Religious Views

Research has found that most major religions support organ and tissue donation as an act of charity.

AME & AME Zion (African Methodist Episcopal)

View organ and tissue donation as an act of neighborly love and charity. They encourage all members to support donation as a way of helping others.

Amish

Will consent to transplantation if they believe it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient. John Hostetler, an authority on Amish religion, 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, anesthesia, blood transfusions or immunization.”

Assembly of God

Has no official policy regarding organ and tissue donation. The decision to donate is left up to the individual but is highly supported by the church.

Baptists

Believe 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. Other Baptist groups have supported organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and leave the decision to donate up to the individual.

Brethren

Do not take an official position on organ and tissue donation. According to Pastor Mike Smith, there is a consensus among the National Fellowship of Grace Brethren that organ and tissue donation is a charitable act so long as it does not impede the life or hasten the death of the donor or does not come from an unborn child.

Buddhists

Believe organ donation is a matter of individual conscience. According to the faithís leaders, there is no written resolution on this issue. Leaders have said they honor people who donate bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.

Catholics

View organ donation as an act of charity, fraternal love and self-sacrifice. Transplants are ethically and morally acceptable to the Vatican. According to Father Leroy Wiechowski, director of the office of health affairs of the Archdioceses of Chicago, “We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from a tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others.”

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Encourage 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 to enroll as organ donors and support those who have received an organ transplant.”

Christian Scientists

Take no specific position on transplants or organ donation as distinct from other medical or surgical procedures. Church members usually rely on spiritual rather than medical means of healing. They are free, however, to chose the form of medical treatment they desire, including organ transplantation. The decision of organ donation is left to the individual.

Episcopalians

Encourage all Christians to become organ, blood, and tissue donors “as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we may live in fullness.” The church also passed a resolution in 1982 that recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood, and tissue donation.

Greek Orthodox

Are not opposed to organ donation as long as the organs and tissue in question are used to better human life, such as for transplantation or for research that will lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of diseases.

Hindus

Are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs, according to the Hindu Temple Society of North America. The act is an individual decision.

Independent Conservative Evangelicals

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

Muslims

The Religion of Islam believes in the principle of saving human lives. The majority of Muslim scholars (belonging to various schools of Islamic law) have permitted organ transplants as a necessity of prolonging and saving the human life.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Believe it is a matter of individual conscience. Although the group is often assumed to ban transplantation because of its taboo against blood transfusion, it does not oppose donation or receiving organs. All organs and tissues, however, must be completely drained of blood before transplantation.

Judaism

Teaches that saving the human life takes precedence over maintaining the sanctity of the human body. Jewish officials state that if a member is in the position to donate an organ to save another’s life, it is obligatory to do so. This holds true even if the donor never knows who the beneficiary will be. The basic principle of Jewish ethics - the infinite worth of the human being - also includes donation of corneas, since eyesight restoration is considered a life-saving operation.

Lutherans

Believe donation contributes to the well-being of humanity. A 1984 resolution of the Lutheran Church in America says that donation can be “an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.” The church calls on members to consider donating organs, make any necessary family/legal arrangements, and to sign a donor card.

Mennonites

Have no official position regarding organ donation and transplantation. Church officials state such decisions are individual and family ones.

Moravians

Have no official statement regarding organ donation and transplantation. Church officials believe the decision to donate is a matter of individual choice.

Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Are not prohibited by religion law from donating their organs or receiving transplants, according to the church leaders. The decision is a personal one made in conjunction with family, medical personnel and prayer.

Pentecostals

Believe the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.

Presbyterians

Encourage and support organ and tissue donation. The church also states they respect a person’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body.

Protestants

Encourage and endorse organ donation. The faith respects the individual conscience and a person’s right to make decisions regarding his/her body. Officials for the various denominations which compose Protestantism say donation enables more abundant life, alleviates pain and suffering, and is an expression of life in times of tragedy.

Seventh-Day Adventists

Strongly encourage organ donation and transplantation. Seventh-Day Adventists have many transplant hospitals and believe the decision to donate is a personal one.

Shintos

Consider the dead body to be impure and dangerous, and quite powerful. According to E. Namihira in his article, Shinto Concept Concerning the Dead Human Body, “it is difficult to obtain consent from bereaved families for organ donation...the Japanese regard them all in the sense of injuring a dead body.” Families are often concerned the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people will be injured.

Society of Friends (Quakers)

Do not have an official position on organ and tissue donation. The Society of Friends considers the decision to donate to be an individual one.

Unitarian Universalist

Strongly encourage organ and tissue donation. Donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists; they view it as an act of love and selfless giving.

United Church of Christ

Is very supportive of organ and tissue donation. According to Reverend Jay Lintner, Director, Washington Office of the United Church of Christ Office for Church in Society, “United Church of Christ people, churches, and agencies are extremely and overwhelmingly supportive of organ sharing. 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...”

United Methodists

Support organ and tissue donation. The United Methodist Church issued a statement regarding donation stating, “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 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 each other in the name of Christ.”