More Ways to Help

A week ago I blogged about how to get monetary donations to the suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria who have been forced to flee their homes, have been robbed by their Muslim rulers, and who are still being killed.  

I noted that our denominational polity had no stated means of getting material assistance to these Christians.  That while we were exhorted to remember them in prayer, there was no mechanism for practical aid.  As of this week, that appears to be changing.  A note from our denominational President explains a new mechanism for assisting suffering Christians in areas of the world that our denomination has no direct presence.  There is a link at the end of the note to a fund established for such aid.  

I’ll begin by applauding my denominational leadership for making this move.  This seems to remedy a very gross oversight that has apparently existed for a very long time.  I am glad to see this change, and I hope that many members of our denominational polity (as well as those outside of it!) will be prompted to contribute assistance in this way.  Our denomination is fantastic at responding to natural disasters with material aid.  I’m comforted to know that we are willing to also respond to human crises in the same manner.  

That being said, I have several concerns.

First, the fund is not specific to a particular need.  In other words, I want to donate to the needs of Christians suffering in Syria and Iraq.  But there is nothing that says my money will go towards those particular needs.  My denomination will somehow determine where to send the money it receives.  In an era where individuals as well as congregations expect more transparency and immediacy to their philanthropic efforts, this seems like a needless abstraction of the process.  

Secondly, there is a disclaimer on the online giving form that I find curious.  It begins well enough by assuring givers that our denominational officers will take efforts to ensure that the monies given are distributed to other organizations (who do have a local presence in the affected areas) are both capable of getting the money to the people it is intended for.  Fair enough – I want to make sure that my donations are not getting sidelined into somebody’s pocket at home or abroad.  Good deal.

Further, such organizations must not “conflict with or subvert the Christian faith”.  Well, I suppose that this is OK.  Frankly, I’m less concerned about who gets the monies to those in need than getting monies to those in need.  I would prefer such organizations to be Christian, but on what basis is this determined?

To further complicate it, not only must such organizations not conflict or subvert the Christian faith, but must not conflict or subvert the Lutheran Confessions as well.  Huh?  The organizations have to uphold – or at least not argue with – our Confessions?  What does this mean (no pun intended, for all you folks who went through Lutheran Confirmation)?

Again, what is the purpose here – to help these Christians or to maintain our own denominational policies?  Are the people over there Christians or not?  I tend to believe that Syrian Orthodox Christians are going to be in heaven.  That’s why I’m fine with donating through their Church body.  What standards are my denominational polity going to use to determine who is acceptable to give the funds to?  What do the Lutheran Confessions have to do with the support of non-Lutheran Christians?  

I’m a Confessional Lutheran, don’t get me wrong.  But I’m not clear how the Confessions come into play when determining how to get aid to Christians in need.  Thoughts?



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