Radio Show

I Feel Guilty for Not Donating


A listener calls in to the Busted Halo Radio Show with something on her mind: “I really believe Christ’s [teachings] about helping others and ‘blessed are [they]’ and all that, but I have worked in the social service area for 50 years, and I have seen people misuse what’s been given, become lazy and become helpless, and I have even seen people [who] commit crimes. It’s pretty common. … Anyway, with all my experience, I feel a lot of negativity about [donating money] … but then I see God telling us to give, and so I become very confused about that. I feel guilty when I don’t give.”

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The caller also echoes a common political sentiment: “In general, there are those that give and there are those that take. Givers always give, takers always take. There’s kind of a culture of taking and a culture of learned helplessness, and I’m sick of that, and I don’t think I’m helping people. And I don’t think people who are given so much are learning how to improve themselves.”

Father Dave responds: “There are a lot of things that could be the recipient of your financial generosity that are not that [way]. … All giving is not welfare. … With your fundamental premise at the very beginning [regarding the abuses of charity that you’ve seen], I kind of at least have to give voice to the fact that just because some bad apples abuse things doesn’t mean that every nonprofit [is corrupt or unhelpful]. … There’s a lot more transparency in philanthropy than there was even 20 years ago…”

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The caller explains that she doesn’t believe the charities are necessarily bad, but she believes charity, in general, is unhelpful in society. Father Dave gives the Catholic perspective: “Charity is charity. It is not an investment, and it is not ‘I want to know what’s happening with this money.’ [Pope Francis recently responded to] a very common example that a lot of people use, [which is] if I give $5 to a homeless person on the street, how do I know that they’re not going to buy alcohol with it. And the pope says it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they buy alcohol with it — the person is destitute.”

Father Dave ultimately suggests that if the caller is so concerned with the big-picture societal implications of charitable giving, that perhaps she could find political action committees or lobbying organizations that share her views and donate to those instead. (Original Air 08-30-17)