+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
Please share this with your worship planning team.
What should we do about this sad and difficult news?
- David Haas sexual misconduct report alleges 44 victims in 41 year. Article by the StarTribune
“David Haas was what one victim called the “rock star” of contemporary Catholic composers. But a new report alleges that Haas targeted young women for “grooming” and forced sexual acts.”
- New report details 44 accounts of alleged abuse by David Haas. Article by the National Catholic Reporter
“Accusers request ban on Haas’ liturgical music, saying it retraumatizes them.”
|ELW 728, WOV 764, LS142||Blest Are They|
|RWSB R244||For the Life of the World|
|W&P 102||No Longer Strangers|
|ELW 500, W&P106||Now We Remain|
|ELW 720, W&P 147, LS 37||We Are Called|
|ELW 581, W&P 10||You Are Mine|
|W&P 10||As the Grains of Wheat (Haas)|
|MSB1S415||Dust and Ashes|
|W&P 44||Glory to God (Haas)|
|W&P 51||God Has Done Marvelous Things|
Four of the songs above are among my all-time favorites. I have appreciated the worship songs that composer David Haas has created in the recent decades of my life. Like barnacles, they have powerful memories of my own story connected to them.
Last weekend as I visited four of our congregations to experience your approach to online worship, I encountered a couple of uses of David Haas songs. The use made sense in terms of the texts and themes, but I found myself having an experience that made me think I need to lift up this information and the dilemma before you. You will have to make a decision for your community of faith. When it comes to weddings, funerals and other places where our hearts are especially tender, these decisions can become loaded. Thinking about this and making a decision before someone asks to use one of his songs will be helpful.
In the lasts few months, but particularly in the past couple of weeks, there have been news stories about the many allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior by Haas. When I listened to the hymns I have loved last Sunday, all I could think about were the victims of abuse I have encountered as a bishop. It was good to remember them and their stories even if it was painful. Secondly, I wondered how they would feel and what they would think if one of Haas songs was used considering the alleged and reported behaviors. There is another news story below if you have not seen any.
I want to encourage you to talk about this dilemma. Great songs, even favorite songs, now become linked to behavior that makes me wonder if we should use them anymore. This question of whether we should use them or not was something I have had to sit with for a few months after a member of our staff brought this up. We made an immediate decision to not use one for the worship services we created as a synod. I have decided for my sake I would not want to use them in my worship planning at the present time out of respect for the pain of the victims I have known.
You will have to sort out what you and your congregation will do. Unfortunately, if you don’t decide, you will have made a decision. May God bless your discernment and deciding.
The ELCA has prepared a statement, posted November 2, 2020 on its Worship blog, When Trust Is Broken: A Response to Allegations against Musician David Haas. The ELCA and 1517 Media have no plans to include his works in future resources and publications. The ELCA and 1517 Media do not tolerate sexual misconduct or abuse.
In light of the allegations, and respecting the action of Haas’s publisher GIA Publications to discontinue sponsoring his works, Augsburg Fortress is removing downloads of Haas’s hymns from sundaysandseasons.com.