On last week’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Republican atheist S.E. Cupp — Oh my god, there are two of them now! — argued that Mitt Romney donated millions to charity (“poor people”) because he donated to the Mormon Church.
Maher quickly called her out on it:
His argument in a nutshell: It’s not “charity” because the Mormon church doesn’t need the money. (“Name one poor Mormon!”)
On his show Friday night, he elaborated on the distinction:
His argument is the same as before: Giving money to organizations that aren’t helping people who truly need it shouldn’t be considered charity, whether it’s the Mormon Church, large symphony orchestras, or colleges with already-huge endowments.
As far as I can tell, whenever there conclude polls that say Christians/Mormons/whomever give more money to charity, they don’t separate out giving to their own church. In 2010, 35% of charitable giving could be filed under “Religion”… compare that to the relatively paltry 8% given to “Public/Societal Benefit.” Meanwhile, check out this article about atheists giving to causes that don’t directly benefit themselves. That’s charity.
So what would the numbers look like if you removed Christian tithing (or at least whatever proportion of it directly benefitted their own church)? While we’re at it, go ahead and remove any money atheists give to atheist organizations. Then, who would be considered “more generous”? Not that it’s a contest, but I can’t find any studies that separate giving to one’s own group and giving to causes that help other people. I’d love to know if the percentages still hold up in that case.
(Thanks to @WCK604 for the link!)