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Comments about ‘In our opinion: Charitable giving to churches provides a great benefit to society’

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Published: Friday, Nov. 8 2013 10:44 a.m. MST

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george of the jungle
goshen, UT

If you don't support the good. What would people be like with out them.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

Lets look at two extremes.

1- give $100 to the all volunteer soup kitchen to help feed the poor and hungry
2- give $100 to Lakewood church (Joel Osteen)

I think everyone would agree that a well run soup kitchen is charitable in every sense of the word. I have not looked closely, but not sure what "charity" Lakewood does.

So, lets look in between.

Give a tithe to a church who pays the bills and tends to their "flock". Charitable? Certainly Debatable.

When that church feeds and clothes the less fortunate, those $$ are certainly "charitable"
When that church sends out missionaries to help rebuild an earthquake ravaged region, again, no brainer in most peoples book.

But how about the money spent on missionaries to convert? Domestically? Around the world?

Does that benefit society? Is that worth a tax deduction?
Does society benefit from this activity?

Questionable at best.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Most giving to churches goes to capital expenditures, such as buildings, or to operations--such as paying giant salaries to mega-church pastors. While perhaps laudable, those offerings are NOT charity and should not count as such.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Giving contributions to a church shows primarily one thing: that we believe in religion as a force for good in the world. Yes, a church has expenses if it is to operate. Should a church, which teaches us to be charitable to our neighbor, not be allowed tax-exempt status when the government, which forces us to be charitable via programs such as ObamaCare, is tax-exempt. Or do you think that each department of government pays taxes on the revenue that it receives from the private sector?

Among those who begrudge charitable giving to churches are those who give nothing to anyone without being forced. They are those who demand that someone else, some "rich guy" be forced to pay the welfare needs of their next-door neighbor so that they won't be bothered with a request for help.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. Those who have it give freely. Those who don't have that charity are missing life's greatest purpose - which is to help us to desire to be godlike in our actions.

Semi-Strong
Louisville, KY

Giving to a church to support its expenses or outreach may not seem charitable. But there is a lot of good done not simply by the churches but by the individual members - looking in on neighbors, taking food to them, visiting folks who are sick, etc., etc. Plus participation in the churches' formal outreach programs (which are myriad).

I think that few of us would understand the need for or have the support system to engage in outreach were it not for our churches. Does that mean we would be more selfish, less likely to help others. Yes, I think so. THAT is what churches teach – engagement with those who are in need, and helping them where we can. Could we learn that outside of churches? Sure. On average do we? Not so much.

Of course there are exceptions. But most of us need a little push to open our eyes and move ourselves to act. As we try to understand God and live our covenants with him, we are forced out of our natural comfort zones. And that is when we begin truly helping others.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Obviously charitable giving to churches (and other charities) benefits society. It benefits the giver (by teaching them to be giving and compassionate and act on those good qualities) AND it benefits those who are assisted by that charity.

Nobody's saying Churches supplant Government. They are totally separate, and they should not see each other as adversaries. IMO the Left looks at Churches with suspicion, and the Right looks at Government with suspicion. I think we should fully participate in both, and not let either interfere with the other.

Throughout history both governments and churches have eventually been taken over by bad people and been abused to oppress people. We need to do everything we can to make sure neither are used for oppression. Government should not oppress religious views and practice of ANY faith. And churches should not control the government. It think the founding fathers shared that view.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Charitable giving is a great thing, no question, in all its many forms.

But making it tax deductible shifts the tax burden to others who don't write checks to churches, or to those who choose not to derive a benefit from their giving.

The true test of charity is giving without a quid-pro-quo, ie, giving without the understanding that you'll receive a tangible benefit in return.

Ranch
Here, UT

Donations to churches should not be tax deductible (neither should donations to other charities). Charity expects nothing in return (like a tax deduction).

Missionary funds are definitely NOT charity and I'm hoping the IRS will remove any deductions to missionary funds. Why should I have to subsidize your missionary program by giving your members tax deductions for it?

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Irony Guy,
RE: "Most giving to churches goes to capital expenditures, such as buildings, or to operations--such as paying giant salaries to mega-church pastors"...

If you're LDS you don't have to worry about that. Tithing is used to build chapels, temples, pay utilities, church's administrative costs, etc. But I don't consider that "Charitable" giving. It's paying back to God some of the blessings he's given me.

"Fast Offerings" are "Charitable Giving" (give whatever you can, 100% goes to charity, 0% to church buildings, church utilities, salaries, etc). 100% goes to charity.

I think it's good that they keep them separate. Then you know what you are participating in and what your contributions will be used for, and can participate in one and not the other if you want too. I have many non-LDS neighbors who contribute to Fast Offerings (but no Tithing). And that works for them.

No paid clergy in the LDS church... so you don't have to worry about your contributions going there either.

I see other churches doing good charitable things as well... so at least SOME of what you contribute goes to charity.

CHS 85
Sandy, UT

Is it disingenuous for a the mouthpiece of a religious organization to extol the virtues of charitable giving to a church? Of course their opinion is going to be on the side of making sure American keep giving to churches.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

Contributing to churches benefits society only to the extent that that church teaches people to be better people. Do they focus on teaching to treat others with kindness and honesty, or are they more focused on their particular doctrines, such as no birth control, or blood transfusions? etc. ...

OHBU
Columbus, OH

I'm a little put off by the fact that a church-owned newspaper is running an editorial telling people to donate to churches. I don't know, at the very least there should be some statement on the matter put up front for the reader about the conflict of interest. If even CNN (CNN!) is careful to state when they're reporting on something that directly affects any company owned by Time Warner, then it feels like it should be basic due diligence within journalism. Let's be honest, CNN isn't exactly a high bar of journalistic standards, but somehow this (and other articles like it) consistently find a way to not clear it.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

@JoeBlow

My response yes. Giving to a church is charitable and tax deductible.

What is questionable is donating money to a union and getting tax deductions on that. That is not charitable.

Do missionaries from faiths contribute to a society when they proselyte? Yes. Having been a missionary we served society sun up to sun down. It might shock you, but, typically people aren't lined up to listen to you teach. But, I would argue the times we talked to rape victims, assisted people with mental issues, listening to one concern after another, lifting and uplifting people....that was time well spend that benefits society as a whole. Government cannot fill the void. But, people of faith can reach out and give that personal unpaid time and attention to those who are in need.

When is the last time your local politician came to your door, new your whole family, and listened to your concerns coming from the spectrum of life? I certainly haven't seen one.

But, I have missionaries that drop by regularly, church leaders, people of faith that have offered help.

So yes any contribution to church is charitable.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

OHBU makes a great point. There should be a disclaimer / notice of association between the Deseret News relationship with the LDS Church, to keep everything above board.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

To "JoeBlow" that is a very myoptic view of what churches do.

Lets look at it this way. With your donation to the soup kitchen you feed a person for a day.

With donation to the church accompanied with attendance and activity you get much more than just food for a day.

With churches you have networking opportunities for people to get employment, or improve their employment.

You also have communities that look at for eachother and care for people when they are sick.

The churches also provide support for people that need help with their homes, cars, or other things that require maintenance.

What is better, feeding a person for a day or helping them start a career?

QuickRick
Brigham City, UT

Re: Joe Blow
How much of what is donated to non-church charities actually goes to those in need? Every charitable organization has operation expenses, yet the entire donation to those organizations is tax deductible.

Re: OHBC and 10CC
The article did give a disclaimer stating the relationship between Deseret News and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Are you maybe a little too quick to be "put off" regarding anything having to do with the LDS Church?

David
Centerville, UT

OHBU & 10cc,

In the article it stated that the LDS Church owns the DNews. I would consider that a discloser. Go back and read the article again.

I believe all contributions to a church should be tax deductible, except perhaps salaries for employees of the church, including mega-pastors and televangelists.

Pay taxes and what percentage of that actually benefits an individual? I would propose that a large percentage of the tax is wasted on duplicative administration, corruption, and political programs. Only a small percentage actually benefits those in need.

100% of LDS charitable giving goes toward the needy. I feel government should be in the business of helping churches and charitable organizations be even more efficient and proficient at helping others, rather than trying to change their tax status.

Predictably, the Democrats are always looking for more ways to take more money, including from the mouths of the poor and needy. Democrats would begin taxing charitable organizations and churches, thus depriving those funds from reaching the needy. Despicable. Our government, and the Democratic party, is out of control.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

@David
"100% of LDS charitable giving goes toward the needy."

Depends on what you're talking about. That definitely isn't true for tithing money since, as is reasonably expected, a lot of it goes to the building and upkeep of church buildings. The church states basically as much, it's some of the other portions of the tithing slip like fast offerings and the humanitarian aid section that are pure charity.

As for the humanitarian aid budget and things like that... that's much much closer but technically not 100% since there is understandable overhead (like the costs of transporting goods to the Philippines after Haiyan) that nobody would begrudge the church for paying. I certainly have no problem with the LDS church being... 95% efficient or whatever it is with those funds.

"Pay taxes and what percentage of that actually benefits an individual?"

Medicare and food stamps have roughly 5% overhead costs so around 95% benefits the individuals. One of the reasons the public option and medicare buy-in were blocked from Obamacare (by Republicans and the blue-dogs) is the insurance lobby wanted to stop those options since they are so efficient.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Why all the bitterness from some about tax incentives for charity, giving to churches, etc?

Taxes are not only used for fund raising. They are also a tool the government uses for social-engineering (meaning encouraging the population to do the things the government WANTS them to be doing). Ie, Buying houses, saving, having children, educating their children, buying insurance, etc...

If you're gonna get all grumpy because somebody gets a small tax break on what they donate to charity or their church (which the government believes will bring more good/benefit to society than it costs them in the tax break)... then should we also be grumpy about people getting tax breaks to encourage them to buy a house, have kids, buy insurance, go into the military, etc?

The government gives tax breaks to incentivise activities they want to encourage in the population. Charity just happens to be one of them. It doesn't hurt you. It just means the Government is using this incentive to encourage more people to do it... and the government believes they get more benefit from people doing what they are encouraging than it will cost in tax credits.

One of a Few
Layton, UT

@ No Paid Clergy in the LDS church - not exactly accurate for purposes of this discussion. The church's bureaucracy is vast and very much compensated. The presiding bodies are rumored to be well compensated at least with respect to specific positions, but that information is either secret or sacred we aren't exactly sure. The most one can say is the church has a lay clergy that is not compensated but then most churches do as well. Perhaps not on the scale of the LDS faith but then most churches operate as individual ministries rather all being financially dependent and tied to a central organization which is the LDS model.

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