Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thrivent Financial for.... Anybody with Money

It is hardly a surprise.  Though it was predictable, it was and is lamentable.  Thrivent (before that Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood) had as the main focus a fraternal benefit society for Lutherans.  Lutherans, pooling their dollars to take care of financial and insurance needs, with the "profits" being returned to the Lutheran client and the Lutheran community of congregations, church bodies, and parachurch organizations -- with special concern for Lutherans making an impact in their communities, nation, and world.

Thrivent Financial FOR LUTHERANS is now on the verge of becoming Thrivent Financial FOR ANYBODY WITH MONEY TO INVEST.  The tail wags the dog and those running the show are now to envious of the money non-Lutherans might invest and so enamored of the goal of bigness that they are planning to knock down the fence so that the Lutherans become merely one among many groups served.  How this will impact the fraternal side is waiting to be seen.  Thrivent has reduced the money available for its Thrivent Choice program to allow the clients to direct the "profits" back into the Church and community.  Thrivent has pretty much destroyed the old network of branches to replace it with groups crippled by fewer dollars to direct and more restrictions on how these chapters can make a difference locally.

Read it and weep, if you, like me, are a Thrivent client...  A sad day, indeed.  Shame on you!!

As a fraternal benefit society, Thrivent is required to donate to the community an amount that's at least equivalent to what it would pay in corporate income taxes. Last year it donated about $175 million to charities, schools, congregations and people in need. 

It's also required by law to have a "common bond" or membership theme that necessarily excludes certain people. If it dropped the Lutheran connection, it would most likely replace it with a Christian common bond, Rasmussen said.

"There are other Christians out there that need our help," she said. "We've read statistics that 40 percent of Christians have a two-week savings horizon. We think with what we have to offer, that they could find that compelling."

Right now, to be eligible for Thrivent membership a person either needs to be Lutheran or married to a Lutheran. Membership is also open to people who attend a Lutheran school, such as St. Olaf, or who work for a Lutheran organization such as Lutheran Social Services.

"There's go to be a connection to Lutheranism in order to be eligible for membership," Rasmussen said. The talk of change has stirred deep feelings among some members, she said, particularly in more rural areas. "I think the people that are questioning it are worried that we're going to lose our Lutheran heritage or our identity," she said. "So it's very important that we honor that tradition."

In other words... honor the tradition by betraying it!!


Rich Kauzlarich said...

Pr. Peters: I share your sadness about this. I attended a Thrivent chapter leadership meeting in No. Virginia a few months ago where this idea was rolled out. I used many of the same arguments you did to object to this change in direction. In a group of about 50 people no one supported me. Although I'm sure they are working on this, if Thrivent takes away the Lutheran identity they must find another way to justify their fraternal identity which is essential for the the tax break the corporation receives.

Anonymous said...

Much of this began with the ridiculous - bordering on assinine - name change to "Thrivent." "Let's thrive...." REALLY?!

Anonymous said...

This is truly evil. It is rooted in the pursuit of money alone, and that as an end in itself is evil. Shame on them. They are setting out to destroy what has has been a good and useful service for many people for years. The devil rejoices!

Rev. Weinkauf said...

Deep breath people. Thrivent needs to compete in the world of financial tools,so they need customers and investments. If people don't buy from them, they have no tax savings as a fraternal benefit society to give back to churches. Look at the wealthiest in your church. Most likely their money is with secular companies. Thrivent for Christians is still better than Metlife. If Lutherans had loyalty to support them in large numbers, this wouldn't happen. Blame rests with the Lutheran consumer. Sorry. My church has 125 families of which 10 have a relationship with Thrivent. You can't really blame Thrivent for needing to expand their base to survive and thrive.

Anonymous said...

"Thrivent for Christians is still better than Metlife." Debatable, highly debatable.

Anonymous said...

Bye bye, Thrivent grant money to the LCMS.....

Arizona DP said...

This proposal is very poorly thought out. First, what is a christian and who decides? Is having Jesus Christ in your name sufficient (ala Latter Day Saints)?How do you prevent a take over of the board from very large membership blocks that could be introduced with time. And perhaps most important why set up an us vs. them debate as to why we are not inclusive of muslims, hindus and other recognized religions?

Anonymous said...

If you read the FAQ's it does cover that becoming a member will be a statement on the values based in belief in the Apostle Creed. That my Lutheran friends eliminates a few so called religions.
Also for some of the previous posters on giving up on Lutherans, answer this please why did'nt the churches with schools like my LCMS church blocked non Lutherans from letting non Lutheran in fact some non Christian kids from attending our schools? Is it money or reaching out to do the work of Jesus? Think about it, and be honest.

Hope said...

The reason Lutheran schools accepted non-Lutherans is because after they changed from being classical Lutheran schools to state certified progressive schools all the Lutherans left because they could get the same education for free at the public schools and supplement religion at home.
That's when our schools HAD to change their mission statement. All of a sudden we went from teaching our own children to being a mission outreach tool for non-Lutherans.
Same thing with Thrivent. When the product is no longer superior to the competition's product, why should Lutherans stay? Thrivent has cheated many a Lutheran and I don't trust them. At all. They are just as greasy as any secular institution and prey on Christians in the name doing charitable works.

Name witheld for obvious reasons said...

I am a financial rep for Thrivent and I thank Pastor Weinkauf for hitting the nail on the head. I have just about given up on prospecting in Lutheran Churches. The attitude of most of the people who aren't already members is that they are too good for Thrivent.
And in response to Katie, our products are stronger now then they have ever been and almost every product is competative in the marketplace, especially
in the realm of insurance. So I don't know what basis you can make your statement on.
Imagine trying to work with all the bitterness on this forum and you tell me if it would make you want to work with Lutherans more. I love my job and love working with enjoyable, faithful Christians. There is a lot of those to go around in non-lutheran churches. I am not so sure about Lutherans anymore, you tell me.

Anonymous said...

Katie wrote: "All of a sudden we went from teaching our own children to being a mission outreach tool for non-Lutherans."

Let me guess: The non-Lutherans attend Lutheran grade and high schools for years and continue to have zero interest in becoming Lutheran.

When I was an LCMS student (K-8), there were one or two Catholic students in the school who never become Lutheran. There were no Catholic grade schools close by, so attending an LCMS school for the "Christian atmosphere" alone *might* be understandable. I currently work with a young woman who smugly stated that although she went to an LCMS Lutheran high school, she was not Lutheran and never had the intention to become one. "At least it wasn't public school." Why should the LCMS educate children whose (non-denominational church) families despise the LCMS?

Are Lutheran schools providing non-Lutheran children (and non-believers) all the benefits of a magnet school but without the promotion of Lutheran Christianity. If so, then how far the dysfunctional LCMS has fallen! Why even bother with Lutheran schools if they do not produce lifelong Lutheran Christians?

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight:
-You'd rather do business with a company who thinks of paying its Stockholders first before its policyholders. Hmm-Thrivent is Not-For-Profit so take the profit motive right off the table!
-You'd rather do business with a company that funds many things that I do not think of as "Christian". I like Thrivent "Neutrality" policy.
-You have no idea if other companies are more competitive. Reps know. They see the other crap that reps push on people. True garbage.
-You'd rather the IRS take your profit tax money than fund great things that you love like Down Syndome, Cancer Society, or your local church (Lutheran or not)
-You call yourself a "Christian" and then write such vile garbage about a company that has given millions to your Church/School and want to deny others the same advantage? WWJD?
-Lutherans take Thrivent for granted "give us your money-but OH NO, we would rather do business with some company with the ethics of a bald-faced wasp!
-And you make many assumptions without knowing the facts: Thrivent must allow members to give away Tax Saving because they are tax-exempt. What about 2008 and 2009? NO FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES MADE MONEY so Thrivent gave $0 away, right? WRONG. They did not feel that was right and dipped into their claims reserves to pay better than $100m to Lutheran Charities! But you hate them
-Good Riddence. Do business with the other scumbuckets out there. There are plenty and you will not recogize them for they are "wolves dressed in sheep clothing".
Signed-Proud Member of a Great organization

Anonymous said...

So by reading several of your blogs, you are telling me that for those of us looking for someone out there to help us with our money investments, that unless we are Lutheran that we are shunned, and need to look elsewhere..... Didn't God create us EQUAL??

Anonymous said...

There’s people in that company who make six figures and go on constant “business trips” (vacations) to places like Disney Land. Sickening.