Update (12/19): The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has issued a statement.
Update 2 (12/19): A LCMS Reporter article on the issue.
Update 3 (12/20): Thrivent has responded.
Update 4 (12/20): The WELS have issued a statement.
In doing a bit more research into Thrivent Choice this morning, I wondered whether Thrivent at least had seized upon some sort of “out”, much like the Susan G. Komen For the Cure organization has in their dealings with Planned Parenthood.
Recall that Susan G. Komen For the Cure has certain affiliates that give money to Planned Parenthood in various parts of the country (when I was a pastor in Dallas the local Komen Race for the Cure gave money to Planned Parenthood of North Texas). Komen has justified their actions by arguing that they are only giving funds designated to be used for breast-health education and screenings.
However, this is a flimsy excuse. If you think of an organization’s funding like a set of buckets, you’ll see that funds can be reallocated from one bucket to another when another source opens up. In Komen’s case, Planned Parenthood could take other undesignated funds that they’d have to use for breast-health education and apply them elsewhere, say in abortion services, because of the designated generosity of Komen.
All that said, again, I wondered whether Thrivent had engineered some sort of similar “out” in how Thrivent Choice dollars are given. Do they ever give in a designated way, where funds can only be used in a certain sense?
Here’s what I found:
Q: When directing Choice Dollars to organizations or congregations, can members designate the funds to be used for a certain purpose/ministry?
A: Through Thrivent Choice, members aren’t able to designate funds to a specific purpose or ministry within an organization/congregation. All funds distributed under Thrivent Choice are exclusively Thrivent Financial’s funds, and are never owned by members or paid on behalf of members. Thrivent Financial’s charitable funds distributed through Thrivent Choice are not designated for any specific purposes.
Unless I’m broadly misreading this statement, any money that Thrivent might give to Planned Parenthood (or any other organization that operates or lobbies contrary to the will of God) can be used in any way said organizations sees fit. In the case of Planned Parenthood, that money can be used to directly fund abortion services.
Though, I also found this in the Terms and Conditions for Organizations:
7. Use of Thrivent Choice Dollars Grant Funds. All Choice Dollars Grant Funds paid to Organization
are to be used exclusively to carry out the religious, charitable, or educational purposes of Organization. Organization is prohibited from using any Choice Dollars Grant Funds to (1) satisfy, offset or reduce any part of the pledge, liability or other obligation of any person or entity, or (2) make any payment to or provide any other economic benefit to any person in exchange for or in connection with the direction of Choice Dollars to Organization or to any other entity.
Does this contradict the previous statement? I don’t think that’s the case. Instead this is requiring that an organization use the Thrivent Choice funds to carry out said organization’s purpose, and not be used to pay down some sort of previously-established commitment or debt of the Thrivent Choice designator (that is, the Thrivent member who directed their Thrivent Choice dollars to said organization). It also means that the organization can’t provide some sort of kickback to a Thrivent member for directing their Thrivent Choice dollars to said organization.
All this is to say that Thrivent does not have the Komen “out”. If Thrivent Choice dollars go to Planned Parenthood or some other such organization, those dollars can be used to carry out operations or lobbying efforts that directly counter the revealed will of God (such as abortion in the case of Planned Parenthood).
But again, Thrivent can make a change at the corporate level and remove such organizations from eligibility. I hope they do so.
For more information: Thrivent’s Dangerous Game