Monday, 7 July 2008

Being charitable

That earlier post on candidate Obama’s policy for giving more federal government money to religious groups to deliver social services, I dropped it into the incredibly long election thread at The Comics Journal Message Board, and it got, in part, this response:
Do many charities not have paid employees? Or pay others to assist in their charitable work? Therefore, I don't see how "a religious organisation getting paid by the government to deliver social services is not charity, it's paid work" is necessarily true.

And secular charitable organizations are also aided in their work with government funding. Is making this secular organization "look good" a bad thing too? And would refusing to aid religious charities in doing the same type of good deeds not be, in effect, anti-religious discrimination?

By making an exception through denying aid to church-based charities, would the government then not be treating society as "a whole," and specifically singling out those who are religious?
To which I replied:

If of my own free will I pay someone to do something charitable, then I'm the one being charitable. If they pay me to do it of their own free will, then they are the ones being charitable. So a fully paid employee of a registered charity is not being charitable by just doing their job.

If I pay my taxes, and the government uses the money to pay a registered charity to deliver social services, then nobody is being charitable, but I am being a good citizen, and also staying out of jail.

And 'secular' is not a belief system. It doesn't mean anti-religious, just not tied to any particular religion. If any religious person feels moved to do good work with a government supported charity, they can go and volunteer for any secular charity they like. The only drawback will be that they won't be promoting their faith at the same time.

I don't know about other religions, but if they're Christian they should welcome the opportunity to do good work without simultaneously promoting their faith.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.

(Never thought it would come to this, quoting the goddamn Bible on the Comics Journal Message Board...)

Original post here. Follow up post here.

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