Q: What are AAL and LB?
A: Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood are “fraternal benefit societies.” They sell insurance policies to their members on a non-profit basis. They do generate income, but instead of paying dividends to shareholders, they use the money for social and religious causes among Lutheran churches.
Q: Who can belong to AAL or LB?
A: Only someone who belongs to a Lutheran church, or is the spouse or child of a Lutheran, may belong. However, it does not matter which Lutheran church you belong to. These companies have many members among the (more conservative) Wisconsin Synod, the (liberal) Missouri Synod, and the (ultra-liberal) Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Q: What kind of support do AAL and LB provide?
A: AAL and LB regularly donate large sums of money directly to Lutheran synods, as well as to their colleges, seminaries, and elementary schools. They often provide “matching funds” for local congregational fundraising efforts. According to an AAL publication, the Wisconsin Synod received $1.9 million in grants and matching funds from AAL in 1993. The Missouri Synod received $7.1 million that year, and the ELCA received about $7 million. More millions come from Lutheran Brotherhood.
Q: What’s wrong with supporting the programs of various Lutheran churches?
A: There are, no doubt, many beneficial services that are made possible through the aid of fraternal insurance money. However, this money also supports some terrible things that we would never want to help along ourselves. For instance, there is a strong pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agenda in the ELCA which is aided by fraternal insurance money. Even worse than that is the false doctrine that infects these heterodox church bodies. For instance, in ELCA seminaries it is taught that Jesus’ virgin birth and His resurrection may well be myths. It should make us shudder to think of helping a professor to teach a future pastor that Jesus didn’t truly rise from the dead!
Q: But isn’t membership in AAL or LB just a business deal? How is this different from buying insurance with Allstate, for instance?
A: It is not necessary — nor is it possible — to investigate how every company spends its profits before we buy something from them. But AAL and LB are not just companies from which you buy a product. You cannot buy insurance from them unless you are a member. When you belong to this kind of fraternal society, you are not simply a customer of a company, you ARE the company, by reason of your fraternal membership and voting rights. Therefore, you are responsible for how the company’s profits are spent, and that makes it much more than just a “business arrangement.” Lutheran fraternal insurance calls itself your religious “brother” in many ways — in fact, that’s what the word “fraternal” means.
Q: Are there Scripture passages to guide us on this subject?
A: Yes. Consider Romans 16:17: “Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” Avoiding false teachers means that we refuse to be partners with them in religious matters. Simply buying a product from a company does not make you a religious partner with them. However, membership in AAL or LB is different. Since it is a fraternal benefit society for Lutherans, your membership does make you a religious partner with the WELS, LC-MS, and ELCA.
2 John 1:10-11 says, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” Surely we do not want our money and involvement to help along the “evil deeds” of promoting false doctrine and even immorality, as is happening in many “Lutheran” churches and schools.
Q: What’s the “bottom line”?
A: The question can be summarized in this way: “Is it pleasing to our Lord to be a member of a fraternal society that, in addition to its other activities, supports and promotes false teachers?” The answer from Scripture is “no,” and that is why membership in fraternal Lutheran benefit societies is not compatible with our Christian life and witness.
— Submitted by Pastor Bruce Naumann who first prepared this
information for his congregation in Markesan, Wis.