Popular ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Poses Dilemma for Faith Driven Consumers


ALS Association supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research

What’s not to like about the latest craze sweeping the nation?

As it turns out, more than meets the eye if you’re a Faith Driven Consumer committed to the pro-life cause. 

Known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” this wildly successful campaign to raise awareness and funds to combat Lou Gehrig’s Disease through the ALS Association has gone viral on Facebook and other social media platforms—garnering massive levels of national media attention as celebrities and regular folks alike continue to take the plunge. 

For those who don’t know the details, here's how the challenge works:  People either donate $100 to ALS or they post a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads—before challenging three of their friends to do the same.

Even Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty took the challenge last weekend – after offering a prayer for those affected by this debilitating disease that often strikes young and vibrant people in their prime. 

As good, clean fun aimed at helping a good cause, it’s hard to find fault with a successful campaign that has raked in $15.6 million in donations to the ALS Association—including a 1,000% spike for the 10-day period ending August 7th.  

However, despite the laudable upsides of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” there’s also a concern that Faith Driven Consumers should be aware of and prayerfully navigate as they decide whether or not to participate in the campaign:  the ALS Association publicly supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR), which involves the destruction of human embryos for research purposes. And not only does the organization advocate for ongoing ESCR, it currently funds a study using embryonic stems cells.

For pro-life Faith Driven Consumers who hold to a high view on the sanctity of human life and care about how the funds they contribute to charitable causes are used, the ALS Association position on ESCR raises a serious ethical and moral dilemma. On the one hand, we as Christians want to support research efforts to find a cure for a devastating disease that is largely underfunded and off the radar screen for most Americans. On the other hand, we passionately believe in the sanctity of human life and feel called to protect and defend the most vulnerable among us whose lives are at risk simply because they temporarily reside in the womb.

Given the competing desires on the part of Faith Driven Consumers to support efforts to defeat Lou Gehrig’s Disease and simultaneously live out our pro-life convictions, we see several options to pray through for those considering participation in the ALS Association “Ice Bucket Challenge”:

  1. Don’t participate and share your concerns with the ALS Association and your faith-driven family and friends.
  2. Participate, but stipulate to the ALS Association that your donation is not to be directed toward the currently funded ESCR study—and share this in your video and with your family and friends.
  3. If you’ve already participated and donated, contact the ALS Association retroactively and stipulate that your donation not be directed toward any ESCR study. 

As Faith Driven Consumers, we understand that the Bible teaches that we humans are created in the image and likeness of God and that God knew us before we were in our mother’s womb. As such, we believe that all human life—including life in the embryonic stages of development—is dignified and worthy of being valued, esteemed, protected and defended from the moment of conception to natural death.

What do you think? Is ESCR a concern for you?  What do you think of the “Ice Bucket Challenge”? 

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