Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 11th, 2014 by Joel Watts

A light on the argument of Churches and Charities

Many argue against taxation, welfare, and other government programs based on the suggestion that if taxes were less, churches could do more. Churches, they insist, are the best source of charitable giving.

And yet…

Sunrise Children’s Services is working to recover from a massive budget shortfall after Kentucky churches withheld $7 million because the children’s home had proposed ending its policy of discrimination against LGBT employees.

via KY churches withhold $7 million from children’s home to force anti-gay policies | The Raw Story.

Let’s imagine a world where the welfare system was church based. What would that look like? In many areas, it would look just like the example set by the Kentucky Baptist Convention. What if the child was gay? I guess we should let it starve.

Or Muslim.

Or Hindu.

Or Methodist.

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Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

12 Responses to “A light on the argument of Churches and Charities”
  1. The Church reserves of moral censuring to the Laity, not to the men of Cloth
    The last man to recognize Christianity of today ( for that matter Christianity)as the one started by Him will be Christ!

  2. Excellent point Joel! I am with you and ain’t leaving! However, (there is always a however) I don’t think the solution is simply to relinquish what is called welfare, aka, charity, solely on the government either. Decisions on government welfare are also not based on the pure need of the solicitants, but there are all sorts of biases perpetrated by the government agencies. The error on the part of the religious organizations is in not regarding genuine need as the sole requirement to help someone. Helping gays in need (if they exist it destroys the myth that they are all rich and powerful), will not affect any of my religion convictions whereas as helping the needy, including gays needs, will strengthen my religious convictions! A needs only oriented religious charity with all its woes and imperfections is more trustworthy than the government for charity any day of the week and twice on weekends in my view, and I am not even mentioning the fact that nowhere in Jesus’ Gospel he told his Disciples to plea with the government that it would be the source of help to the hungry and needy. In fact he told the disciples: “…give YE them to eat…” not the government; It is US as Jesus’ disciples, not government, and not through taxes, but through liberality and voluntarism, and according to Paul, “…all men, but especially those of the household of faith. (all men includes gays and lesbians in need, the “especially those of the household of faith” is not exclusive. Christians are not taught by “us” who know so much… 😉

  3. Something that has to be highlighted from the article that people seem to be ignoring…
    “However, the policy of discrimination puts Sunrise at risk of losing government funding, which provides 85 percent of its $27 million budget.”

    And I would like to see the audit of the portion that the Baptists gave. I would bet that it would show inflated values for volunteers labor, old blanket give-aways, bible and food contributions. I don’t believe they actually gave $7M in cash. And their books are not open for inspection. Cooking books is easy in churches.

      • UMC.
        Keep them in line.
        I don’t want to change churches again.
        http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/10/us/methodist-minister-gay-marriage/index.html?c=us

        • wait… do you want them to put pastors on trial who officiate at gay weddings?

          • No, just the opposite. No witch hunts, especially for a poor guy that wants to officiate at his own son’s wedding. The 1st episode was a trial. The 2nd, no trial, and really no penalty. Getting better. If they want to make lawyers out of themselves and try people, it leads to bad PR, losing members, etc. so far, their services have not been political, which is good. Only uplifting, no going to hell stuff. If they start preaching on politics, Duck Dynasty, etc, I’m out of there. But like I said before, they seem to be Loosey Goosey on sermons, which is a good thing. Sabbath and sermons were made for man (as helpful), not man made for the Sabbath and sermons (as in, you are going to hell Bro…)

  4. The problem is that churches often don’t have the skill set to run effective poverty-reduction programs. I would not hire a carpenter, no matter how good they are at their job, to do the plumbing in my house. Likewise, the average church is very good at the provision of religious services, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to effectively deal with poverty. If you want to do things right, you need competent people to design the program based on what has been shown to work, run it effectively, evaluate it to make sure that it works and kill it if it doesn’t. This is not something that you can do on weekends or with volunteer labor. Not to mention that it often clashes with church culture: do you want to kill the program that some people are heavily emotionally invested in? Do you want to be the “bad guy” who’s asking for figures when, clearly, people’s lives are being transformed and why don’t you get on with the program? See Lupton’s Toxic Charity (not that I agree with his solutions, but the diagnosis is often accurate).

    Another issue is that there is often a bias toward highly visible actions because, especially in conservative churches, poverty-reduction is incidental to the real goal, which is to make converts. So you’d rather have a soup kitchen so that people can see the “difference that Jesus makes in their lives” rather than give money to the poor (even though it may be more effective, see Give Directly in Kenya) because this is boring, low-profile work that does not involve proselytizing.

    An added bonus is that, if people’s material needs are already met, you can relate to them as equals. It is much more fulfilling to talk about religion to people who are there because they have an interest in it and are willing seekers, than to people who have to sit through such talks because they need the food that you have.

    • Note: my comment applies primarily to suburban/wealthy churches who decide that they “have a heart for the city” and descend on a weekly/monthly basis onto inner city neighborhoods. Things are quite different with churches that are rooted in a community and that help people who are part of the church and the community. That is, when they’re helping one another and the people that they are in daily contact with.

    • You said it much better than me.

  5. I don’t think the recipient cares who’s helping them out, as long as it’s REAL and adequate help with no strings attached. I do think that some organizations run with a conservative mindset enjoy playing their conception of an oppressive god. When a society shares with one another all the resources available in a sustaning manner, no one will be poor, anymore. Help the poor become UN-poor.

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