Defining Charity: the LDS Church and Carl Wimmer

In a recent 24-hour period, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson praised the church’s welfare program and urged members to help others, while Rep. Carl Wimmer, quoting someone else, tweeted the following: “It’s wrong for someone to confiscate your money, give it to someone else, and call that ‘compassion’.”

We truly live in interesting times.

The Alliance for a Better UTAH stands with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in praising the church’s welfare program and President Monson’s call to help others.

Wimmer’s tweet makes a nice sound bite and may well be a truism of the libertarian view of government and personal responsibility. However, the statement is difficult to reconcile with the church’s program and various governmental “discretionary” programs providing aid to those among us in their time of need.

Both are necessarily funded by either tithing or taxes — both seemingly a “confiscation” as defined by Wimmer.

While self-reliance, personal responsibility, personal liberty and certain inalienable rights may be hallmarks of American history, we have always been a compassionate and caring people — around the world and within our own borders.

Lately, it has become chic to lecture from the political bully pulpit, applying anti-government rhetoric to these topics. However, turning our backs on people in need is more difficult and requires nuance.

Sadly, the belief in helping our neighbors and strangers alike in need has become associated with liberal, left-leaning “Democratic” values (read that as a bad thing), rather than long-standing “American” values (read that as a good thing).

The question, it seems, should start at the beginning: What do we, as a people, as a nation, believe in? Once we answer that question, we need to develop and apply our policies with consistency and intellectual honesty.

Do we really believe only in the free market and personal responsibility, regardless of circumstances? If so, then we must…

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