"As this project has developed, we realized it was a mistake," LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer said in a statement released Wednesday (Dec. 14).
For each sale of the Here's Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Bible -- published by LifeWay's publishing arm, B&H -- $1 was donated to Susan G. Komen, a popular charity that works toward finding cures for and raising awareness of breast cancer. Earlier this year the pro-life group American Life League reported that 18 of Komen's affiliates had given more than $600,000 to Planned Parenthood during 2009-10, the last year for which stats are available. Komen said the money was for breast exams, but the fact that Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider caused pro-life organizations to criticize the Komen-Planned Parenthood ties.
"When our leadership discovered the overwhelming concern that some of Komen's affiliates were giving funds to Planned Parenthood, we began the arduous process of withdrawing this Bible from the market," Rainer said. "Though we have assurances that Komen's funds are used only for breast cancer screening and awareness, it is not in keeping with LifeWay's core values to have even an indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood."
Rainer also stated, "B&H's mission to advance the gospel through distribution of God's Word is unchanged, so we will continue to seek innovative ways that are in keeping with LifeWay's core values." (The complete statement can be read at the end of this story.)
The Bibles were not sold in LifeWay's stores but at mass retailers like Walmart, said Marty King, spokesman for LifeWay Christian Resources. The initial goal was to "get the Bible into the hands of people who may not frequent LifeWay Christian Stores or LifeWay.com."
"We're working with those companies now to withdraw the Bible, but that can't happen overnight," King said.
Komen has tried to distance itself from Planned Parenthood's abortion practices, saying in a statement that "under no circumstances are Komen funds used to fund abortions or other non-breast services."
"Annually, Komen Affiliates fund programs that provide breast health education and breast screenings for hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured, or medically under-served women via nearly 2,000 local organizations, including 19 Planned Parenthood programs," Komen said in a statement. (The discrepancy in numbers might be due to the fact that one Komen affiliate in New Jersey funded two Planned Parenthood locations -- meaning 18 Komen affiliates gave money to 19 Planned Parenthood locations.)
Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, wrote a column in the October issue of Legatus -- a Catholic business magazine -- bemoaning the fact that Susan G. Komen, often seen as a worthy charity, has such ties.
"Almost everyone in America knows a woman who has had breast cancer," Tobias wrote. "Some of those beloved friends and family members may have died from it. So when an organization like Susan G. Komen for the Cure conducts fundraising projects for research, it's difficult to say no. We're encouraged to help by buying a certain brand of yogurt or a certain soft drink. Pink ribbons pop up on products everywhere. We can buy items we would normally buy and feel good about helping find a cure."
But Tobias said that the ties between Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood are very real.
"If Komen's mission is to find a cure for breast cancer, why are they giving huge sums of money to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider?" she asked. "... Komen says the grants are used to fund breast exams and mammograms. However, numerous reports confirm that Planned Parenthood doesn't do mammograms. What Planned Parenthood does do is abortion."
Planned Parenthood affiliates offer physical breast exams, but not mammograms.
Tobias added, "There is a substantial body of evidence to show that getting an abortion increases the risk of breast cancer."
According to American Life League, the following 18 chapters of Susan G. Komen for the Cure donated money to local Planned Parenthood affiliates during 2009-2010, according to tax forms: Aspen, Colo. ($25,487); Boise, Idaho ($15,565); Central and South Jersey ($108,940); Central Texas ($38,625); Connecticut ($15,000); Dallas County ($68,000); Denver Metropolitan ($35,970); Eastern Washington ($10,038); Greater New York City ($36,500); Greater Roanoke Valley Area ($14,401); North Carolina Triad ($20,000); North Carolina Triangle ($25,237); Northern Nevada ($28,600); Orange County, Calif. ($58,754); Philadelphia ($40,000); Phoenix ($9,151); Puget Sound, Wash. ($48,891); and the South Florida Chapter ($30,000).
Following is Rainer's complete statement:
"We made a mistake.
"As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, B&H released to several mass market retailers a Cancer Awareness Bible as a way to place God's Word into the hands of those suffering through breast cancer. As part of the project, B&H agreed to donate $1 from the sale of each Bible to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for breast health education, screening and treatment programs.
"As this project has developed, we realized it was a mistake.
"When our leadership discovered the overwhelming concern that some of Komen's affiliates were giving funds to Planned Parenthood, we began the arduous process of withdrawing this Bible from the market. Though we have assurances that Komen's funds are used only for breast cancer screening and awareness, it is not in keeping with LifeWay's core values to have even an indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood.
"B&H's mission to advance the gospel through distribution of God's Word is unchanged, so we will continue to seek innovative ways that are in keeping with LifeWay's core values."
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter(BaptistPress), Facebook(Facebook.com/Baptist Press) and in your email(baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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