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. Cheerful Giver

    I don't think the point has anything to do with taxes. The point is that the business of charity is a personal one. Government has robbed us of the God given right....no....the God given requirement that the church help the needy. It does so through the freewill giving of its members. Giving that is proportionate to what you are capable of giving, no required amount or frequency, and not giving yourself into poverty. Giving that is sacraficial, not just giving from your excess. And most importantly, Giving that is voluntary, not under compulsion, but comes 100% from the heart. It should be a joyful act.
    When the government takes over this great privelidge, commissioned to the church by God, we all lose, the giver and the receiver. We have lost compassion for our community members, our neighbors, and even our own families, because the gift of giving has been taken from us. The needy now turn to Uncle Sam, instead of God Almighty and all his Saints.
    The tax argument isn't that if you have lower tax rates the wealtheir would give more to get a bigger tax break, but that they would give more because they have more to give and would do so freely. That would not be universally true, but that's the point. It's a personal choice, it's a reflection of the condition of your heart. It should be an individual accountability issue, not another government mandate. And the scriptural definition of who is needy is much narrower than our governments because God expects personal accountability for individuals and families to take care of themselves when they are capable of doing so.
    I agree with Glenn. We need to put the federal government out of the business of charity and return it to where it rightfully belongs.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • WASP

      @cheerful giver: "charity starts in the home" meaning begin with yourself, set the example. religion has nothing to do with helping your fellow human, it's a personal thing. government has not ever stopped anyone from donating to a meaningful charity.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  2. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I think we finally got rid of the pathetic little goober. Good riddance. Funny how it was so pathetic to watch, but I couldn't stop. Sort of like p.orn. Speaking of that, excuse me for a while.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      At least you're not ignoring your little admirer. Here's a big thumbs up to you!

      March 28, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • .

      gobble gobble gobble

      March 28, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • .

      size is not important Tom

      March 28, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • .

      dont just sit on your thumbs do something

      March 28, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Billy Pilgrim

      Mmmmm. Giblets.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • .

      It's the Glenn Beck gravy train......toot toot

      March 28, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Little Admirer

      More, mommy, more! Use the Wesson!

      March 28, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • fred

      finally we are getting around to thanksgiving. A little thanks and giving more that just once a year changes things

      March 28, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I like stuffing both ends of the bird.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • .

      ok but tell Tom Tom to keep his big thumbs to himself

      March 28, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Here, have some chocolate pie. I made it myself just for you.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I see Nah was quite busy last evening.

      Enjoy yourself, did you?

      March 28, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  3. truth

    Mark 10 >>
    Aramaic Bible in Plain English .

    17And as he traveled on the road, one came running and fell on his knees and asked him and said, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18Yeshua said to him, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but The One God.” 19“You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery', 'You shall not steal', 'You shall not murder', 'You shall not give false testimony', 'You shall not cheat', 'Honor your father and your mother.' “ 20He answered and said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my childhood.” 21But Yeshua gazed at him and he loved him and he said to him: “You have one thing missing: go sell everything that you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven, and take the cross and come after me.” 22But he was saddened at this saying and he departed grieving, because he had great wealth.

    23But Yeshua gazed at his disciples and he said to them, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24But the disciples were astonished at his words. And Yeshua answered again and he said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who rely upon their wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” 25“It is easier for a camel to enter into the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” 26But they were all the more astonished, and they were saying among themselves, “Who can be saved?” 27But Yeshua gazed upon them and he said to them, “With the sons of men, this is impossible, but not with God; everything is possible with God.”

    March 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Yumpin' Yupiter

      Have we entered the Twilight Zone here????

      March 28, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Russ

      "Yeshua?" You 'translated' the rest of the words – why not translate his name as well?
      Do you do the same with Peter (Petros/Cephas) or Paul or any other foreign name?
      Or how about the Holy Spirit (hagios pneuma/paraclete)?

      March 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  4. I don't wish to be time-lined

    The interface is a disaster...I really think that it is/was
    being for a non-existent use-case. Most everybody
    I know is not to happy about it.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Yumpin' Yupiter

      doot doot doot doot,
      doot doot doot doot...

      March 28, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  5. Joshua Ludd

    For the wealthy like Mr. Beck and ALL of the presidential candidates what they give in charity should not be affected that greatly by their tax rates. After all, its not like they are going to be running out of money anytime soon given their low tax rates and often restrained giving. To tie the two together like this implying that they should be inversely proportional is really quite disgusting and ignores everything their supposed messiah said about charity. Leave it to a christian to make their charity contingent upon their tax rates despite their wealth.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  6. Reality

    ONLY for the newcomers:

    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

    March 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Excuse that guy above me, he's cooler than the dude below me.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You really are suffering, aren't you. I'm so sorry I hurt you.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  8. iamtheangel.com

    glenn beck is a nut case.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yup. So is my little admirer.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oops. My fly's open again. Get back in there.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • john

      haha ooo i know right! This guy wants to give more of his money to charity that actually helps people then to government that wastes half our money and takes away our personal liberties. What a nut case...

      March 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  9. plucky

    It's awful difficult to let the idea stand on its own merit when the delivery mechanism is Glenn Beck.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Quite so. It's like seeing just sayin yap about how wonderful prayer is.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Also hard to do given how Beck is trying to politicize charity and make it contingent on the wealthy like himself getting lower tax rates... and how much he hates paying taxes on his milions. Pity the millionaire.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


    I don;'t even care anymore! I vote Obama because I say GIVE TO ME PLEASE! F working, it's for the dolts of the world.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aww, I'm touched. You must really follow my every post, dear. Thank you, really. You like me! You really like me~

      March 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is there a reason I keep replying to myself? LOL

      March 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure there is. Because I have a little admirer who needs attention from me. Or from anyone. His mother wouldn't breast-feed him.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Anyone else as blasted as me? HAVING A GREAT TIME HERE!!!


      March 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hell yeah. Roll another doob.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  11. James PDX

    I love how Glenn takes an important and righteous idea, like charitable giving, and turns it into yet more divisive BS politics, which is obviously something America needs more of right now. Wait, did I say "love"? I meant "loathe".

    March 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  12. Chad

    Giving is awesome, we should all be doing more. Consider Samaritans Purse

    March 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  13. borisjimbo

    Sounds like you're actually for income redistribution as long as the government isn't involved and the donors get to discriminate regarding who they donate to, is that about right?

    March 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sounds about right. As long as the wealthy are allowed to decide whom they'll donate money to, it's A-OK with them! They can give their dollars to their cronies' fav charities and causes, their political pals, and their fashionable causes.

      Anything, as long as it's not those awful poor, sick people who aren't the same color as they are.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • bohemio

      I agree. It is redistribution.. on a personal level. The difference being that you will give where you think it will be best utilized. The govt. will only give... where the politicians want to give

      March 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, it's really based all on color. If liberals are in charge all we have to do is start an argument about race and play on conservative guilt. If republicans are in charge all we need to to is play the victims. It's worked for years.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  14. Brian

    Obama wants to tax the richer. You advocates to give money to charity. Both are extremes. Why would you want to fatten a few people who cheat the system, live a comfortable life and let his 'charity' incur all expenses? When all income are treated as income and not divided into BS categories with different rates, maybe paying taxes isn't such a bad thing. Politicians have a special place in 'heaven' for them if they continue their lies to promote their interests without taking care of the folks who put them in office.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  15. Dadster

    Glenn Beck believes in giving big just like the rest of the Republican Party. Of course, the kind of giving they believe in is giving it all to the wealthiest people in the nation. Look at the Ryan plan for taxes. Cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, Cut social Security and do what with the savings? Pay the deficit down? Oh no! Why do that when you can give big tax cuts to the wealthiest, eliminate the capital gains tax, cut the corporate tax, and so on. Or maybe Beck was talking about Franklin Graham and how the 2 charities that he is president of gave him a combined $600,000 in salary. Of course his salary used to be a combined $1.2 million before word got out that people were upset knowing how charitable his charities were to him.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  16. Joshua Ludd

    Unlike Glenn Beck, I actually have no problem with paying my taxes and unlike Glenn Beck, I'm not a multi-milionaire. Unlike Mr. Beck, I also know that Republicans don't tend to shrink government or reduce spending. They tend to inflate it while cutting taxes of the wealthiest and cutting programs to help the poorest including those who work for a living but only make minimum wage. Its about time we stop trying to reward the wealthy for already being wealthy by giving them more money and stop trying to punish the poor for simply being poor in a nation where the minimum wage isn't a living wage, health insurance is unaffordable for far too many, and education is obscenely expensive.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You know what, screw it.

      Yes I don't work or pay taxes, but at least I'm not some giant corporation stealing money from people like me who could work there.

      Yes I smoke, drink, and waste my money on stuff I don't need. But who doesn't? That's called being NORMAL.

      And yes I've had a hard life. But I at least can admit I made those poor choices and damn well will continue to make poor choices because I really have no where else to go but DOWN baby! Takin you all with me!

      March 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • borisjimbo

      And remarkably they've only been doing all that since Saint Ronnie whom they all claim to worship but whom they also do not emulate in that they actually try to act on the hyperbolic rhetoric instead of just recognize it for the base stirrer it is.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aww, I'm feeling so sad for my little stalker. Poor child, he must have been one of those little outcasts on the playground.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's not nice to make fun of the unwanted. I know, 'cause for years I was one. But not now, dear. Now I'm surrounded by friends. At least they say their my friends. They're all awfully sensitive though because they're all so easily offended. Oh well, at least I know it's not my personality. Or is it? I haven't been asked out for a while, and my phone calls aren't being returned.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Keep it up, mini-me. You have nothing better to do? That's ok. I know a trick.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Ed

      Tom Tom doesn't work or pay taxes, and he still spends money on stuff he doesn't need? What an enti.tled litle leach, and he still has the stones to complain about things he isn't even involved in. What a numb nut and joke this guy is.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  17. Mel Auten

    I guess that Gold-Line must be Beck's favorite charity; you know, the one with the questionable ethics that requires that you give knowing you'll never receive...

    March 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Chris

      You mean where you're purchasing a product and should have the smarts to shop around rather than just saying "shiny gold!", then complaining when you don't get the best price? That Gold Line? I collect sportscards and am smart enough not to buy the junk being sold on the Home Shopping Network, you know why, because it's junk. It's called personal responsibility people. Glen always says, 'do your own research', again, personal responsibility!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  18. John Malone

    Glenn who?

    March 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  19. brown

    God? What God? You mean the one that enjoys watching life suffer, the one that takes innocence away?

    Don't tell me about your God or any other God! I have lost my faith!

    March 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  20. S I

    O my god. Is he still there? I thought that he is gone because the way he was preaching. Heu Glen, we are still here ha. Believe in reality. Do not believe in dream.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
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