Today a major Christian financial services organization temporarily suspended all pro-life and pro-choice groups from a member-driven charity program that has donated $120 million since 2010.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans announced today that, in the wake of outcry over one of its 1,300 local chapters approving a Planned Parenthood affiliate for eligibility in its Thrivent Choice program, the 2.5-million-member ministry is "temporarily suspending all pro-choice and pro-life organizations [from the program], placing a temporary hold on the addition and removal of nonprofit organizations from the program, and conducting a comprehensive program review."
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) had protested the inclusion of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, stating:
[We are] deeply concerned by the news that Thrivent Financial has recognized [a] Planned Parenthood [affiliate] 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.
Thrivent noted that the nominating chapter had agreed to withdraw the Planned Parenthood affiliate from the charity program, which it said more than 270,000 members have used to direct some $47 million—"91% of it to Christian congregations, schools, camps/outdoor ministries, and social ministries."
On Twitter, Thrivent noted that members voted in 2012 to have the ability to add eligible groups to the donation program at the local not corporate level. Responding to pro-life critics regarding the Planned Parenthood affiliate, it also tweeted, "For what it's worth, to date, no funds have ever been directed to that organization."
"While our membership holds diverse points of view on faith and social issues," said Thrivent, "we share a common purpose to be wise with money and live generously."
In June, CT reported how Thrivent dropped its denominational boundaries for the first time in its 111-year history, expanding its financial services to all Christians.
Below is the full announcement from Thrivent:
Members, Thrivent Take Action on Thrivent Choice Issue
December 20, 2013
Background: This is Thrivent Financial's statement regarding a recent issue related to the addition of a Planned Parenthood affiliate to the catalog of eligible Thrivent Choice organizations. The statement outlines our position on this issue and describes the actions of our members and organization.
Thrivent Financial 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.
Thrivent members, if you would like to share your feedback, you may reach the Thrivent Choice® team using the Contact Form on this page. You may also write to:
Thrivent Choice Program
4321 N Ballard Road
Appleton, WI 54919