Charity. Is giving your money to your church truly charity? Not in my opinion.
True charity is giving your money to those in need, not to multi-billion dollar
corporations pretending to speak for some higher being.
Charity given for a reward is not charity.
“Regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than
those that are not,”Until these studies start to tease out
tithing from true charity, statements like this one should be viewed with
suspicion and incredulity.The vast majority of funds spent by
churches can best be categorized as either entertainment or social club-type
costs. Believers attend church for the same reasons other people join the Rotary
club or attend concerts – to feel uplifted and a sense of community. Give
these organizations and events the same tax-free status churches receive, and
then call them charities, and watch the data skew sharply. I guess
if the objective is a puff piece meant to support faith, then job well done. But
there’s a big difference though between humble faith and self-righteous
sanctimony and as ”factual” as it purports to be, the sentence above
sounds more smug than charitable.
@RanchHand (and others)Have you been to the LDS Humanitarian Service
Center? Have you seen the wonderful operation that is Catholic Community
Services? Have you volunteered at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake City?Without organizations such as these (who receive support from CHURCHES), those
in need would not be receiving nearly as much as they now do! It is our
religious organizations that continue to assist those most in need, whether
through services or by reminding believers to love our neighbors and care for
our brothers and sisters.
@Tyler D, you have an interesting point. Which is why the article points out
what would change if religious donations were excluded in the 7th paragraph.
Let me say unequivocally that tithing IS charity. I don’t have to pay it.
Nobody would hassle me if I did not.Does it support buildings and
operations? Sure. But those meetings and programs support charitable
activities.At church, youth are organized to serve in a community
soup kitchen or clothing recycling. They visit the sick and dying. Adults go
to a member who needs help with downed trees, a move, necessary home
improvements, etc. (I have been on the giving and receiving end of these).
These and a thousand other charitable services are organized and supported
during the meetings.If you want to know WHY the LDS are quick to
volunteer, the answer is found in covenants made in the temple.James
E. Talmage said “The ordinances of the endowment embody certain
obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to
observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent,
tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of
truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth
. . .”.These "non-charitable" events feed the spirit
Twin,I disagree. The reason for paying tithing is of course, a
personal one. However, some main reasons for paying it as a member of the LDS
Church include: a) one is commanded to do so, thus in order to
follow the commandments and not sin, one must do it,b) one cannot receive
a temple recommend unless they pay tithing, thus it can easily be argued that
one is paying tithing in order to receive the benefits of eternal salvation for
themselvesc) one believes that they will be blessed for doing so, thus
again, the focus is on one's own well-being and what one can get out of
paying tithing.These three reasons all call into question the
validity of the person's intent when making the contribution. For some,
they may indeed be charitable, for others, they are just writing a check because
it is on a checklist of things to do in order to receive exaltation. If you are
paying tithing to save yourself, you aren't being charitable. Just because
the money may go to benefit others does not negate the fact that your priority
was helping yourself, not those in need.
In order to understand the organization of churches and how charitable they are
and can be, it is necessary to see first hand how that church functions, rather
than believe rumors and stereotypes left behind by rotten apples. The LDS
church's mission is to help and relieve those who are in need. I'm
grateful to be a part of something that helps those people in need.
Claudio,From a taxpayer's perspective why should I care WHY
someone does something good?Also, most religions have some
commandment to help the poor. If folks do that out of obedience or out of love
(certainly the latter is preferable) I don’t really care. The good gets
done.If the [insert religious denomination here] are providing a
needed community service do I assume they are all perfect in their motives? No,
nor do I care (though it is likely the deed is also helping them to develop
better motives).There are lots of commandments more important than
tithing. As to tithing giving me eternal life? No. There is more to it than
that.I have already addressed the temple issue in part. Let me add
that most folks I know who are not paying tithing are often not that concerned
with going to the temple either (I am sure there are exceptions).We
all progress. We may start helping others out of little more than obedience.
Then, we see the impact and desire to do more. I don’t assume anyone is
perfect in the “why” of what they do. I am not.
Even just the "good " feeling people get from giving or doing is enough
to disqualify most acts as pure selfishness. Therefore, whether religious of
not, giving to charity has something in it for us. The LDS Church speaks often
of the blessings that paying tithing and serving bring. I don't see
anything wrong with that. Hey, as long as people give, especially those who
have been blessed with abundance, I really don't care about the reason. I
do however trust churches and charities to use the money more wisely than
government seems to. I'll never get used to that 17 trillion dollar debt
ClaudioGood points, but the same can be said of anybody's motivation
for giving to any charity. A few examples: a) My company hard-sells
United Way support to its employees. Some give simply because they are expected
to, not because they want to.b) Someone who donates to, say, the Komen
Foundation because their sister has breast cancer whereas before they had no
interest in supporting it. Is there not a thread of self-interest in this?c) Someone who donates to set up a needs-based scholarship fund at a
university in his or her own name. Examples could be multiplied many
times, obviously. There are also many examples of charitiable giving that never
appear on anyone's books.It is not our job to judge
somebody's motivation. The minute somebody willingly gives of their time or
means with the intent of helping others to fill what they perceive as a need, I
tend to allow that person to call it what they want - even charity.
@JJ Feinauer – “Which is why the article points out what would
change if religious donations were excluded in the 7th paragraph.”Yeah, good point… and my bad.Although pointing this
out doesn’t do the article any favors. Rather than the sentence I noted
sounding smug, now it just looks stupid.@Twin Lights –
“…tithing IS charity. I don’t have to pay it. Nobody would
hassle me if I did not.”OK, but no one is forcing me to be a
member of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes either, and in fact many of those
organizations do charity work as well. I also assume the voluntary
work done by church members is in addition to their tithing, yes (i.e., they are
not paid to do out of tithed funds)? If true, that would seem to support my
point even more (but I wouldn’t want to question the motives, yours or
anyone else’s). That said, there is something particularly
noble about, say, a secular physician in Doctors Without Borders volunteering
his/her time completely out of the goodness of their heart without even the
slightest glance towards any “cosmic ledger”… wouldn’t
“Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of
their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent
for people who make $100,000 or more.”Yep, Joey Biden is the
perfect example“The poor tend to give to religious
organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support
colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums.”NY
supports the arts, etc., while Utah and other religious states help people.
The LDS are very "charitable" people.That said, I do not see
it as charity to run a church. It takes lots of money to build churches, to
send people on missions, to pay for electricity, water and gas.That
is different, in my humble opinion, from feeding and clothing the poor (which
the LDS church does a lot of, admittedly.)The LDS church and its
member are certainly very "charitable", but keeping the LDS mega church
operational, does not count as "charity" in my book.Same as
the Catholic church. Those funds that are necessary just to keep operating are
vastly different from the funds that help the poor throughout the world.Missionary work may or may not be charity. Conversion $$ NO, feeding
and clothing, YES.
Cougar,"The minute somebody willingly gives of their time or
means with the intent of helping others to fill what they perceive as a need, I
tend to allow that person to call it what they want - even charity."My point exactly. If the intent is to help others, then I think it is
charity. If the intent is to help themselves be "saved," then I
don't think it is charity.Thank you for your constructive,
civil dialogue. This is in contrast to Twin's, which essentially told me
that I'm wrong. You'll notice I never said he/she was wrong in their
opinion, I merely pointed out that I had a different one, then went on to
express my opinion without telling him/her that they were wrong and
shouldn't care. Again, thank you for the far more mature
If giving tithing to the Church is charity, then it is the least transparent
charity I have ever given to.
To Joe Blow:Have you ever seen what happens to someone who accepts
Christ centered principles as the basis for their day-to-day choices? My
experience is that food and shelter are necessary but not sufficient, and that
conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in itself can be the DRIVER for getting
people out of poverty. Food and shelter without Christ centered living and an
education only gets someone ahead for one more day. Christ centered principles
and an education bring lasting change.
@ JoeBlow check the percentage of actual funds that make it to the charitable
function and you will find a major portion of funds for most charities goes to
administration. Of course get rid of the church and you get rid of the charity.
@Claudio – “This is in contrast to Twin's, which essentially
told me that I'm wrong… ”I didn’t take his
response that way at all and thought (until your comments here) you were both
having a civil albeit vigorous debate.And his comment struck me not
as telling you (personally) you’re wrong, but rather from a practical
point of view it doesn’t matter.For me, I disagree with Twin
here and think the WHY does matter at least in part. To use my DoB example, if
two physicians are travelling to Africa to do charity work (one a secularist and
one a Christian) and their only reading material on the flight is
Hitchen’s God is Not Great, who are you going to bet on to fulfill the
charitable mission?[Before the religious folks go nuts, I am merely
stating a statistical fact some percent of people do lose their faith when
confronted with counter arguments.]In this example there is zero
chance the secularist will back out, while there is at least some chance the
person of faith will become so unhinged that they will opt not to serve their
I add my voice to the others who doubt that giving money to any institution,
however outwardly benevolent in appearance, constitutes true "charity."
Though such donations arguably improve communities, neighborhoods, and families;
and although these improvements can positively impact the poor, it is only
through a very indirect chain of consequences that this happens. It
could be said that doing your grocery shopping is a charitable act for the
reciprocal benefit that spending has on the economy, and therefore upon everyone
in general. The only difference is that Church tithes aren't returned
directly in merchandise, but indirectly in usable infrastructure and potential
temple privileges--more like membership dues than purchases. Chesterton once lamented that we had begun to think of charity as giving only
to the "deserving" poor, but we have lost even that deficient level of
understanding! The IRS has conflated "not-for-profit" with
"charitable" and given us a reason to write self-congratulatory
headlines about essentially non-charitable donations, while the poor still go
largely unheeded. Charity has come to the point where not even the right hand
knows what it doeth when it renders its so-called "alms."
@Ender;Toot, toot.Do your good deeds in private and your
blessings will be public.
@carman"Have you ever seen what happens to someone who accepts
Christ centered principles as the basis for their day-to-day choices? "Have you ever met or known people who dont go to church and still make
the same day to daychoices? People make good and bad choices. That goes
for both the religious and the non-religious.
to those who don't think churches are charity - does that mean I can
discount planned parenthood or the HRC as charities too simply because they do
not reflect MY needs?just thought I would check with the thought
police to find out what is politically correctI do not always grasp the
moral certitudes of the fashionably intolerant (sarcasm)
Claudio,Sorry if you thought I was uncivil. I do disagree with you
but I do not feel disagreement is (in itself) uncivil. If I was otherwise, mea
culpa.Tyler D,Is it more charitable to be a
non-believing volunteer vs. a religious volunteer? My non-religious friends
still believe in a sort of non-religious karma – a common pool of good to
which they can contribute and from which they can draw. Most religious folks I
know do not believe there is a quid pro quo for righteous acts. My evangelical
friends do not believe good works give them salvation. In the LDS concept, one
can never put God in their debt. Good works help to refine us but they do not
mean that God must grant us eternal life in return.Just to be clear,
the WHY does matter. It is a measure of spiritual maturity. But folks probably
have many reasons for doing good things, some very noble and some less so and
often at the same time. When doing some good deed, I hope no one quizzes me as
to my reasons. I will do the same for them.
I agree, giving money to a church is not the same as being charitable. Non-profit and charitable are inter-used too much. They are not the same.I can make a non-profit flying club or yacht club. Does giving to that
make me charitable?
Tithing is NOT "charitable giving." Charitable Giving is giving your
money with no selfish expectations for a return that benefits you, your
reputation, your IRS deductions, or your investment in Righteousness. Jesus
defined Charity, and it is NOT buying up your own stock, for profit. When you
give to those whom you have no hope or possibility of"changing,"
you are not a Pharisee with an Agenda.
This is not surprising given the fact that the LDS church requires all temple
goers to pay 10% of their income in order to gain access (a temple recommend)
into their temples to do not just weddings but also baptisms for the dead which
are done primarily by the LDS teen population.
The leader will never make the contributions compulsory. Only the consequences
of failure to contribute will be stigmatized.
The tithing thing to me is like paying your monthly dues to be able to go to the
temple and thus secure your salvation. The moment you don't pay a full
tithe, you cannot enter the temple and aren't worthy anymore. Isn't
that like paying for your salvation?
Brahmabull & Thinkman,Tithing is not dues. Going to the temple
is a step toward salvation but hardly secures it. The personal purpose of
tithing is outlined in Malachi 3:7. It is the Lord’s answer to the
question of how the Children of Israel can return to Him.Lilly
Munster,When I tithe, I have no expectation for a return that
benefits me. It doesn't benefit my reputation (it is not a public matter)
and in my community, even if my tithing status was published in the newspaper,
no one would frankly care one way or the other.As to my IRS
deductions, does that mean that I should not deduct a gift to the Red Cross? A
deduction is not a profit. Perhaps at some stratospheric income level giving
becomes efficient from a tax perspective. But for the vast majority of us,
whatever deduction we get hardly equals the value of the donation.As
to my giving to those who I have no hope of changing – that would be a
lousy charity. I only give to charities I think make a difference in
people’s lives. I don't think that makes me pharisaical. Just
I avoid the issue of "is a church a charity" by doubling down, paying my
church tithing (knowing some portion of it goes to assist needy people in a
variety of ways) - as well as finding local sectarian groups who directly assist
others similarly. I highly recommend this approach to life...btw,
to some of those using the argument of feed and clothe/shelter as the only
charity itmes needy people require, trust me - the free assistance getting
sociological/family counseling and job finding skills assistance FAR outweighs
what someone eats or wears for a month or two - expand your definition of
"charity" to go long beyond the immediate needs. Much of each bent is
required, and I think little recognition of the type I noted is credited to the
LDS and other church organizations as part of their charity missions.
The LDS church does a lot of things to teach people to be self-sufficient. You
have talks and lessons in church, home teaching messages, general conference
messages, We teach people to stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.
If we succeed in that, we change an individual that is addicted to substances,
on welfare, and putting a huge burden on society into a productive member. We
change somebody that pays no taxes and draws welfare into a middle class or
higher earner than now pays a significant amount in taxes. He is now able to
support his family. If somebody went and scientifically measured the financial
impact of LDS influence on individual behavior, and then gave 10% of the
benefit back to all tithe payers as tax credit, I would not be surprised if we
ended up paying no taxes.
Two thoughts:First, I encourage everyone to act on their charitable
impulses and give to a charity whose cause you believe in after having done some
due diligence to determine it is well-run. It was discouraging to read the
story in the DN detailing charities that spend 70% or more of the money donated
to them to pay fundraisers, leaving relatively little for charitable
purposes.Second, I promise not to speculate as to what is in your
heart or what motivates you when you make your charitable donation and ask that
you don't purport to know what motivates me or what is in my heart when I
make my charitable donations.
Some of the comments on here are well reasoned and legitimate questions
concerning charitable giving. Other comments are thinly veiled snarkiness only
meant to denigrate a church whose teachings are in opposition to their
particular worldview and sexuality. It doesn't surprise me to see these
comments. They just need to taken into context.