LCMS issues statement about Thrivent Choice Dollars®

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is deeply concerned by the news that Thrivent Financial has recognized Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota as a potential recipient of funding through its Thrivent Choice Dollars grant program. The LCMS always has been, and will continue to be, clear and faithful in its proclamation of the sanctity of all human life from conception until natural death. We are currently in conversation with Thrivent Financial and pray for a God-pleasing resolution to this matter so that the pro-life witness of individual Lutherans and the LCMS will not be compromised.

Maggie Karner, Director
LCMS Life and Health Ministries

Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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65 Responses to LCMS issues statement about Thrivent Choice Dollars®

  1. Gina December 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Thank you for watching to make sure our dollars go to the right causes.

    • Daniel Smith December 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      This issue is one that concerns me. I will be watching closely.

    • Mary Mueller December 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      If Thrivent dollars go to Planned Parenthood, I will withdraw ALL of my money from Thrivent as soon as I can legally do so. Thrivent won’t care; I am not rich. But my conscience will not allow it. Very, very sad.

    • Tim Baumann December 20, 2013 at 6:49 am #

      I’m glad I direct my Thrivent Choice dollars to LCMS Seminary-St. Louis so we have men who will be able to teach us the correct path that God needs/wants us to take.

    • Heather Weiss December 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      I too will take all of my Thrivent business elsewhere. Please do not support Planned Parenthood!

      • kay smith December 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

        I only have life insurance with Thrivent. I have dealt with the other areas & have been very dissatisfied with their investments, investment programs, & some of the people who think they are investment consulers & financial planners. So I withdrew my money yrs ago from these areas & am invested elsewhere. I am not rich, & must live on what I have. I must be careful who is managing my funds.
        I would NEVER sanction abortion for any reason. there are so many other options to deal with unwanted pregnancies. Adoption being the first. However, there are so many options for preventing pregnancy. I guess I am too “old school” I see no reason for pregnancy, if it is unwanted. Cross your legs, get something from the drugstore, get sterilized, prevention is first.

    • Jesse Kremer December 20, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

      The problem for me is not that they are supporting Planned Parenthood, although I am massively opposed to this evil organization and the use of our $ to kill babies, the issue is that they still bill themselves as a “faith-based, Christian organization.” Why is it that many Lutherans have no spine to stand up to evil in this world, but other large faith-based companies such as Chic-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby have no problem standing for their values and beliefs. If I still had money at Thrivent, I would be leaving tomorrow, with or without Choice dollars available to support our local ministries. I have contacted Thrivent directly and got a canned statement, contacted a local agent, who seems to actually be too intimidated by those on top to actually contact them, and the American Family Association (AFA). I truly hope AFA follows up on this matter and pushes the issue also. I encourage all Christians, especially Lutherans, to call and voice your opinion on this matter. United Way and Planned Parenthood both support abortion funding…and are now both supported by our local Faith Based Choice Dollars!

  2. RLH December 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Is TF serious? Did they think no one would be paying attention? Good grief. I get that they may not be solely-LCMS-based, but still………

  3. Pat Dvorak December 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    This makes me very upset with the direction that Thrivent is headed. We are considering taking our money out there.

  4. Glen Piper December 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Thanks for keeping up with this from a corporate/Synodical level, Maggie. While it’s certainly up to us (laity/shareholders) to hold Thrivent’s feet to the fire, now that much of their agenda has emerged such that it can be neither ignored nor denied, it is just as heartening to see such strong pro-life leadership emerge from the Synod.

  5. mike johns December 19, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Do they support the Vitae famil mission.

  6. Doris drake December 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    This is very distressing…how could this happen? Is it because of the recent decision to sell outside of Lutherans. Please keep us informed.

    • MeToo December 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Doris, I don’t think it is a “sell outside of Lutherans” issue so much but more that Thrivent is not solely LCMS and there are Lutherans of other synods not concerned about what Planned Parenthood does (or its history).

    • Jan Niemuth December 20, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      First it was “get rid of the Lutheran name” then “sell to those who are not Lutheran” . So basically it has become a very secular business that hides behind Christians. Don’t think LCMS is the only synod that opposed planned parenthood!

  7. ralph wetzel December 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    Have been members for nearly 50 years, but are considering withdrawal of support.

  8. DeLyle D December 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Every year I ask Thrivent to direct Thrivent Choice Dollars to one of my favorite LCMS ministries. I’m not in favor of these monies going to organizations that promote views that are opposed to what I believe and what LCMS teaches. I would encourage board members to rescind any decision that would give funds to organizations that do not promote the sanctity of life from conception to death.

  9. Erin December 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Planned Parenthood provides a wide variety of very important services for women. I don’t have a problem with Thrivent’s choice.

    • Jon W December 20, 2013 at 7:27 am #

      Planned unParenthood doesn’t provide any “important service for women” that isn’t available from someone else that doesn’t provide death on request services.

    • Jan Niemuth December 20, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Those “services” can also be obtained through other sources that do not promote taking lives as Planned Parenthood does.

  10. Mary M. Devore December 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Roger and I are very disturbed by this announcement. This will not stand in our household. We will not support an organization who supports abortion.

  11. Michelle bowman December 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Thank you for standing up for staying on top of this. God bless.

  12. Susan Stadt December 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    It is up to the individual chapters to vote on pending organizations as to whether they are approved or declined. If this had come across our chapters board we would have declined it.

  13. Rev. Glenn Niemann December 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

    As synod in convention has already declared that the ELCA can no longer be considered a Lutheran denomination, participation with Thriven’t itself has become problematic at the least; the Handbook’s prohibition against “unionism … heterodox missionary & tract” activities” comes quickly to mind.

    As President Harrison strives for more transparency in synodical finances, I encourage him & the BoD/CoP to include this no-longer-Lutheran financial corporation in mind as well.

    • Jan Niemuth December 20, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      I agree!

  14. Doug H. December 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanks! That Thrivent would even consider that is disturbing.

  15. Desiree Casey-Motley December 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    What happened to the days when it was AAL?

  16. Ted December 19, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    If Thrivent doesn’t reconsider and ban planned parenthood from thrivant choice dollars I know they’ll lose my business and endorsement in our congregation.

  17. P Stout December 19, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    This makes me very upset. Please keep us informed. Thank you for all you do.

  18. Gary W. Moss December 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    Thrivent is facilitating something that is prohibited by God’s Law and moral law.

  19. Linda Bergan December 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    So disappointed in Thrivent. This is just the last straw. My parents purchased an AAL policy for me when I was about six, back in the 50′s. I I still remember the Bible Story balloons our agent gave us. They were so special. Then there was the commeradity of working for other causes during my years as an AAL secretary treasurer, I was so proud to represent such a great organization. So sad that I no longer feel that way.

  20. michael piper December 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    How sad that Thrivent has taken this step. To support Planned Parenthood with Choice Dollars strikes at the core of what we confess about as life as Lutherans. I like the work Thrivent does, but this is not fitting the fraternal covenant in any way. Lord have mercy.

  21. Nicholas M. Chopp December 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    Good on ya’, Missouri Synod. I pray that the President of the Synod will be engaging Thrivent Financial directly.

  22. Mike Curtis December 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Thrivent Financial does not support Planned Parenthood or facilitate donations to Planned Parenthood. An individual member in Minnesota worked with a local chapter board of volunteers to vote in a Planned Parenthood affiliate to receive Thrivent Choice Dollars. Thrivent as an organization has approached the local chapter board of volunteers who passed the measure to reconsider their decision in light of the obvious breach of Thrivent’s core values. Thrivent is still the only financial services organization that empowers its people with a choice as to where those would-be tax dollars will go. No one should take any action on this news because it is incendiary and inherently flawed. Let’s stop and think our way through this!

    • Tim Niedfeldt December 20, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      It is in their own rules that Thrivent maintains sole responsibility for the final listing of an organization in their Choice program. Even though it was member initiated and Chapter approved, Thrivent has full power to approve or reject it. They chose not to as a matter of a biblical and moral lapse. I contend that they don’t actually worry about such things there. The failing here is the belief that Thrivent was concerned about being “faith based” anymore. If people knew the nature of Lutheran Brotherhood before it merged with AAL this would not be a surprise. LB took over and the AAL way of doing fraternal has disappeared. This is the fruits of that. Expect more of sketchy and outright immoral “choices” being offered as they expand to “Christians”

      If Thrivent actually thought this was a breach of their core values…they could remove the entry in minutes by their own rules. The power of “Choice” they offer does not trump the Bible and murder. I think what it means is…they have jumped on the post-modern PC train and once they get rid of the protesters…they can expand their markets in peace with no more morality than the United Way.

      • Mark December 20, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        Actually, last year they voted to give that authority to the local groups, not corporate.

  23. Linda Vornheder December 19, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    Was the inclusion of Planned Parenthood triggered by a Thrivent member’s request? Are there branches of Lutheranism that are not pro-life? Although Planned Parenthood contributes to aspects of women’s health other than pregnancy issues, there are other service organizations that fill that need and we consider PP’s support of abortion on demand to be a deal breaker. I appreciate the ability to CHOOSE where my pro-choice dollars go. Let’s all be sure to exercise our CHOICE.

  24. GLV December 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    So… a company that for decades has used the “Church” to sell their products that puts hundreds of millions in their pockets, and give and EXTREMELY small amount back (less than any other companies advertising budget)…decides to support worldly ways? And people are just now surprised by this? They have used the Church to hock goods in the name of God, but its been ok b/c they give a little…so whats the price? Where does the Church sell out at? Sure, it was OK in Jesus’ day to sell idols, and sacrifices at the temple b/c it was for the good of the people of the temple…the money was used for good…wake up..they have been ripping people off for years…their moral code just got exposed. Defend all you want..but your only defense is they give money to help a few organizations. Overcharge 1000′s in premiums PER congregation, and give back literally pennies. Why not invite all companies in to sell to your congregations and charge an advertising fee?

    • 4oclockguy December 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      An ongoing issue with Lutherans is they have forgotten what initially started AAL – set up a fraternal that was consistent with Lutheran theology because of practices of lodges with secret rituals. So you had to subscribe to Wisconsin synod or LCMS theology to be a member and also be a man. The didn’t use the church. They were the church. And today Thrivent is still a membership organization that has a democratic process. It is not a theocracy. It is not a commercial company that decided to market Lutherans. We are Thrivent and just like GLV, made up of sinful members who need the Grace of Jesus Christ.

  25. Faith Lucas December 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    This is disgraceful. What is Thrivent thinking? I will be watching this issue carefully.

  26. Brian December 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    I’m not sure what everyone is getting so bent out of shape. Your personal dollars don’t need to go to planned parenthood, but if someone does then it’s it up to the individual to make that decision? Pull your money out, why? Your dollars go where you want.

    I’m a LCMS church goer and I have been taught we have free will. This isn’t a Thrivent choice, this is members choosing to put their dollars where they want. I don’t want someone approving my donations.

  27. C. Ritter December 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Unfortunately there are some Thrivent chapters (volunteers) who have gone astray and need to be shut down. Better yet, those Lutherans who believe in the sanctity of life might want to get involved in the volunteer portion of this outstanding company that has and continues to do so much good with their charitable contributions. Don’t “throw the baby out with the bath water”. Thrivent was just recognized as one of the most ethical companies in 2012. Take a look at all the great things this company has done. I believe those in charge will correct this.

    • Wen December 22, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      Thank you for having one of the only logical replies so far. You actually show a thought out and reasoned response.

  28. Maureen December 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    If this issue is not rectified, I will be pulling my money out of Thrivent.

  29. 4oclockguy December 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    My first reaction was very negative. But then I reminded myself that God’s forgiveness is not for perfect Lutherans, but is for sinful Lutherans, of which, as St. Paul would say, I am chief. So I know that our struggle is not to be perfect and to have a faith-based financial company that is perfect, but one that witnesses our life-supporting perspective that from conception we became a soul in need of that grace and love Jesus offers. This matter can be another witness to the world that the freedom of the Gospel is bound by the conscious of another Christian. Paul abstained from food offered to idol to demonstrate that constraint.

    • Susan December 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      The repentant sinner turns from his/her sinful ways and does not willfully continue doing what God despises. Supporting an organization that has abortion as a mayor portion of its business is not a good witness but speaks of hypocrisy.

    • ThriventKid December 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      So, 40clockguy, did Jesus come to seek and save the lost Lutherans? I hope that’s not what you intended to say. Last time I checked, Jesus died on the cross for all sinners. Not just the Lutheran ones. LCMS folks are only 0.03% (not 3%–.03%) of the world’s population. Christ didn’t die for such an exclusive group. He died for all, that some might be saved. I think his batting average is probably better than.0003.

      I agree with you that we cannot expect a holy company which is made up of unholy people.

      This whole discussion is so insane! The fact is, there is virtually no-where you can spend your money today and be assured that “your dollars” won’t be used for things you are opposed to (morally or otherwise) For example: I’ll bet most of you shop at Home Depot and they are a HUGE supporter of Gay Pride parades around the country and that would certainly ruffle a lot of Lutheran feathers (though, it would seem, not very many anymore). Another fact is that most of our money has traces of cocaine and other drugs on it so should we stop using cash because its used for sinful activities?

      This discussion is starting to sound very much like a Congregational Assembly meeting where everyone is fighting over whether the church secretary should get that 50 cents/hour raise this year. “I have a right to say where my money goes!” Well, I hate to tell you this, but its not your money. Its God’s money and all you have been asked to do is be a good steward of what he’s given you. You elected council people and called a pastor to take care of the details so that you could be led into service to others and worship to God. Your money isn’t the point of your faith.

      If you feel that your stewardship is compromised by giving to Thrivent, or your congregation, or wherever, then ask God where he wants you to give it. Just don’t pretend to think that you really have any say in where it goes after it leaves your wallet and don’t horde it because God has told you “Thou shalt not …” give to people who disagree with you.

  30. Dave December 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    Will be looking to move our money. Have been with TF when it was AAL.

  31. A. L. Hoisington December 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    We cannot be more against this. We were told nothing would really change. I’m heart sick about this alliance. Bottom line, bottom dollar?

  32. Nick C December 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    More validation of why I Thrivent Financial for *utherans no longer and will never again control one cent of my money.

  33. Debra Simons December 19, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m glad I haven’t CHOSEN “Choice ” Dollars, Maybe I should CHOOSE another “LIFE” insurance policy!!

  34. Mary Mueller December 19, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    If Thrivent dollars go to Planned Parenthood, I will withdraw ALL of my money from Thrivent as soon as I can legally do so. Thrivent won’t care; I am not rich. But my conscience will not allow it. Very, very sad.

    • Erik January 18, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Make sure you screen all the other companies with whom you do business for similar criteria. I hope you have plenty of excess time on hand to conduct your misguided venture.

  35. Sally S. Hass December 20, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Thrivent has made the terrible decision to support Planned Parenthood. We the members need to stop this!!!

  36. D Woerman December 20, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    Considering the direction that the ELCA has been going, something like this was bound to happen. I fear that this is just the beginning.

  37. Valerie December 20, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    Vote your choice dollars to the organization you want it sent to. No designation allows your money to go to planned parenthood. I am not aware of another financial oeganization that provides these types of dollars to organizations we choose!

  38. Kim Martin December 20, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    How utterly disappointing! Thrivent Thrivent Thrivent! You are going to have to make a choice as well. Are you going to stay true to your roots as a faith based organization or are you going to continually compromise longstanding principles to make a profit? How sad to watch this organization slowly break and fall away.

  39. Rev. Ronald Roland December 20, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Why would you be so surprised by this. Thrivent is an ELCA organization which took over AAL under Jerry Keishnick when he hoped to be CEO over one big, pan-”Lutheran” religious club. We (the LCMS) have been de-facto supporting the ELCA through this evil empire for years.
    “Deeply Concerned” doesn’t cut it! The LCMS should sever ties with them now before we travel any further down this road to perdition! Or are we afraid to bear that cross?

    Rev. Ronald Roland

  40. Tim Niedfeldt December 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    So because you don’t like PP, Pro-life AND Pro death won’t get money… Sooo proof that Thrivent doesn’t care at all about “faith-based” They just don’t like “controversial” issues.

    Thrivent’s Statement.

    “Members, Thrivent take action on Thrivent Choice issue

    Thrivent is a membership organization of Christians with more than two million members in more than 1,300 local chapters nationwide. While our membership holds diverse points of view on faith and social issues, we share a common purpose to be wise with money and live generously.
    We listen to concerns from all of our members, and we are listening now.

    As a grassroots organization, we are committed to honoring the desire of our members and local chapters to choose and support the non-profit organizations that are meaningful to them. We recognize that the eligibility of a Planned Parenthood affiliate, approved by one of our local chapters, has been controversial.

    After input, discussion and a review of the concerns from Thrivent members, the leadership of this local chapter voted Thursday to remove it from the Thrivent Choice program effective immediately. Given the deeply held views on this issue across our membership, we also are taking action to address the concerns of our membership. These steps include temporarily suspending all pro-choice and pro-life organizations from the Thrivent Choice program, placing a temporary hold on the addition and removal of nonprofit organizations from the program, and conducting a comprehensive program review.

    The Thrivent Choice program is highly valued by our members. More than 270,000 members have used it to direct some $47 million – 91% of it to Christian congregations, schools, camps/outdoor ministries, and social ministries. We will seek input from our members, chapter leaders and others in the communities we serve with the goal of designing and delivering a program that continues to support the priorities of our members and our common purpose.”

  41. Ryan Bray December 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I think y’all need to just calm down. The Lutheran church is way too uptight. I’m pro life and don’t agree with Planned Parenthood either but you need to understand that people can choose what to do with their own money as far as donations goes…

    The LCMS is not going in a right direction. They only want to reach out to Lutherans and only care about Lutherans. They are rude and exclusive to everything else. Last time I checked, it’s not what Jesus calls us to do! It doesn’t say go make Lutherans of all nations or the only way to heaven in through Martin Luther. I believe in the LCMS theology for the most part, but so many responses to things by the LCMS is rediculous and it makes me ashamed to be working for LCMS or being a Lutheran. It’s a name that I bear that can be embarrassing because of how people know the LCMS to be.

    Go ahead, delete this comment, or Report me, or comment back saying hateful things. I mean, that’s what the LCMS Lutherans are known to do, right?

  42. Ted Crandall December 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Now that Thriven’t has chosen to become just another insurance company, I owe them no loyalty. With this latest move of theirs, I’m shopping around for a company that doesn’t embarrass me.

  43. pam yates December 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Do what’s biblically correct, not politically correct. If Thrivent doesn’t, I will abort them.

  44. kay smith December 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    PS Lutherans dont support abortion. I cant imagine why Thrivent would donate to Planned Parenthood. We can support prevention, but never abortion. Abortion is murder.

  45. Tina M December 22, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I have been watching this issue closely, not because I am a policy holder with TF, but because I know people who have already been outraged by Thrivent changing from being an “exclusively” Lutheran organization. Now this of course has raised another red flag for many policyholders. I also must state that I am an insurance agent for another company, I am also a Lutheran and my husband is attending seminary to be a Lutheran pastor, and as much as I would like to say, this company is totally going downhill and everyone should remove their investments and cancel their policies, I am asking you to slow down and pray about your decision. See what the company is saying in response to this issue. Pray in regards to their decision making. Make sure you are looking at the facts. I am not stating that this issue is not one to be concerned about, your concerns are valid, but it also seems as though Thrivent has responding promptly to your concerns. If you’re unhappy with the service or returns with Thrivent, or if they do decide to move forward in supporting Planned Parenthood (though it does not seem that way) that is a different story, but just be careful not to respond to harshly without having all of the facts. Thank you and God bless you all.

  46. Russ December 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Thrivent’s actions are outrageous! I have had a life insurance policy for 60 years…a policy my parents sacrificed to buy for me from AAL. I have helped plan and execute and have contributed to many benefit events, but will never do it again. I have requested that my local Thrivent chapter remove my name from their roster, and will cash in my life insurance policy tomorrow. I simply cannot be associated with Thrivent since they have considered funneling money to Planned Parenthood….a business that killed 327,000 babies in 2012 alone. God have mercy!

  47. Dale January 17, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Taking your business away from Thrivent does not keep you from
    supporting Planned Parenthood. Your bank, grocery store, gas
    station or commercial insurance company all pay taxes and have
    no say in what government does with those tax dollars. Most of
    Planned Parenthood support comes from tax dollars.

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