The Myth Of Religious Charity

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The concept of charity most people have in mind is “serving the people’s physical needs.” How do religions stack up in performing this work? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), which touts its charitable work, spent 0.7% of it overall revenue on charitable causes. Compare that figure with the American Red Cross which spends 92.1% of its revenue on the physical needs of those it helps.

The other side of this coin is the estimated $71 billion in annual government subsidies that are granted to religious establishments.

The $71 billion doesn’t include property taxes from which religious institutions are exempt. States are estimated to subsidize religion to the tune of $26.2 billion per year on property worth $600 billion.

The $71 billion doesn’t include religions’s exemption from investment taxes (such as capital gains taxes) on their investment portfolios. For example, the Presbyterian Foundation manages $1.9 billion in assets.

The $71 billion doesn’t include the exemption from sales tax when religions purchase goods and services.

The $71 billion doesn’t include the “parsonage exemption.” That’s where ministers are allowed to deduct mortgage or rent, utilities, furnishings, upkeep, etc. from their taxable income.

The best of the worst appears to be the United Methodist Church which allocated about 29% of its revenues to charitable causes in 2010. Any secular charity that posted a 29% rate would be given a score of “F” by CharityWatch.

Religions are quick to point to their “spiritual charity” that addresses the spiritual needs of their parishioners. However, “charity is the giving of something, not the exchange of something for something else.” Addressing spiritual needs is what religious functionaries are paid to do. The fundamental nature of a priest’s or preacher’s job is to provide the spiritual services in exchange for pay and benefits.

These tax breaks are laws and clearly directed at religious institutions and establishments in violation of the First Amendment.

H/T: Council for Secular Humanism, PharyngulaCharityWatch.

129 thoughts on “The Myth Of Religious Charity

  1. Strong stuff Nal.

    Perhaps an Affordable Care Act concept would apply, i.e., the Obamacare law requires Insurance Companies to spend 80% – 85% of their health care premium income on direct health care.

    What if churches had to spend 80% – 85% of their charitable donations on charity?

  2. They control way too much….. And be careful in donating to charities…… Sometimes they employ for profit people to do the fund raising….. And as much of 95% is taken before any money actually goes to the charity donated to…… Ask for a breakdown of costs before agreeing to donating….. Ask them to fax or mail it….. If they won’t or can’t…. Then your money is better spent at the casino…..and I usually don’t gamble except to drive…..

  3. Religious (and educational) institutions should be taxed on certain income, Rent and capital gains are two sources that come to mind. They should also pay property tax on property that provided income, besides the church itself. I can see giving a pass on the church property.

    Hmmmm, so if I get a mail order certification as a member of the clergy, I could declare my home a church if I hold a meeting of some sort there once in awhile. Sounds good to me. [sarcasm]

  4. What if churches had to spend 80% – 85% of their charitable donations on charity?
    ——————————————————-
    apples and oranges.

    Churches exist because people, in their need to express community which reflects an aspect of themselves,, pool their resources and build them. They are not like the State which unilaterally sets taxes and spends as it sees fit. They are not families which exist as a pure social contract and by bonds unseen. When you speak about the Church of Latter Day Saints(as you did) you are speaking of a denomination….not the individual churches which make it up. A more appropriate comparison would be to compare the arm of that denomination that is defined as its charitable mission and extrapolate the percentage of gifting and mission from that statistic. Or, you could compare politicians and private practice lawyers with ministers salry and behavior-wise or corporations and single churches in their income and outputs as a statistical class in which to compare with all inferential data that implies….otherwise your skewing reality and creating predjudice.

  5. .otherwise you are skewing reality and creating predjudice.
    (it’s my naughty grammar again, sorry…)

  6. But how much assets or income do theses institutions — let’s take the RCC, the SBC, and the LDS — actually control, not counting their places of worship, learning institutions, and hospitals, or their contributions by members? Maybe all they have is a widow’s mite to give.

  7. “and I usually don’t gamble except to drive.”

    I drive the interstate to church. I’m more appreciative of angels n the car with me than in the pew.

    BTW, gotta go you know where

  8. “Hmmmm, so if I get a mail order certification as a member of the clergy, I could declare my home a church if I hold a meeting of some sort there once in awhile. Sounds good to me. [sarcasm]”~bettykath
    —————————————————————-
    There are people that operate ministries out of their homes and do it for ‘love offerrings’ etc and nothing else. They do good works and a lot of people are helped by it. I would not be averse to them getting something back to help make their way easier…. especially since the ‘State’ has seen fit to cut drastically back on the services it has used over the years as excuses to increase revenue…..and yet the taxes are not decreased to reflect that shunting off of obligation. Social Security is the new target…..the keep the money but screw the donors of the money shifty dance is real old. There is corruption in both the House of Church and the House of State…….that is where collective eyes could be to affect a betterment……

    also, to declare a home a ‘church’ probably would entail a lot of risk if you didn’t have the appropriate credentials….including land use stuff and all that…

  9. Woosty’s still a Cat 1, July 1, 2012 at 9:56 am

    What if churches had to spend 80% – 85% of their charitable donations on charity?
    ——————————————————-
    apples and oranges.
    ===================================
    There would be the same amount of charity from those who now feign charity.

    That is because they would quickly get out of the charity business.

    Nal has pointed out that they aren’t in that business anyway, they just say they are.

    Nal also said:

    Compare that figure with the American Red Cross which spends 92.1% of its revenue on the physical needs of those it helps.

    So there are some altruistic oriented institutions that do charity properly.

    Good on them.

  10. You’re readily, knowingly, and maliciously lying in favor of your persistent attacks on religion. Indeed, you’re twisting statistics worse than a politician.

    I’m not religious. But I find your prejudice and blind hatred of religion to be as annoying and childish and blindly stupid as any fundamental religious group’s hatred of “others”.

    You make broad arguments using very narrowly selected statistics and poor assumptions as to the purpose of a religion. Your prejudice and hatred for religion is noted, consistent with your overall communist tendencies. Some pigs are more equal than others? Of course. Especially when the pig is afraid of competing sources of authority other than a group of superficially clever, fundamentally stupid liberal elitist snobs such as yourself. First, LDS is 1.7 percent of the population, which is hardly a good sample group. Secondly, LDS has provided some money to charity, but their primary purpose is conversion to a religion, not charity. Third, most religious institutions collect donations from members for the primary purpose of maintaining facilities and salaries for employees, not for charity, and I have seen no christian faiths that claim otherwise. You are also ignoring the titanic impact that people of faith have on charitable donations outside of direct contributions to their organization. You know this, but it doesn’t support your argument, so you are deliberately lying and misconstruing in order to support your position of irrational hatred.

    Your claim that states are subsidizing them is a complete lie.

    Not taxing someone is not subsiding them. Period. There is a difference between giving someone money and not taking money from them. Not one state dollar that I’m aware of (and if there is, it needs to stop) goes to fund religious groups, other than a few NFP homeless shelters where state and federal grants are set up for both religious and non religious NFP organizations to provide care to homeless.

    The laws do not violate the First Amendment. Taxing them would. Notice that there hasn’t been a whole lot of Supreme Court Justices agreeing with your position.

    To put it short, Nal, you are an elitist clown with no real intellectual arguments against religion. Just unthinking hatred. Did a priest fondle you when you were a child or something? Get over yourself. Your entire article was an exercise in transparent propaganda against a system of belief that happens to be different from your own, and my response is in the nature of venting at your prejudice, not because I think I’ll convince you otherwise. Thankfully you are not now nor ever will be in power in the United States. It was founded for one reason above all else, freedom of religious expression. Separation of church and state was done for the protection of religion, not protection of the state. You are free to bash religion to your heart’s content, just as you are free to worship or not as you please.

    Just as I’m free to tell you what a complete prejudiced, hateful, blind, stupid, and transparent excuse for a liberal you are.

    Have a nice day.

    P.S.- Aren’t liberal schmucks like yourself typically proud of just how “tolerant” of different cultures and beliefs you are? Just a thought.

  11. What do the mormons do with all the money that they take in? With the Catholics I can see the expenses for nuns homes, pedophile priest expenses, golden chalices, upholstory in the sanctuary, but mormons dont have nuns, pedophiles, golden chalices.
    If you are going to give to a charity, give to Dogs WOPS– Dogs With Out Papers. Get dyslexic, give to Dog.

  12. Pi Gwan,

    You have some points that might be valid but your personal attack on nal is unwarranted. I’ll be happy to consider your points in a repost if you remove the personal attacks.

  13. Dredd
    1, July 1, 2012 at 10:29 am
    Woosty’s still a Cat 1, July 1, 2012 at 9:56 am

    What if churches had to spend 80% – 85% of their charitable donations on charity?
    ——————————————————-
    apples and oranges.
    ===================================
    There would be the same amount of charity from those who now feign charity.

    That is because they would quickly get out of the charity business.

    Nal has pointed out that they aren’t in that business anyway, they just say they are.

    Nal also said:
    Compare that figure with the American Red Cross which spends 92.1% of its revenue on the physical needs of those it helps.
    So there are some altruistic oriented institutions that do charity properly.

    Good on them.
    ———————————————————————–
    =============================================
    ———————————————————————–
    Dredd, again I say, Churches ARE the charity…..they usually have more than 1 focus of ministry. Often the failing health of Churches reflects the bloating of State because they are impacted by peoples waxing and waning disposable incomes. The American Red Cross has a mission but not a ‘ministry’ per se. There is a distinct difference. The American Red Cross, like many mission based charities, has a very narrow focus and exists by soliciting donations from people to give to that narrow focus group. You and I didn’t ‘build’ the American Red Cross but may support its mission with donations. I contribute to the building of my church when I deliberately give of my money and my time to its existence. I have a say in how our mission is developed and carried out. [So unlike the State….]
    I am also, as a church member, allowed to use the facilities to establish and carry out my own ministry. But you know all this…..

  14. “… the United States. It was founded for one reason above all else, freedom of religious expression. Separation of church and state was done for the protection of religion, not protection of the state. You are free to bash religion to your heart’s content, just as you are free to worship or not as you please.”
    ———————————-
    Pi, well said……..

  15. bettykath
    1, July 1, 2012 at 10:49 am
    Pi Gwan,

    You have some points that might be valid but your personal attack on nal is unwarranted. I’ll be happy to consider your points in a repost if you remove the personal attacks.

    —————————————————————

    I seconded bettykath’s admonishment. Pi Gwan does indeed make some valid points but the emotionalism of the personal attacks against David Drumm (Nal) makes it almost impossible to discuss the difference in the two points of view.

    I, too, would be more than happy to enter a discussion with Pi Gwan as to the strength of many his/her points if Pi Gwan would repost.

    I acknowledge that those attacks may indicate an unwillingness of Pi Gwan to engage in civil discourse. and accept that, if it is so.

  16. Pi Gwan,

    I believe a link to an oration of your posted riposte would be fascinating.
    A video would be more intense. I can imagine George C. Scott standing with a full screen shot of the Mormon temple in the background,
    Full of Sound and Firey, signifying anger.
    Your rant was a truly great one. Your point would be better served with more fact and less vituperation.

  17. I have worked with many churches over the years and have found, generally, a real and abiding dedication to charitable giving and works.

    Mission (I think the newest word is “Outreach”) Boards within Protestant churches were part and parcel of each congregations’ startup. They would hold bake-sales to raise money to feed the hungry, yard-sales to raise money to help a family that had been burned out of their home, square-dances to fund nursery schools on site or raise money to buy school supplies for children whose parents could not afford pencils. They opened “thrift-stores” and used the small profits after overhead for mission work here and abroad.

    Certain Sundays were declared Mission/Outreach Sundays and the entire collection plate was given to the Board to spend on Mission/Outreach work. It is not uncommon to hear the crusty-old-guy who is part of every congregation complaining to all who will listen that those Mission folk always want more money or joking, “grab hold of your wallet, the mission folk are loose.” It’s an open secret that the crusty-old-guy quietly gives the most to Outreach.

    When I join a congregation the only Board I will agree to be part of is the Mission/Outreach … then I go looking for the crusty-old-guy. ;)

  18. i would imagine the morman church considers sending kids to france as missionaries to be charitable work.

  19. pi gwan wrote; Not taxing someone is not subsiding them. Period. There is a difference between giving someone money and not taking money from them.
    ========================================================

    in those areas that have a separate fee for fire fighting services i wonder if the fire dept would stand and watch a church burn that had not paid the fee.

  20. David,

    In all fairness, what you point to a valid inequity. However, the counter-argument against taxing religious bodies based on the Establishment Clause I think outweighs the inequity in upholding the Doctrine of the Separation of Church and State and thus protecting everyone makes the making the point tragic but moot. Consider the unbalancing of the tax system as it currently exists in favor of big business and multinationals that lobbyists and amoral politicians have wrought as your example. If we started taxing religious organizations, how long do you think it would take an organization flush with cash like the RCC to twist the system in their favor? A sword can have two sides, but often one is sharper than the other.

  21. Pi,
    you may want to check your facts. When a government gives a tax exemption to a church it is giving them a financial benefit that other non-profits do not enjoy. Secondly, if we are talking about Federal monies, the government gives millions to religious charities to do charitable work. Thirdly, if it is a Christian church, Jesus implored Christians to feed the poor and take care of those who need help. Shouldn’t charity be all church’s first priority instead of maintaining their infrastructure?
    Finally, your personal attacks on the author of this article are not welcome and reduce the impact of any points that you are trying to make.

  22. The viciousness of the attack even invites my use of prejudice as a counterweapon.

    “Methinks we have a Korean convert amongst us. A North Korean to boot.”

    Regard it as unsaid.

    Someone jokingly said the other day here, that politics and religion were the two subjects NOT to be discussed at JT’s. This seem to show why there was some truth in the comment after all.

    So far no one has mentioned heresy, blasphemy or inquisition. Will the bishops gather to discuss it?

    Woosty: you are within your rights, and lose no value in my eyes for your faith, nor does anyone “of faith”.

    Just to show that take a look at what I’ve found so far searching. No hand on a mons pubis, I swear. Safe even for children: “Mama, what’s he doing on the
    ladder?”

  23. ” It’s an open secret that the crusty-old-guy quietly gives the most to Outreach.”~Blouise
    ——————– :)
    Je t’aime les Curmudgeons…they are trustworthy most of all…

  24. That double Return trap got me:

    The beginning is near—–good music, captivating.

    Lastly, the use of freedom of speech may be misused seen in the eyes of many. But attacking motives of the speaker seldom gains respect for the objectors’ case.

  25. Gene H.
    1, July 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm
    ——————————
    I wish I better understood what you said here …can you simplify for non-legal types like myself?

  26. Woosty’s still a Cat 1, July 1, 2012 at 11:06 am


    Dredd, again I say, Churches ARE the charity….
    ===========================================
    I am not trying to be contrary, but church and charity are separate.

    Nal’s contrasting of the Red Cross charity with church charity illustrates that point.

    Churches are not just charity orgs, they do charity, preaching, evangelism, ministry, liturgy, wierd stuff, good stuff, and the rest of it.

    Anyone can do charity whether they are a church or not.

    Let’s narrow it down to this, then: what if churches that do charity were required to use 80-85% of the charitable donations directly on charity just like health insurance companies are required to do with health insurance premiums under ObamaCare?

  27. Pi Gwan 1, July 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

    You’re readily, knowingly, and maliciously lying in favor of your persistent attacks on religion.
    ===========================
    Don’t brag on us guys, it is not good for our egos. ;)

  28. Certain tax exemptions for Churches are fine. I dont think they should get them for businesses that directly compete with private businesses. The town I went to school in had a printing operation owned by the Catholic Church. Not only did it do publications for the Church, it also did outside work. The private printers had to include thier taxes in figuring their bids, the Church did not. That just isn’t fair.

  29. W=^..^

    Simply put the power to tax something is the power to control something; to either destroy it by taxing it out of existence or to give favor to one player over another to the point that competition is impossible. Taxing religious institutions invites Establishment Clause issues to grow in frequency and in scope. As much as I dislike the inequities David points to, I just don’t think addressing them through the tax code is anything but asking for trouble. However, regulation of charitable activities does offer a remedial action. For example, if we simply mandated that all charitable institutions (secular and religiously based) must keep their operating expenses below X%, it would remedy much of what we see wrong in David’s example without inviting Constitutional challenge based on the Establishment Clause.

  30. Dredd,
    Charity is not just a verb,
    from Merriam &Webster;
    Definition of CHARITY

    1
    : benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
    2
    a : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need
    b : an institution engaged in relief of the poor
    c : public provision for the relief of the needy
    3
    a : a gift for public benevolent purposes
    b : an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift
    4
    : lenient judgment of others
    See charity defined for English-language learners »
    See charity defined for kids »
    Examples of CHARITY

    The holidays are a time for charity and good will.
    She refused to accept charity.
    ——————
    ——————-
    Churches can be schools of charity….or they can be established AS A WORK.

    also from Websters (and Merriam….);
    church noun \ˈchərch\

    Definition of CHURCH

    1
    : a building for public and especially Christian worship
    2
    : the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
    3
    often capitalized : a body or organization of religious believers: as
    a : the whole body of Christians
    b : denomination
    c : congregation
    4
    : a public divine worship
    5
    : the clerical profession
    See church defined for English-language learners »
    See church defined for kids »
    Examples of CHURCH

    This is the oldest church in town.
    They would like to be married in a church.

    ——————–
    ——————-
    Not all Churches even DO outreach missions. Sometimes the mission of the Church is quite simply the well being of its members…..a world sans religion is a hell for many of us….even the founding fathers understood this. A world that is simply made of state is totally without meaning or worth….especially these days where the State has seemed to become so separate and blind to it’s people….

    but you know this….

  31. Gene,

    “For example, if we simply mandated that all charitable institutions (secular and religiously based) must keep their operating expenses below X% …”

    Not workable on any of the Mission/Charity/Outreach Church Boards I’ve served for reasons far too many to go into here. One example: endowments … another, Pastor’s Funds (wherein a congregant sees a need but wishes to remain anonymous in meeting that need so funnels the money through the Pastor’s Fund) … another, emergency within the community like fire, flood, storm etc met on the ground with immediate donations and man hours (think individual churches’ response to Katrina then localize it) … etc.

    Best way to bring a charity’s operating expenses down … stop giving … see Susan G. Komen for the Cure and World Council of Churches back in the 80’s.

  32. in Faith based systems, the other word for ‘charity’ is ‘love’. It is not of the prurient variety….but Agape…it is the thing that is worth protecting.

  33. Gene H. 1, July 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    W=^..^

    Simply put the power to tax something is the power to control something; to either destroy it by taxing it out of existence or to give favor to one player over another to the point that competition is impossible. Taxing religious institutions invites Establishment Clause issues to grow in frequency and in scope. As much as I dislike the inequities David points to, I just don’t think addressing them through the tax code is anything but asking for trouble. However, regulation of charitable activities does offer a remedial action. For example, if we simply mandated that all charitable institutions (secular and religiously based) must keep their operating expenses below X%, it would remedy much of what we see wrong in David’s example without inviting Constitutional challenge based on the Establishment Clause.
    ====================
    Well said.

  34. Woosty’s still a Cat 1, July 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    in Faith based systems, the other word for ‘charity’ is ‘love’. It is not of the prurient variety….but Agape…it is the thing that is worth protecting.
    ===============================
    Well said.

  35. Gene,
    if a restriction is put on all charitable organizations, doesn’t that get the government into even more control over our organizations and lives? When I responded to Pi, I was merely correcting his/her idea that not taxing someone or an organization like a church, is not giving them monetary benefits.
    I am in favor of making all churches pay the same real estate taxes as any other land owner and I am not in favor of the Feds having a Faith based department to dole out millions of tax dollars to churches.

  36. Blouise,

    “Not workable on any of the Mission/Charity/Outreach Church Boards I’ve served for reasons far too many to go into here.”

    Do any of those reasons have to do with ego and/or greed? If so, I don’t see the problem with regulation of a maximum percentage on operating expenses as the rest of your statement revolves around situational bookkeeping. Mandating a ceiling for operating expenses if you ignore the politics of a board is no different than mandating cleanliness standards for restaurants or setting a minimum age for alcohol purchases. It becomes simply a parameter of the charter in doing business. How the money gets in to the charity is not as key to the determination as how it goes out is. I think what you point to could also be mitigated by allowing X as acceptable reserves for a charitable organization and stipulation that expenditures of reserves must either meet the operating expense threshold directly or be provable as a one time expenditure in furtherance of the goal of meeting that threshold (for example, purchasing computers for logistics that may exceed the threshold for a given period but amortized over time are designed to improve efficiency).

  37. raff,

    I don’t think so, but then again, I’m not sure I understand the nature of your objection. I don’t think the Feds should be giving any money to religious institutions for any reason and that Bush’s move as President to create an Office of Faith Based Initiatives was a blatant disregard and violation of the Establish Clause to begin with. What I’m suggesting is simply a regulation of all charities that imposes an equal constraint on their actions a business – X% goes to operational expenses, Y% must be spent on actual charitable expenditures. It’s no different than the mandated profit margins banks had to operate under before they used lobbyists to remove any substantive restraints from their industry (and which need to be reinstated if we are ever going to put a leash on the abuses of Wall St. but that’s a totally different topic altogether).

  38. Gene,

    “Do any of those reasons have to do with ego and/or greed?”

    What?! No!

    They all have to do with bookkeeping and the flow of money/material donations. Keep in mind that all local church board members are volunteers and answerable to a Board of Trustees and the Congregation. Maybe, if a Congregation is lucky, there is a member who is an accountant and agrees to serve as treasurer on an Outreach Board for a couple of years … otherwise it’s Ms, Mrs, or Mr. Smith – retired bus driver or working 3rd grade teacher, or homemaker who accepts the responsibility.

    “Mandating a ceiling for operating expenses if you ignore the politics of a board …”

    Politics of a Mission/Outreach Board?!

    Good lord Gene, the only politics on a local Mission/Outreach Board is debating whether or not the choir director will get pissed if the Board holds a spaghetti dinner fund raiser on choir practice night.

    My point is that in attempting to regulate the big guys, you will be creating mammoth problems for the millions of little guys across the country and effectively shutting them down because no retired bus driver is going want to be responsible for making a bookkeeping error that sends his/her whole board to Federal court … especially when that error had to do with donated cans of food for the Food Bank drive. (What is the monetary figure for a can of green beans and should it be the same as a can of ravioli and is that offset by the $10 the Cub Scout troop donated …)

  39. Blouise,

    Then the answer might be including a threshold for size of the organization. Keeping in mind that optimum solutions are rarely attainable and that optimal solutions given a set of facts are attainable.

  40. Gene,

    “Then the answer might be including a threshold for size of the organization. ”

    That’s a possibility.

  41. “Simply put the power to tax something is the power to control something; to either destroy it by taxing it out of existence or to give favor to one player over another to the point that competition is impossible”.~Gene
    ———————————-
    I’m not sure that I agree with this regarding the Church. As Pi points out….Freedom of Religion is a cornerstone of this society. There is also a social contract (and you have argued for this in the past when discussing over-reaches of Goverment…) . I think there would be unseen and certainly unacceptable consequences if the State were to try to establish the kind of control that I THINK (mayt be wrong…) you are alluding to….
    The Church can not support a political party as such but is a pillar of supporting human rights everywhere. One of the first targets in times of political over-reaching is towards the Church who will stand up for those rights…

  42. For those eventual ones who liked the video, the pic is available here, warning usd75.
    imaginaryfoundation (dot) com/store/art/the-beginning-is­-near-art-print.html

  43. W=^..^

    How can you protect Freedom of Religion if you give government the power to favor and/or destroy a given faith? Be that through taxation or more direct regulation? You can’t.

    I’m not alluding to any kind of control over religion via taxation. The promotion or hindrance of any religious sect is an anathema to the 1st Amendment (hence what I said about Bush’s initiative). Government needs to stay out of religion and religion needs to stay out of government.

    I’m suggesting an operational constraint to be put on all charitable organizations no matter their religious or secular origin as either a matter of charter or regulation; a solution that would be religiously neutral. This presents no problem legally speaking. It is no different than applying EMTALA to both Catholic and secular hospitals. The regulation is of a type of enterprise, not a particular denomination.

  44. How does one dissasociated profit making from church activities: The spaghetti dinner (loved the choir director point) versus the printing business, non taxed.

    Everybody “cheats” on taxes, so involving churches in taxes is dumb.
    Even thresholds will not be loopholed.

    Thanks fo Woosty for mentioning Agape. And I understood dict. meaning 1) before he wrote it.

    But he also said:
    “The Church can not support a political party as such but is a pillar of supporting human rights everywhere.”

    Does Woosty include the right of contraception and to abortion in those rights the church will defend???

    But some are rightfully, I feel, irritated at the churchs’ attempting to take over legislation to achieve certain goals, and this was discussed earlier.

    Whatever is “right” I see no solution via taxes. These personal contributions, avoiding the issue of practicing business, are voluntary contributions.

    If contributions are fraudulently extracted. then there are laws for that.

    Hopefully, no churchs are paying 85 percent of their intake to a collecting organization as some charity organizations here have done.

  45. Who said churches are in the work of only providing charity or welfare? This is only a small part of what they do and where their money goes. Comparing charitable organizations like the Red Cross to any religious group is a false comparison. Why chose the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints? Does David Drumm have a vendetta against this particular church because Mitt Romeny happens to be a member of this church and who will win the presidential election in November?

    Where does David Drumm get his figures from? Since religious groups are private they are not required to give an accounting of their revenue or expenses. In addition charity work doesn’t always equate into how much money is given away.

    True charity or the love of God lies also in the service of ones labor. See Matthew 25:40 “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Jesus wasn’t talking about just money which is given but actual physical service to help others with not just their physical needs but their spiritual needs as well.

    I think charitable groups should be accountable for their costs to benefits ratio but to attack one religion by a false comparison is not only uncharitable but is inaccurate.

  46. Month,

    It could’ve been any religious based one…… Take the RCC, they take in more and send it up the chain….. At least when the Mormons build a meeting place….. It’s usually debt free…… Generally no lines of credit floating….. I am not a Obama supporter….. But ill be damned if ill vote for current curmudgeons of the GOP…….

    As to David having an axe to grind….. I don’t think so……

  47. Gene H.
    1, July 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm
    …..
    .”Government needs to stay out of religion and religion needs to stay out of government.”
    —————————————————————————-
    I agree with that statement. But you also made the statement:

    “What I’m suggesting is simply a regulation of all charities that imposes an equal constraint on their actions a business – X% goes to operational expenses, Y% must be spent on actual charitable expenditures. It’s no different than the mandated profit margins banks had to operate under before they used lobbyists to remove any substantive restraints from their industry (and which need to be reinstated if we are ever going to put a leash on the abuses of Wall St. but that’s a totally different topic altogether)”

    If you are including ‘Churches’ as ‘Charities’ then I do disagree with that for the very reason that Blouise already mentioned. Most people who do the work of any given church are volunteers and while hospitals and other for profit industries have become very clever at using volunteers to effect a better profit margin, for churches, there would not be a way to exist without them. Charities operate differently, and I’m not a lawyer or an accountant but I’m guessing that they are very good at loopholing thier overheads to remain within the legal parameters. And (also guessing) that those legal parameters are not the same for a Charity as for a Church. Correct if necessary…

    Also, I understand that governance of the Country is currently at a stellar zenith and with little need to correct or enhance there may be a need for new worlds to conquer, still I wonder why the Church always becomes vulnerable to these ideas by government when there is so much by way of human rights abuses and issues like torture and terror and economic abuses and corruptions and all those other buttery challenges afoot…

  48. A few charities are good examples to teach the principles of “De facto” vs “De jure”

    Mission Statement

    De Jure: “To provide the unfortunate a ______”

    De facto: “To Provide our Management with Six Figure Salaries.”

  49. “Does Woosty include the right of contraception and to abortion in those rights the church will defend???

    But some are rightfully, I feel, irritated at the churchs’ attempting to take over legislation to achieve certain goals, and this was discussed earlier.”
    ———————————————————-
    I missed something about the church trying to take over legislation…the church I belong to is pro-choice and views states attempts to control abortion and contraception as an incursion on womens and families rights of privacy, dignity and freedom of conscience and choice.

  50. The real estate and income of churches should be taxed. Then we are making no law respecting an establishment of religion. Why’s that so hard to understand?
    If churches want tax deductions for charitable contributions, fine. Just like the rest of us.

  51. Organized religions have the same goal as corporations: to grow and maximize profit. Profit may be defined differently depending on the particular sect. Many consider those they help as being part of their “profit”. They don’t show up in a traditional balance sheet, but are considered “profit” anyway. Most look at profit in the way of the traditional balance sheet.

  52. W=^..^

    “If you are including ‘Churches’ as ‘Charities’ then I do disagree with that for the very reason that Blouise already mentioned. Most people who do the work of any given church are volunteers and while hospitals and other for profit industries have become very clever at using volunteers to effect a better profit margin, for churches, there would not be a way to exist without them. Charities operate differently, and I’m not a lawyer or an accountant but I’m guessing that they are very good at loopholing thier overheads to remain within the legal parameters. And (also guessing) that those legal parameters are not the same for a Charity as for a Church. Correct if necessary…”

    I am including church run charities in that, yes, but I think the exemption for size mentioned to Blouise would cover your concerns. No charity, no matter who runs it, should be allowed to present themselves as (and as Darren points toward) a de jure charity and operate as a de facto charity. If it’s a charity? Then the bulk of the funds need to be expended in charitable actions, not padding the salary of executives. To allow that practice to continue is allowing in essence a fraud to be perpetrated on the contributing members of the public. If I contribute a dollar to a charity, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that .80 (or more) of that dollar go to the ends of helping the people that charity represents themselves as helping. When that ratio gets to the point of say .29 cents of every dollar (to use David’s example), the needy are not getting substantive benefit and I’m getting fleeced to pay some weasel’s salary. It’s hardly an equitable transaction at that point.

  53. bettykath

    “Organized religions have the same goal as corporations: to grow and maximize profit. Profit may be defined differently depending on the particular sect. Many consider those they help as being part of their “profit”. They don’t show up in a traditional balance sheet, but are considered “profit” anyway. Most look at profit in the way of the traditional balance sheet.”

    I have never belonged to a church that sought to maximize profit even under the particular definitions you have assigned to the word. The people a church seeks to help are people who need help of the most immediate kind … food, clothing, school supplies, housing, medical attention. Anyone who would refer to those individuals as profit would be excused from further service.

    When a Board reports to a Congregation at the Annual Meeting, the amount of money spent in each category may be mentioned but the number of individuals helped as profit … never. A “Thrift Store” may account for the donations in material goods donated, the cost of overhead, the amount of money left and how it was allocated but the individuals who “shopped” there as part of the profit? No.

    I have always belonged to the organized religion called Congregational and UCC … we’ve been around a long time. My God … people as profit on a balance sheet??!!

  54. Blouise,

    As we see here all the time, some people are simply incapable of thinking in terms other than profit or loss. Preferably their profit first. Are you really so surprised that some so called “religious” organizations operate in that manner? Or merely dismayed that they’d be so callously venal under the banner of religion?

  55. Woosty,

    You say your church does not. Fine, nice to hear.

    But we have spent a great deal of time talking about the RCC bishops, and the evangelists (and dominionists were mentioned too).

    You are surely not hiding that lot behind your church.

    So it was obviously they, who have greater impact political wise, that I was referring to.

    Quip: Those were the donkeys that had tails pinned on them.

    So what’s the issue, oh yes I implied something about
    all churches using the donkeys as an instrument. Quite right.

    If we were to include all minor exceptions, we would have to mention the murdered priests, even a bishop, in Central America. And those who are reported to fight for human rights around the world.

    But I thought it was clear that it was the RCC and evangelists’ meddiling in our lives via the ballot box that we jointly found disturbing.

    Was it not?

  56. “Even thresholds WILL be loopholed”

    The fallacy of appeal to probability (because something might happen doesn’t mean it will happen) and the Nirvana fallacy (rejecting a solution because it is imperfect; optimum and optimal don’t mean the same thing – when perfect isn’t possible, the next best solution is best).

  57. I have to be careful here … confidentiality etc.

    Let’s say the church’s Outreach Board has a “Pastor’s Fund” in place complete with legal safeguards put in place by lawyers and the church’s board of Trustees.

    One of the church’s members is an older woman living on a small fixed income and supplementing that income as a seamstress. One of her clients has noticed that she needs a new pair of glasses and knows that if the offer to buy them is made, the woman will either turn it down or accept it and then not charge the giver for any sewing.

    The client goes to the seamstress’ pastor and offers to buy the glasses if the pastor can present it to the seamstress in a manner that will not result in free sewing and thus loss of income to the seamstress. The pastor accepts the donation through the Pastor’s Fund and makes arrangements with a local optometrist and presents the seamstress with a “donated” coupon that the pastor has determined she might be able to make use of. The seamstress accepts the gift from the pastor and is most grateful.

    The optometrist made no charge for the exam which meant that the entire amount donated by the client could be spent on the glasses. The pastor, the optometrist, and the seamstress were all members of the same church. The client belonged to a different church.

    How do you regulate that? Where would you put it on a profit sheet?

  58. Blouise,

    That would be a pass through the way you described it, with 100% of the donation going to charitable ends. It wouldn’t (shouldn’t) show up as a profit at all.

  59. Blouise,

    It might even show up as a minimal loss if you accounted for the office supplies used to make the coupon.

  60. Gene,

    Exactly and … if the client wishes to take a charitable donation on his/her taxes he/she may as everything is thoroughly documented … thus one of the reasons for lawyer involvement when the fund is being established. You can probably guess some of the others. ;)

  61. Blouise, would that it was alwayds like that. (I am also UCC and there is a diff betweensay RCC and ‘us”)
    As long as the church (and I can only relate RCC since that I know about and other denominations I do not) can hide funds and declare bankruptcy to keep from doing what is right, charitable and just (like helping the victims of pedophilia by priests, they should not be allowed tax deductions.
    We see now more and more pastors and churches advocating for political positions contrary to my understanding of what they are permirred to do and still receive the deductions. Maybe the best thing to do is have them pay their taxes like the rest of society. I am sure they would still be able to do charitable works.
    ( I do wish Nal had cited others aloing with Mormons, it may not have been meant this way but does seem like an allusion to Romney

  62. I admit to using hyperbola and bombast as well as sarcasm and snark often when I post. Personally I am tired of the wingnuts constant stream of ill will and have decided to meet them with the tools I find appropriate. But people expecting to hear back from poor ol Pi are probably going to be disappointed. I don’t think the poor dear is capable of better because there is so little there there.

    I thought I’d dredge through the sludge & see if I could reply to any actual statements of fact. I think the posters who suggested PI had some points worth discussing are quite wrong.

    “consistent with your overall communist tendencies.”
    I’d like you to quote some examples. I am probably the closest thing to a commie here & Nal is not even close.

    “First, LDS is 1.7 percent of the population, which is hardly a good sample group.”
    The size of the group does not matter. if it was only two people & they both kicked in $10 but gave a total of 34 cents to actual charity that would be significant for that group. That they are only a few million but still only give 1.7 cents of the dollar says how highly they rate actual charity no matter the size of the group. Congrats to the Methodists for putting out more than a quarter of every dollar but thats still pretty weak tea.

    “Secondly, LDS has provided some money to charity, but their primary purpose is conversion to a religion, not charity. Third, most religious institutions collect donations from members for the primary purpose of maintaining facilities and salaries for employees, not for charity, and I have seen no christian faiths that claim otherwise.”
    If you have not heard this claim than you are not listening very well. In fact it has become much more common recently when many churches claim they can do a better job of charity than even the government. Saying that a charity has huge overhead it has to maintain may not be an argument in favor of it, just to let you know. Saying that your charity spends a great deal just trying to get more people to give more money probably borders on fraud.

    “Not taxing someone is not subsiding them. Period.”
    Ah, yes it is. See if the government taxed the churches on their income (and for the sake of argument lets say only their investment income, which is quite a lot of money) they would have considerably less to spend. If you built a resort (and some church have) or owned a $2billion portfolio(as some churches) have the government would tax you on these gains. Since it does not tax the church that is financial support or subsidizing.

    “The laws do not violate the First Amendment. Taxing them would.”
    Again, you are wrong on fact. The first amendment only states that the government can’t ban nor endorse any religion. The originators goal was to prevent the sort of sectarian violence they had fled in Europe and saw in the early days here. Taxing the churches, as long as we did it the same with each religion would not violate any first amendment clause in any way.

    “Notice that there hasn’t been a whole lot of Supreme Court Justices agreeing with your position.”
    Thats not saying much as I bet you cannot name a single case brought before the USSC. And if you could I’d point out that the USSC once ruled that there was no right a black person could have that a white person could not take away if they felt like it – not. a. single. right. Like the Constitution the USSC is often a product of its time and can make mistakes that take decades to correct.

    Now the snarky bit – in the Bible PI is 3, in the real world it is not and if you tried to build great structures using 3 instead of 3.14 they will not last. So in a way PI fits you nicely. You really need to up your game if you want to play in the arena with educated adults. I’m an admittedly weak contributor on this blog and I can pown you are every one of your weak arguments without raising a sweat.

  63. GeneH,

    Won’t question your logic. Let me point out that the emphasis was on WILL since I had left it out mistakenly in my original comment.

    Now you can play the logic all you wish, but I will stick with probability. That seems more or less certain considering the mess we have now.

    Corporations have been using loopholes as long as there have been laws and lawyers and accountants and tax consultants, etc. So will “some” churches if taxed, with a high probability—likely in relation to how much they push up the hierarchy.

    I thought the comment someone made, that Congress was to make NO law as to religion—with the meaning that giving them tax exemption by law was a violation of the Constitution.

    What do you make of that???

  64. I am not an attorney but I have thght the same thing, Idealist, It is law meant to give religion special dispensation.

  65. Bob K: “The real estate and income of churches should be taxed. Then we are making no law respecting an establishment of religion. Why’s that so hard to understand?
    If churches want tax deductions for charitable contributions, fine. Just like the rest of us.”

    Yes, but this may cut down on the number of red Prada slippers sold in the free market.

  66. You are as free to be illogical as you wish, id707.

    Just so, I’m free to point it out as I wish.

    If you don’t like me pointing out illogic, the best way to avoid that is not to be illogical.

  67. GeneH,

    I did not protest. Repeat, did not protest.
    I preferred in my original comment to trust that probability would be supreme in that postulated situation.

    Positions vv logic I leave to you.

    And you are free to criticize me or anything you like, free choice. And I am free to do as I wish. Great situation I think.

    So in a vain hope of trying to explain my position, I tried to do so. But that’s not easy all the time.

  68. leejcaroll,

    OCWM is the overall umbrella. Google AMA (American Missionary Association) to see just have activistic (not a word) Congregationalist were and are.

  69. idealist:

    yes, Gene is the potentate of the syllogism and the vicar of fallacy. Dont mess with him.

    just between me and you, his logic is based on a fallacy: his self taught axiom that he is infallible. Since he is always right everyone else is wrong and therefore illogical.

    I hope that clears it up for you.

  70. id707,

    Object? I didn’t say you did. “I preferred in my original comment to trust that probability would be supreme in that postulated situation.” Which is an appeal to probability (and a logical fallacy) by definition. That it is your preference is your choice, just as it is my preference to point such things out.

    Just so we understand each other.

    __________________

    How about I clear up your case of sour grapes at never once winning an argument instead, Bron? Just because you are immune at learning how to use a tool like logic properly doesn’t mean everyone else is. Is an appeal to probability a logical fallacy? Why . . . yes it is. Noting the probability of an event is a fallacy when put forth in the language of absolutes, such as the above usage of “will” – a term absolute. If id707 had said, “Even thresholds CAN BE be loopholed”, it would have been a statement about probability, but not a fallacious appeal to it. However, since you have a demonstrated proclivity for thinking only in absolutes, I doubt this critical distinction concerning logic and the precision use of language registers with you. Don’t hate me because I’m a trained logician, Bron. Hate me because that is your natural reaction to those in disagreement with your “unpopular ideas” who use logic to dismantle said “unpopular ideas”.

  71. Gene H:

    I dont hate you at all, but I do find you entertaining, educational and at times enlightening.

  72. Gene H:

    “The fallacy of appeal to probability (because something might happen doesn’t mean it will happen)”

    ID707 talked about cheating on taxes and loopholes. There is a very strong probability that because of the complexity of the tax code, we all “cheat” from time to time. Not voluntarily but out of ignorance.

    The improbable happens so it is probable. So how does the appeal to probability square with just because something hasnt happened doesnt mean it wont?

  73. Then perhaps you should park some of that hostility demonstrated above, slick. If you should think you’ve found a hole in my logic or proof that I’m factually wrong in an assertion, as always, you’re welcome to try and prove it, but pronouncements like “just between me and you, his logic is based on a fallacy: his self taught axiom that he is infallible. Since he is always right everyone else is wrong and therefore illogical” tell me another story about your reactions. I’ve never said I’m infallible and saying that I think I am is a straw man (speaking of logical fallacies).

    What I am saying though, and what I’ve said in the past, is that I operate under the premise that I am correct until proven otherwise by logic and/or proof just as any trained critical thinker would. I also adjust my thinking based on new proven facts and/or logic as any trained critical thinker would. Other people being illogical is and my pointing it out is a result of them being illogical, i.e. not using the tool properly. Nothing more, nothing less. My fallibility has nothing to do with it.

    That logic is a tool and I’m an expert user of that tool and ergo less likely to misuse it than a non-expert user is a matter of training and proclivity, but mostly training. Using/applying logic is also a skill. Almost anyone can learn it just like almost anyone can learn to play baseball. Just so, not every player is going to be a Hall of Fame player or win the Cy Young award.

  74. Bron,

    An appeal to probability is a fallacy when stated in terms absolute, i.e. it is no longer a statement framed in probability, but in certainty. See the distinction again between the words “WILL” and “CAN BE”. Possible, probable (and its inverse improbable) and certain are not the same things.

    Compare:

    It will rain tomorrow.
    It could rain tomorrow.
    It’s likely to rain tomorrow.

    The first is a statement of certainty.
    The second is a statement of possibility.
    The third is a statement of probability.

  75. raff,

    I’m always right except when I’m mistaken or deviate from 90 degrees to become acute or obtuse.

  76. Remember Geometry?

    GIVEN: Nal has an obsessive, bordering on fanatical, preoccupation with religious skepticism.

    “A man’s got to know his limitations.” — Clint Eastwood

    “Pure reason has its limitations” — general idea proven by Immanuel Kant

  77. To think; I started all that with a common logical fallacy!!!! At least GeneH said so, and he knows.

    I learned when I was a kid the difference between can and will. But most kids used them as emphasis, they were neither interested in logic nor gemometry.

    So you learn to accept “caveman speech” as I called it. Later I found there were indeed nuances and evem complete differences between ugh and ugn. It was as we know now a toning language; with lovely nuancible phrases such a “that guy”, and “screwed”, etc-

    To GeneH: I do understand now. Thanks. But not sure if you will get what you want. Ma-a-lish as in Arabic.

    To Bron, I support your first supposition. But not the laters ones

    Shall we all put together a fine certificate to give GeneH awarding him the honor of being logic master of the world; but also asking him to take his logic criticism and draw? Don’t think he would, but he might get the message, even if it is not purely logica.

    I’m ganna use my will and cans just as most do, and his criticisms without will be to no effect on my side of the internet.

    Actually, what would we do without GeneH. One can develop affectionate feelings even for a mosquito—-particularly if it does not sing off key or bite too frequently.

  78. id707,

    In accepting Bron first premise, you again display the Nirvana fallacy. Also, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. It may influence the decision to bring charges, especially in a malum prohibitum violations, or mitigate sentencing, but it is not an excuse. There are exceptions to this general rule. To see examples of these exceptions, look at Lambert v. California, 355 U.S. 225 (1957) and Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192 (1991). Lambert revolves around such a malum prohibitum charge (violation of city ordinances) and Cheek is particularly relevant to the issue at hand because it involves violating the tax code and the role willfulness plays in such a charge. Ignorantia juris non excusat is not just a legal maxim of both the common law and (Roman) civil law traditions, it is integral to the concept of the Rule of Law.

    Your options are to either prove me wrong or learn to live with the fact that I’m going to point out such illogic and factual inaccuracies whether they comport to your opinion or not.

    Your approval and/or appreciation is not required nor is changing your ways and, in fact, such errors present an opportunity to teach.

  79. GeneH,

    Thank for the amusement.
    I did not support Bron, I was acknowledging his support of mine.

    It is always amusing to see you try to hide your malice by swathing it in the white cloth of love of mankind, asd a wish to intruct them.

    I have to suppose that your buddies are so seldom subject to your corrections is due to their being without logical error. The only one I recall recently was Rafflaw, and it was no major thingy.

    Irrevelant for myself—only meant as a warning to others. Do not get GeneH angry or he never stops biting your A**. Mine hss become hardened.

    You read my writing poorly. I had in my earlier reply acknowledged the situation as being as you describe in your last two paragraphs.

    My attention and responses to what you write will be dictated by myself.

    No reply needed. But as always that is a personal option. Which you will certainly remind me.

    But I will ignore that. Watching with amusement.

    Buzz away.

  80. Bob Esq:

    ““Pure reason has its limitations” — general idea proven by Immanuel Kant”

    If reason has limitations how do we know Kant is right?

  81. Captain Earlobe:

    I’d be interested in seeing a source for the Catholic church figure of 0.9%.

    Since the post didn’t mention the Catholic Church and the sources didn’t mention the Catholic Church and none of the commenters mentioned 0.9%, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  82. id707,

    You mistake indifference to your protests over illogic and factual inaccuracy as malice or anger. If you don’t like having your illogic and factual inaccuracies pointed out, don’t be illogical and wrong about facts. Speaking of which “I did not support Bron, I was acknowledging his support of mine.” Really. “idealist707 1, July 2, 2012 at 3:06 am [. . . ] To Bron, I support your first supposition” sounds exactly like you supporting Bron right down to the verb choice.

    Good luck on telling me what to do.

  83. W=^..^

    It’s hard not to like a video that starts off with the Golden Ratio. Unless you’re raff. :D

  84. Mumbo Jumbo has always been a great business. I represent some Gypies/Rom fortune telling businesses. Other than the store front it’s pure profit. I see very little between what they do and organized religeon does.

  85. Gene,
    regular ratios I know about. Golden showers I have heard about, but I have never heard of the Golden Ratio! :)
    seamus,
    You could be right. It is all about the money for far too many religions and their leaders.

  86. Nicely said. My own focus is simply on forcing churches to open their books. Every other nonprofit does it in return for nonprofit status, why not churches?

    Do churches have something to hide? They’re OK with God looking over their shoulder at their finances; how about showing the rest of us who are picking up the slack and supporting churches?

    There’s a more thorough discussion of the issue (with references) here:
    http://galileounchained.com/2012/05/07/what-do-churches-have-to-hide/

  87. Bob Seidensticker,

    Many churches are 501(c)(3)s; my understanding is that federal law permits public inspection of its exemption application, its annual return, and information re unrelated business income all filed with the IRS.

    Almost all churches are non-profits under state law. State law may permit outsiders to examine certain records of a non-profit

  88. Rafflaw,

    SAID:

    “ID,
    The first time I remember you posting here you were “biting my a– ” so “what you talking about Willis?”

    You remember it, I don’t. So why did you wait to now to mention it. And the Willis-allusion doesn’t work on this side of the Atlantic.

    Giving excuses seems meaningless unless you are positively inclined to receiving them. So my writings are explainable. But doubt you care to hear them.

    On general principles, and aware of my problems here, I can offer an apology if you feel I was “bad”.

    If you are just looking to abuse me, fine, we’ll stop at this.

    Sincerely hope you feel better. Carrying hate is a heavy burden.

    Try feeding the good wolf. Remember him?
    He is licking my feet right now.

  89. Hey! I happen to be a big fan of Mumbo Jumbo…

    financial hanky panky? not so much….(I just don’t know if the churches aren’t a bit of a scapegoat here…given the financial frolics in other places….)

  90. Part 1 of 3

    Internal Revenue Manual
    Part 7. Rulings and Agreements
    Chapter 25. Exempt Organizations Determinations Manual
    Section 3. Religious, Charitable, Educational, Etc., Organizations

    7.25.3.5 (02-23-1999)
    Charitable Organizations— Definition

    Reg. 1.501(c)(3)–1(d)(2) provide that the term “charitable” is used in IRC 501(c)(3) in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor and distressed or of the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening of the burdens of government; promotion of social welfare. . . .

  91. Part 2 of 3

    So . . . there are many types of “charitable organizations” and the tem includes those whose purpose is the advancement of religion. In that sense, Woosty is correct – churches are, in the common vernacular, “charities.

    The term also includes those whose purpose is the “relief of the poor and distressed or of the underprivileged.” These are organizations whose primary purpose is philanthropic, a humanitarian concern for the general welfare of all people, but especially the least among us.
    In the common vernacular, these organizations aren’t just charities (a noun), but also charitable (an adjective).

    If the question is whether churches are charitable – whether Christians are humanitarians – maybe Nal’s observation are not only pertinent but also damning.

  92. Part 3 of 3

    Many charitable organizations have multiple missions; in the church they are referred to as ministries. One ministry is the leading of others to [a particular brand of] spiritual truth. Another ministry is the instructing of the new converts to live according to these spiritual truths. The most important truth among Christians is love.

    St. James (the stepbrother of Jesus and also known as “Camel” for the callouses on his knees from kneeling while praying) wrote, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 (NIV)

    St. Paul declared Christians “are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) The word translated “handiwork” expresses the idea of a beautiful piece of art specifically fashioned to do good works.

    Pure religion is about the care and comforting those without hope. Pure religion is remaining unpolluted by the world in order to tend to the world. The Christian is a beautiful piece of art. The Christian has been re-created to perform good works – works which God prepared at Creation. Works of love – agape love; the sort of love which leaves the non-believer standing with mouth agape.

    Do you know anyone like this? I know thousands of Christians. I only know a few folks like this, and they ain’t all Christians.

    Social/cultural surveys indicate that despite their talk, there is not much in the Christian’s walk to distinguish him from his heathen neighbor. And quite a few things which causes the non-believer to stand there smirking.

    I believe Nal would be thrilled to sing the praises of the church and its members if only they were the church described in the Bible.

  93. “Social/cultural surveys indicate that despite their talk, there is not much in the Christian’s walk to distinguish him from his heathen neighbor. And quite a few things which causes the non-believer to stand there smirking.” ~ Oro Lee
    ————————————————–
    I believe that you have identified a real continuum amongst peoples…..from the un-charitable smirking unbeliever to the ‘only a few’ folks. In Christianity all on Earth are considered ‘sinners’ and there was only 1 who was without sin. He was the Lamp. So whether you are a smirker, a shirker, a lurker or a worker, a lover, a fighter a stealer, a smiter, or even a spiter…a believer, a deceiver, a give and receiver….you exist on the continuum and there is probably room for improvement….and a need in the world for the gift that you have …(especially if you’ve crossed paths with some un-evolved blighter, spiter, stealer, or fighter…..)….but as far as surveys go I’d probably need to see the statistically compararative data before inferring such a broad statement.

    but a lovely thing about most Christians is that they have at lest spent some time looking at the possibility that they are not, in fact, G*d….

  94. Oro Lee:

    I know plenty of Christians who walk the walk almost and keep striving. And I know plenty who dont strive and who dont walk the walk. But what does that have to do with religion or God? Man is the one who falters. If you go to church because you think the minister or the priest is a real swell guy or that the people of this congregation/parish really have their act together, you are going to be disappointed with organized religion every time.

  95. Woosty,

    It was in federal prison that I heard an inmate make the profoundest statement concerning a believer’s place in the church. He said that he didn’t know what his position was in the church, but he figured it was somewhere from the neck down.

    The churches which I have attended are basically volunteer organizations. There are some paid ministerial positions and support staff. But the heavy lifting is done by volunteers.

    Like all volunteer organizations, 20% of the folks do 80% of the work and giving. Most of this group exists at the extremes — about half are in the extremely selfless and self-giving Paul and Priscilla group, and the other half in the extremely insufferable selfish and self-righteous Ananias and Sapphira group. The remaining 80% live somewhere between these two groups.

    I really believe that for about 90% of church members, Matt 7:22-23 have to be the scariest two verses in the Bible.

    BTW, I bet you do make a great barber

  96. I consider almost all of the church as it exists in the United States to be the epitome of organized religion, and I am never disappointed with organized religion. I expect nothing of it. I hope to be surprised by it, but I’m not going to hold my breath while waiting.

    What I do expect is that a man’s walk have some semblance to his talk. Other’s experience may be different from my earthly sojourn in a conservative, evangelical denomination, but I find that if most folks would display 1/10th the love which they profess they have for Christ, the world would sit up, take notice, and exclaim, “See how they love one another.”

    BTW, the early church father Tertullian recorded the quoted words as spoken by pagans of the early Christians. Tertullian was a trained lawyer.

    Today folks are more like to say, “See how they fight one another.”

    Big, fat “sigh.”

  97. Blouise, Sorry for painting with a wide brush. You’re right, not all churches work as I depicted.

    Woosty, LOVE the fibonacci video. You posted one awhile ago explains a steady percentage of growth is an exponential function. I can’t find it and I want to view it again. Can you provide a pointer. Either a repost or pointer to where you posted it before?

  98. Oro Lee,

    Not all non-believers smirk. I hope you don’t believe so. Some non-believers search also. Some feel that joining an organization that prescibes and
    circumscribes would not aid them in their search. Somea slso wish their Christian brethen well in their search and in their good works. For all men are brethern, are they not.

  99. Oro Lee,

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    A couple of personal questions at your discretion to answer of course.

    With your expectations of churces as expressions of Christianity, how did you choose a church?

    More specifically a conservative evangelical?

  100. Foundations, churches, nonprofits and tax exempts, it could be argued, accumulate wealth as their primary business using philanthropy as the excuse for tax exemption. so many fine and large estates receive tax exemption that they easily acquire more real estate, and accumulate more wealth with the accompanying ability to exert political pressure upon others. the pattern was set long ago, and as a method of against alienation nothing could be more clear.

    If tax need not be paid upon it, government chooses winners and losers for perpetuity. If philanthropies are so wealthy they must buy land to preserve that wealth, they cannot be primarily philanthropists. If they were, they would be giving away more, not buying more land.

  101. I would really like to know your source for the claim that the LDS church “spent 0.7% of it overall revenue on charitable causes.” I’m an ex-Mormon, and I have searched and searched for a figure on this, but the LDS church has not published it’s revenue in half a century, and it doesn’t really reveal numbers on how much it gives to charity, either. In other words, how much they spend, in either dollars or percentages, is never anything more than a guess. Have you found some hard figures that none of us ex-Mormons have seen? We’d all love to hear about it (I know that might sound sarcastic, but I mean that seriously).

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