Update #1 (1/15/14) – The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has issued a statement.
Thrivent Financial promotes itself as “a faith-based, not-for-profit membership organization nearly 2.5 million members strong.” Thrivent confesses to do business in this way: “Being membership-owned, Thrivent Financial does what’s best for our members, supporting the values of faith, family, stewardship and service.” And in this way: “We’re a faith-based organization, called to care for others.” “The common bond of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is Christianity.”
But, according to statements and documents provided by persons familiar with the matter, Thrivent Financial has directly funded Planned Parenthood Federation of America, at least three Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the United States, and the NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation, through the Thrivent Financial Gift Multiplier program. A fourth Planned Parenthood affiliate is currently in “on hold” status and it is unclear whether it has actually received funds. Many of Thrivent’s Members and employees would argue that this action is contrary to the teachings of Christianity and, therefore, contrary to Thrivent’s promise to support “the values of faith, family, stewardship and service.”
Asked for comment, Thrivent responded: “The Thrivent Gift Matching Program provides matching funds for contributions made by corporate employees and members of our field organization to non-profit organizations. We are aware of the issue that has been raised and will review and address accordingly.” Further statements from Thrivent will be added to this article as they are available.
The Gift Multiplier program matches personal donations made by Thrivent employees. Thrivent promotes the program in their recruitment materials:
“We also encourage and support financial gifts to our communities through our Gift Multiplier program. We match 100% of your contributions (up to an annual limit) to qualified organizations. We will also double that match if you are serving on the recipient organization’s board of directors.”
Thrivent provides these matching funds via their charitable giving arm, the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation. A Thrivent employee submits an application while donating money to the charitable organization of their choice and, upon approval, Thrivent matches the donation up to a set amount. The set amount varies based on the employee’s rank. Each organization is currently capped at receiving $50,000 total funds per year.
“Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and the Foundation take a neutral position on controversial issues where significant disagreement or debate exists. Therefore, the organization declines grants and gifts to projects that support positions not generally agreed upon in society at large.”
By accepting Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, and NARAL in the Gift Multiplier program, Thrivent implies that organizations which provide abortions as well as organizations which lobby for abortion rights at the state and national levels are not controversial.
Yet, Planned Parenthood is the leading abortion provider in the United States, having performed around 327,000 abortions in 2012. NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota states that its mission “is to develop and sustain a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.” Thrivent participates in the murder of innocent human lives by granting matching funds to Planned Parenthood and NARAL. This is controversial.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates appear on an internal company list of organizations eligible to receive matching funds (screenshot below). The list was published within the last 30 days and is not out-of-date. Note the ID number listed before the title of the organization. According to a Thrivent source familiar with the workings of the Gift Multiplier program, these numbers are assigned chronologically as organizations are added to the list. Therefore, the source adds, because the last two were added sometime in the last year, the first three organizations have been on the list for some time. It’s unknown at this time the amount of funding that Thrivent has provided to these organizations. It’s also unknown exactly when the funds were granted. However, for an organization to appear on this list it must already have been approved and given funds through the Thrivent Gift Multiplier program.
NARAL Minnesota also appears in this company list. Again note that this organization has been on the list for some time (although not as long as the first three Planned Parenthood organizations above).
It’s important to note that these organizations were funded through the Thrivent Foundation. Thrivent describes the Foundation in this way:
The Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation is a private foundation funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. As a 501(c)(3) organization with its own board of trustees, the foundation is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literary and educational purposes and makes grants and gifts to 501(c)(3) exempt organizations. The Foundation does not provide grants to individuals.
The Thrivent Foundation is funded entirely by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. All of the monies which the Foundation distributes come from the monies which Thrivent earns via its various products and investments.
Thrivent is organized as a fraternal benefit society. Thrivent Members should be able to contact Thrivent and request to see the documents in question, as well as to obtain information on what monies have been given to Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, and NARAL, as well as any other organization.
In summary, money earned by Thrivent from the investments of Thrivent Members is given, via Thrivent’s charitable arm the Thrivent Foundation, to pro-abortion organizations such as: Planned Parenthood Foundation of America; Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin; Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio; and NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has been added to the Gift Multiplier database, but is “on hold” and therefore it is unclear whether they have received funds at this time.
Members can contact their Thrivent representative and the Thrivent corporate headquarters to express their thoughts on this matter.