AME & AME ZION (African Methodist Episcopal)

Organ and tissue donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity by these denominations.  They encourage all members to support donation as a way of helping others.

AMISH

The Amish will consent to transplantation if they believe it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient.  John Hostetler (Hostetler JA. Amish Society. 3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press; 1980), world renowned authority on Amish religion and professor of anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, says in his book, Amish Society, “The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is God who heals.  However, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions or immunization.”

ASSEMBLY OF GOD

The answer to the question of organ donation, according to the General Council of the Assemblies of God, is rooted in one’s understanding of the doctrine of resurrection, Article 13, “The Blessed Hope,” in the council’s Statement of Fundamental Truths. The council’s response is as follows (Office of Public Relations, General Council of the Assemblies of God, November 2, 2005):

The apostle Paul makes it very clear that the mortal bodies we now have cannot inherit the kingdom of god (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). The Bible also makes it clear that to be absent from this body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-10).

When we go to be with the Lord to await rapture and resurrection of those left alive until the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), our bodies return to dust (Genesis 2:7, 3:19; 1 Corinthians 15:45-50). We have no more need of the fallen mortal bodies we now bear

Donating our organs may give the gift of life to someone else long after we have gone home to be the Lord. If the recipient is a Christian, the resource of the organ has the potential to facilitate continued Christian service and the living witness of a fellow believer here on Earth. If the recipient is not a Christian, it may allow the individual additional time and opportunity to accept Christ. A fascinating possibility is to imagine the impact if Christian donors were to stipulate that their donated organs be accompanied by a handwritten letter telling of the donor’s life, testimony, and relationship with Christ.

The alternative is to keep our organs even in death. This is also a valid choice for the Christian. This was the practice for all until recent years when the transplant procedures have proven viable.

Ultimately, the question comes down to whether or not we view it right for our organs to be candidates for resource.

The realization that organ donation save lives and provide for a continuing witness of God’s love and grace does not mean that failure to donate organs would be sinful. All of us should seek God’s will for our choices in this matter. It should be discussed fully with one’s entire family

Many considering organ donation will have theological concerns and questions. If we donate our organs to others, will that have any effect on our resurrection? But we must ask, Does God need any given molecule or atom from our bodies in order to resurrect us to life? The apostle Paul said, “No.” That which is perishable does not inherit the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:49-50). The resurrection brings a new spiritual body.

BAHAI

Bahaists are permitted to donate their bodies for medical research and for restorative purposes.  Transplantation is acceptable, if prescribed by medical authorities. There is no prohibition in the Bahai Faith on organ donation. It is a matter left to the individual conscience (Office of Public Information, Bahai International Community, November 10, 205).

BAPTIST

Though Baptists generally believe that organ and tissue donation and transplantation are ultimately matters of personal conscience, the nation’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, adopted a resolution in 1988 encouraging physicians to request organ donation in appropriate circumstances and to “… encourage voluntarism regarding organ donations in the spirit of stewardship, compassion for the needs of others and alleviating suffering.”  Other Baptist groups have supported organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and leave the decision to donate up to the individual.

CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

The Church of the Brethren (Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, Indianapolis, Ind. June 22-27, 1993.) commits itself and urges its congregations, institutions, and members to:

  • Inform and educate themselves by taking advantage of resources within their region as to organ and tissue donation.
  • Support and encourage individuals to be in discussion with clergy and family as to their wishes regarding the use of their organs and/or tissue for transplantation upon death.
  • Encourage and support individuals to include within their advance medical directives instructions as to their wishes for organ and tissue donation.
  • Support those living donors who, with prayerful consideration, make an organ or tissue gift, provided that such a gift does not deprive the donor of life itself nor the functional integrity of his or her body.
  • Encourage our clergy to prepare themselves to respond to the special needs of family and friends at the time of organ and tissue procurement.

 

BUDDHISM

Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion.  Reverend Gyomay Masao (Quoted by Collins GM, Dubernard JM, Land W, Persijn GG, eds. Procurement, Preservation and Allocation of Vascularized Organs. New York, NY: Springer; 1997, 337.), president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago says, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.”  The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.

The UK Transplant organization also reports, there are no injunctions in Buddhism for or against organ donation.

The death process of an individual is viewed as a very important time that should be treated with the greatest care and respect. In some traditions, the moment of death id defined according to criteria which differ from those of modern Western medicine, and there are differing views as to the acceptability of organ transplantation. The needs and wishes of the dying person must not be compromised by the wish to save a life. Each decision will depend on individual circumstances.

Central to Buddhism is a wish to relieve suffering and there may be circumstances where organ donation may be seen as an act of generosity. Where it is truly the wish of the dying person, it would be seen in that light.

If there is doubt as to the teachings within the particular tradition to which a person belongs, expert guidance should be sought from a senior teacher within the tradition concerned.

CATHOLICISM

Roman Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love.  Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican.  According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, “We encourage donation as an act of charity.  It is something good that can result from tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others.”  Pope John Paul II has stated, “The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a challenge to their generosity and fraternal love so long as ethical principles are followed.” Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of the organs and bodily tissues for the ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death. It is for the betterment of humanity, for the love of one’s fellow human beings, that organ donation is undertaken. One of the most powerful ways for individuals to demonstrate love for their neighbor is by making an informed decision to be an organ donor.

CHRISTIANITY

UK Transplant (UK Transplant. Christianity and organ donation. Available at: http://wwwuktransplant.org.uk/ukt/how_to_become_a_donor/religious_perspectives/leaflets/christianity_and_organ_donation.jsp. Accessed November 2, 2006.) presents further evidence for Christian support if organ donation:

The Lord demonstrated with his own life how, even in sorrow, love enables us to embrace the needs of others. We can choose to donate our organs to save the lives of many people. The decision to donate at the end of life is the beginning of healing for many others. Healing and saving life is a great gift. Jesus sent his 12 disciples out with the imperative to heal disease and illness: “Heal the sick…freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8).

CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

The Christian Church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that we were created for God’s glory and for sharing God’s love.  A 1985 resolution, adopted by the General Assembly, encourages “… members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.”

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

The Church of Christ Scientist does not have a specific position regarding organ donation.  According to the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual instead of medical means of healing.  They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire, including a transplant.  The question of organ and tissue donation is an individual decision

CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE

The Church of the Nazarene encourages members who do not object personally to support donor and recipient anatomical gifts through living wills and trusts. Further, the Church appeals for morally and ethically fair distribution of organs to those qualified to receive them (Manual, Church of the Nazarene, 1997-2001, paragraph 904.2). (New York Organ Donor Network. Religious viewpoints. Reprinted by permission of the New York Organ Donor Network, the organ procurement organization serving the Greater New York metropolitan area, from its website, www.donatelifeny.org.)

EPISCOPAL

The 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (Journal of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Phoenix, Ariz., 1991 (New York: General Convention, 1992), p. 251. Available at: http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts_generate_pdf.pl?resolution=1991-A097. Accessed November 2, 2006.)  recommends and urges “all members of this Church to consider seriously the opportunity to donate organs after death that others may live, and that such decision to be clearly stated to family, friends, church, and attorney.”

EVANGELICAL COVENANT CHURCH

The following regarding the Evangelical Covenant Church is from the New York Organ Donor Network: A resolution passed at the Annual Meeting in 1982 recommended “that it become a policy with our pastors, teachers, and counselors to encourage awareness of organ donation in all our congregations.”

EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

  • Regards the donation of cadaver organs as an appropriate means of contributing to the health and well-being of the human family.
  • Recognizes that the donation of renewable tissue (e.g. bone marrow) and live organs) e.g. a kidney) can be an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.
  • Encourages its members to consider the possibility of organ donation and to communicate their wishes to family members, physicians and health care institutions.
  • Encourages those willing to donate to make the necessary familial and legal arrangements.
  • Calls upon its Pastors to acquaint themselves with the ethical and legal issues and clinical procedures involved in order that they may counsel persons and families considering the possibility of donation.
  • Urges its pastors, congregations, synods, agencies and institutions to sponsor educational programs on organ donation.
  • Calls upon government to establish public policies which will encourage voluntary donations, discourage coercive donation, assure the efficient, equitable distribution of human organs and tissues for transplants, and disallow both the sale and purchase of human organs.

GREEK ORTHODOX

According to Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas, former professor of ethics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology wrote the following about donation: (Harakas SS. For the health of body and soul: an eastern orthodox introduction to bioethics. Available at: http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/articel8076.asp. Accessed November 15, 2005. ) “In the case of organ transplants, the crucial ethical considerations are two: the potential harm inflicted upon the donor and the need of the recipient. Historically, the Orthodox Church has not objected to similar, though not identical, procedures, such as blood transfusions and skin grafts. In both cases, no radical threat to the life of the donor is perceived, and the lifesaving consequences for the recipient are substantial. Similar considerations affect the Orthodox Christian judgment of organ transplants. In no case should a person ignore or make light of the ethical implications of organ donation. Donating an organ whose loss will impair or threaten the life of the potential donor is never required and is never a moral obligation of any person. If the condition of health and the physical well-being of the donor permits, some transplants are not objectionable. Renal transplants are a case in point. A healthy person may consent to donate a kidney knowing that his or her health is not thereby impaired. The recipient of an organ transplant ought to be in otherwise good health, and there should be a substantial expectation to normal living in order to warrant the risk to the donor.”

GYPSIES (ROMA)

Gypsies are people of different ethnic groups without a formalized religion. They share common folk beliefs and tend to be opposed to organ donation.  Their opposition is connected with their beliefs about the afterlife.  Traditional belief contends that for one year after death the soul retraces its steps.  Thus, the body must remain intact because the soul maintains its physical shape.

HINDUISM

According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs.  This act is an individual’s decision.  H.L. Trivedi, in Transplantation Proceedings, stated that, “Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other humans and society.  There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive, cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.” (Hinduism Today Magazine, December 2005. Available at: http://www.hinduismtoday.com/apst_issues.shtml. )

Another source reports: “Hindu methodology contains traditions in which human body parts were used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion which would prevent living or cadaveric donation to alleviate suffering.”

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL

Generally, Evangelicals have no opposition to organ and tissue donation.  Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.

ISLAM

Collins et al write:

Based on the principles and the foregoing attributes of a Muslim, the majority of Islamic legal scholars have concluded that transplantation of organs as treatment for otherwise lethal end stage organ failure is a good thing. Donation by living donors and by cadaveric donors is not only permitted but encouraged.

Todorova and Kolev write (Todorova B, Kolev V. Theological and moral aspects of cadaverous donation- heart transplantation from the point of view of Islam. Formosan J Med Humanities. 2004; 5(12): 29-36.):

Organ donation should be considered as an expression of the believer’s altruism and Islam encourages the virtuous qualities which are supportive of organ donation: generosity, duty, charity, co-operation, etc. Accordingly, the Islamic Code of Medical Ethics stresses that human life is sacred and it must be preserved by all possible means. It is permissible within the Shariat to remove the organ from one person and transplant it into another person’s body in order to save the life of that person on the condition that such a procedure does in no way violate the dignity of the person from whose body the organ was removed.

UK Transplant reports that one of the basic aims of the Muslim faith is the saving of life: This is a fundamental aim of the Shariah and Allah greatly rewards those who save others from death.

Violating the human body, whether living or dead, is normally forbidden in Islam. The Shariah, however, waives this prohibition in a number of instances: firstly in cases of necessity; secondly in saving another person’s life. It is this Islamic legal maxim al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat (necessities overrule prohibition) that has great relevance to organ donation.

  • The medical profession is the proper authority to define signs of death
  • Current medical knowledge considers brain stem death as constituting the end of life for the purpose of organ transplantations
  • The council supports organ transplantation as a means of alleviating pain or saving life on the basis of the rule of the Shariah
  • The next of kin of a dead person, in the absence of an expressed wish to donate their organs, may give permission to obtain organs from the body to save other people’s lives
  • Organ donation must be given freely without reward
  • Trading in organs is prohibited

UK Transplant further states, Muslim scholars of the most prestigious academies are unanimous in declaring that organ donation is an act of merit and in certain circumstances can be an obligation. These institutions all call upon Muslims to donate organs for transplantation:

  • The Shariah Academy of the Organization of Islamic Conference (representing all Muslim countries)
  • The Grand Ulema Council of Saudi Arabia
  • The Iranian Religious Authority
  • The Al-Azhar Academy of Egypt

Gatrad and Sheikh (Gatrad AR, Sheikh A. Medical ethics and Islam: principles and practice. Arch Dis Child. 2001; 84:72-75. ) write this about the Fatwa in 1995 by the Muslim Law Council in support of organ donation: “Organ donation is now encouraged in many Arab Muslim countries, and considered by some as a ‘perpetual’ charitable act.”

 

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that the Bible comments directly on organ transplants; hence: decisions made regarding cornea, kidney, or other tissue transplants must be made by the individual. The same is true regarding bone transplants. Jehovah’s Witnesses are often assumed to be opposed to donation because of their belief against blood transfusions. However, this merely means that all blood must be removed from the organs and tissues before being transplanted. (Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses, October 20, 2005).

JUDAISM

According to Solomon (Solomon LD. The Jewish Tradition and Choices at the End of Life: A New Judaic Approach to Illness and Dying. Lanham, MD: University Press of America; 2001. ), three Jewish principles govern the treatment of the body after death: respect and dignity to a cadaver, not benefiting from a corpse, and immediate burial.

Rabbi Elliott N. Dorff writes that saving a life through organ donation supersedes the rules concerning treatment of a dead body. Transplantation does not desecrate a body or show a lack of respect for the dead, and any delay in burial to facilitate organ donation is respectful of the decedent. Organ donation lives and honors deceased.

The Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards has stated that organ donation after death represents not only an act of kindness, but are also a “commanded obligation” which saves human lives. Refusal to participate in organ donation violates the commandment: “Do not stand idly by your neighbor’s blood (Leviticus 19:16) which directs we use any resource possible to save a life.

UK Transplant reports that in principle Judaism sanctions and encourages organ donation in order to save lives (pikuach nefesh). This principle can sometimes override the strong objections to any unnecessary interference with the body after death, and the requirement for immediate burial of the complete body

It is understandable that there will be worries about organ donation. At a time of stress and grief, linked to sudden unexpected illness and death, reaching a decision about donation can be difficult for a family. It is at this time that halachic guidance is so important. Judaism insists that no organ may be removed from a donor until death-as defined in Jewish law-has definitely occurred. This can cause problems concerning heart, lung, and similar transplants where time is of the essence. Judaism insists that honor and respect are due to the dead (kovod hamet). After donation, the avoidance of unnecessary further interference with the body, and the need for immediate interment, are again of prime concern.

LUTHERAN MISSOURI SYNOD

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (Hostetler JA. Amish Society. 3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press; 1980 ) posts the following on its website:

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod encourages organ donation as an act of Christian love, but this choice is entirely up to the individual and/or his or her family, and should not be a cause of guilt or regret no matter what decision is made. The Bible has nothing specific to say regarding this issue. Therefore, it is a matter of Christian freedom and personal (or family) discretion.

In 1981, the Synod adopted the following resolution: To Encourage Donation of Kidneys and Other Organs Resolution 8-05:

Whereas, we accept and believe that our Lord Jesus came to give life and to give it abundantly (John 10:10); and

Whereas, through advances in medical science we are aware that at the time of death some of our organs can be transplanted to alleviate pain and suffering of afflicted human beings (see Galatians 6:10); and

Whereas, our heavenly Father has created us so that we can adequately and safely live with one kidney and express our love and relive the unnecessary prolonged suffering of our relative; and

Whereas, we have an opportunity to help others out of love for Christ, through the donation of organs; therefore be it

Resolved, that we encourage family members to become living kidney donors; let it be further

Resolved, that the program committees of pastors and teacher conferences be encouraged to include “organ and tissue transplants” as a topic on their agenda; and be it finally

Resolved, that the Board of Social Ministry and World Relief seek ways to implement this program so that the entire Synod may join in this opportunity to express Christian concern.

MENNONITE

Mennonites have no formal position on donation, but are not opposed to it.  They believe the decision to donate is up to the individual and/or his or her family.

MORAVIAN

The Moravian Church has made no statement addressing organ and tissue donation or transplantation. Robert E. Sawyer, President, Provincial Elders Conference, Moravian Church of America, Southern Province, states, “There is nothing in our doctrine or policy that would prevent a Moravian pastor from assisting a family in making a decision to donate or not to donate an organ.”  It is, therefore, a matter of individual choice.

MORMON (CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS)

The decision to be a donor for transplantation or research is left to the individual. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) made the following policy statement on June 3, 1974: “The question of whether one should will bodily organs to be used as transplants or for research after death must be answered from deep within the conscience of the individual involved. Those who seek counsel from the church on this subject are encouraged to review the advantages and disadvantages of doing so, to implore the Lord for inspiration and guidance, and then to take the course of action which would give them a feeling of peace and comfort.”

PENTCOSTAL

Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.

PRESBYTERIAN

The following resolution was made in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Commissioners’ Resolution R-5-38. Presented at the General Assembly.) :

Therefore, be it resolved that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) recognize the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourage all Christians to become organ and tissue donors as a part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave life that we might have life in its fullness;

Whereas selfless consideration for the health and welfare of our fellows is at the heart of Christian ethic; and

Whereas organ and tissue donation is a life-giving act since transplantation of organs and tissues is scientifically proven to save the lives of persons with terminal disease and improve the quality of life for the blind, the deaf and the crippled; and

Whereas organ donation may be perceived as a positive outcome of seemingly senseless death and is for maintaining the dignity of the deceased; is conducted with respect and with the highest consideration for maintaining the dignity of the deceased and his or her family; and

Whereas moral leaders the world over recognize organ and tissue donation as a(n) expression of humanitarian ideals in giving life to another; and

Whereas thousands of people who could benefit from organ and tissue donation continue to suffer and die due to lack of consent for donation primarily, to poor public awareness and lack of an official direction for the Church.

PROTESTANTISM

Because of the many different Protestant denominations, a generalized statement on their attitudes toward organ and tissue donation cannot be made. However, the denominations share a common belief in the New Testament. (Luke 6:38: “Give to others and God will give to you”) The Protestant faith respects individual conscience and a person’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body. In addition, it is generally not believed that resurrection involves making the physical body whole again.

In the Winter/ Spring issue of On the Beat, a publication of the New York Organ Donor Network the Rev. Dr. James A Forbes Jr. senior minister, The Riverside Church of New York City, wrote

“Medical technology which has made organ and tissue transplantation possible opens up new opportunities for human beings to become partners with God in sustaining and extending the precious gift of life. The fact that we can donate an organ while we live without compromising our health should lead us to exclaim: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14 New Revised Standard Version). Even death cannot prevent us from making a magnanimous offering of new hope for those desperately clinging for life until an appropriate donor has been identified.

SALVATION ARMY

The Salvation Army finds organ donation and transplantation acceptable.

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church does not have an official statement on organ donation. However, the Church does have a statement on the care of the dying, which includes the following excerpts (Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists Executive Committee. A statement of consensus on care for the dying. October 9, 1992. Available at: http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/statments/main_stat6html. Accessed November 2, 2006.).

God’s plan for people to be nourished within a family and a faith community. Decisions about human life are best made within the context of healthy family relationships after considering medical advice (Genesis 2:1; Mark 10:6-9; Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 5-6). When a dying person is unable to give consent or express preferences regarding medical intervention, such decisions should be made by someone chosen by the dying person. If no one has been chosen, someone close to the dying person should make the determination…

Christian love is practical and responsible (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 13; James 1;27, 2:14-17). Such love does not deny faith nor obligate us to offer or to accept medical interventions whose burdens outweigh the probable benefits. For example, when medical care merely preserves bodily functions, without hope of returning a patient to mental awareness, it s futile and may, in good conscience, be withheld or withdrawn. Similarly, life-extending medical treatments may be omitted or stopped if they only add to the patient’s suffering or needlessly prolong the process of dying.

Additionally, Loma Linda University Medical Center is a Seventh – Day Adventist institution described as “integrating health, science and Christian faith” and specializes in organ transplantation. Loma Linda’s Transplant Institute provides adult and pediatric heart, kidney, liver, and pancreas programs, and performed a combined total of 138 cadaveric and living donor transplants in 2005.

SHINTO

In Shinto, the dead body is considered to be impure and dangerous, and thus quite powerful.  “In folk belief context, injuring a dead body is a serious crime…,” according to E. Namihira in his article, Shinto Concept Concerning the Dead Human Body. “To this day it is difficult to obtain consent from bereaved families for organ donation or dissection for medical education or pathological anatomy… the Japanese regard them all in the sense of injuring a dead body.”  Families are often concerned that they not injure the itai, the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people.

SIKHS

The Sikh philosophy and teachings place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself UK Transplant. Sikhism and organ donation. Available at: http:///www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/how_to_become_a_donor/religious_prespectives/leaflets/sikhism_and_organ_donation.jsp. Accessed November 2, 2006. ). The Sikh faith stresses the importance of performing noble deeds. There are many examples of selfless giving and sacrifice in Sikh teachings by the 10 Gurus and other Sikhs. Sikhs believe life after death is a continuous cycle of rebirth but the physical body in not needed in this cycle- a person’s soul is the real essence.

SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (QUAKERS)

Organ and tissue donation is believed to be an individual decision.  The Society of Friends does not have an official position on donation.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

“The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has no official position on organ donation. Such decisions are a matter of personal conscience.” Writes Dr. Steve Lemke, provost of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and fellow of the Research Institute of the Ethics and Religions Liberty Commission (January 20, 2006). Dr. Lemke further writes:

However, the SBC did not pass a nonbinding resolution in its 1988 convention that endorsed organ donation in certain situations. Citing the positive, lifesaving contribution of organ donation, the resolution encouraged “physicians to request organ donation in appropriate circumstances.” The resolution denied that the bodily resurrection required the wholeness of the body at death, and praised the selflessness, stewardship, and compassion, and alleviation of suffering associated with organ donation. The resolution also recognized the validity of living wills and the right of next-of-kin to make organ donation decisions in some circumstances and as allowed by statute. The SBC resolution on organ donation emphasizes that such action be life-affirming; for that reason the convention does not condone euthanasia infanticide, abortion, or recovering of fetal tissue for procurement on organs.

While Southern Baptist entrust the ultimate decision about organ donation to individual conscience, biblical principles such as sanctity of human life, sacrificial and selfless Christ-like love, and the compassionate alleviation of suffering would appear to justify organ donation

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST

Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists.  They view it as an act of love and selfless giving, according to the Unitarian Universalist Association, or UUA (Erika Nonken, public information assistant, UUA, October 26, 2005).

The UUA has no official position on organ and tissue donation. It is up to each person to decide what is appropriate for (him or her)…Unitarian Universalist’s are free to make their own decisions about their bodies and their end-of-life arrangements. There are no spiritual or theological beliefs in Unitarian Universalism that would prevent an individual from choosing to donate (his or her) organs, as Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion.

One of the principles of Unitarian Universalism is respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. This principle often encourages Unitarian Universalists to choose to have their organs donated after their death, and to otherwise use their bodies, lives, and deaths to help others whenever possible.

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

United Church of Christ people, churches, and agencies are extremely and overwhelmingly supportive of organ sharing.” Writes the Rev. Jay Lintner, Director, Washington Office of the United Church of Christ Office for Church in Society, he adds, “The General Synod has never spoken to this issue because, in general, the Synod speaks on more controversial issues, and there is no controversy about organ sharing, just as there is no controversy about blood donation in the denomination.  While the General Synod has never spoken about blood donation, blood donation rooms have been set up at several General Synods.

UNITED METHODIST

The United Methodist Church issued a policy statement regarding organ and tissue donation. It states, “The United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors by carrying driver’s licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as a part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we might have life in its fullness.”  A 1992 resolution states, “Donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards against hastening death and determination of death by reliable criteria.”  The resolution further states, “Pastoral-care persons should be willing to explore these options as a normal part of conversation with patients and their families.”

“We are pro-organ donation,” said the Rev. Blaine Bluebaugh of the Graham United Methodist Church in Falls Church, Virginia. “It is a major thing for us. It’s one of our official days in the calendar. We just believe in it. God has given us the ability to do this, and we should share.” Quoted by Lesinski J. Most religions support organ donation. Connection Newspapers. January 24, 2002. Available at: htyp://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?archive=true&article=328&paper=61&cat=112. Accessed September 19, 2006. )

The United Methodists, as with several religions, believe that organ and tissue donation is an act of charity and that preserving life takes precedence over any beliefs that govern the treatment of the dead.

WESLEYAN CHURCH

The Wesleyan Church supports donation as a way of helping others.  They believe that God’s ability to resurrect us is not dependent upon whether or not all our parts were connected at death.”  They also support research and in 1989 noted in a task force on public morals and social concerns that “one of the ways that a Christian can do good is to request that their body be donated to a medical school for use in teaching.”