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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Time for whistleblowers

It ranks right up there with champagne and New Year's resolutions: Who will grace the cover of Time as “Person of the Year”?

The 2002 winners were the three women who blew the whistle on the FBI, Enron and WorldCom. Two of the three have Lutheran roots: Coleen Rowley, 1977 graduate of Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, and Sherron Watkins, who grew up in Salem, Tomball, Texas, a Lutheran Church­Missouri Synod congregation.

Rowley, whose 13-page memo criticizing the FBI's disregard for signs that might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, spoke to a constitutional law class at Wartburg, an ELCA college, late last year and gave her first one-on-one interview (since the famous memo) to Amy Wineinger, features editor of the Wartburg Trumpet. Wineinger described Rowley as "fiery and energetic" but "also down-
to-earth and intelligent."

"Everyone says, 'I can't change the world,' " and people have a sense of futility. On the other side, you have to live with yourself and you have to try," Rowley told the class.

Watkins, the Enron executive who blew the whistle on the now-bankrupt company's financial shenanigans, says her Lutheran upbringing helped her get through a difficult time.

"The Lutheran church stressed that you shouldn't worry because if you have faith that God loves you, he'll take care of you. Whenever I got too stressed, I read Matthew 6 — about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field — and remembered to trust in God."

Watkins also pointed to Martin Luther as her role model, saying he "was the first whistleblower. He had the courage to stand up and speak the truth."

Watkins, now a member of First Presbyterian Church in Houston, made the remarks in January to a Christian businesswomen's group in Houston.


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