self-described network for evangelicals. “They are not interchangeable parts.”

So, when WCCO reported that “Lutheran leaders” are telling their congregations to vote “no,” Lutheran pastors flooded WCCO-TV’s inboxes.

“Please don’t loop Orthodox Lutheran Churches in with the Lutheran masses,” said the pastor of Alive! Lutheran Church in Monticello. “There are BIG differences.”

There are significantly different Lutheran denominations in Minnesota. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, by far the largest, opposes the marriage amendment. But other Lutherans, like Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelicals, support it.

One Missouri Synod pastor wrote: “I am sick and tired of being lumped in with the ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran]”.

“We are telling our congregation that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” said the pastor of Joy Lutheran Church in Cambridge, Minn.

The marriage amendment is dividing Lutherans the same way it’s dividing the state.

“There are many Lutheran denominations these days,” the Reverand David Johnson wrote. “Unfortunately, we aren’t always in agreement on various issues and doctrines.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minnesota, which urges people to oppose the marriage amendment, has more than 825,000 members.

The Missouri and Wisconsin Synods combined have several hundred thousand members — many of them very vocal.

But how big a role will religion play in the marriage amendment vote? It could play a major role. It’s possible the margin of victory or defeat could come from Minnesota churches.

Pat Kessler