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Dues/tithing

 
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chicagonyc



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 3:20 pm    Post subject: Dues/tithing Reply with quote

Seems like an interesting and provocative argument -- look forward to reading it soon.

I know that many Jewish congregations have membership dues, and Christian churches have tithing requirements (not sure about the mandatory nature of the latter).

I wonder if such dues and tithing are considered charitable donations. If so, then religious people giving more wouldn't be such a surprising finding -- it would be tautological.
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vonlogan



Joined: 01 Dec 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally pay tithing (10% of income) to my Christian church. The church I belong to is considered a charitable organization by the IRS so I would think that my contributions are considered a form of charity. I've been paying tithing for over 20 years now and have experienced all of the benefits described in the book, and many others not mentioned. Although tithing is considered a commandment, it is not mandatory for membership in my church. To negate someone's contribution by saying they are merely keeping religious commandments does them a great disservice. I pay tithing because it is a commandment, but I also pay tithing because it is used to help and uplift my fellow man. I also donate about 5 hours a week to help members of my congregation. In the end giving is giving. As long as it is not forced giving (like taxes) I consider it true and genuine giving.
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piglet



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:27 pm    Post subject: What is Charity Reply with quote

The point is not denying the commitment of people who donate to their church, the point is that this is not the same as charity. You contribute to the salary of your minister and to the maintenance of your church building, etc., because the church is important to you. That's fine but the book is about "who cares" in the sense of "care for your neighbour, those in need, carry the burden of the weak". It is dishonest to imply that everything defined as "charity" in the tax code is morally equivalent to feeding the hungry and supporting the poor, and it is more dishonest to judge people morally by how much they donate, without regard to the causes to which they donate. Right at the beginning, the book claims that those who voted for Bush are more generous, and illustrates this with a map showing that most of the "Red" states voting for Bush had higher levels of donations. But those are also the most religious states which likely have higher levels of church donations. It is interesting that Brooks does not provide the statistics for non-church causes.

I contend that donating to MY church, or even MY preferred political candidate or party or pressure group or think tank, etc., doesn't make ME in any way morally superior and doesn't give me the right to accuse others, who might not be in any church or party, to "not care". Actually it seems to me quite unchristian to do so:

Quote:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven... If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

charity (in the sense e.g. of the Sermon on the Mount).

Churches do valuable charity work in the real sense of the word but the tax code does not distinguish it from the rest. The tax code doesn't even distinguish between a wealthy person donating to an anti-tax organization lobbying for tax cuts, and a modest person giving to a homeless shelter. Actually, the latter may not even benefit from the tax deduction if his or her income is too low. Brooks explicitly refuses to make any difference between different kinds of "charity", but still he uses his compound statistics to make moral judgements. In other words, he refuses to distinguish between the widow and the pharisee - e.g. he explicitly defends Carnegie's charitable work without talking about how he made his fortune in the first place.

My take on the book on the whole is that its concept is deeply flawed because it is based on a moral argument without adequately discussing its morality.
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piglet



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:29 pm    Post subject: Red states postscript Reply with quote

Since we mentioned the Red states and their "generosity", we might also point out that they have the highest poverty levels, the highest teenage pregnancy levels (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/6/145758/107), and some of the highest divorce rates (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/weekinreview/14pamb.html?ex=1258174800&%2338;en=4f927c5f27fb9966&%2338;ei=5090), which is interesting since Brooks cites European divorce rates to explain the allegedly lower generosity of Europeans - which would be subject for another comment.
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alislaura



Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Piglet, I couldn't agree with you more. I cannot help but suspect that if church donations and tithing were not considered charity, the so-called difference between "compassionate conservatives" and "pitiless liberals" would vanish completely.

Giving to your church may be admirable and beneficial, but it can hardly be considered "compassionate" in an unqualified sense. What it boils down to is taking care of your own. Is that compassion....or self interest, albeit enlightened self interest? What percentage of church donations goes to the needy - once building upkeep, new prayerbooks, piano, heating costs, minister, etc., etc. have been paid for? And how many of those needy are outside the particular church?

The point of the Good Samaritan narrative is that true compassion means taking care of those who are different, outcast and even despised. Giving to your church is not the same as giving, say, to "savedarfur."

I can't help it - I heartily doubt that conservatives give more to truly compassionate charities than liberals. I will continue to think this until Brooks sharpens up his research and demonstrates the opposite.
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alan82



Joined: 04 Apr 2008
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, what is the quality of that giving that he is talking about? Is it money to some faceless people somewhere? Or is it helping your neighbor by giving to the local food bank or adding your quarters to help someone pay medical bills? Is it donating your time helping an old neighbor fix a roof? Is it taking an old person to the doctor?
Charity has many different faces.
What I know is, that in a local catastrophe, liberals and conservatives, religious and nonreligious people, are all there rubbing shoulders and working together to help.
I resent him dividing the nation into conservative religious charitables and liberal nonreligious and stingy types. That's all we need, another study that shows all Americans are divided into two basic types of people!
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Sapwolf



Joined: 29 Apr 2008
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vonlogan wrote:
I personally pay tithing (10% of income) to my Christian church. The church I belong to is considered a charitable organization by the IRS so I would think that my contributions are considered a form of charity. I've been paying tithing for over 20 years now and have experienced all of the benefits described in the book, and many others not mentioned. Although tithing is considered a commandment, it is not mandatory for membership in my church. To negate someone's contribution by saying they are merely keeping religious commandments does them a great disservice. I pay tithing because it is a commandment, but I also pay tithing because it is used to help and uplift my fellow man. I also donate about 5 hours a week to help members of my congregation. In the end giving is giving. As long as it is not forced giving (like taxes) I consider it true and genuine giving.


Right On!

I'm a practicing Catholic and this has also been my experience. Tithing is not mandatory, but I give regularly and I am a Vincentian. I cannot remember a generous person who was not religious and I've tried thinking way back.

I think those that are having trouble accepting that religious people give more should really take a look at their lives and consider giving more. The benefits are tremendous for the giver.
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