Many people are unsure about their religion’s stance on organ and tissue donation. Specific beliefs differ from denomination to denomination, but most religions support organ and tissue donation as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity. Other religions support an individual’s personal decision about being an organ and tissue donor. Here’s a look at how most major religions view donation.
AME (African Methodist Episcopal) & AME Zion
Donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity. The Church encourages all members to support donation as a way of helping others.
The Amish will consent to transplantation if they believe it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient. According to John Hostetler, a world-renowned authority on the Amish religion, “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.”
Assemblies of God
The decision to donate is left to the individual, with encouragement to discuss the decision with one’s family.
The decision to donate is left to the individual conscience.
Buddhists believe donation is a matter of individual conscience, and they place high value on acts of compassion. The Rev. Gyomay Masao, founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, said, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.”
Church of the Brethren
The Church supports and encourages individuals to be in discussion with clergy and family as to their wishes regarding the use of their organs and/or tissues for transplantation upon death.
Roman Catholics view donation as an act of charity and love. Pope John Paul II 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.” He also said, “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.”
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Christian Church encourages donation, stating, “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 prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.”
The Church of Christ Scientist takes no specific position on transplants or organ donation as distinct from other medical or surgical procedures. Christian Scientists are free to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire, including an organ transplant. The question of organ donation is the individual decision of church members.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Church of the Nazarene
The Church encourages members who do not object personally to support donor and recipient anatomical gifts through living wills and trusts.
The 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church 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 decisions be clearly stated to family, friends, church and attorney.”
Evangelical Covenant Church
A resolution passed at the Church’s Annual Meeting in 1982 encouraged members to document a decision to donate. The resolution also recommended “that it becomes a policy with our pastors, teachers, and counselors to encourage awareness of organ donation in all our congregations.”
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Church encourages its members to consider the possibility of donation and to communicate their wishes to family members, physicians and healthcare institutions.
Although nothing in the Orthodox tradition requires the faithful to donate their organs to others, this practice may be considered an act of love, and as such is encouraged.
According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs. It is an individual’s decision.
Independent Conservative Evangelical
In general, Evangelical Christians have no opposition to donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.
Organ donation is considered an expression of the believer's altruism, and Islam encourages the virtuous qualities that support
organ donation:generosity, charity, duty and cooperation.
According to the Watch Tower Society, donation is a matter of individual decision.
The obligation to preserve human life (pikuach nefesh) is an overriding principle of Jewish law and faith. Thus, donating organs to save another person’s life can be considered a great mitzvah. Individuals needing guidance should speak with their rabbi to clarify issues and help them in their decision making.
Lutheran Missouri Synod
The Church encourages organ donation as an act of Christian love, but this choice is entirely up to the individual and/or the family.
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 the family.
The Church does not have an official policy addressing organ/tissue donation or transplantation. The choice to donate is left to individual church members.
Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
The Church believes that the decision to donate is up to the individual.
Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.
The Church issued a formal resolution in support of donation, encouraging all Christians to become organ and tissue donors as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ.
The Protestant faith respects individual conscience and a person’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body.
The Salvation Army finds organ donation and transplantation acceptable.
The Church does not have an official statement on organ donation. However, Loma Linda University Medical Center , a Seventh-day Adventist hospital in California , specializes in organ transplantation.
According to Dr. Indarjit Singh OBE, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations UK, “The last act of giving and helping others through organ donation is both consistent with and in the spirit of Sikh teachings.”
Society of Friends (Quaker)
The Society of Friends does not have an official position on donation. Organ and tissue donation is believed to be an individual decision.
Southern Baptist Convention
In 1988, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution endorsing organ donation, praising the “selflessness, stewardship, and compassion, and alleviation of suffering associated with organ donation.”
Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by the church as an act of love and selfless giving.
United Church of Christ
The Church is extremely and overwhelmingly supportive of organ sharing.
United Methodist Church
The Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation and, in a policy statement, encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors.