My Take: As we shrink government, let’s grow charitable giving
March 27th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

My Take: As we shrink government, let’s grow charitable giving

Editor’s Note: Glenn Beck is a radio and television host and is founder of The Blaze, a news and opinion website, and GBTV.

By Glenn Beck, Special to CNN

I have never felt particularly charitable on April 15.

Instead, I typically feel like the victim of the most sophisticated burglary in world history. Yet it is on Tax Day that we learn a lot about the giving nature of our political leaders, at least those who release their tax records. Those documents provide a lens into politicians’ financial priorities and benevolence.

While the American people certainly don’t have a “right” to see the tax returns of any private individual, the public has grown to expect that those running for the highest office in the land will voluntarily allow us to view their filings.

Each election cycle, the media and general public take voyeuristic pleasure in examining how candidates made money and the charities they supported before knowing that the national microscope would be on them.

According to his tax records, President Obama gave about 14% to charity last year, a laudable amount by any measure. However, that’s about 12 times the rate he gave before he arrived in the Senate in 2004 and over 35 times the rate at which he gave in 2002 (when he managed to donate only 0.4% of his quarter million dollar income).

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This raises questions about how much of the president’s recent charitable contributions can be chalked up to political calculation.

When charitable giving is at a high rate for an extended period of time, as is the case with Mitt Romney, the media tend to ignore the trend. While nearly every outlet on the planet wrote about Romney’s 15% income tax rate when he released tax filings earlier this year, almost none covered the 15 % he gave voluntarily to charity.

Explainer: Mormon tithing

(While Romney and Obama lead the current presidential pack in personal giving, they are troublingly the only two remaining candidates supporting a partial elimination of the federal deduction for charity, which would cost non-profits far more than either man could personally give in a lifetime.)

Rick Santorum, whom I firmly believe would be the best president out of the current crop of candidates, does not back down when questioned about the influence of faith on his life. But the devout Catholic has understandably faced some criticism due to the fact that his charitable giving, about 3% of his income in recent years, lags behind both Romney and post-rise-to-national-prominence-Obama.

While Santorum’s donations compare favorably to the average American, they’re not up to the levels that many would expect from a man of such deep faith.

It should be noted that Santorum is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, which does not require a specific 10 percent tithe, as many other traditions do.

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Regardless, it’s fair to wonder why Santorum hasn’t willingly given more - which is why I recently asked him about it.

While noting that many of his charitable acts, such as volunteering time and raising money through speaking appearances at charitable fundraisers, are not reflected in his tax returns, Santorum admitted: “I need to do better and I should be better and I fell short.”

In comparison to what other politicians have been caught doing, this is admittedly a minor offense. But it’s encouraging that Santorum takes it seriously.

At the end of the day, the lesson - that it’s important to pitch in and give to help those in need - doesn’t just apply to presidential candidates; it applies to all of us, but particularly to conservatives.

Although studies have shown that conservatives already give more to charity than their liberal counterparts, the need is still great and requires much of everyone who is able to assist.

The idea that individuals are the key to helping others is a conservative one. It’s why I have never been shocked at Vice President Joe Biden’s lack of charitable giving over the years.

Biden averaged giving 0.2% over an entire decade of six-figure incomes in the Senate, 1/13th of what Santorum is criticized for today.

Unlike President Obama, Biden’s low charitable giving is a picture of stability. Even under the microscope of the Vice Presidency he still only gave 1% to charity last year.

And yet this is oddly consistent with his political philosophy. Progressives believe the government does a better job with your money than you can. So, why give any money to charity? Why doesn’t President Obama just give an extra 14% to the government?

It’s the responsibility of individuals to help others. Mercury One is a charity that I started in 2011 that attempts to take that morsel of ideology and turn it into action. The goal is to show that the American spirit of giving, while already far more significant than any other developed nation, still has plenty of room to grow.

When it comes to charity, Americans need to stop saying “Yes, we can” and start saying “Yes, I can.”

We face tough economic times ahead. I believe that we must shrink the size and scope of government or we will face national economic disaster.

But it’s not just about making the government smaller. As some of these giveaways from Washington disappear, American individuals must step in and make up the difference.

Savings in government waste and inefficiency can only go so far. It’s up to all of us to demand of ourselves that we pick up the slack.

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus command us to elect a government that will take our money under threat of imprisonment so that bureaucrats can figure out the best way to help people in need.

But as so many on the left have pointed out, Scriptures do direct us to help the poor. Yet God puts the responsibility on us, not on the government.

Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians says that "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

I think the use of “not grudgingly or under compulsion” eliminates the possibility that he was talking about the IRS.

This should serve as motivation for all of us to do more personally. Unless you’re already feeling “cheerful” every year on April 15.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Glenn Beck.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Money & Faith • Opinion

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soundoff (1,093 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    I'd like to grow a lot.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      When you grow up you might even be big enough to figure out a name for yourself

      March 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Stop

      you need a good therapist

      March 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Put yer money where your mouth is

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      "Prayer changes things"

      The point of this article is: Payers change things!

      March 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      pirates change things!

      March 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  3. Pipe-Dreamer

    And I thought I was the Only PIPE-DREAMER,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    March 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  4. Reality

    The real reason for Beck's column:

    Beck noted:

    "(While Romney and Obama lead the current presidential pack in personal giving, they are troublingly the only two remaining candidates supporting a partial elimination of the federal deduction for charity, which would cost non-profits far more than either man could personally give in a lifetime.)"

    i.e. If Obama (or Romney) follow through, Beck will no longer be able to deduct his Mormon ti-thes from his income.

    e.g. Beck supposedly made $32 million in 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html. Being a good Mormon, his ti-the "bill" for 2010 would have been $3.2 million which he was able to deduct from his gross income. That hopefully will no longer be the case. Bravo!!!!

    March 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Tim

      Meanwhile,his own pocket has created its own charitable organization, which raised more money than any other charity for the tornado victims in the midwest. Aside, from the red cross that is. You see he puts his money where his mouth is. His charity raises money by selling t-shirts made entirely in America by single mothers who needed jobs. How much money do you give to charity?What right is it of yours who makes what and gives what? You probably sit in your bathrobe all day collecting "assistance" because you are to lazy to get a job.

      March 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Bob

      Tim is right, Beck is charitable. Reality you need to pick on someone else who does not live up to their charitable talk.

      March 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Reality

      Au Contraire!!!

      Retiree and US Army vet who gives generously to many chariities to include the Mothers' Home in case you are looking for a worthwhile charity to donate to:


      "Mission: As a residential shelter, Mothers' Home provides a safe haven for vulnerable, pregnant women in a crisis who choose life as a sacred gift."

      March 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • coaslinecascot

      Beck is not mormon. He said it on one of his episode of the glen beck show.

      March 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  5. Nonimus

    Mr. Beck,

    So what you're saying, in a very round about way, is we, as individuals, need to give more to charity. And, by the way, you have just started your own charity, too. How convenient.

    I find myself wondering why someone who 'preaches' the virtues of efficiency, or more accurately the evils of governmental inefficiencies, would create a brand new organization, just to do a job that likely thousands of other organizations are already doing? Why instead of saying simply, "Pick your favorite charity and give them more money," he chose to say, "Give my charity some money," (loosely paraphrased, of course.)

    One possibility is that Tania Beck, David Barton, and Joseph Kerry make up the Board of Directors for Mercury One.
    Another possibility is that Mercury One gives GB a whole new advertisement/revenue stream for Mercury Radio Arts, where GB is the CEO. Similar to Beck University, GBTV, and the 1791 clothing line (really, a clothing line.)

    March 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  6. *frank*

    Mr Beck looks like the victim of the most sophisticated buggery in world history.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Nonimus

      hmm... not even sure what that means.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      It means he is and "abductee". I should know.

      March 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  7. Brad

    Rather than shrink government, let's (Americans) draw back from militarism and engage in humanitarian efforts as a nation. Charities do a lot of good, but we should keep and build up resources for large-scale and long-term projects that are way beyond anything a charity might take on.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  8. Brad

    Atleast, Beck has a better smile compared to Prothero's rude stare.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  9. mandarax

    I thought Glenn Beck had been raptured....dang.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • just sayin

      I wonder if Beck looks through seer stones?

      March 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • just sayin

      still wants to be me

      March 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  10. Nonimus

    Wow, GB himself...

    "What a revoltin' development this is!" ~ C. [O']Riley, 'The Life of [O']Riley'

    March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Welcome though... should be interesting.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  11. jj

    Thank you CNN for finally gathering all the opinion pieces under the heading "Blogs."

    March 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Stop

      in this case, globs

      March 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  12. Alexishere

    I'm sorry to see CNN give Glenn Beck a forum here. Yes, I read this piece because I was surprised to see his byline and I figure CNN is just doing it to get a million more people like me to click and read, then comment, but this isn't news, nor is it helpful prescription. Glenn Beck was fired from Fox News because he talks nonsense. He doesn't espouse conservative views or even ultra-conservative views, he talks absolutely nonsense. I've seen clips of his show where he spent time urging people to buy 'bunker survival packs' with canned food and whatnot in case....the Russians attack? The Muslims attack? The boogeyman attacks? He tried to be a standup comedian and failed, then went nuts with near-facist tirades against most people, including 9/11 victims. The most notable would-be artist who failed then took the same route was Adolf Hitler. I'm not saying they're the same, but it's a fair point. CNN, you're not doing news-seekers a favor by giving this alarmist nut a big forum to spread his garbage. Show a little backbone, why don't you?

    March 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • bdavidson118

      so many wrong assumptons here, not even worth the time to note.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  13. clubschadenfreude

    My goodness, Glenn Beck is saying we should be more charitable? Then where would we get the money to spend on gold like he says we should?! I love the hypocrisy of this man, so piously saying that peopel should be more charitable but cheats people out of the money they do have. And this is priceless "Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus command us to elect a government that will take our money under threat of imprisonment so that bureaucrats can figure out the best way to help people in need." Oh, Glenn, ever the ignorant christian. Your bible says that whomever is in power is there by your god's will, and that we need to obey these people no matter what! Paul said this directly, Romans 13, and ooooh, how you try to say that the bible is wrong here, as always when convenient for you. Such a cafeteria Christian, picking and choosign what you want your god to have "really" meant and golly, your god wants just what you do, just like any imaginary friend! Can't have your god really mean give up all you have to the poor and depend on this god to give you whatever you need, nope, you have to keep it because you don't really trust this god do you?

    March 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Must see the beauty in the pope

    Here is a beautiful picture of the pope (omit space before com)
    http://​promoteliberty.files.wordpress.​ com/2011/12/​308685_10150345906628493_512568​492_8075487_1198277

    March 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  15. Becky Root

    Indeed, all pro-lifers should adopt a baby per year.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • clubschadenfreude

      Indeed they should if they really did care about children. They should also be for anythign that helps children, good food, good schools, medical care, etc, but of course they aren't. As soon as the umbilical cord is cut, they are sure that those children are born to no good "welfare mothers" and that their tax dollars should benefit them and only them. Ah, hypocrisy.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Reality

      What all pro-lifers and pro-choicers/pro-abortionists need to come to grips with:

      The reality of contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

      Followed by:

      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      March 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Chris

      Yeah, adopt a baby every year, if it were only that easy. You should really think about what you say before posting. There are some like my wife and I who would love to adopt a baby, but have been waiting for over a year.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  16. Beck is Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!

    Glenn Beck? The Anna Nicole Smith of conservatism? The Paris Hilton of intelligence?

    Actual Glenn Beck quotes: "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. ... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out. Is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus - band - Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, 'Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore,' and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, 'Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death.' And you know, well, I'm not sure."

    "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining."

    "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today." –on why people who lost their homes in forest fires in California had it coming.

    There's more, of course. A lot more. A lot lot LOT more. But you get the idea.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Stephen King

      "Satan's mentally challenged younger brother."

      March 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Bob

      Are you kidding? I admit Beck can get worked up into a crazed lather, I used to listen to him. To imply he is some maniacalkiller...I we're all guilty of hearing what we want, and necessarily what was said. The context, or the tongue in cheek moments. Again, he gets too pastor/preachy for at times. But there are the Times I believe his sincerity and well thought points of view. I feel that way about most commentators on CNN or FOX, exceptions are of course implied. (MSNBC is too shrill, too often to be counted ad a reliable source .

      March 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  17. SS

    I say end all grant dollars going to any insti–tution with religious interests. Already our tax dollars fund the majority of catholic charities. And you know the vatican sees profit in that organization or it would be closed, just like they close the schools, churches and hospitals whose profits aren't large enough... Yes, it is profits. Just because they claim NFP means zero. The vatican does not live by our rules since it's another country.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • bigbubbadude

      The charity work I do is what I believe in. Faith is a great motivator. You may not agree with my faith, but it has become obvious that there is bigotry toward faith-based charity. But YOU get to choose who you give to. Everything channeled through the government leaves us no choice. Do you want to scrap tax deductions because you think the government does a better job at charity? Really? Charity in the hands of politicians, half of whom you probably don't like anyway? I volunteer time with a project to fight human trafficking. I do not believe turning charity into a political thing will help any of the kids in our program. Yes, my allegiance is to my faith, not to your government. Attacking me or the people of my faith will never succeed in changing my mind. It will only strengthen my resolve to press on. Thanks to Mr. Beck for bringing up something that both left and right should support– It's better to give than to receive. Calling for less government makes us MORE responsible to consider the poor, not less. I suppose people without faith just don't get the concept. I am sorry for them.

      March 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Stop

      The #1 and largest charity in the world is the USA, and that includes atheists and muslims doing good works. It is good people, not religions, that do good deeds. In fact it is good people who keep religion tamed to ensure no more Inquisitions.

      March 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  18. J.W

    When I saw an interview with Santorum about this he used his children as an excuse. He said insurance would not pay for his daughter's illness. I personally found that hard to believe. Maybe Obamacare will help him, so he can give more to charity from now on.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  19. jujubmuse

    Always economics built into ones beliefs? That's such a sad statement. Mr. Beck has the means to extend his faith to others. He shouldn't be thrown into poverty like you suggest. Otherwise, he can't get the message out.

    Don't let ENVY control your world. By the way, did you look at any of those incomes and figure the amount of donations that those people do every year? Way to miss the point of the article.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Reality

    There are always economics built into one's beliefs.

    For example, is Glen Beck a Mormom because there is money to be made from books, speeches and columns on the subject? Unless he and others in the business of making good income from books, etc. on religion, secularism, or atheism take a vow of poverty, we will never know.

    Some interesting incomes:

    Glen Beck, $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html

    and from guidestar.org

    Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.

    Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr

    Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr

    Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr

    Erica Brown $134,221/yr

    Eboo Patel $120,000/yr and his “non-profit’s” investment portfolio of $1.2 million

    Dr. Herb Silverman $100,000/yr. ?

    Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $400,000/yr/ea estimated

    Next topic!!!

    March 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Rob Hersey

      You've failed to make a point other than to expose your own jealousy .

      March 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • crapppppp

      Great point, They sure expose religion for what it is too.. materialistic. Then again, we all knew that anyways.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Brad

      Reality-What in your opinion should religious leaders make annually?

      March 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Reality

      As with St. Francis of Assisi and his friars, religious leaders should take and follow a vow of poverty.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Brad

      That is a good point and that is exactly what some religious leaders do.Unfortunately, it is not like that for the majority. Religious leaders have capitalistic atitudes rather than a socialistic one which is not good and is not scriptural.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.