I have observed with increasing consternation the ongoing saga of Thrivent giving funding to various pro-abortion organizations, including but not limited to Planned Parenthood.
Here is a summary of events as I best understand them. I will happily provide corrections if I am in error in any way:
- Thrivent, through its Thrivent Choice program, has given dollars to many, many pro-life organizations over the years. They have also, however, approved sending money to various entities of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and others.
- Thrivent has directly funded such organizations this through a similar employee matching program, called the Thrivent Financial Gift Multiplier program.
- After receiving strong criticism from The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, and others, Thrivent “temporarily suspended” both pro-abortion AND pro-life organizations from receiving Choice Dollars. They have not done anything with the Gift Multiplier program, but are “investigating”.
- Thrivent has also removed the ability to search Thrivent Choice organizations.
Thrivent Financial is a membership organization of Christians and works with many different members who hold a variety of – and at times divergent – views and beliefs. It respects the differences of its members and does not independently or on behalf of its members, advisors or employees provide outreach funding or support to organizations and issues that distract, or have the potential to distract, from its common purpose, which is to guide its members and society to be wise with money and live generously.
Under this policy, certain organizations are not eligible to receive outreach support or funding. This includes, but is not limited to, organizations with a primary purpose of providing services for or advocating positions either supporting or opposing certain social, politically partisan, or health and human services causes and issues, such as abortion, sexual orientation, or guns. Decisions regarding the application of this policy and the eligibility of specific organizations to receive outreach funding or support are made at the sole discretion of Thrivent’s management team and are subject to change.
So what does this mean in English? It means this. As a Thrivent Member you can no longer designate Thrivent Choice dollars to pro-life organizations. Why? Because Thrivent will not allow certain “social, politically partisan, or health and human services causes and issues, such as abortion, sexual orientation, or guns.”
As a parish pastor and a longtime member of Thrivent, I am deeply concerned about this entire matter. Frankly, the fact that there is even a question about supporting Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations is itself troubling. But removing the support for these pro-life organizations (e.g. Lutherans for Life, WELS Lutherans for Life, various women’s shelters, pregnancy care centers, and all kinds of other groups), THAT is indefensible.
But here is an even more disturbing thought. I would consider my congregation an organization which has “a primary purpose” of supporting LIFE, and in opposing the murder of the unborn (abortion) and the terminally ill (euthanasia).
What’s more, I would be deeply offended if anyone suggested otherwise.
How long will it be until pro-life congregations are considered “divisive” and are no longer eligible? How long until The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod is considered too pro-life? Why isn’t it now?
Thrivent has done a lot of good over the years. Millions of dollars have gone to congregations and many, many worthy causes. I have been a Thrivent member for decades, and have no desire to rethink that decision.
Having said that, the “greater good” is not a justification for practices that directly lead to the taking of human life AND the denial of dollars to many good organizations that help preserve life. This entire matter needs to be cleared up quickly, and monies restored to the pro-life organizations that are now suffering as a result. Today’s decisions make that unlikely, but still possible.
This, however, will not happen by accident. I fear that after a few months of further “investigation,” this entire matter will be swept under the rug and things will continue as normal. The revised policy issued today is in essence the same as before.
Here is what I intend to do about it as a parish pastor and Thrivent member.
- I am going to try to bring this up at every winkel or pastor’s gathering I attend until it is resolved. This must stay in front of us in order to keep it from disappearing.
- I will be informing my congregation of where things stand on the matter, and will do so on a regular basis until it is resolved.
- I am considering writing an overture to our district convention next year regarding the support of organizations that fund abortions or that indirectly do so.
- I will also encourage Thrivent Members to contact their Thrivent representative and the Thrivent corporate headquarters to express their thoughts on this matter.
That’s what’s on my mind right now. What are you going to do?
Here are a few links that are worth your noting:
- Thrivent Funding of Pro-Abortion Organizations: LCMS Concerns | LCMS News & Articles
- Members, Thrivent Take Action on Thrivent Choice Issue | Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
- Thrivent | Daring Lutheran
- Thrivent announcement regarding new neutrality policy
- An Open Letter to Thrivent CEO Brad Hewitt & the Thrivent Board of Directors | Daring Lutheran
UPDATED LINKS February 7, 2014
The Real Cost of Thrivent’s Decision: $878,569 per year | Daring Lutheran