Commentary: Should Lutherans take ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’?

By Daniel Hinton

Jim Sanft, president and CEO of Concordia Plan Services (CPS), takes the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" during a CPS employee picnic Aug. 20 at Kirkwood Park. Pouring the water are CPS employees Jason Williams, left, and Curtis Wooten. CPS plans to donate employee pledges of $3,155.52 to an ALS organization aligned with LCMS Life Ministries. (Concordia Plan Services/Diane Mottert)

Jim Sanft, president and CEO of Concordia Plan Services (CPS), takes the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” during a CPS employee picnic Aug. 20 at Kirkwood Park. Pouring the ice water are CPS employees Jason Williams, left, and Curtis Wooten. The challenge was issued spontaneously at the picnic, and Sanft said he was “happy to do it” in memory of his mother-in-law, who died of ALS in 2012. CPS employees pledged $3,155.52, which will be sent to an ALS organization aligned with LCMS Life Ministry. (Concordia Plan Services/Diane Mottert)

A new wave of videos has made its way across the Internet this summer in which people are dumping ice water on their heads and challenging others to do the same. This is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a “viral” campaign to raise awareness of and money to fight ALS, a debilitating neurological disease responsible for two of every 100,000 deaths in the U.S. Also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” it has afflicted professor Stephen Hawking for more than 50 years and, in 2006, caused the death of Lutheran theologian and professor Kurt E. Marquart. Currently, there is no known cure —available treatments mostly treat the symptoms of the disease.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began July 29, 2014, as a way to help those who have the disease by raising money for research. Participants make a video in which ice water is dumped on them, and sometimes they dump the water themselves. Celebrities such as LeBron James and “Weird Al” Yankovic have participated, as have former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. At the end of each video, the soggy participant usually “calls out” a few people to participate, giving them the option of either making their own video or sending $100 to the ALS Association for research.

The video appears to be an enormous fundraising success. According to the ALS Association, they have received more than $41.8 million this year, compared with $2.1 million as of the same time last year. So between the fun videos — and many of them are riotously hilarious — and the fundraising to combat a debilitating and incurable disease, this is a win for everyone, right?

There is one concern with this challenge, and it is by no means a small one. The ALS Association, which is promoting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, sends its money to research groups to find new treatments and to look for cures. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of that money — $500,000 in 2013 — goes to a group that conducts its research using a stem cell line that started from the spinal cord of a baby who was electively aborted at eight weeks’ gestation. In other words, the research conducted by this group depends upon the death of an innocent, pre-born baby.

Among the thousands of people who have taken up the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are many Christians who are acting out of love for their neighbor that was first shown them in Christ’s life and death for all. Knowing that such a frightening and destructive disease is afflicting so many of those around us, Christians are naturally moved to compassion, and that compassion manifests itself in action like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Unfortunately, because the research methods are not widely publicized, most Christians simply do not know how much of this research is carried out and would be appalled to learn the details of embryonic stem cell research.

In the Fifth Commandment, God forbids murder. The taking of innocent human life, as is the case with the embryonic stem cell line used by one of these research groups, is by definition murder. It is still murder even if the purpose of killing the baby is to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies. The research being conducted with this embryonic stem cell line, then, is unethical, and Christians should not support research that begins with the murder of a baby.

Thus, I advise Christians not to send their money to any group that funds embryonic stem cell research. It should be noted though that stem cell research that uses stem cell lines harvested from adult skin cells or from the umbilical cords of babies who have been born should not be considered unethical, and Christians may support this type of research with a clear conscience.

Thankfully, ethical alternatives exist for those Christians who are moved to support research to treat ALS. A quick Internet search revealed at least four organizations that are conducting research using the ethically-harvested stem cell lines, and some of the research conducted from those lines has already shown great promise toward effective therapies.

The Rev. Daniel Hinton is associate pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Editor’s note: These organizations are among those that avoid the use of embryonic stem cells in their medical research efforts:

The following resources from the LCMS Life Library are designed to provide insight into the use of embryonic stem cells and related ethical concerns:

An Approach to Bioethics
In our culture, ethical or moral determinations are often based on the sentiments of who makes the decision. In the minds of many, motive justifies the act. But Lutheran theology has a way of viewing the objective act itself as either compatible or incompatible with what God does for us.

What Is a Stem Cell?
Are we to consider the human body divorced from what it means to be a human being? Is the human body merely the sum total of its parts, or is body and soul a unity that will participate someday in the resurrection?

Stem Cell Research: Theology
Christians are neighbors to the unborn embryo. Because we are forgiven by His grace through faith, the relationship that God has with us and that we have with our neighbor is based on this covenant love. Therefore, our love to children who are conceived is unconditional and long suffering.

The Stem-Cell Slide: Be Alert to the Beginnings of Evil
President Bush argued: Why not bring good out of evil by using otherwise wasted stem cells to find cures for awful diseases? The problem is that when this source of stem cells runs out those on the other side will demand more stem cells from more embryos.

Posted Aug. 22, 2014 / Updated Aug. 23, 2014

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

58 Responses to Commentary: Should Lutherans take ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’?

  1. Cathey August 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Thank you for a well written explanation. I had no plans to participate in this activity, but I appreciate your article.

  2. Sheryl Zinda August 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    My son challenged me to the ALS ice bucket challenge but then told me about the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City,Iowa that believes in the dignity of human life and does not use embryonic stem cells. I thank you also for mentioning this organization and am thankful we can work together with our Catholic brothers and sisters to promote the sanctity of life.

  3. Yvonne batson August 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Can you please send me some organization that do not use embryonic stems cells and their link to the website. Thanks and blessings

  4. Doug Mood August 22, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    “Unfortunately, a substantial amount of that money — $500,000 in 2013 — goes to a group that conducts its research using a stem cell line that started from the spinal cord of a baby who was electively aborted at eight weeks’ gestation.”

    What an important bit of information! A major challenge of living with a secularised society is to be constantly aware of the insidious ways the secularists have of drawing the unsuspecting into their world. Situational ethics and situational morality are the polar opposite of the Ten Commandments. Yet they are everywhere offered as the modern or sophisticated alternative to God’s inerrant law. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  5. Paul August 22, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    While this is good to know I hope there won’t be efforts to condemn people who already have participated in this. Who will we go after next. Starbucks drinkers?

    • Norma Oxley August 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      There was no effort toward condemnation, only an attempt to inform us of the dangers of supporting blindly something that goes against conscience and God’s Word.

  6. Miriam August 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    One could also choose another charity -another cause

  7. Resa August 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    I have a question regarding your article. Please know I am a Christ following Christian and try to hold His Word in my life. I am also a great niece of a dear uncle that died of ALS. You mentioned in your article that they started with one spiral cord from an elective abortion of a baby. You do not mention if they continued to use aborted babies or created their own embryos do you know if they do? If they can also use adult stem cells and umbilical cords do you know if they are using them now? My heart breaks for the aborted child. But I do not believe that that elective abortion would not have happen had they known the child would be used for research. I want to know if more aborted babies are being used?

    • Gwen August 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

      I agree, that’s my question too.

    • Dedi August 23, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      George Bush made it illegal to use stem cells from lines other than that one embryo which was already in use for research.

      So to answer you question – legally, babies are not being aborted to harvest stem cells for research.

      I remember this very well as I also had a family member with a disease that was being researched using stem cells from aborted embryos at the time.

    • Rev. Scott August 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      PLEASE READ THIS THEN GO TO WIKIPEDIA. I did not find any source that uses aborted fetuses for the research that is explained in this article. I have even call and talked to ALS and they said they only use one type of stem cell testing and not from aborted fetuses.

      Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, an early-stage preimplantation embryo.[1][2] Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells. Isolating the embryoblast or inner cell mass (ICM) results in destruction of the blastocyst, which raises ethical issues, including whether or not embryos at the pre-implantation stage should be considered to have the same moral status as more developed human beings.[3][4]
      In vitro fertilization generates multiple embryos. The surplus of embryos is not clinically used or is unsuitable for implantation into the patient, and therefore may be donated by the donor with consent. Human embryonic stem cells are derived from these donated embryos that would otherwise be discarded.[39] The inner cell mass (cells of interest), from the blastocyst stage of the embryo, is separated from the trophectoderm, the cells that would differentiate into extra-embryonic tissue. Immunosurgery, the process in which antibodies are bound to the trophectoderm and removed by another solution, and mechanical dissection are performed to achieve separation. The resulting inner cell mass cells are plated onto cells that will supply support. The inner cell mass cells attach and expand further to form a human embryonic cell line, which are undifferentiated. These cells are fed daily and are enzymatically or mechanically separated every four to seven days. For differentiation to occur, the human embryonic stem cell line is removed from the supporting cells to form embryoid bodies, is co-cultured with a serum containing necessary signals, or is grafted in a three-dimensional scaffold to result.[40]

      • JoAnne August 24, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

        The creation of “surplus” embryos is itself a different problem. If human life begins at conception (and any argument different than that breaks down at today it’s a human life, yesterday it wasn’t), these “surplus embryos are humans – they do not belong to anyone to be “donated”, however good the cause.

  8. David August 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Please repost an updated version of your findings concerning THE ALS Group using embyonic stem cell s. Many people are saying this is not true and those of us who are quoting from the posting are taking a beating.

    • Rev. Daniel A. Hinton August 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Dear David,

      The ALS Association gave $500,000 in 2013 to a group called Northeast Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis Consortium (NEALS). Below is a link to NEALS’s own website which outlines an ALS study currently underway. In the study summary, NEALS reports on the stem cell line being used, that “These stem cells have been engineered from the spinal cord of a single fetus electively aborted after eight weeks of gestation. The tissue was obtained with the mother’s consent.”

      http://www.alsconsortium.org/trial.php?id=12

      Hope this helps.

      • Matt August 26, 2014 at 1:38 am #

        Rev Hinton,

        As I read your commentary, you are suggesting boycotting donations to the ALS association as they donated to the NEALS who supported a single, specific study using embryonic stem cells. Did you notice that the study chair is from the University of Michigan. I presume then that you are also suggesting boycotting any donation to the University of Michigan as there is a direct line . . . OK I realize this is pushing the limits. Instead of spending a great deal of time dealing with whether a single aborted baby was ultimately used for good, why don’t we spend time dealing with the thousands of children worldwide who suffer horribly each day. Why don’t we as Christians put our money to use in funding free adoption instead of simply condemning abortion? I could put forth many “Why don’t . . ” statements, but the bottom line is we are caught up using our energy in philosophical discussions when we should be using that energy to love our fellow man . . . and yes, I am a missionary to Africa where I use my time, money and resources to love my African brothers and sisters. Billy Graham said it best ” . . . the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict, God’s job is to judge, my job is to Love!”

  9. Sarah August 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Last I had read, embryonic stem cell research had still not produced a single cure for anything. On the other hand, adult stem cell treatments for various conditions are already used successfully for many people.

  10. Gerry August 23, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    Question to all those that play the God card when confronted by embryonic stem cells and related ethical concerns:
    The research does Not abort life from the mother, but explores in making life changes. The above article refers to the body parts remaining part of whole for the resurrection, but why is this not viewed the same as the donation of a heart, kidney, or bone, tendon, etc. from a deceased sole. Personally, at 75 years old and a LCMS sole from Baptism that this not playing God or going against the commandments. Only using the gift he gave us during creation of man. Let’s CONDEMN the act of abortion NOT the research.

  11. Brad Grierson August 23, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    This is a great and informative article, however, I do have an ethics question regarding embryonic stem cell research. I whole heartedly agree that abortion in any form for any reason is murder. This for me is a non issue. My question is in regards to the aftermath of such an abomination. Once the wretched deed has been done, shouldn’t we at least research it? Much of the medical knowledge we have today is because of the atrocities that that the Nazi and Japanese doctors committed during WWII. Should we ignore and refuse such medical knowledge because of the wicked nature in which they were learned?

    Please note that I am not saying we should fund anything that actually encourages abortion for research, such actions would be an abomination, but when abortions happen and they will, why should we not learn what we can from the tragic aftermath?

    Perhaps to put what I am saying simply is to say that we should never do evil to do good, but if evil has already happened, what good can we get from it?

    • Judy Knapp August 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      This was also my response. If the abortion has already taken place, why not let something positive come of it, if possible. I am definitely, Lutheran pro-life, but we haven’t been able to stop that debacle completely. Sort of like donating one’s organs at death??

    • erin August 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

      exactly!!!

  12. Janet Bernthal August 23, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    I have a personal reason to want the research into the cause and cure of ALS. My father died of the disease. I would like to contribute to research. Do you know of an organization that does not use aborted stem cells? I’d appreciate any info you could give me.
    Thanks,
    Jan

    • Stephanie August 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      You can click on the links on this page,,,they are in blue. Put your cursor over the organizations just under the Editor’s note. I searched around on the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, and it’s a little hard to find at first, but you do find that they do NOT use embryonic stem cells and they do ALS research. I did not research the other ones, as KU Med Center is close to me and my friends that I have challenged.

  13. Jim Prange August 23, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    I would wonder how Lutherans feel if they are currently suffering from ALS or know a family member or friend is is experiencing or has died from this terrible condition. How do you feel about this belief?
    If you have just found out that you have ALS…..and the cure is now available in the future, would you refuse because of the method used in finding the cure?
    I wonder what you believe?

    • Cheri August 24, 2014 at 6:22 am #

      My mother passed away in March from this disease. She was an amazing lady that trusted God. She respected human life in all it’s forms. Embryonic stem cell research is not something she, or my family, would support, even after all she went through.

  14. Tricia Williams August 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Of course one person funds that project by their donation alone. Specified by them. That bit of information could have been provided as well.

  15. Rev. Jeffrey Gross August 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Well written article, thank you. It is sad how many ‘charities’ finding ‘cures’ for many diseases resort to medical ‘research’ using babies murdered by abortion, or assist such ‘research.’ It reminds one of the Nazi and Japanese doctors of WW2 and their ‘research’.
    In any case, diligently seek out ways to help people stricken with various afflictions, just do a bit of research into their methods.
    If you find out a group you support is using questionable methods, perhaps you can convince them from within to make just a few changes to make their actions more God-pleasing and so worthy of a Christian’s support.

  16. Aimee Beam August 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    You have done a terrible thing here. You have discouraged Christians from lending awareness or funding to a devastating disease?? The ALS Ice Bucket challenge is the first successful campaign in the known history of this deadly disease. You should have provided the huge list of organizations that are NOT doing embryonic stem cell research. I am encouraging our fellow Christians to preserve life at ALL of its phases. Together we can protect embryos AND relieve the suffering of those now stricken with this deadly disease. **Donors can always stipulate how their donations are spent just like Dave Ramsey did! GO WATCH DAVE RAMSEY’S ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE VIDEO! You can control where your money goes and continue to help ALS! Fellow Christians, we need each other, please do not be a part of stopping this wonderful campaign…. Pray about this…. Thank you.

    • Cadgma August 23, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

      I agree with Aimee completely. Keep the Ice Bucket Challenge going. Let the publicity of that help us with ALS awareness and funding and also make people aware that embryo stem cell are being used and we want that stopped.

    • Susan August 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Amen!

    • Rev. Daniel A. Hinton August 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Links to three such organizations can be found among the Editor’s Notes on this page.

    • Raquel August 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

      Amy, he lists three organizations on the editor’s note at the end of his article.

  17. Mike August 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I want to say that there is really nothing to worry about. Stem cells are just like any individual cell in your body with the difference that they can form any cell you like. And individual cells don’t have the ability to feel any pain, so there’s really no suffering involved. And an 8 cell embryo is very very far from a baby. It’s almost ridiculous to call it a baby. To speak of murder does therefore not make sense at all. Your body loses millions of dead cells every day. And with the right methods you could in principle turn those cells into embryos too and you don’t speak of murder in that case either. Trust me, I’m a biologist. And I was also raised christian btw. So let those people do their amazing work so we can rid the world of these horrible diseases. Only good can come from it!

  18. Corey August 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Unless the baby that was born consented to stem cells being harvested, how can one consider that to be “ethical”? Elective, possibly dangerous medical procedures being done on a human to collect stem sells is more ethical than using a 10th generation line of stem cells procured from a fetus that was aborted more than 17 years ago?

  19. Bob Miskimen August 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Not all Stem Cells come from Aborted Fetuses (Children of God). Some, limited source, are created from harvesting cells from frozen embryonic cells created from eggs/sperm in a laboratory. These cells are equally morally unjust to those who love life. My alma-mater (UW-Madison) is one of these sources and has received limit Gov’t grant for these limited, yet numerous lines of stem-cell-harvesting and cloning.

    Adult Stem Cells have shown much more promise in many cases where type specific stem cells are required (Skin Grafting, etc.). Another more life sensitive source of embryonic Stem Cells is from those derived from Umbilical Cord Blood after birth. I am not sure of the current usage of those cells and their promise.

  20. Tom Kendall August 24, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    I take issue with the comment from the article…”It is still murder even if the purpose of killing the baby is to harvest his spinal cord to develop medical therapies.”

    I might be wrong, but I am sure the researchers decided to use an already aborted fetus. The way this is written…Rev Daniel Hinton is implying that the researchers went out and had someone abort their baby for the sole purpose of research. I doubt that was the way it happened. “We need to do some research so….let’s go kill an unborn baby.”

    • Rev. Daniel A. Hinton August 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      “These stem cells have been engineered from the spinal cord of a single fetus electively aborted after eight weeks of gestation. The tissue was obtained with the mother’s consent.”

      Source: http://www.alsconsortium.org/trial.php?id=12

      Even if they had gone to an abortionist and obtained the dead baby from there, the research they conduct from tissue recovered from the corpse would still be woefully unethical.

      • Robert C. Baker August 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

        This is patently incorrect, and gives further evidence why a mere M.Div. degree (obtained in 2011) is no license to practice bioethics.

        The fetus’s life was terminated, which was tragic and immoral. However, the mother gave voluntary consent for the dead fetus to be used for scientific purposes.

        Helpful here is to separate the two acts: first, the act of killing, which is immoral, and second, the act of donating human remains for research, which is not.

        If one is going to allow for the latter, which most people in the LCMS do, then there is nothing wrong with the mother donating her child’s body in the hope that someone might benefit from it.

        The mother was wrong, not the child, and certainly not anyone who might benefit from this research.

        Robert C. Baker, M.Div., M.S.
        St. Louis

  21. Mark Slade August 24, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    It is too bad that people would use religion to discourage such a powerful funding effort for such a terrible disease. If they found the cure im sure because of religion we would not say I can not be cured. I am a christian but still did the challenge. The support for a cure is a great thing. If they solve it I will be interested to see how many christians do not get cured because of where it came from.

  22. Susan August 24, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    I am so sad to read this. I feel you are trying to shame those that have done the challenge. I have done it, as well as my children and their entire Lutheran school. It’s about raising awareness. Which you are now trying to stop it seems. After reading this I also spoke with our local als chapter and found out just where our money went. Please do some more research before casting judgements and making assumptions. Only God can judge.

  23. Rebecca August 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I am Lutheran, and I did get from this article that I am condemned for doing the ice bucket challenge. What’s worse, is now, how do I apologize to Christian’s and Non-Christians alike for supporting research that may come from aborted fetuses because I have friends that I love in both categories.? I have to tell you the truth, I am struggling with this article. I have attended churches who taught nothing but law. I have attended churches that taught me that if I was forgiven, I would be able to speak in tongues. I wondered what I had done that was so bad that God hadn’t forgiven me, because I could not speak in tongues. I was not born and raised Lutheran, but thought I finally found a church that would teach loving your neighbor no matter what, and forgiveness. This is what God has taught me from His Word. How can I increase His church by condemning? I don’t remember Jesus teaching by condemnation. I am struggling mightily with this and need your prayers. Is this really what the LCMS is? Is it what all organized churches are? There are people who believe that, you know. Will this increase His numbers? I am torn.

    • Michelle August 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      Dear Rebecca,
      I do not think you are being condemned. I think the purpose of this article was to advise. So you could make an informed decision.
      “Thus, I advise Christians not to send their money to any group that funds embryonic stem cell research.”
      Once you have the information, then you can decide.
      This article hit a nerve with lots of people based on a prelim. read on this site and on facebook.
      I will continue to pray for you while you grapple with this.

  24. Brenda August 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    It is an interesting article. The author brings out the point of the 5th commandment forbidding murder, yet Lutherans have always disregarded the commandment to remember the Sabbath day. Nowhere in Scripture has God changed the day of rest to be Sunday. God does not change. It was only centuries after the resurrection that Sunday was called “the Lord’s Day” as part of the general Church rejection and replacement of everything Jewish. We must look at the log in our eye before we remove the speck in others. If more of us had faith like the disciples we wouldn’t need to donate money. We would lay hands on those with ALS and tell the disease to be gone and they would be healed. That is exactly what Jesus would do. There may be better oragnizations to donate to, but our God does work good even though an innocent life is murdered. Remember, David had Uriah killed so he could marry his wife Bathsheba. Solomon was born to Bathsheba. We are shown in Matthew that Jesus was from the lineage of Solomon “whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.” God’s ways are not our ways.

  25. erin August 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    do people have to turn something good into something negative really people are never happy yes this is coming from a Christian I hope people keep donating despite these idiotic storys that people keep spreading around

  26. Darrin Urbytes August 24, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Thank you for speaking up and educating us with your well-written and well-structured article, Pastor Hinton. The same concerns may also be surfaced for American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Susan Komen Foundation, and the lion’s share of national secular charities. Nonetheless, despite the efforts of those who voice the unpopular truth of what these organizations are doing with our well-meant dollars, our own congregations continue to support such anti-life organizations via Relay for Life, Jump Rope for Heart (an annual event in many of our own grade schools), Hoops for Heart, Volley for a Cure, etc. Amazingly, many church leaders simply can’t bring themselves to admit that they have been misled, so they repeat the crafty propaganda fed to them by the charities’ representatives to convince themselves that all is well, then keep asking us and our kids to participate in funding the destruction of babies. As for those who lament how difficult it is to keep track of the many deceptions afoot, I would agree and point out that discipleship requires discipline, tenacity, and prayerful discernment. Let’s not shirk our calling but rather stand firm to protect God’s crowning achievement… HUMAN LIFE!
    P.S. – – Anyone who believes that “designating” your donation is a valid approach to avoid funding embryonic stem cell research is naïve to the practices of charitable accounting. General discretionary budgets are easily amended to offset any such “designations”. The impact of your “designation” in reducing the murder of babies? = NONE.

    • Paul August 26, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      Years ago I used to receive the AFA (American Family Association) publication that came out on a regular basis to tell us what commercial products sponsored various TV shows – most of them having un-Christian thematic content. I don’t imagine that today’s shows have become more wholesome. The point was that real Christians would boycott the products that sponsored those shows. The problem is that the list of products and companies who advertise / “support” these shows is pretty huge by now. As soon as a person starts to “raise awareness” of a company doing something wrong, that same person will be caught doing business with another unsavory company and come across as a hypocrite. Perhaps this is why we have 1 Corinthians 8.

  27. DaleM August 25, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    While I do not support the wholesale harvesting of stem cells (abortion) but I do support stem cell and other research for ALS and other neurological disease research. I was diagnosed with MS, a close relative of ALS, 15 years ago. When diagnosed, I was totally unaware of either disease. Since that time I have become a participant in NARCOMS and the VA SCID programs. NARCOMS (the North American Research Consortium on Multiple Serious), and the VA is doing research on both in an effort to resolve spinal cord injuries in our vets returning from conflicts over seas and others suffering from each of the respective diseases.

  28. Jeff August 25, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Thanks for a well written article. I believe nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. There are many atrocities in this world. If The Lord has given us the intelligence and technical skills to use stem cells to cure many diseases shouldn’t we try to do so? While I totally agree we should do so with the most moral ethically sound practice. God’s will be done. Thanks for providing some choices to contribute to. As Christians we need to stand together and fight evil wherever we can. But we also need to remember man can be wrong, look at mans history and all the horrible things that have been done in the name of religion. Evil wins when good people fail to act. I just wish more people took time to pray and reflect before they act. Gods blessings.

  29. Stephen August 25, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    I appreciated the list of alternative organizations to consider supporting.

  30. Caleb Castaneda August 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Yawn. I am not a Christian but didn’t one of your famous Bible people warn about straining a gnat and drinking a camel?

    With all the world’s problems, why do Christians focus on this? A good cause? This is why Christianity will soon die: you aren’t fooling the younger generation anymore. We see this silliness for what it is: self righteousness

  31. Tom August 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    So many thoughts. So many good comments. ALS Association is THE organization working to find help, relief, and a cure for ALS and those affected by this horrible disease. If any of us or anyone close to us was diagnosed with ALS, I’m sure most – not all – would pray for a cure. And God uses the ALS Association to find a cure–they are THE leaders in research. I thought the comments regarding the idea the idea that if any of us were diagnosed with ALS only to find out that the money raise through the ice bucket challenge helped them find that cure that we’d hope we hadn’t been healed. The author can spend a lot of time informing all of us of the companies that give to money to organizations that support anything we believe in. In fact, here are some more companies you should stop supporting because they all give funds to Planned Parenthood:
    3Com Corporation

    Adobe Systems, Inc.

    American Express corporation

    AT&T

    Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Inc.

    Black & Decker
    Boing – The Employee Community Fund

    Bristol-Myers
    Charles Schwab

    Chase Manhattan

    Chevron
    Texaco

    Citibank

    Citigroup

    Coca-Cola

    
Exxon
    Mobil

    Fannie Mae

    Fidelity Investments
    Ford Motor Company

    Freddie Mac
 
Gap

    General Electric

    Georgia-Pacific Corporation

    Hewlett Packard Company Foundation

    
IBM

    Levi Strauss

    Liberty Mutual

    Mastercard International

    McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

    
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

    Microsoft Corporation

    Chase
Morgan
    
Motorola
    
PepsiCo
    Pfizer

    Phillip Morris

    Pitney Bowes

    Safeco Corporation

    
Schwab Corporation

    
Starbucks

    Verizon

    Xerox

    Yahoo!
    Komen Race for the Cure
    Any Lutherans using ATT, Verizon, Starbucks, Pepsi or Coke products, Microsoft, Yahoo …? Look at that list! Obviously a lot of Christians use these products–possibly the author of this piece. We can spend all our time researching every where our money goes, or we can spend our time sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, who, by the way uses researchers to find cures and bring help to those suffering from the results of life in a sinful world.

    Having said all that, please know that I believe in and support the sanctity of life. I DO appreciate the information shared in this piece — although I wish I had read it months ago so I, and others, could be made aware of it sooner so we could consider the options. But I also watched first-hand a friend die a slow, horrible death from ALS. I refuse to feel guilty because I participated in the ice bucket challenge or that I sent in a donation. I don’t believe I sinned in doing so — nor do I feel it’s a sin to drink Pepsi or use Microsoft. I LOVE that more people have discovered what ALS is all about through this ice bucket challenge! I believe in God’s grace through Jesus Christ. And I pray they find a cure for ALS.

  32. Rachael August 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    As a young girl I watched a family member die of ALS. Throughout the entire ALS journey, the ALS Association provided resources and community that were incredibly comforting to the family. It costs a minimum of $200,000 a year to live with ALS. The ALS Association works to help mitigate some of that financial burden for individuals with ALS. They also provide resources such as wheelchairs, adapted cars, medicine, doctors, and most importantly a community where people whose lives have been affected by ALS can go for support. Though embryonic stem cell research is an incredibly important topic, this article makes it seem as if that’s the only purpose of the ALS Association, when in reality the ALS Association is so much more than a source of funding for researchers. (Side note: this article strongly implies that researchers are performing abortions to further their research. This is in fact illegal. All collected material is gathered from abortions that would have happened anyway, however wrong)>

    Many people are asking how a Christian who has experienced ALS in some way would feel about this article. I can tell you that this article upset me like no other. The ALS Association is the only ALS patient advocacy group in the country. They serve as a source of comfort and aid for those who are hurting more deeply than some will ever know. To attempt to lead others to believe otherwise is a manipulation of the facts at best and ignorance at worst. (Note: you can dictate where your dollars go within the organization. If you don’t want your money going towards research you can dictate that it won’t.)

  33. Richard August 26, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I may not know somebody with als but my feeling are the same: ALS Association or Jesus Christ or ALS Association.
    For me and my household we serve the Lord.

  34. Kevin August 26, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Embryonic stem cell research is outdated.
    Induced Pluripotent Stem cells, also known as iPS cells, are bioengineered from adult tissues to have properties of embryonic stem cells, which have the unlimited capacity to differentiate and grow into any desired types of cells, such as skin, brain, lung and heart cells.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-faY2gxyAtA

  35. Mark August 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    I recommend that you remove ALS Therapy Development Institute from your list of ethical alternatives. While it is true that ALS TDI does not CURRENTLY use embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in their research, that is purely a practical decision rather than an ethical one. I have corresponded directly with the organization via both Twitter and email this week, and it was clear from their responses (and indeed, from their own “Research Strategy” on their website) that they would gladly use ESCs IF the research proved fruitful. The only reason they have abandoned ESCs at this time is because adult stem cell research is yielding superior results.

  36. Ann August 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    I did the ice bucket challenge and donated to ALS. I feel good for doing that. And for making the donation. I have no regrets about doing something to help out for this atrocious disease. I am happy I took the challenge. Anything to help, right?

  37. Brad Reimet August 27, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Was the content of the initial posting under this title edited after its initial publication without disclosing the changes? I recall being disturbed at my first read that there was a fairly straightforward “Don’t do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” focus and tone that now seems to be removed.

    The more interesting question no one seems to be asking is “How is it that Lutherans can’t come up with something viral that has the same impact for the Gospel or Christian ministries?”

  38. LCMS Church Information Center August 28, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    One of the joys of Life Together is the opportunity to dialogue and discuss what it means to be Lutheran in this day and age, how we live as Christians in this world and the best way in which to serve our neighbor.

    Sometimes those discussions can be difficult, and the ones that deal with ethics — such as this thread — can be especially thorny. In such situations, our Lord calls all of us to repentance, that we would seek to put the best construction on what others have to say and to continue this robust discussion in a way that furthers understanding of the topic to helpful and constructive ends.

    In that regard, please know that we have many additional resources on our LCMS.org Life Library, documents that will be fodder for still more discussion and for reflection. We also encourage you to read Resolution 6-02 from the 2007 Regular Convention of the LCMS (found below), which outlines the Synod’s position on stem cell research and our church’s explanation of why we “give public witness against the destruction of human life in embryonic stem cell research” (Res. 6-02).

    Please also keep your eye out for more reporting on the upcoming Infertility Ethics Symposium (see http://blogs.lcms.org/2014/infertility-ethics) sponsored by LCMS Life Ministry and the Concordia Seminary Life Team, which is open to ordained pastors, commissioned ministers and seminarians, and will be held Saturday, Nov. 8, at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Undoubtedly, similar discussions will occur throughout the course of the conference, and we’re eager to share them with you so that you can digest and contemplate the same information as those attending.

    Helpful dialogue and discussion among Christians — among Lutherans — are wonderful gifts from our heavenly Father. They provide us with an opportunity to better understand the gift of faith given us in our Baptism and to rejoice in each person’s inherent value and worth, given by the One who created us. In the days ahead, as we continue to speak about life, ethics and God’s love for all, may we think distinctively, learn joyfully, pray heartily and rest in Christ’s promises more strongly still.

    =====

    To State LCMS Position on Stem Cell Research
    Resolution 6-02
    Overture 6-03 (CW, pp. 227-228)

    Whereas, Medical research continues to generate new advances that create ethical questions which prior generations did not have to face; and

    Whereas, Stem cell research in particular, offers the promise of delivering cures to debilitating diseases; and

    Whereas, The LCMS is not opposed to all stem cell research as a means of seeking alleviation for disease; and

    Whereas, The pro-life position support adult stem cell research, which does not involve the destruction of human life and has been utilized in treatment of maladies such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sickle cell anemia, stroke, limb gangrene, corneal regeneration, heart damage, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injury; and

    Whereas, The pro-life position opposes embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), which destroys human life in order to obtain embryonic stem cells for research and has so far shown no success for treatment in humans even though touted in the media as the source of great cures in the future; and

    Whereas, There are calls across the nation by many for state and federal funding of ESCR; and

    Whereas, Voters in the state of Missouri faced such a campaign in the November 2006 election, which passed by a narrow margin in support of ESCR, now allowing this type of research in that state; and

    Whereas, The Scriptures are replete with references showing that God cares for and defends the weak and the fatherless (Deut. 10:18; Ps. 68:5; Ps. 10:14) and, furthermore, that we are to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Prov. 31:8-9 NIV); and

    Whereas, Christians are to let their light shine in this dark world regarding this type of ethical dilemma, and since the LCMS takes a strong and clear pro-life position; therefore be it

    Resolved, That in our preaching and teaching we emphasize that it is God alone who gives life and who is to take human life; and be it further

    Resolved, That the Synod urge its members to give public witness against the destruction of human life in embryonic stem cell research; and be it finally

    Resolved, That the 2007 LCMS convention make known its support of adult stem cell research and its opposition to ESCR, which involved the taking of a human life.

    ACTION: Adopted (4)

    *(During discussion, an amendment to add “embryonic” before “stem cell research” in the second-last resolve was agreed to by the committee. An amendment to delete “and has so far shown no success for treatment in humans even though touted in the media as the source of great cures in the future” from the fifth whereas paragraph failed. After further discussion, the resolution was adopted as changed [Yes: 1,165; No: 41].)

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