Comments about ‘Religion contributes to Utah being most charitable state in country, poll finds’

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Published: Tuesday, June 18 2013 12:55 a.m. MDT

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Huntsville, UT

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.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Charity given for a reward is not charity.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

“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.

Salt Lake City, UT

@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.

JJ Feinauer
Salt Lake CIty , UT

@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.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

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 of volunteerism.

Springville, Ut


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 themselves
c) 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.

West Jordan, UT

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.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


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.

m.g. scott
clearfield, UT

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 we have.

Cougar in Texas
Houston, TX

Good 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.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@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 you agree?

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

“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.

Far East USA, SC

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.

Springville, Ut


"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 response.

Dave D
Spring Creek, NV

If giving tithing to the Church is charity, then it is the least transparent charity I have ever given to.

Wasatch Front, UT

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.

Centerville, UT

@ 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.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@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 mission.

Orem, UT

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."

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