Statement regarding Thrivent Choice program

Late Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, WELS leadership became aware that the Thrivent Choice program catalog included an entry for Planned Parenthood affiliates in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Choice program offered by Thrivent allows Thrivent customers to designate charitable gifts to a list of charities nominated by Thrivent chapters.

WELS leadership promptly contacted Thrivent to express concern and opposition after learning of this option, which is in direct conflict with God’s message on the sanctity of life.

WELS First Vice President Rev. James Huebner says, “God makes it clear in the Holy Scriptures that he is the one who grants physical life to human beings. More importantly, he is the one who sent his Son to give us eternal life. Our response of joy and thanks includes praising him for his gift of life forever and life for now. For that reason we uphold the sanctity of life in every possible way. As WELS members we continue to turn to the Scriptures to guide us on these issues. It saddens us to know that organizations such as Planned Parenthood ignore God’s will in regard to God’s gift of life.”

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is faithful in its acknowledgment of the sanctity of life from conception. This is a truth to which we hold steadfast and will not waver.

WELS members may have questions how this affects their business relationship with Thrivent. Thrivent is a non-profit business that offers financial and insurance products to not only Lutherans of all synods, but all Christians. While it describes itself as a “faith-based” organization, it is not a church body and is not in any way related to the work that WELS carries out as a synod. While we acknowledge and appreciate the grants Thrivent has provided to the synod for various projects, WELS does not actively endorse Thrivent programs. The decision by Thrivent to allow Planned Parenthood to be a recipient of Choice dollars, while it grieves us for the premature loss of life that organization supports, does not necessarily affect our synod’s ministries. Congregations may continue to benefit from the efforts of the local Thrivent chapters, while being careful to distinguish the activities of those chapters from the mission of the congregation. Individual WELS members who are members of Thrivent are simply purchasers of financial product and can still utilize Thrivent for its financial services.

The bottom line is that WELS has no fellowship relationship with Thrivent. WELS members are still able to make use of the Choice dollars that Thrivent enables them to direct to the charities of their choice. When making decisions regarding interaction with Thrivent, its chapters, and its programs, WELS congregations and schools can view Thrivent just as they view any other business.

Thrivent has released a statement regarding a change in its Choice program policies.