Conservatives should embrace season of giving

“The crowds asked, ‘What should we do?’ John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’”

John the Baptist wasn’t a difficult fellow to understand, as this account from the third chapter of Luke makes clear. Generous
giving, especially to the poor, has always been a part of the Christian ideal.

In this season of generosity — also powered by year-end tax planning — most charities pray that their donors remember them. This year has been a particularly tough one for the nonprofit world. Just last week, we learned that the ACLU was coping with the loss of tens of millions in annual donations from a single benefactor, David Gelbaum, who had given $380 million to the organization and two other groups, the Sierra Club and a fund to benefit veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in just the past four years. Suddenly, these groups are facing enormous shortfalls.

Though I doubt we agree on much when it comes to politics, I have to applaud Gelbaum’s past willingness to put his money behind his beliefs — especially his generosity toward the military. Would that the conservative movement had more such benefactors, though it does indeed have some who, like Gelbaum, prefer a low profile.

The truth is that conservatives give more money than their liberal counterparts, with much of it going to churches that in turn fund relief and mission work across the globe. Only a small subset of church givers also donate to activist organizations.

There are many parachurch and secular groups that deserve the support of people of faith in these tumultuous times. The counterpart to the ACLU is the Alliance Defense Fund (www.tellADF.org). If the ADF had even one Gelbaum supporting it with anything close to the $50 million he was sending the left-wing lawyers at the ACLU, religious liberty, unborn life and traditional marriage would at least be fully represented in the courts.

If Young Life (www.younglife.org) had a Gelbaum, the teenagers of America — and now the entire globe, as the group reaches out across the continents — would have friends and advocates for them and the person we honor this season.

If Children International had a Gelbaum, the impact on the deeply impoverished in the Dominican Republic, Zambia, the Philippines and the dozen other countries in which it works would be societywide in those nations. (There is a link to Children International on my Web site, www.HughHewitt.com.)

And if everyone who truly felt gratitude toward the troops would make a donation at either The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org) or Soldiers Angels (www.soldiersangels.org), then the center-right would at least be matching the generosity of Gelbaum.

It’s a tight year for Gelbaum, so he’s had to cut back. Perhaps his example will prompt others to step forward, even if the beneficiaries of their giving only somewhat overlap with his. It is, after all, the season of miracles and unexpected happy endings.</p>hugh hewittOp Edsop-edOpinion

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