Can Government Promote Charity Without Religion?

While Christians in America are rejoicing in the new shift toward a tone of righteousness in Washington, we must look carefully at the "faith-based initiatives" and "charitable choice" being talked about. There is no doubt that America's problems are primarily spiritual and some say that President Bush is acting much like a pastor in reminding us of this fact.

He has also pledged that any government help will be to any agency which is effective in attacking society's problems. The only restriction will be against using the government money to "proselytize." Several difficulties arise. First of all, any organization which uses tax money to feed the poor or doctor the sick or house the homeless will have a peculiar philosophy (or theology). It will be hard for the person getting the help to not think favorably of the giver's beliefs.

Therefore, taxes taken from protestants and given to Muslim (or atheist, or Roman Catholic, or Jewish) charities will unavoidably promote a philosophy or theology that is unbiblical. Secondly, much of the government help will go to large, popular agencies with multilevel bureaucracies not very different from the inefficient government welfare programs. But the private buracracies are not very open to public scrutiny.

The other problem is the removal of the help too far from the helper. When the government does charity, taxpayers are largely removed from the process. Their money is taken to a remote treasury, disbursement of it is made to someone they have never met by people they do not know.

Charity is most effective when everyone is able to do good with their own money. This is violated when the government does good with other people's money and therefore lacks the oversight and wisdom of the original donor.

Bible believers should, first of all, pray for our leaders as the Bible instructs us. Then we should be making our voice heard to our elected representatives that the best way to do charity is by not taking the taxes in the first place so that we can direct that money through our own choice of organizations or even directly to needy individuals. This way the accountablity and effectiveness will be the greatest.

Charitable choice should be our choice, not the government's. Then it will be truly faith based —our faith, and we are free to win souls (proselytize). Not until the gospel reaches the hearts of the needy, will permanent help really come to them.