Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who is your neighbor?

In the Lutheran liturgy each Sunday we confess: "We have not loved you [God] with our whole heart: we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves." Most Christians abstractly realize the woman they meet on the street who is mentally ill or unemployed or selling her body is their "neighbor" and they know they have a responsibility toward her whether or not they act on it or ignore her. And if the woman is obviously 8 months pregnant, they may even figure out the baby is their neighbor too. But what if the baby isn't so visible--say, the disheveled woman or college student or well-dressed lawyer is only 4 months pregnant. When do the unborn lose their "neighbor" status in Jesus' command?

When the news came out about the HHS mandate to religious institutions to cover "reproductive health" in their health insurance plans, I began asking some questions about Christian churches and organizations that already go far beyond the Obama mandate--all the way to abortion for any reason, even gender selection, which is the policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Then I began wondering about our donations to the organizations that help the poor and afflicted, like Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio. So I contacted them, and much to my dismay learned that yes, it does include abortion in its employee health insurance. So today I sent a note to a prominent Lutheran:
Dr. Kurt Senske serves as Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSSS) and as Chair of the Board of Directors of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Fortune 500 financial services organization. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Services in America, which has more than 300 member organizations and a combined budget of over $8 billion.

    "Dear Dr. Senske--I see you are CEO of LSSS and on the Board of Directors of Thrivent and Lutheran Services in America. What is the abortion coverage for your employee health insurance? Here in Ohio LSS covers abortion. The ELCA mandates it for its synod churches' employee insurance. To what extent are you personally involved in this?"

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