Is the ACLU Increasing Giving to Religious Organizations?
Is it response to attacks on religion in the public square?
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an editorial entitled "Whence Came The U.S. Tradition To Give and Give?" in which it discussed the historic generosity of the American people in the form of charitable giving. Daniel Henninger, the author, notes that "[o]rganized American giving--philanthropy and charity--is almost wholly salvific. When we donate money (several hundred billion dollars annually), as individuals or institutions, we strive to ensure that someone gets uplifted."
In an on-line essay by Christopher Price entitled "Pagans, Christianity and Charity", he makes a great case that the charitable giving is the natural result of our common Christian heritage. It points out very nicely that the pagan world was not interested in charitable giving, and it was historically the result of Christian charity that has led us to be interesteded in helping those less needy. I encourage everyone to explore this enlightening essay.
But what I found interesting about the Wall Street Journal Essay was a few lines near the end. Mr. Henninger points out:
The overwhelming amount of individual giving, 57%, goes to religious institutions.
And so it has come to pass that courts, managers and principals can kick creches and menorahs out of the public square, make "Christmas" a forbidden word and banish Bethlehem from the mouths of schoolchildren, but the American people will still pour most of their spare change directly into churches, synagogues and other religiously affiliated institutions. Maybe that outpouring is not in spite of official secularization but in response to it. The ACLU could be the greatest religious fund-raiser in history.
Is the "outpouring" of giving to religious institutions a backlash against the ACLU's heavy-handed tactics? While I doubt it, I certainly wouldn't doubt that some of the giving is in response. After all, people are honestly upset about the attacks on Christmas (which, contrary to claims made on Air America Radio is not being drummed up by Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly), and I do believe that some people are looking for an avenue of giving that will permit them to oppose these attacks. Still, I expect that most giving to religious institutions represents the regular Sunday offering that is given at 1000's of churches each week.
Too bad. If millions started pouring into the Thomas More Law Center, the Alliance Defense Fund or the ACLJ after each attack on religion in the name of "freedom of religion" by the ACLU, perhaps these attacks would not be so widespread.