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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).

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. TheFlatulantOne

    Beck is an ignorant fat head.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      Bill Cosby says it better when he relates childhood stories.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  2. In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

    On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
    IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are bad for humanity.

    You should know by now why your claims don't hold. We've seen you trying to use them before. Those murders were not done by any dictate of atheism, whereas the murders by Christians, millions of them through the Inquisitions, witchburnings, etc. etc., were done with the full support and backing of the powerholders of the religion.

    So there! We've caught you, no matter whether it is English, German, or some other language that you use for words to try to hide your evil religion behind.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      You obviously are not offering anything to change things for the better.
      Until you have something better to offer, you are no better than any of the other wolves, foxes, or snakes.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Does the name "JOSEPH STALIN" ring any atheist bell? Does China's past toll without resonance? North Korea slumberings? Havanna is not without atheist guardianships? Where have you been of late? Are you a slumbering atheist like rip van wrinkle? Wake up and see this world's Truths! Both Atheism and religism are guilty of offences made upon the human conditionings.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  3. AverageJoe76

    I could care less how much a presidential candidate gives to charity. It's their business. Not just that, it's not mandatory. It's charity. I disagree with this article. And giving to charity poses the same risks as the government. PEOPLE. We pay taxes in the hope that they'll be used to benefit the country overall. Not the politician's business friends, family, or themselves. And anybody that hasn't heard of a church leader taking advantage of funds has not lived longer than 5 minutes. SO.... my point is this; no matter if you give to charity or it's taken in taxes, you better believe your money will be misallocated somehow. Get used to it.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    So we have a new Troll named † In God We Trust †
    Cap'n Sayin Atheism Isn't an Angry God Trust Pervert – the moniker becomes more unwieldy by the day!

    March 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      Good one, Doc.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Get Real

      Doc,

      They may be maxi-trolling, but, in real life, there are huge bunches of these types of folks all across the country/world. We can speak to and "refudiate" a whole slew of them through the troll(s). Go get 'em.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  5. Thatguy371

    Beck should give to charity and not pay taxes. Then we wouldn't have to listen to him go off on his wacked frenzies anymore, that is unless they give him a radio show gig outta the fed pen.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  6. † In God We Trust †

    " On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us. "

    What does it have to do with U.S. national motto of 'IN GOD WE TRUST'? Perhaps Atheistic leaders of Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and even Hitler killed hundreds of millions of people because they were against religion. Yes, Hitler later became an atheist.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are bad for humanity.

      You should know by now why your claims don't hold. We've seen you trying to use them before. Those murders were not done by any dictate of atheism, whereas the Christian and Islamic murders, millions of them, were done with the full support and backing of the powerholdsers of religion.

      So there! We've caught you, no matter whether it is English, German, or some other language that you use for words to try to hide your evil behind.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are bad for humanity.

      You should know by now why your claims don't hold. We've seen you trying to use them before. Those murders were not done by any dictate of atheism, whereas the Christian and Islamic murders, millions of them, were done with the full support and backing of the powerholders of those religions.

      So there! We've caught you redhanded, no matter whether it is English, German, or some other language that you use for words to try to hide your evil behind.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Communist leaders like Pol Pot and Stalin would not have been charismatic enough to gain converts had they not learned the discourse of dogmatic persuasion from religious inst/itutions.
      Pol Pot spent 8 years at a Catholic school in Phnom Penh and Stalin 5 years at a Russian orthodox seminary. Historians have noted their speaking and writing styles ape those of the Church in being 'declamatory and repet.itive, with liturgical overtones”.
      While they both sought to eliminate traditional religions from their kingdoms, they did so in order to divert the common man’s fervour to their own cults of personality.
      As Karl Marx himself noted “Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...”
      Hitler’s Third Reich, on the other hand, was no friend to atheists and encouraged religion in Germany. Having been exposed to religious methods of persuasion in school at a Benedictine cloister, Hitler recognized religion’s power to keep the people compliant.
      Instead of purging faith like the Communist regimes, he purged atheism:
      "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out".
      The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942
      While Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot put themselves into the Godhead position, Hitler publically professed his Christianity until his dying day and used Christian arguments to whip his people into a frenzy. This is why Nazi uniform belt buckles were emblazoned with the slogan “Gott mit uns” (God is with us).
      Each of these leaders wielded their people’s predilection for faith like a weapon. Atheism is not the prime cause for these tragic regimes – the misdirection of faith is.
      Like religion, they demanded blind obedience and obsequious submission from their followers. They tolerated no free-thinkers and enforced dogmatism – a trick they learned from their religious educations.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "Atheistic leaders of Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and even Hitler killed hundreds of millions of people because they were against religion."

      Still posting crap I see. 480 million people have been killed by religion. Stop being so lazy and do some actual research.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Rick Dorval

    More conservative junk talk. Its doen't matter what leaders pay in the spotlight. Americans would rather spent their money in the malls or on themselves. What you are asking for Glenn, is "self-regulation", same conservative junk talk that we know doen't work. Hey, Glen, guess what, not every american is a christian and reads the bible. If you can't trust banks to regulate themselves, why would we trust self centered american public to give when they don't have to.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      Then you haven't heard of charity hospitals like Scottish Rite, etc ...
      Look at the list on charitynavigator dot org

      March 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  8. In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

    On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
    IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are very bad for humanity.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  9. ben wagner

    but isnt gov't a charity!!!!!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      According to Obama it's the ultimate community organizing organization. Like gangs, mob bosses, 'International Brotherhood' of Union 'Bosses', etc...

      March 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  10. † In God We Trust †

    Jesus is risen! Holy week starts on Monday leading to Good Friday & Easter.

    HAPPY EASTER!

    My local church will donate $100,000 to the poor in Africa. What will your organization do?

    March 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are bad for humanity.

      That donation is same old same old. Trying to use that as a smokescreen to hide the awful evils of your religion behind won't work all the time.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  11. Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

    When most people contribute to charity, they consider how much of their contribution actually reaches the intended recipient of their contribution.
    Government bureaucracy should not be the biggest beneficiary of charitable contributions.
    Already, pennies on our tax dollars reach their intended purpose. Gas Tax for highways, pilfered. Cigarette Taxes, pilfered. Social Security taxes, now made part of the general fund. Etc ...
    Forcing us to contribute to government charities is 'wrong'.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  12. Newell

    Glenn rocks! It makes my day, this being published in CNN. Is America waking up? Thank you CNN!

    March 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • John in WNY

      Despite being a proud right winger I'm not a fan of Glenn Beck as his show was basically him using innuendos and half truths to try and get people worked up. But with that being said this is a excellent article by him, and yes I was stunned to see it on CNN.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  13. Pipe-Dreamer

    God's abodements or our bodies being God's Buildings is scriptural FACT! Until one understands with revelry this accurate account of Truth, then you will remain mired in bitterness and seek things of the world and not of God!

    March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Tom Smith

      "Scriptual fact" = delusions.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  14. eagle eye

    Humanitarianism may get you a better birth next time and a bigger ego but will not get you home. The laws of cause and effect are immutable so be careful who gets your money and what they do with it, you are now responsible for the effect.
    To earn your own living keeps your karmic slate cleaner with less reactions. Your taxes should be paying for charity and not so much going to the war mongers. We are each born into conditions we have created for ourselves, not by chance.
    Let the banking bandits that stole our money give it back to charity.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  15. † In God We Trust †

    Atheism = Communism

    Keep it away from our children and adults.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Religion=theocracy

      See, others can use emotionally and politically chardged words to make absolutely no factual point whatsoever. I hope you recognize the idiocy in your post and the top line in this one, and see the correlation between the two.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      What's wrong with Christian theocracy? Love your neighbor, love your enemies, don't steal, don't kill etc. ?!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • nugun

      I actually happen to be a "Communist Libertarian" and a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe in charity, in helping, in communal living, in communities coming together and helping the weaker member.

      Just not at the barrel of a gun.

      Atheism != Communism

      You can atheism = capitalism too, (exhibit 1: George Soros)

      March 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Get Real

      Communism = (Lat. communis – common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.

      There are Christian Communists too, you know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism#Christian_communism

      Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. Political and economic viewpoints vary widely with individual non-believers.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      Take that, IGWT, you moron.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Don't pretend that a christian theocracy would be all happy smiley bullsh.it. Look at santorum, and the way he wants to legislate what he thinks the world should be like, and you will have an extremely watered down glimpse of what a theocracy would be like. People having choices taken away from them, freedom of and from religion completely gone, women being bumped down to near second class citizens, religious wars with and against other theocracys. America was founded as a country that allows for multiple religions on an individual level, and no religion on the federal.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Santorum is just 1 out of 2.2+ billion Christians worldwide.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      “Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...”
      – Karl Marx

      March 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Yet somehow, he is in a position where he may be able to go forward with his plans. I have no idea how he is so high in polls, or even still in the race, but his ideas are not only dangerous for the founding principles of the US, but it is also potentially dangerous for atheists, agnostics, pagans, and others who do not believe in an Abrahamic god.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics."
      – Robert Heinlein

      March 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      Doc: you could say it's evolutionary.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  16. Joe the Plumber

    Mark 10-25
    A camel has a better chance of going through a head of a needle than a rich man does of entering the kingdom of GOD ......Interpret that for charity

    March 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Lie. Period.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      So you say that the U.S. is a nazi country? LOL you're so unsmart. Wow thanks for telling us that!

      Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin etc. hated religion and killed hundreds of millions of people.. including Hitler who became an atheist later.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are not good.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      † In God We Trust † – Klansman are Christians too. And...? It doesn't label all Christians.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Greenspam

    I can form a church of hate and call it a charitable organization and all haters who donate to my church can claim tax deductions... I don't see any issue at all!

    March 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Perhaps you would make a good communist leader.... move to North Korea!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      So there.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      So you say that the U.S. is a nazi country? LOL you're so unsmart. Wow thanks for telling us that!

      Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin etc. hated religion and killed hundreds of millions of people.. including Hitler who became an atheist later!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • In God We Should Not Trust Nor Believe

      On the belt buckle of every German fighting in WWII: "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us.
      IGWT, we've seen your ilk before and you are bad for humanity.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Tony

      Well if you hate gay people you don't even need to start your own church. Just go to almost any christian church.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  18. Joe the Plumber

    Thanks to your "Hands On" priests in the catholic church why should anyone give to them again. They should all be in jail for molesting young boys... for life !

    March 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~~. Lying is a sin, you've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...
      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!*.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • wellinlm

      If you could prove that "prayer changes things", your religion would not be "faith" based.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  20. † In God We Trust †

    Thank God for the churches who donate plenty of money, food and clothes to those in need, unlike other religious insti.tutions who help people from their own communities only (A.k.a Jews/Muslims).

    March 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • LOL

      "Thank God for the churches who donate plenty of money, food and clothes to those in need, unlike other religious insti.tutions who help people from their own communities only (A.k.a Jews/Muslims)."

      Oh....it's so great to know you'll be burning in your hell with that judgment.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Get Real

      They all spend too much otherwise useful money on their worship buildings and accoutrements... and Christians, especially, too much on proselytizing.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      LOL @ Are you God to make that judgment? Perhaps you break the law of judging others, something God tells us not to do.
      I am telling the truth. Jews only helps Jews, so with Muslims. God Bless Christians!

      March 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Greenspam

      Actually, churches donation rate is less than most legitimate charitable organizations.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      99% of the charity organiz. are Christians anyway... does not need to be in name of a church.
      Get educated.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Steve

      Wouldn't be more Christian to donate to a charity with out a tax break?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Tony

      No church spends money on huge cathedrals, monuments to excess, comfy rec centers, entertainment of their congregations, proselytizing efforts, as well as contributions to politicians to push their agenda. All of that money goes to "charity", right?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:21 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.