Archdiocese Asks St. Louis to Stop Ice Bucket Challenge Donations to ALS Association

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The ice bucket challenge raises money for an organization the Archdiocese of St. Louis says it can't support.
Are you one of the countless philanthropists taking on the ice-bucket challenge and donating to the ALS Association? The Catholic Church says you're doing it wrong.

The St. Louis Archdiocese has released a statement urging Catholics to donate to a research organization that doesn't support embryonic stem cell research.

"Not one to pour cold water on a fun fundraising idea, the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is asking people who are taking a popular 'ice-bucket challenge' to direct donations to an alternative source that funds morally acceptable research for a cure," says Joseph Kenny, a writer for the archdiocese, in the statement.

See also: St. Louis Archdiocese: No More Beer at Catholic Youth Events

The ALS Association primarily uses adult stem cells in its research, but it is funding one study using embryonic stem cells use cells left over from in-vitro fertilization. The Catholic Church has long objected to using embryonic stem cells because, as the archdiocese puts it, "a human person -- an aborted baby -- must be destroyed to harvest his or her stem cells."

The archdiocese isn't asking followers to refuse the ice-bucket challenge. Several Catholic school principals, the director of the archdiocesan vocation office, the superintendent of Catholic education and others in the church have subjected themselves to an icy dousing to raise money to fight ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

But instead of donating to the ALS Association, Catholic officials would rather you donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which does not participate in embryonic stem cell research.

As of August 27, the ALS Association has raked in $94.3 million in donations from existing donors and 2.1 million new donors. Compare that to $2.7 million in donations in the same time period in 2013.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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