ReconcilingWorks’ Statement on Thrivent Financial’s New Policies in Member-Outreach Programs
Following Thrivent Financial’s announcement in early February about its new “neutrality policy” for its outreach programs to its members, the leaders of ReconcilingWorks and our movement partner, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, met with some of the top management staff at Thrivent at its Minneapolis, Minnesota, office. Unfortunately, that meeting did not bring a resolution to the situation.
As a result, ReconcilingWorks issues the statement below.
Thrivent’s Heart Does Not Follow its Treasure
ReconcilingWorks is deeply disappointed in the leadership of Thrivent Financial and the policy decisions it has made in excluding ReconcilingWorks and our movement partner, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), from Thrivent’s member-outreach programs. ReconcilingWorks and ELM are working toward full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church and society, and Thrivent’s actions are ones of exclusion and discrimination and do not advance the cause of inclusion.
ReconcilingWorks is surprised that a large institution, one based in Minnesota and on Fortune’s 500 list, a major actor in the Lutheran community with its financial resources, is moving against the wave of inclusion sweeping its own state, many of the denominations it now serves, and our nation.
While the loss of funds from this change in policy is notable, what is more important are the principles at stake in this situation. With the exclusions of certain organizations in its member-outreach programs, some contradictions remain in Thrivent’s execution of these programs. Two examples:
- Thrivent’s original “neutrality policy,” announced in February, was intended to exclude organizations that advocated support or opposition to certain causes or issues that could “distract,” such as LGBT issues, according to Thrivent. The neutrality policy was subsequently replaced by new Thrivent Choice Terms and Conditions for Organizations Receiving Choice Dollars Grant Funds, which continue to exclude ReconcilingWorks due to its advocacy for same-gender marriage as well as “gay clergy,” according to Thrivent. However, Thrivent still allows its members to give their Choice Dollars to Focus on the Family. The Southern Poverty Law Center says, “No one has spread the anti-gay gospel as widely, or with as much political impact, as James Dobson… who founded Focus on the Family (FOF) in 1977.”
- Thrivent has many employees who are LGBT, and ReconcilingWorks is greatly concerned about them. Many have been longtime supporters and donors of ReconcilingWorks. Thrivent has non-discrimination policies in place for LGBT employees and provides benefits for same-gender partners, but Thrivent will not share benevolence dollars with the very organizations working to advocate for those employees and their families. It remains unclear what Thrivent’s new stance against LGBT-oriented organizations means for its LGBT employees.
In its policy changes, Thrivent has disrespected its members and employees. ReconcilingWorks calls on Thrivent leaders to reconsider its policy changes. ReconcilingWorks also encourages its members who are also Thrivent members to engage Thrivent in respectful and graceful dialogue on these issues.
Matthew 6.21 says: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Thrivent is no longer allowing its members to send its “treasure” to organizations like ReconcilingWorks, so we know its heart is no longer there either. ReconcilingWorks finds this particularly ironic, considering that Thrivent’s new logo is a heart with a cross in it.