This is a letter to the Austin American Statesman that my fellow AAIM (Austin Area Interreligious Ministries) boardmember, Reverend Bill Young,
submitted in response to George Will’s column (link provided to Mr. Will’s column at the bottom of Rev. Young’s response.)
To quote Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies,
damned lies and statistics.” In his column, March 27, George Will
used all three, but mainly statistics, to argue that conservatives are
more generous than liberals. Reading between the lines, what his
argument really shows is that religiosity correlates with charitable
giving. But since charity includes contributions to churches, there
is no direct correlation between the contributions one claims on a tax
return and the alleviation of suffering in society. Churches provide
wonderful spiritual, emotional and social benefits. But they’re often
very inefficient conduits of human services. $100 that a
religious conservative sends to Bennie Hinn likely has much less
direct social benefit than $10 a secular liberal contributes to
the United Way. Is the conservative ten times more compassionate? I
think not. The conservative dogma that religious institutions should
supplant government in providing the social safety net is a cruel and
cynical farce. The famously erudite Mr. Will would do well to put down
that thesaurus and pick up a book on critical thinking.
Rev. Bill Young
Metropolitan Community Church of Austin
LINK TO GEORGE WILL’S ARTICLE:
One Comment “And now…More response to George Will…”
This brings up an interesting point about secular giving: while I applaud any kind of giving, whether under the banner of faith or something more secular, it’s worth noting that people like myself who are either agnostic or atheist, are giving with no expectations of a heavenly reward. Tithing because a heavy-handed church or a charismatic televangelist told you so may possibly do some good; helping your fellow man because it is the right thing to do is ultimately more compassionate because it is somehow more selfless.
And conservatives who give “more” because it will end up giving them a better tax deducation? Ugh.
Comments are closed.