Very interesting article! There is a thesis here that if you don’t believe
in a spiritual Deity, you substitute that with a belief in a powerful government
and demand that people give to your substitute God- government! How else can you
explain the differences of giving to charity between liberals and conservatives?
It comes down to whom do you render; Caesar or God?
DN...there you go again.Yes, everyone is already, most certainly aware
that Utah is/has the very best of the best in every category.Always
appreciate the reminder, tho.
@MountanmanUh... why would atheists (the subject of this article) pay
tithing when they don't belong to a church? That's the primary reason
for the difference between the one set of states and the other. This study keeps
in church tithing which largely goes to maintaining church infrastructure,
utilities, and pastor's pay based on this finance report for the pat year I
got from the Catholic church I visit. My offerings are mostly the equivalent of
"club membership" with a fraction of it going to charitable causes. Same
goes for your tithing since the LDS church has made clear that its' fast
offerings and the humanitarian aid fund that are the principle charitable arms
of the church whereas tithing is mostly just for keeping the church running.
I wonder what the numbers look like if churches are not counted as charities.
All charities have overhead, but churches have particularly high overhead. When
money is given to a church, only a very small percentage of that money makes it
to the poor, or to programs that benefit the poor. If the goal is to help the
church, then give to the church. But if the goal is to help the poor, there are
I think it depends on what you consider "charity." If one person gives
10% of their money to the LDS church, the church uses that money to run a
campaign in Maine to prevent gays from adopting children, or to prevent one
person in California from being able to visit their injured loved one in the
hospital. Another person gives 5% of their pay to feed hungry children in Haiti
- Which person gave more to "charity?"
If you take out the donations to religiously affiliated organizations,
conservatives still give a higher percentage of their income than liberals. A 20
year study by Alfred Brooks (Who Really Gives?) bears this out. And the idea
that non religious people pay taxes with an altruistic attitude is not really
true. They pay them as begrudgingly as any of us do. But they do make career
choices based on altruistic idealism (teachers, social workers, etc.) at a
higher percentage than conservatives.
To MountanmanYour thesis is completely off base and is only your own
personal opinion. There is nothing in this article that supports your
conclusion. The use of the word demand is also completely off base and not
suported by this article. There are thousands of ways to explain the differences
and each individule has his or her own reasons. Substitute God is laughable and
just plain ignorant.
@hymn of the silentSure nobody likes paying taxes but in the end Vermont
citizens still voted for politicians who would have enough taxes to pay for
single payer healthcare which will go into effect in a couple years and citizens
in Sweden, Norway, and France pay higher taxes for things like cheap college,
healthcare, and a very strong safety net. If they didn't care about
programs helping the poor and elderly and instead just wanted more tax cuts for
themselves... well, they'd vote for Romney/Ryan.
"'People in less religious states are giving in a different way by
being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably
distribute superior benefits,' Wolfe said." ROFL! No way! Thank
goodness for people like this because there just wouldn't be any flavor in
this world without them! What a day brightener! I've been waiting my whole
life for someone from the other side of the great class warfare divide between
know it all, do gooder intellectuals and us poor, unsophisticated, uneducated,
neanderthals who could never give away charity on our own without the government
forcing us on pain of imprisonment to do it. Yes! What a day! Why am I
shouting?!?!?! Because this is just too sweet!!!! This is going on my Facebook!
The main fallacy of the study and this article is the equating a tax deduction
with charitable giving. The tax deduction represents the lobbying of private
groups to induce people to give up their money and have the government further
subsidize the groups. Charity is the giving with out reward. The
tax deduction alone takes the tax definition of charity out of the character of
true charity. Money given to a church is not charity. It is to
purchase the product that the church is selling. The fact that the product is
mostly imaginary does not mean that it is the product that the church dispenses.
Commercial charities are simply business operations. They are
operated for the profit of their owner/managers. They seldom if ever make any
real difference in the world of the people they are supposed to be helping. The
history of the world seems to be people help the poor but don’t do
anything about their being poor. If you want to see what the true
charity of Americans is, stop the tax deduction and allow charity to be
it’s own product.
Professor Wolfe's rationalization that some people think their taxes are
symbols of altruism is humorous on its face. You gotta love the ivory tower.
@mountain, hymn and killpackYou should actually read the article before
commenting. “Churches are among the organizations counted as charities by
the study, and some states in the Northeast rank in the top 10 when religious
giving is not counted.” In Mormon teachings, for instance, Latter Day
Saints are required to pay a 10 percent tithe to remain church members in good
standing, which helps explain the high giving rate in heavily-Mormon Utah. When
only secular gifts are counted, New York climbs from No. 18 to No. 2 in giving,
and Pennsylvania rises from No. 40 to No. 4. Utah gives 10.6%, If LDS
Utahan's are paying10% towards something other then “staying in good
standing” with their church how much are they really giving to charity out
of kindness versus compulsion and how much chest thumbing should you really be
Some interesting facts from the actual study left out of the article. The rich
aren’t the most generous. Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share
of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn
$50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income
to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000
or more. Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people
give a share of their income to charity than rich people who live in more
economically diverse communities. The Northeast region ranks the highest when
religious giving is not factored in.
From the study sited in the article, "because taxpayers are allowed to claim
deductions only if they itemize on their tax forms, so no precise data exist to
determine how much those who don’t itemize give." So who
do you think this mostly likely applies to and how does it effect the
conclusions you can draw about who really gives the largest percentage of their
income to charity?
LDS fast offerings are inde
@jasonpWith no paid clergy the LDS church as particularly low over
head. There is not better way to help the poor than donating to the LDS
Church's Fast Offering fund.@FatherOfFourLDS
Tithing funds are not used for political purposes ever. Not in California's
Prop 8, and not in Maine and not anywhere else. Members are encouraged to get
involved in politics and to donate but they are never told what political
parties to donate to. The church only got involved with Prop 8 because it was a
Re: FatherOfFour WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAs "The Rock" pointed
out not one single dollar of LDS tithing money was spent on Prop 8, in Maine, or
anywhere else. To do so would have threatened their tax exempt status.Re: Tolstoy salt lake, UTYou are confused about tithing (10%) and
charitable donations (fast offerings) made by LDS members. Whether Mormons give
$1 or $500 in fast offerings is totally up to them. They don't thump their
chests when they donate to charity because that information is not made public.
Perhaps we should worry a little less about how much others give to charity and
a little more about how much we give.
@The Rock"With no paid clergy the LDS church as particularly low over
head. There is not better way to help the poor than donating to the LDS
Church's Fast Offering fund."The church itself says that
tithing money (which is the majority of their donations) is primarily for
building churches, maintaining the buildings (utilities etc) and for
supplies/activities for church use. The charitable arms of the church
(humanitarian aid and fast offering funds) have low overhead, however, so I
agree with the second statement.Of course, both of us are
speculating to some extent since the LDS wards don't hand out annual budget
reports."The church only got involved with Prop 8 because it was
a moral issue."The church doesn't seem to really be
involved in Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, and Maine's ballot question
matters so it seems like the church isn't fond of getting involved in that
kind of thing anymore.
Have not seen it mentioned, but my understanding is that money donated to the
general missionary fund is tax deductible while money given specifically to a
specific persons mission is not.So, are much of the missionary
expenses across the globe considered tax deductible in the US?
Killpack - I agree with you. When I read it, I was ROFL also! Then I
wondered if he had a point, so I spent my lunch hour researching the issue. I
indexed the tax burden by state and compared it with the generosity indicated in
this article. I averaged them (Most Generous = 1, Highest tax burden = 1), then
compared them with the Religiousity index. What I found was startling! All 10 of
the most religious states have higher than average tax burdens, too! In fact, of
all 50 states and D.C., Alan Wolfe can point to only two outliers for the
accuracy of his statement (D.C., which was #12 in Tax Burden and #2 in Giving,
but 42nd in Religiousity and New York, which was #2 in Tax Burden and #18 in
giving, but 41st in Religiousity). For those interested, Utah ranked 28th in tax
burden and 1st in giving, and was 2nd in Religiousity (behind Mississippi).We both had good reason to laugh...big time! And Tolstoy - percentages
of Mormons would only affect two, possibly three States - Utah, Idaho, and
JoeBlow - It didn't used to be, but now it currently is tax
deductible. Parents of missionaries can now donate funds through the church for
their offspring's mission. That was not always the case. When I went on a
mission, my parents supplements to the money I had earned to go on a mission
were not tax deductible.
@ alt. Donations to your church are voluntary! Taxes are not! That’s the
Abeille,Thanks for that clarification.I do not feel that
missionary programs should qualify as a charitable endeavor. I see that kind of
activity very different from helping to feed and clothe the needy.
Just my personal opinion. Although I do see how some could feel that tending to
someones spiritual needs is more important than their physical needs.Actually, I think that we should do away with all the various deductions.
That would include dependent deductions, charitable, etc.
JoeBlow -I understand and respect your opinion. But just to note -
not all Missions in the LDS Church are proselytizing. Many spend their resources
to bring clean drinking water to Africa, to provide medical care where none
exist, etc. In addition, all deductions are not charitable. For example, you can
deduct the interest paid on your house, which isn't a charitable donation.
Same with educational expenses, medical expenses over a certain percentage, etc.
Most other faiths donate funds to pay for clergy. The LDS faith has no paid
clergy. It seems equitable that, since other paid clergy receive funds which are
tax deductible, so should LDS Missionary donations be tax deductible.I do agree that all giving is not charitable. It appears this study tried to
address that by calculating discretionary income and comparing that with
charitable giving based on itemized deductions on a person's 1040 form. Thanks for your opinion.
Thanks Abeille,Point noted about not all missions are proselytizing.
I have less of a problem with those. But I am sure that some of
that goes on on any mission.It is so hard to separate what should or
shouldn't be a deduction.People can make very valid arguments
for or against the fairness of virtually any deduction or what does or does not
count as charity.Hence, my position. Lose all the deductions. What
is fairer than that?I appreciate the thoughtful and civil
This is sounding like a conversation Mitt and Ann might want to chime in on!
atl134,Where did you get the idea the article was about atheists? And
where do you get the idea LDS tithing goes to pay the local pastor? And I guess
you are confused about The Rock’s comments concerning fast offerings,
which are different from tithing. Your comment seemed to confuse the two.JasonP,The LDS church’s charitable arms do not have high
overhead, if any.Non-believer,Nothing in the article to
support Mountainman’s claim? I guess you missed this: "'People
in less religious states are giving in a different way by being more willing to
pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute superior
benefits,' Wolfe said."The rock,Don’t disabuse
FatherOfFour of his misunderstandings, it turns his world upside down.
Tolstoy,I read the article. And here is my conclusion. People who
don't fear God instead put their faith and trust in men and their corrupt,
immoral and ungodly institutions, such as the US Government. Non-religious
places, like Massachusetts where Professor Wolfe calls home, also put their
faith in the corrupt church of the Massachusetts State House (remember Billy
Bulger and his wonderful cronies?) Under the guise of morality, they force
people to pay into a welfare system, on pain of imprisonment, and they
themselves get rich as administrators of the scam. Paying into a welfare system,
on pain of imprisonment, is hardly what I consider to be moral or charitable. I
simply pay taxes to avoid prison time. And so does everyone else. I'm not
aware of anyone, enlightened do-gooder or otherwise, who willingly pays more
than is required of him by the IRS, to the federal government. While donating
one's means, WILLINGLY, to the less fortunate is very noble, depriving
another his or her freedom and forcing them to pay into a corrupt welfare system
is wrong, despicable and immoral.
"... I think people here believe that when they pay their taxes,
they're being altruistic."So, they choose government as
their preferred charity (no doubt because of the stellar record and efficiency
thereof), and they are content when they've paid to it. Meanwhile, the
rest of us are obliged, under pain of imprisonment, to also donate to this
charity, but then also feel to voluntarily contribute to a charity of our
choosing, to help our fellow man. I think the problem is becoming
@JoeBlow"So, are much of the missionary expenses across the
globe considered tax deductible in the US?"Good question. Not
sure how the IRS views that. However, I would say that the majority of a
missionary's time is spent directly doing service. In fact, the church has
put more of an emphasis on missionaries taking part in service projects than on
proselyting all day. Having lived in the Northeast, I'd say
the charity has more to do with culture than anything else. Except in
Utah's case. The Church is clearly driving that stat. And that's a
good thing. It is a well organized, effective, and reputable organization and
that lends itself to more donations because people know the money is going to be
In the end, tracking who donates how much in what way, is impossible.
There's no use pointing fingers or patting anyone on the back.As individuals, we just keep doing the best we can, and help when we can.Liberal government is trying hard to train people to use them
(government) as the charity, the rescuer, the rock on which to stand. And they
are succeeding brilliantly. May we not forget the neighbor close by,
and not just wait for government to help him. Because such a government will
eventually fail; it is unsustainable.
Some will read this article and pat themselves on the back and say all is well
here in Utah because we are so great in giving to charities. But since churches
are included as charities it's hard to really define what giving to a
charity really means. It's also hard to figure out what secular giving
really means as well. Is giving to an art museum secular giving? Even the part
in the article about some feeling that taxing themselves for purposes like
giving welfare or health care to the poor as an altruistic defense of taxes just
adds confusion to the issue. To me, when we have one government with
many different churches that using government can be a more effective way of
showing our "Christian Values" to help all then each giving to their
church which may only help some. Finally I don't see this
article as a way to get us to act charitably but as a way to divide us and to
cloud the issue. The poor will always be with us, charities, churches, and
governments need to deal with it.
@lost in DC"Where did you get the idea the article was about atheists?
"Less religious states have more atheists by definition. "And where do you get the idea LDS tithing goes to pay the local
pastor? "I didn't, I was referring to Christian churches in
general when I made that statement. My LDS specific comments were directed to
other posts, though I can see the confusion and I'm sorry I didn't
make that more clear. "And I guess you are confused about The
Rock’s comments concerning fast offerings, which are different from
tithing. Your comment seemed to confuse the two."I don't
think I did. Tithing is the required (for temple admittance etc) offering that
is 10% pre-tax and is primarily used to sustain the church, as a result the % of
tithing going to charitable causes is understandably fairly low. Fast offerings
are less required but still expected, and humanitarian aid contributions are
optional (for brevity I'll skip the other tithing slip categories). Those
are primarily charitable with low overhead. The overall percentage of LDS church
income going to charitable causes seems comparable or slightly higher than the
average Christian church.
re:TheRockIf Church-owned recording studios and facilities are used to
make Prop 8 commercials (as they were) and tithing funds go to maintain those
studios etc. then one could say that tithing funds were used on the Prop 8
campaign. We really can't say to what level any church in the
U.S. funds are used for charitable purposes since they aren't required to
and don't publicly disclose their financial statements. General Authorities do receive a "stipend" which would classify as
being paid. The oft repeated themes in Deseret News are:Romney for PresidentWar on religionUtah is greatMormons are
To those who argue that donating to a church shouldn't count: you are
missing the point. This article is stating that religious people give their
money willingly to a cause THEY believe in. It doesn't matter what YOU
think is a good cause. I might argue that giving a donation to save the whales
is a waste of money, but that doesn't mean the people who give to that
cause are not being charitable. If someone gives money to their local church,
who are you to judge that as "acceptable charity" or not?
It's a combination of guilt that religion imposes, expectation and
conspicuity. If the jones' are making their quota, we must be seen to be so
also. My experience in utah is that whatever benevolence may come from giving is
less of a motivating factor.
Instereo,Yes, how to properly define 'charity' is a
challenge, much too complex to leave in the filthy hands of the government.
Rather, what constitutes charity to each individual should be a private matter,
between the individual and God or whatever deity of choice that person decides
to worship. If that person believes in the government, by all means, donate to
the government. Just don't force others to do the same. I don't force
anyone to donate to my God, why do people insist on requiring me to give money
to a corrupt welfare system, by the threat of physical force. I don't pat
myself on the back for willingly donating my money. I give money to charity. Big
deal. However, I will pat myself on the back for standing up for individual
liberties, when so many would take it away. I oppose and defy the immoral
federal government for forcibly seizing the hard earned money of so many who are
struggling in this terrible economy and giving it away to special interests
keeping them in power, all in the name of moral obligation, yes. And I take
great pride and satisfaction in such defiance.
Re: Red Corvette SACRAMENTO, CA"Don't pay your tithing or fast
offering and no temple for you."Why would anyone who didn't
want to live the law of tithing even want to go to the temple? Those who believe
in God and have a desire to pay their tithes and offerings don't even think
in those terms.And by-the-way, how much a LDS member desires to
contribute in offerings to help the poor and needy is a personal decision
between themselves and God. That, after all is the true spirit of charity
because it comes from the heart.
@HutteriteAmazing that you can judge and interpret the hearts of
millions of members of the church here in Utah.
The dogmatic liberals here are a little peeved that people in Utah may be a lot
more liberal in their personal lives than their dogma has taught them. I talked
to an Indian communist who felt that communism was the political extension of
one's personal charity. He felt that it was absolutely essential that one
practiced charity in their personal life while they pursued it by political
means. I regularly contribute to a fund that makes micro loans to third world
young adults to pursue trade school education. This program is funded heavily
by Mormons. The Mormon church relief society was going into 3rd world countries
and teaching women to read. I think that a lot of people in Utah are closet
communists without even knowing it. Certainly by the standards of my Indian
So if charity is a socialized religious entitlement then why is government
becoming a charity? Is this article referring to religious charity or government
charity or personal charity, beggars and scavengers going door to door, on the
street, or all of them?If this article is referring to all forms
then it just reinforces how Socialist the people and government in Utah is and
how easy it is to scam any one being here. The charity this article implies is
not a very complementarity to citizens and our government and civil inalienable
rights. To have a state that spends more than 50% of its budget on charity to
business, foreign nationals, education, health care, welfare, etc, based on
trumped up fake entitlement is a sure sign we are living in the ravages of
Socialism that is not a sustainable government or economy. Too many "non
citizens" in Utah think charity is a permanent government/religious
entitlement.Utah and the taxpayers are living on borrowed time as
selfish Socialism is expanding its Hammer and Sickle oppression by our
government to keep funding Religious charity and Social charity by taxation is
destroying the lives and dreams of freedom and pursuit of happiness.
RE; A1994 ,Amazing that you can judge and interpret the hearts of millions of
members of the church here in Utah.Ye shall know them by fruits can
be(Mormon doctrines, legalism ),Don't pay your tithing or fast offering and
no temple for you.If one hopes to obtain the celestial kingdom in
the next life, he must practice what is known as "celestial law." In the
words of third LDS President John Taylor, "We are told that if we cannot
abide the law of the celestial kingdom we cannot inherit a celestial
glory". Brigham Young, if a person hopes to obtain the celestial
kingdom," it requires a strict obedience to every point of law and doctrine
and to every ordinance which the Lord reveals: in short, it requires a strict
observance of every requirement of Heaven, to fully prepare a people for the
possession and enjoyment of the celestial kingdom" .
In this political season and discussions about people who are running for office
and charitable giving is probably not appropriate in the light of campaigning.
People give their lives, financial means and abilities to other people to have a
better life. Candidates and others usually don't sit there and say, I am
going to give because it is a tax deduction and will benefit me. If people can
get a tax deduction, which has been granted by the United States Congress and
signed by the President through his executive office, by people that are of a
variety of religions and beliefs over the past 100 years, it is a right and
privilege all in this country can take advantage of. However, people of good
hearts and intentions live all around the world and Salt Lake City has people
that have lived in or relatives that live in those countries all over the globe.
Utah has always been a State that has given of their time, energy and means to
help further the good causes in the world to benefit others and not themselves.
They are an unselfish group of people of all faiths and practices and give
sharronaand your point is ????
RE: Stay the Course sharrona,and your point is ???? Tithing by Coercion,versus
the heart. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a
Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and
prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people robbers,
evildoers, adulterers or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and
give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a
distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man,
rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt
themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be
exalted.” Luke 18:10-14 (NIV).Christ is become of no effect
unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Sharrona I am pretty sure you missed the point of the Luke set of verses. For
the tax collector was humble and the pharisee was not. According to the gospel
the humble who admit to sin and pray for forgiveness and help in God's name
the same are those that are saved from the punishment of sin, which is
separation from God, and also given a greater ability to overcome the sin. The
pharisee represents nothing more than a man who while he performs what he needs
to do he has not true heart in it. Whereas the tax collector, who we do not know
does not perform all that the pharisee does in fact it is safer to assume he
does pay tithing and pray and so on, prays for forgiveness of his own sins.So far as Galatians goes consider that Paul was speaking of the Law of
Moses, which is a lesser law, not the Law of the Gospel of Christ, which is the
higher law. Both require obedience. If one confesses to love Jesus yet continues
to murder are they saved?
I don't like this article or the above comments. We are comparing apples
with oranges and then using the data to reinforce our various political views.
RE: Arm of Orion. The Pharisee was not accepted. He was full of himself and
his own goodness. Let us beware of proud devotions(tithing by coercion) to the
Lord. The publican was full of humility and of repentance for sin. God be
merciful to me a sinner. He owned himself a sinner by Nature. He had no
dependence but upon the mercy of God; upon that alone he relied. And God's
glory is to resist the proud, and give grace to the humble. The self-condemned,
not the self-righteous, are justified before God.@Separation from
God …therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment (Moisah
2:39) fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but
rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt
10:28)RE: Law of the Gospel=(good news) of Christ. Gaining
God’s favor by observing the law and receiving it by grace are mutually
exclusive. “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that
we might be justified by faith”(Gal 3:24 NIV)
Answer my question Sharrona. If a person "accepted Jesus into their
heart" and in a moment of rage or passion or weakness committed murder are
they guilty or are they saved by grace? Also you probably
misunderstood me concerning Luke. I did not say that the pharisee was accepted.
Rather I believe that he was rejected because his actions did not come from the
heart. Like that of the tax collector. The tax collector was humble and knew he
was a sinner and needed God but still he prayed and followed the law to the best
of his ability. That much can be inferred by his actions by praying at the
temple. I think we can find agreement in the fact that God accepts the humble
over the arrogant yes?Now then the verse you quoted in Galatians is
referring to the Law of Moses leading to the gospel of Christ.
RE: Arm of Orion,If a person "accepted Jesus into their heart" and in a
moment of rage or passion or weakness committed murder are they guilty or are
they saved by grace?Both,in Hebrews Chapter 11,the Heroes hall of
fame. The O.T. Saints were saved by faith looking forward to the Messiah. See,
Hebrews 11:39,40. Moses killed an Egyptian (Ex 2:14). David commits
murder and adultery yet in Psalm 51:1 He asks for mercy(grace) not justice,David
pays for his sins. Are they saved?Let no man therefore judge you in
food, or in drink(wine)…Col 2:16. The Colossian heresy.Wine was used
by Noah, Gen 9:20,21 . Melchizedek, Gen 14:18. Isaac Gen 27:25. Jesus 2:1-11,
He turns water into wine not wine into water And Mt 11:19.. Timothy,1Tim 5:23.
No TR for them.he saved us, not because of righteous things we had
done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and
renewal by the Holy Spirit( Titus 3:5 NIV). 4th post.
So, if all things are saved according to the grace and mercy of Christ should a
person committing genocide be saved? Because apparently all sins are saved no
matter what if one simply prays for forgiveness. What about serial killing? If I
kill repent and kill and repent, or pray for mercy and grace. Then according to
what you say I am saved.I ask is the above fair? Is it right. So why
should I not live my life say the words and accept Jesus into my heart. Why
should it not be possible to do so on my death bed? What is the point of church
or the bible just so long as I accept Jesus. Why should I read the bible? Why
really should I attempt to do anything that is good and honest so long as I have
accepted Jesus I am saved. Is that the case Sharrona?