With the revelation that Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has provided funding to at least four Planned Parenthood affiliates as well as to the NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation, The St. Louis-based Lutheran Churchâ€”Missouri Synod (LCMS) has told their members they are very concerned.
The statement acknowledged that Thrivent not only has suspended funding for pro-life, nonprofit organizations serving women and children in need, but now also directly supports organizations providing abortion services and pro-abortion advocacy.
On Dec. 19, after learning that a Planned Parenthood affiliate was eligible to receive funding through its Choice Dollars program, Thrivent “temporarily suspended” one pro-choice and more than 50 pro-life organizations from receiving Choice Dollars funding while it conducts “a comprehensive review” of the program.
The latest allegations relate to a sister funding program known as “Gift Multiplier” that’s available to Thrivent employees through the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation.
Details about the Gift Multiplier program were brought to light by Rev. Michael Schuermann, senior pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sherman, Ill., who said he “was contacted by some people associated with Thrivent who were familiar with the fact that this was going on.”
The informants shared documentation of the Gift Multiplier funding that Schuermann posted to his website, daringlutheran.net.
The documentation lists five Planned Parenthood affiliates in Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Milwaukee; New York; and St. Paul, Minn., as well as the NARAL Foundation in St. Paul as Thrivent Gift Multiplier charities.
After Schuermann posted the information online and alerted LCMS leaders to the news Jan. 15, it was picked up and shared by other websites as well as numerous Facebook and Twitter users.
Schuermann said it’s disappointing, sad and “frustrating to see Thrivent â€” an organization that puts itself forward as Christian and Lutheran â€” engaging and giving money to organizations that really, as Christians, we just cannot support.”
Many LCMS congregation members are among the 2.5 million members of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Minneapolis-based, Fortune 500 fraternal-benefits organization with more than $75 billion in assets derived primarily from Lutherans over the past 100 years. Thrivent members voted last year to open the organization’s membership to all Christians, which took place in June.
According to its website, Thrivent is “faith-based” and its “common bond” is Christianity.
In a statement on Jan. 15 Thrivent responded: “We are aware of the issue that has been raised, and we will address it as we review this program.”
Maggie Karner, director of LCMS Life Ministries, said all of the suspended pro-life organizations “already do wonderful mercy work, with limited resources, to serve women, children and families in need. They include LCMS Recognized Service Organizations, maternity homes, pregnancy resource centers, pro-life educational organizations, ultrasound services for pregnant women and organizations providing free resources.”
The Rev. Dr. James Lamb, executive director of the national pro-life organization Lutherans For Life (LFL), noted that “Thrivent claims to be â€˜neutral’ on â€˜controversial issues’ and yet they have once again closed the door to Lutherans For Life and other life-affirming ministries to receive Choice Dollars.”
In a statement, LCMS said they are in a conversation with Thrivent regarding the controversial donations and have a goal to resolve the issue in a way that upholds the sacred value of human life.
“We urge them to follow those words with action by restoring funding to the pro-life organizations that lost funding in December and by developing a policy that denies all funding for Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation.”
The statement also encourages Thrivent members to “voice their concerns and opinions directly to Thrivent,” and provides contact information to help them do just that.
By Paula Schlueter Ross | LCMS News