One of the most hurtful myths is that religious doctines oppose eye, organ, and tissue donation. In actuality, almost all major religions across the world support donation and believe it is a selfless gift from one person to another. While the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths support it community-wide, Eastern religions believe the decision rests with the individual. Some of these religions' stances on donation and transplantation are listed below. We encourage you to speak with your spirtual leader about any further questions you have about your religion's views.
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 their family.
Mormon: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes that the decision to donate is an individual one made in conjunction with family, medical personnel, and prayer. They do not oppose donation.
Pentecostal: Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.
Presbyterian: Presbyterians encourage and support donation. They respect a person’s right to make decisions regarding their own body.
Seventh-Day Adventist: Donation and transplantation are strongly encouraged by Seventh-Day Adventists. Their name is associated with many transplant hospitals, including Loma Linda in California, which specializes in pediatric heart transplantation.
Unitarian Universalist: Unitarian/Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and respect the interdependent web of all existence. They affirm the value of organ and tissue donation, but leave the decision to each individual.
United Methodist: In a 1983 statement, the United Methodist Church said that it, “recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourage all Christians to become organ and tissue donors by signing and carrying cards or driver’s licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ.”
Wesleyan Church: The Wesleyan Church supports donation as a way of helping others. 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.”
National Donor Sabbath
Each year, the eye, organ and tissue banking communities observe National Donor Sabbath two weekends before Thanksgiving.
During this interfaith celebration of life, faith leaders who choose to participate in discussions about donation encourage members of their congregations to become eye, organ and tissue donors in order to share the gifts of sight and life with others. The goal of the weekend is to get American families to think about donation and to understand the importance of talking as a family about the decision to donate.
What can you do to celebrate National Donor Sabbath and get your home congregation involved in spreading the word about donation?
· Send a letter or email to the leadership at your place of worship telling them about National Donor Sabbath and explain how you'd like the congregation to observe the celebration.
· Offer to speak or arrange for a speaker at your service, youth class, or adult ministry group.
· Host a donor registration drive at your place of worship to encourage people in your community to become donors.
· Organize a candle-lighting ceremony to commemorate donors, donor families, and recipients.
· Host a donor awareness workshop, prayer breakfast, or health fair with information about donation and presentations by donor families and recipients.
Saving Sight has resources to help you implement any of these ideas. For more information or to gain access to educational materials, please contact us at 1-800-238-1982 or via our Contact Form.