Saturday, December 31, 2011

A note on the role of charity and religion

Catholic Charities is one of the nation’s most extensive social service networks, serving more than 10 million poor adults and children of many faiths across the country. It is made up of local affiliates that answer to local bishops and dioceses, but much of its revenue comes from the government. Catholic Charities affiliates received a total of nearly $2.9 billion a year from the government in 2010, about 62 percent of its annual revenue of $4.67 billion. Only 3 percent came from churches in the diocese (the rest came from in-kind contributions, investments, program fees and community donations).

I often get told that one of the good aspects of religion is charity. I usually respond by asserting that existence should be a civil right, not something given to you because another person judged you worthy by their arbitrary standards today.

But of course the charity of religion is, like the rest of it, smoke and mirrors. Not only do they not pay for it, but as soon as they can't use it to control people's behavior, they stop. Helping orphans find homes (or saving women's lives) is not as important as pushing God's word. Which I confess makes perfect theological sense; I just think the fact that it does is the best possible argument against theology.

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