Synod issues statement on Thrivent, Planned Parenthood

By Paula Schlueter Ross

The LCMS issued a statement Dec. 19 to all Synod congregations, schools and professional church workers relating to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and its Choice Dollars® program.

In the program, Thrivent members can help direct funds to thousands of nonprofit organizations, including Lutheran congregations. After learning that Thrivent had recognized Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota — an abortion provider — as a potential recipient of Choice Dollars® funds, LCMS leaders decided to express their concern over that Thrivent-Planned Parenthood relationship.



Following is the LCMS statement, signed by Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and Maggie Karner, director of LCMS Life and Health Ministries:

“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.”

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 $80 billion in assets derived primarily from Lutherans over the past 100 years. Thrivent members voted this year to open the organization’s membership to all Christians.

“The LCMS is unabashedly pro-life and we will continue to be, and would never ask our people to compromise their witness for life,” Karner told Reporter.

The LCMS recognizes the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death and opposes all forms of abortion, including drugs used to kill unborn babies.

Karner said she became aware of the Thrivent-Planned Parenthood relationship on social-media feeds such as Facebook and Twitter, which “allowed the issue to gain traction with the public very quickly.”



At this writing, Thrivent’s leaders, she said, “are currently working on a solution that will consider all of the feedback that they have received from the LCMS and individual, concerned, pro-life Lutherans.”

She and Harrison decided to release their statement “to let [LCMS] members know that our Synod leadership is keenly aware of this troubling turn of events and that we are in contact with Thrivent. We understand that they are working on a way to rectify the situation that will satisfy pro-life Lutherans.”

Sanctity of all human life “is not a matter that we take lightly,” Karner said of the Synod and its leaders. “The biblical understanding of the intrinsic value of human life was played out for us in Bethlehem, where a little child was born from a mother who experienced an unexpected pregnancy.

“That same little child later suffered, died and rose again to show His love for all humankind, no matter what age or stage of development, from conception until natural death,” she said. “We are all vulnerable and in need of God’s saving grace. This is the message that the LCMS will continue to share, and this is the message that we hope will be upheld by any organization with which we work alongside.”

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Reporter Online is the Web version of Reporter, the official newspaper of
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

39 Responses to Synod issues statement on Thrivent, Planned Parenthood

  1. Wally Shifflett December 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Thank you, President Harrison and director Karner, for your rapid response to this misguided action. As a holder of 8 contracts with Thrivent, I cannot be complicit in an activity that is so obviously against the values that we, as Lutherans, hold. Should Thrivent not cease and desist from this action, I would support the establishment of another fraternal organization. In any case, all my support and investments will be withdrawn should the executive leadership of Thrivent fail to act appropriately.
    In Christ,
    Rev. Wally Shifflett

    • Charlotte Gebauer Koelling December 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

      I’ve held AAL life insurance for over 60 years. It’s not much, and I’m sure Thrivent won’t miss a trick if I pull it.

      For some time, I have been concerned about the changes taking place in the organization and its structure. What we have witnessed here is what MBAs would label long-range planning. Blending with Lutheran Brotherhood was what I call dipping one’s toe in the water. Changing the name to Thrivent seemed a deliberate step away from the distinguished and distinguishable label of Lutheran. The changeover to a pan-Christian fraternal organization was the final slap of the trowel on Thrivent’s new foundation, one I have no wish to be identified with or to support. We ceased donating through Thrivent some time ago, not willing to put our tithes toward organizations and causes that do not share our beliefs and adherence to Scripture.

      Planned Parenthood is the final nail in the coffin. This could NOT have been done in ignorance. Rather it demonstrates a deliberate challenge to the principles LCMS has followed through its history. The mission and goals of the old AAL are long gone, and we ought not to acquiesce to this maneuver one iota. Thanks, President Harrison for standing up to this issue. I hope Missouri continues to stand tall.

    • Quintin Dooley December 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

      Rev. Wally Shifflett,

      Thank you for your comments, I agree 100%. I would withdraw my contracts also except no other insurance company would replace my policies from the 1980′s due to health conditions. In the end, NOT supporting Planned Parenthood is more important than my money or insurance.

  2. e.t.1978 December 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    If they continue to support abortion. Please not another penny towards them. As always we support & pray for our LCMS president. Please keep our values true and to what we believe. God bless!

  3. Dennis Gladieux December 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Also thank you, President Harrison and director Karner, for your rapid response to this misguided action. My wife Carol and I are investigating another place for our funds at this time and are interested in what the synod can determine is an option for people that want to obey the directive of the Word of God.

  4. Em Lee Fuson December 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I also will not support Thrivent if it continues to allow a relationship with Planned Parenthood. I am a Labor and Delivery nurse and have held in my hands the babies that have been miscarried and delivered in a hospital setting. These little ones are amazingly beautiful. To encourage induced abortion is wrong in every sense of the word. These are God’s creation and should not be “purposefully aborted”. This is what Planned Parenthood does. Like Pastor Shifflet, I too would support another fraternal organization and leave Thrivent.

    In Christ,

    Em Lee

  5. Alan Riedel December 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I concur. At one time, I was a rep for Lutheran Brotherhood, an excellent and honorable company, as was AAL. I objected strenuously to the merger and wound up leaving the company when the merger went through and the predictable negative results began. This, I fear, is yet another result of that terrible decision as well as their decision to allow secular participation. I, too, would heartily support a new Fraternal organization, perhaps built on the same solid rock as the previous companies, LB and AAL. Meanwhile, there will be no further participation with Thrivent from me.

  6. Lorne Jones December 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I voted against Thrivent from accepting other churches into the Thrivent organization because I was afraid something like this might happen. If Thrivent doesn’t reconsider this action, I, too, would be taking my assests out of Thrivent.

  7. Kentuck Tom December 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    I’m awaiting the mailman bringing a quaint ol’ form that I’ll sign and return to Thriven’t (thrive not). When that one gets acted I will have removed all connection with what used to be a pretty good organization…

  8. Jim Warwick December 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Thank you President Harrison and Director Karner, I didn’t call my agent yet but I am going to tell him that I would like to see that changed or I might have to leave Thrivent. That is a decision not to be taken lightly, I have been a member since 1973, however; I am that strong on my convictions about the sanctity of life. Your friend in Christ, our Risen Savior

  9. Bob Miskimen December 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    May our God reign in this discussion and on the hearts of Thrivent directors. This is a serious breach of faith and trust. Fraternal distinguishes family and the chosen org is not pro family. My choices have always been with this firm and may be altered.

  10. Derek E. Clark December 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Get rid of Planned Parenthood or I pull my money out…no compromise no discussion…LCMS either supports life or murder…end of story end of discussion!

  11. Mike Nielsen December 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    I am shocked at this developement, but not surprised. Lutheran fraternal insurance has been a long standing benefit and tradition. Thrivent Financial has been gravitating away from its Lutherna roots for a number of years and now has crossed a very troubling line. Should Thrivent insist on continuing in the direction of a company with company directives that are so against what I belive and stand for based on scripture, I will withdraw my contracts as well. I pray that Thrivent reconsiders its actions in light of clear scripture which values every life, born and unborn.
    In Christ,
    Dr. Mike Nielsen

  12. Roger Danielson December 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Thank You For your quick response. I knew something like this would happen when Thrivent Financial opened up their membership to all Christians. I would guess about 75 to 80 % of the people in America would say they were Christian if asked. I voted no when they were deciding to open membership to any Christian. I think many people will withdraw
    membership if this issue is not withdrawn. I for one will.

    God Blessing,
    Roger Danielson

  13. Johnny Blake December 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    I am a prolife advocate with several Thrivent accounts. I am watching Thrivent’s response very closely. I too will be looking elsewhere if Thrivent continues it course of action.

  14. David and Elizabeth Petta December 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    We echo Rev. Shifflett’s comments and add that we, too, will withdraw our investments from Thrivent if this activity isn’t withdrawn.

  15. jen December 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Please consider that the vast majority of services PP provides has nothing to do with abortion at all. How many of you or the women of your life have been ser ed in some capacity by PP? Please do not haphazardly waiver your support based on one issue.

    • Nicholas December 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      Planned Parenthood is an abortion seller. That is what it does, and that is what it exists to do. That is how it makes its money (apart from government funding). Your comment is disingenuous.

  16. Tim Schenks December 20, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    It’s a real shame that Thrivent’s president used to work for the LCMS and is a member of an LCMS congregation.

  17. Kay Meyer December 20, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    Thank you for responding so rapidly to this issue. This is not just against our values, it is against God’s Word…which promotes life from the womb to the tomb…my husband and I also have some assets with Thrivent…and love and respect our representative…who has nothing to do with these decisions. But we are concerned about Thrivent leadership decisions that approve Planned Parenthood for Choice Dollars. Let’s join together to pray that Thrivent leaders see the error of this decision and others like it.

    Kay L. Meyer

  18. Thomas F. Gaschler December 20, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    My family and I are in discussion about pulling out of Thrivent should they continue to support Planned Parenthood. President Harrison and Director Karner, keep up the good work! As members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod we need to stand up, in this fight, of Thrivents supporting the death of unwanted children in the womb especially during this Advent season when our Savior came to us in an “unplanned pregnancy”. Through all the “unplanned pregnancies” God is still in command of this sinful world and good comes out. I am the son of an ” unplanned pregnancy”, and I know that through the fault of mankind God brings good out of my grandparents sin. Thrivents leaders and board of directors who voted for this need to go to Confession and Absolution and need to have the courage and intelligence to overturn the support of Planned Parenthood especially during this Advent season.
    In Christ,
    Thomas Gaschler

  19. Naomi Kohlmeier December 20, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    Thank you for your quick response to this matter. My family has several contracts with Thrivent. We will no longer support a company that does not support life.

  20. Mary Mueller December 20, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    God bless you for standing up and speaking up!
    I can tell you: if Thrivent does not reverse this, I WILL be pulling my money out of it. Please tell them that I (and others I have had dialogue with) plan to do so.
    Thank you and God bless you for standing for truth and life!

  21. REv. Donald A. Sauls December 20, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    I very much appreciate the no-nonsense statement made by President Harrison and Director Karner to the Thrivent dilemma. I do not have much invested in Thrivent, however, the little that I pay out in premiums for a life insurance contract seems to create in me a feeling of hypocrisy–my life insured (the pay-out at my eventual death) at the expense of the immediate termination of unborn lives. I will not allow this to continue for long, and will pray for a resolution to come out of the talks before any more lives are sacrificed.

    Rev. Donald A. Sauls

  22. Nancy Snyder December 20, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    My husband and I also have several contracts with Thrivent and we were very “troubled” by the tie between Thrivent and Planned Parenthood. We will be watching this issue closely and hopefully the Choice Dollars of Thrivent members will not be placed with an abortion supporting agency. Thank you!

  23. Rev. Alan Piotter December 20, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    I am thankful that Thrivent offers “choice” dollars. You do not have to send your dollars to Planned Parenthood. Others choose to do so. Others have seen that Planned Parenthood has offered services to women what are essential to their well-being. Maybe you have the luxury of finding a place to meet your health needs, not all women have this made available to them Planned Parenthood is there for many physical and emotional needs. Do I withhold support because they also provide abortion services? No.

    • MC Harrison December 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      So enlighten us on your views on abortion Pastor Piotter!

    • Michelle December 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      Thank you for this.. I could not have said it better! I work for Thrivent, and they are such an amazing company to not only their members but their employee’s as well! Thank you for being so accepting and non-hating with this matter!

      • Dan Bal December 20, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

        What “hate” are you talking about? I’m not seeing it in the comments so far.

        Wait, is it “hate” if one takes a stand against abortion? Do you think I hate you because you support abortion?

  24. Mrs. Marvel Titoe December 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I agree with Rev. Wally Shifflett. I cannot be complicit in an activity that is so obviously against that values that we as LCMS Lutherans hold.

    Thank you,
    Mrs. Marvel Titone

  25. Steve December 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    I also am troubled by the inclusion of planned parenthood within the Thrivent Choice program. However, I am curious what other companies each of you would consider moving your accounts to that have more of your belief systems in place? Thanks and have a Blessed Christmas!

  26. Dr. Chuck Meseck December 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    LCFS of WI has applied to Thrivent as recently as this year for monies that would benefit the health of church workers and was turned down. It is a pity that an adoption agency like LCFS of WI can’t get on the highly “political” Thrivent Choice list yet abortionists can.

  27. Jason December 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Well said President Harrison. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  28. Ray December 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    While I do not agree with Planned Parenthood or abortion at any time, I do not think this occurred because Thrivent became available to all Christians. Thrivent (AAL/LB) has included ELCA members (before extending the common bond) whose church does not take a stand against abortion. In my opinion this could have happened regardless of extending the common bond.

  29. Phil December 20, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    I would like to know who made the descision to allow Planned Parenthood on the list. How can they possibly think it is a good move from either a Christian vantage point or a business stand point? I believe our voices will weigh in their minds and the descision reversed.

  30. Cassanna Wuensche December 21, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) to do nothing.

    • Kathleen December 24, 2013 at 4:57 am #


  31. daryl osmus December 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    This is my opinion:

    I am sure by now many have already seen that Thrivent has stopped any Choice Dollars directed to the planned parenthood organizations.
    It is the individual that suggests where the money should be directed, then the local chapter approves or disapproves the organization, not Thrivent.
    I think this is a case of an organization bieng placed on the list without enough investigation into the organization by the voting Chapter.

    Thrivent was very quick in taking action to resolve the matter. The Thrivent Choice program is a fantastic program directing millions of dollars to the Lutheran community.

    Some people seemed to jump to judgement before the facts were out, and anyone had time to look things over and take action.

    Times may still come up like this that Thrivent has to get involved to address some issues raised by members. Just like this issue.

    We are all here to support the mission of spreading ,and supporting Christ’s message of salvation,and need to work together when issues come up that raise concerns.

    • Berniece Stulc January 6, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      My policies and investments to Thrivent were always for the benefit of our churches and PRO-LIFE Organizations… Money is NOT a priority for this family..God gave me this treasure to use as a witness for HIM to SERVE HIM…should the witness be abominated by Thrivent who has forgotten that planned parenthood gets my tax dollars,but my PRO-LIFE organizations DO NOT, There is another organizition which I have already contacted and encouraged to expand it’s offerings—LCEF. In the mean time I have sent numerous e-mails and will voice my feelings to anyone who will listen…HOW AWFUL for me to find that the New Beginnings home whom I have donated to due to my Mother’s last wishes has been suspended–They provide a home for mothers and babes as well as education,mentoring and Christian teaching..this was for matching funds . No less than 53 Pro-life organizations suffer due to the 1 probable planned parenthood and Thrivent took this action “to be fair”or is it to be “politically correct” or worse yet to attract “more investors”? My family eagerly awaits Thrivent’s decision and I have stepped up my prayer life!