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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).

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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. Ughh

    You might not like Glenn Beck, but who doesn't like the idea of giving your money to your favorite causes (which tax dollars would go to anyways) instead of the government taking your money and then spending it on organizations which you absolutely LOATH?

    March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  2. Renait

    Charities do work that benefits society. Benefitting society is socialism. You are a socialist. You must be stopped.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  3. John from Houston

    Depending on Mr. Beck's definition of charity, I may or may not agree with him. I consider the local food bank to be a charity. I also consider a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter to be charities. And we should encourage more people to donate to them.

    But as I sit in my office and stare out the window at the Lakewood Church palace to Joel Osteen...and think about the brand-new multi-million dollar Catholic Cathedral in downtown Houston...and think about the fact that the University of Houston is about to tear down their perfectly good 35,000 seat football stadium to build a brand new $100M 40,000 seat football stadium...I really wonder why those three projects all qualify as "Charity."

    March 28, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  4. John B

    Sorry...but Glenn Beck means turn the channel to me. I can't belive he is on CNN. I won't read his dribble.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Ughh

      and now I wont read your posts.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Michael

      If you actually did read it, you'd find he makes sense in this case. I could have done without the potshots against liberals and their charitable giving, but the overall message he is making makes perfect sense.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • salth2o

      Glen Beck got his big break on CNN. CNN made Glen Beck.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • nonimus

      @Michael,
      Isn't it just an advertisment cloaked in piety and altuism?

      March 28, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  5. myweightinwords

    Of course, not everyone who gives to charity claims the donations as a tax break, so what you see on tax returns is only that which is being claimed.

    If I were to ever bother to add up the amount of money that I donate to charitable organizations, or give to individuals in need (which is my preferred way to give) and claim it on my taxes, I think I'd be surprised at the percentage of my annual income it adds up to.

    However, I don't. My purpose in giving is not to claim it on my taxes at the end of the year.

    I don't need a reward for doing the right thing. I'd rather the half-mumbled, but heartfelt thank you from the homeless person I've offered a hot cup of soup on a cold, wet day or the expression of relief on the face of someone in who just discovered that someone paid their electric bill for them unexpectedly.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Scott, there is a point to that, I suppose. It's just never sat well with me.

      And, as I said, I give a lot on the individual level, because I find it gets more done than throwing money into big organizations that eat up the $$ in administrative costs.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  6. SD-Mountain-Man

    Why are all of you trolls coming to a Belief Blog? You have every right in the world to believe, or not, as you wish. However your mother's basement must be getting pretty lonely if your pleasure is taunting people.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Charles

      They come to the belief blog because they are absolutely convinced that spiritual people are responsible for their chronic wretchedness.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      We come here with the hopes that just maybe one of you realize that what you believe is unproven and to have an open mind.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  7. Voice of Reason

    If people want to "help" other people then their money should go directly to science, medicine and education. The advances in these areas will far outweigh anything these "Christian" agenda organizations could ever provide. Becks comment about shrinking the government is the secret phrase for a religious state.
    TAX THE CHURCHES AND KEEP YOUR RELIGIONS AND GODS AWAY FROM OUR CHILDREN AND OUR GOVERNMENT!

    March 28, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Brad

      I don't think sending money directly to "science" is the best way to go about funding science. There should always be a peer review process between investigators and sources of funding.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Your view about donating to science, medecine, etc, is a valuable one. But it's also allows the givers to love people in general, but distance ourselves from the individual. In other words, the giving you recomment lets you have a comfortable, clean conscience without having to smell a guy who hasn't baithed in a week. Best leave the up close and personal care to the Christians.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Brad

      As long as the money given to science goes to the actual process and not on "administrative" fees. Folks do not realize that most of what they give usually goes to these admin fees.
      Let me take this one step further...let's tax religious organizations (basically supernatural unproven nonsense) and give it to science for the betterment of mankind, something that is tangible and not supernatural.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @catholic engineer

      I challenge you to bathe that guy without telling him Jesus loves him.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Ughh

      the minute you tax churches you are inviting them to make arguments to have their beliefs in schools and public forums.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • WWRRD

      Science won't feed or house a homeless person. Science won't give shelter to an abused women or child.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  8. epluribusunum

    I'm sorry Mr. Beck wasted his time on you all. Casting pearls before swine. Thanks CNN for giving it a shot, but the followers of this blog are all jaded and lost. Or perhaps, its not the followers of the blog but just CNN trolls who saw the name Glenn Beck on a CNN site and came to the belief blog to spread their hate. Glenn and Rush have taught me to keep informed and stay in the love. I'll pray for all you haters.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Heart of Texas

      I agree with epluribusunum, it is big of Glenn to try and reach out to the other side of the aisle, but it is all for not. It is true, statists will never understand that we are one nation under GOD. Very sad, disappointing and frustrating – but I will pray for them and our country. I will be charitable, I will be the difference, I will teach my children the values that have slowly been eliminated by the Progressives in this country. I am not wealthy but I am blessed to be an American and I firmly believe in Glenn's message because he speaks the truth. I wish all of my Progressive friends a beautiful and blessed day.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Joe T.

      Yup, you are kept informed... with misinformation. Congratulations.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • dozapolis

      I didn't realize corporate America is considered "progressives". Our values have "declined" due to the greed purported by those with money, who are both republican and democrat and overwhelmingly self identified as Christian.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • dozapolis

      *perpetuated by, I mean

      March 28, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  9. BobbyTN

    Beck is forgetting that most of the money collected in tax by the feds goes into stuff like building infrastructure, the military, and government services like the postal service. That, and the fact that not everyone in the USA adheres to "the scriptures". Relying on Christian charity wouldn't be all that great. Has anyone ever read Angela's Ashes?

    March 28, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  10. Bootyfunk

    Glenn Beck = lunatic d.o.u.c.h.e bag.

    hard to believe he would help anyone. he's so poisonous. in fact, i don't believe it. there's got to be an ulterior motive. he must be skimming some Mormon charity or something. wants you to give... to his bank account.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Manda

      Really? That's your take away from this? If you're right and GB doesn't give, maybe you should step-up and give in his place. Or are you busy today hating on people who advocate charitable deeds?

      Being blinded by hate seems a terrible way to go through life.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  11. your god is irreducibly complex

    "Rick Santorum, whom I firmly believe would be the best president out of the current crop of candidates"
    Stopped reading after this statement, as the author lost all credibility at that point.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • WASP

      @complex: lol

      March 28, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  12. Joe T.

    So how much have you given to charity Mr. Beck? It better be at least 10%. You make tons of money. You make more than the $250K salary of a senator.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  13. Pepe

    Giving to an organization that spreads lies and hate (i.e the church) does not count when comparing charitable donations.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Nii

      Would that lie be the belief that an ethical God exists and he loves us and commands us to love our fellow human as ourselves. Or wud hate be asking men to be men and women to be women. There are enough Christians to fund church charities including Obama.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • BobbyTN

      Nii
      There very likely isn't such a god actually out there. Certainly assuring people that he is in fact real, without a doubt, is a false statement. You have no proof of this whatsoever. With that, we also have no valid reason to be prejudiced against gays and anybody else you judge as not following the proper gender roles.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  14. William Demuth

    Lets not you simpleton!

    Moving assets away from the state and into "private interest groups" is the DUMBEST idea I have ever heard.

    How about we DROP the exemption for charitable giving, so people stop using it to defraud the American people!

    March 28, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Brad

      I recommend Oxfam:

      http://www.oxfam.org or http://www.oxfamamerica.org

      The exemption is neither here nor there – use the American government and use charities, and by all means be ambitious about accomplishing humanitarian goals.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Jonsie

      Your post speaks for itself – not a giver huh?

      March 28, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  15. niein

    CNN, Beck? Really? Thanks for ruining my morning.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  16. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Looking out on the morning rain
    I used to feel so uninspired
    And when I knew I had to face another day
    Lord, it made me feel so tired
    Before the day I met you, life was so unkind
    But you're the key to my peace of mind

    Cause you make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like
    A natural woman

    March 28, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Prayer changes things

      Indeed it does. Proven.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 28, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • WASP

      @prayer changes nothing: i know the church is praying that people don't wake up and stop giving them money........lol prayer doesn't work; number of people going to religious service is declining, so less money for their coffers. america is waking up to the real truth, a belief in humans instead of faith in an imaginary god that does nothing.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • just sayin

      Prayer is talking with God. Prayer is life changing.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • WASP

      @ just sayin: if prayer worked there wouldn't be any atheists or people of other faiths because your prayers would have converted everyone to your faith. i imagine you will come up with some lame excuse of how "god" doesn't force people to believe, but if prayer changes things then it changes god's plan and thus no one should be athiest..........correct.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God speaks to people all the time.
      In 2008, He told Boyce Singleton Jr. to shoot and stab his pregnant girlfriend.
      Deanna Laney heard God direct her to bludgeon her three sons, aged 9, 6 and 15 months. Only the youngest survived.
      Blair Donnelly received instructions to stab to death his 16 year old daughter, Stephanie.
      Christopher Varian was slaughtered with a cheese knife after God spoke with one of his employees.
      God told Jennifer Cisowski to dash her infant's head on the rocks, so ""Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones by the pool."
      Khandi Busby got a direct message from God advising her that the only way to save her 6 and 8 year old boys was to toss them off a bridge in Dallas. Fortunately, they survived.
      Angel Rico says he received a divine command to strangle his 4 year old son, so he did just that and left him at the side of the highway.
      Lashaun Harris threw her 3 kids – aged 6, 2 and 16 months, into the San Francisco Bay after God let her know that He wanted a human sacrifice.
      All of these people have been found legally insane by the judicial system.
      If you hear God's voice speaking to you, it's time to check in with your local psych ward.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • your god is irreducibly complex

      Prayer is talking to yourself. Nothing more, nothing less. Time to wake up and stop beLIEving in fairy tales.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • 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 10:26 am |
    • just sayin

      Prayer does not over rule your own stupidity. A relationship with God is based on love not fear. Love that is freely given and received. Prayer does not provide the lost with salvation, it does allow the opportunity for the lost to hear the good news. When no one is left to pray for you the probability that you will be saved is greatly reduced.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • captain america

      Nobody needs the opinion of a butt in canadian that does not know what it is talking about. Tend to your own country doc v and we will tend to US. Neither God nor prayer is responsible for those that misuse His name. There's your sign

      March 28, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Cap'n sayin atheism isn't an angry pervert
      Awwwww.... who is the cutest trolly wolly? Cappie is!
      Here's your troll treat, woogums. Now, back under your bridge like a good widdle twoll.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  18. suz

    yes sir. great piece.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:56 am |
  19. truth

    Matthew 6
    Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    --------------------------–
    1Pay attention in your charity giving, that you do it not in front of people so that you may be seen by them, otherwise there is no reward for you with your Father in Heaven.
    2When therefore you do your charity giving, you should not blast a trumpet before you like the pretenders in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by the children of men; truly I say to you, they have received their reward. 3But you, whenever you do charity giving, let not your left know what your right is doing. 4So that your charity may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you in public.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • HEAVENBENT

      THE BIBLE IS FUCKING STUPID

      March 28, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • truth

      Psalm 14 >>
      Aramaic Bible in Plain English

      --------------------------–
      1The evil one has said in his heart, “There is no God”. They are corrupted and they are defiled in their schemes and there is none who does good.
      2Lord Jehovah looked out from Heaven upon the children of men to see if there is any of understanding and seeking God.
      3All have gone astray together and they have been rejected; there is none who does good; not even one.
      4No workers of evil have awareness; they consume my people as eating bread, and they have not called upon Lord Jehovah.
      5There they were filled with awe, because God is in the generation of the righteous ones.
      6They shamed the counsel of the poor because Lord Jehovah is his trust.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • TING

      Psalms 14:1 The evil one has said in his heart, “There is no God”. They are corrupted and they are defiled in their schemes and there is none who does good.

      How convenient.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Get Real

      Nobody wants to be called dumb... or a fool... or in the story below, a cuckold.

      The Miller with the Golden Thumb

      A merchant that thought to deride a miller sitting among company said to him, "Sir, I have heard that every honest miller that tells the truth has a golden thumb."

      The miller answered and said it was true.

      Then the merchant said, "I pray, let me see your thumb." And when the miller showed his thumb, the merchant said, "I cannot perceive that your thumb is gold. It is the same as other men's thumbs."

      The miller answered, and said, "Sir, the truth is that my thumb is gold, but you have no power to see it, for it has the property that he who is a cuckold shall never have power to see it."

      March 28, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • Get Real

      p.s. that story was for @truth, but I doubt that she/he will reply. She/he just wants to blather scripture.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • truth

      You have heard that it was said, “Show kindness to your neighbor and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, love your enemies and bless the one who curses you, and do what is beautiful to the one who hates you, and pray over those who take you by force and persecute you. 45So that you will become the children of your Father who is in Heaven, for his sun rises on the good and upon the evil and his rain descends on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what benefit is it to you? Behold, do not even the Tax Collectors the same thing? 47And if you pray for the peace of your brethren only, what excellent thing are you doing? Behold, are not even the Tax Collectors doing the same thing? 48Be therefore perfect, just as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.”

      March 28, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • Get Real

      truth,

      Penguins live in Antarctica.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • truth

      Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

      March 28, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • anotherview

      Here we go again with the right winged religious ones wanting to quote their bible verses.

      Here's one for you to remember: Psalms 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      Nice book there isn't it? Just like a lot of the other books in the bible.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  20. HEAVENBENT

    GLEN BECK. CNN.

    WHOLEY COCK

    IT REALLY IS 2012

    March 28, 2012 at 1:56 am |
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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.