Stop Legislating Charity!

Posted By on July 5, 2010

The politicians want us to think of them as kind, caring and as if they are always looking out for our best interest. This is why they try to convince us that we are doing a good and honorable thing by paying our taxes. This is why they try to convince us of how “good” they are by reminding us over and over of all the wonderful, caring spending packages they have passed.

Well, I think it is time we take an honest look at this from the perspective of a Judeo-Christian world view. I say Judeo-Christian because basically our two faiths agree on this aspect of biblical teaching. Both faiths teach the importance of and the commandment to perform charitable actions. We are commanded to care for the sick, the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger in our midst. This, according to how I have been able to understand the scriptures, is my responsibility and that of the community of faith (i.e. the church, local congregation, synagogue, etc.)

There are those elements within both faith groups who would say this is the responsibility of the government, and they will cast their votes accordingly.  This presents a problem, at least to me, where is the personal accountability for these governmental acts of charity? Who answers for either meeting the biblical command, or not fulfilling its provisions? If it is a biblical mandate for the government to fulfill, how can bureaucracy maintain proper stewardship, and in turn be held accountable for misspending or misappropriation of the funds provided for this so-called charity?

As far as I am able to understand the teachings of Judaism I cannot find a single place where I can delegate, or pass MY responsibility off on someone or something else. When I give to my synagogue, it is my responsibility to keep tabs on the operations and spending of my congregation to ensure they are acting wisely. The same applies to gifts to a Jewish Federation, Community Center or charitable organization. If it is discovered they are misusing the funds, then it is my responsibility to take my tzedakah (charity) elsewhere. I cannot pass off my responsibility to an unknown source, or even someone who says they will take care of it for me; let alone to an entity where I have no choice in the matter. In the age to come God will hold me accountable, and not ask me if the government taxes I paid took care of it.

As far as I am able to understand the teachings of Christianity the same holds true. answering God’s question with, “Well, I thought the government could do it for me,” or “I trusted the government to do it for me,” won’t be good enough.

We need to come to the place where we realize the government is NOT a charitable organization. It is not an adequate organization for caring for the poor, the destitute, the orphan, the widow and those in need. There is NO substitute for my personal charity to reputable organizations, my synagogue or directly to the poor. We must come to understand legislated charity is NO charity at all, it is simply redistribution of my precious funds to those who may, or may not be worthy of my hard earned labor.

It is time for us, “We the People” to take back our God given and God commanded responsibilities and stop depending on the government to do it for me. the government doing it simply isn’t good enough, and will merit me no benefits.

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