It’s been a week since Thrivent Financial for Lutherans issued a disastrous “Neutrality Policy” on what it considers “certain social, politically partisan, or health and human services causes and issues, such as abortion, sexual orientation, or guns.” And since that time, there’s been an uproar amongst Lutherans who are members of Thrivent (as it is a fraternal organization) over the removal of dozens of pro-life organizations such as pregnancy care centers, maternity homes, and educational organizations (like Lutherans For Life).
I won’t rehash all that’s happened because others have done a better job of doing that, but here’s a quick summary. Thrivent was discovered to have supported local Planned Parenthood organizations and a regional office of NARAL Pro-Choice America through two different fraternal benefits programs. After the initial discovery, Thrivent temporarily suspended support for pro-abortion and pro-life groups even though there was no contention over the pro-life groups. Then earlier this month (February 2014), Thrivent decided to permanently remove support for the pro-life groups, claiming to be “neutral” on so-called social issues.
I’ve got news for Thrivent, you can’t be neutral on abortion. For anyone who doesn’t understand that a “neutral” stance on doctrine is actually making a statement on that doctrine, i.e. you don’t agree with it, then you need to think a little deeper. To be neutral on abortion means that you don’t care whether it happens or not, in other words, it’s okay that it happens, therefore you are actually for abortion. We’re not talking about a disagreement on what color the carpet in the nave should be, we’re talking about an intentional taking of innocent human life. This isn’t a “social, politically partisan, or health and human services” issue. This is a spiritual issue.
Why is this such a big deal? Certainly Christians support other companies that don’t necessarily agree with their beliefs. True, but the difference is that Target (for example) doesn’t claim to be a Lutheran organization that supports my values, Thrivent does. Coca-cola (for example) doesn’t try to lure me to buy its products by saying my investment will help Lutherans and others, Thrivent does. Fidelity Investments (for example) doesn’t advertise in Lutheran publications saying they are one of us (i.e., Lutheran or Christian), Thrivent does.
Basically, why I’m really mad at Thrivent is the hypocrisy. They claim to be Lutheran when it’s beneficial to them to get my money, but when push comes to shove on a basic and important teaching of Christianity, they pull out the old “we’re going to be neutral because that’s a social or political issue” card; which I hope the leadership of Thrivent has seen that this is an untrue card. If Thrivent wants to just admit that they are a secular financial planning company, then there’s no problem, because I will then regard them as such and carefully weigh whether their investment products are comparable to other secular companies’ products.
Maybe it’s just me, but…it’s time to call a spade a spade and recognize that Thrivent isn’t Lutheran and the company doesn’t have the same values that I have because it thinks that it cannot pick a side between supporting life or supporting death. As such, my investments will be moved, and I urge others to consider that as well. At least I won’t be treated like an ignorant boob by Fidelity.
If you are a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod or a member of an LCMS congregation, a good alternative for investing is the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, which exists to support the LCMS.
For a run-down of events, the Daring Lutheran blog has some interesting posts, including these:
Thrivent’s Dangerous Game
Thrivent Does Not Have the Komen “Out”
A List of Thrivent’s Suspended Organizations
Thrivent has Directly Funded Planned Parenthood and NARAL
For national pro-life news coverage on the Thrivent fiasco, see:
Live Action News: “Lutheran group Thrivent Financial caught funding Planned Parenthood; yanks pro-life funds in response”
LifeNews: “Thrivent cuts donations to pro-life groups after criticism over pro-abortion funding”
For statements regarding Thrivent’s neutrality policy, see:
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS)
Lutherans For Life (LFL)