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  1. #1

    Default Charity and Ulterior Motives

    I have been thinking about this for a while.

    Is it possible to help someone in someway without also causing some sort of "manipulation" of some sort?

    Consider, specifically, the very thing that the following brief that MinsitryWatch put out on Christian Children Fund (now Child Fund):
    http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/p...042704_CCF.pdf

    Their argument, at the time, was that since Christian Children Fund was only providing physical assistance and not Christian teaching, that money should not be given to them, but to organizations like Compassion International that preach the Gospel to those who they give physical assistance.

    What is you take on this motivation for giving?

    As someone not of the Christian faith, I find such motives to be ulterior motives. I would go so far as to say that the main aim in the act of giving in such a situation is manipulation, not physical assistance. The physical assistance seems like more of a means to manipulate opinion than a simple act of generosity.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Is all "charity" created equal?

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    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
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  2. #2
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    "The worst slave owners were those that were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the core of the system being realised by those who suffered from it … Charity degrades and demoralises."

    - Oscar Wilde
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  3. #3
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    I dont believe there is an ulterior motive in Christian charities aiming to spread Christianity, in fact it seems bizarre to me to expect something different, it is almost the entire point.

    Although if you are going to knock Christians for supporting humanitarian assistance or efforts through charitable giving I'd be interested in what you consider the alternatives to be.

    All the secular "religions" have fallen flat or done incredible harm. Yet "attack Christianity first" remains popular.

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    "The worst slave owners were those that were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the core of the system being realised by those who suffered from it … Charity degrades and demoralises."

    - Oscar Wilde
    From an essay on socialism no less.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I dont believe there is an ulterior motive in Christian charities aiming to spread Christianity, in fact it seems bizarre to me to expect something different, it is almost the entire point.

    Although if you are going to knock Christians for supporting humanitarian assistance or efforts through charitable giving I'd be interested in what you consider the alternatives to be.

    All the secular "religions" have fallen flat or done incredible harm. Yet "attack Christianity first" remains popular.
    My post was not an attack on Christianity (unless you are equating Compassion International or Ministry Watch with Christianity itself, I am not sure how the OP was construed as such). The main topic is ulterior motives for charity itself. That is helping someone for purposes other than helping in itself.

    I'll admit that my examples may not have been the greatest choice, but I was contrasting two organizations, both with Christian roots, BTW, that did pretty much the same thing but with different motivations.

    1) Child Fund provided physical assistance, while...
    2) Compassion International spreads Christianity.
    3) Both provide assistance to children through a sponsorship type of program.
    4) One, however, does it mainly as a means to spread the Gospel. (Compassion International)
    5) The other does it as an end onto itself. (Child Fund)

    Do you disagree with any of the statements above?

    If Compassion International would state to its beneficiaries and parents that its main aim was to spread the Gospel to them, do you think that might make their parents more or less hesitant to accept aid if their religious background was not Christian?

    Does giving to someone or helping someone for motives other than for just helping someone make the act of giving less pure?

    Child Fund continues to go well, as do organizations like Save the Children.

    In fact, Child Fund's main issues seem to be that it cannot make up it's mind on what it does with regard to evangelism and Christian doctrine. They say they prefer to focus on helping the less fortunate than on religious doctrine, but, on occasion it will do things like refuse money from people associated with the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Pretty much alienates both the secular and evangelical ends of their donor base.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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  6. #6
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    People in vulnerable positions ethically require a respect for their boundaries. To attempt to change the thinking of someone while they are at their most vulnerable is a form of manipulation. A compassionate and respectful approach gives power to the vulnerable individual allowing them to have as much control over the situation as reasonable.

    The ethical approach for any religious group is to provide assistance without requiring those receiving help to change their thinking as a condition of receiving assistance. It is also ethical to wait until the vulnerable individual's needs have been met before presenting them with information intended to change their thinking.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    People in vulnerable positions ethically require a respect for their boundaries. To attempt to change the thinking of someone while they are at their most vulnerable is a form of manipulation. A compassionate and respectful approach gives power to the vulnerable individual allowing them to have as much control over the situation as reasonable.

    The ethical approach for any religious group is to provide assistance without requiring those receiving help to change their thinking as a condition of receiving assistance. It is also ethical to wait until the vulnerable individual's needs have been met before presenting them with information intended to change their thinking.
    To be completely fair to Compassion International, they claim their approach does not include traditional Evengalism. Rather, they supposedly wait for those they help to ask why they do what they do before doing any preaching in particular. They "encourage" Sunday Schools. An organization like World Vision, however, seems a little more heavy handed.

    A good number of the Charities of the "Sponsor a Child" variety seem like outgrowths from missionary projects. As are many school and hospital systems that were started in third world countries.

    Frankly, it is probably a good thing that people are helping, whatever their reasons. But I wonder sometimes...wouldn't it be better just help with no other agenda?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  8. #8
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Frankly, it is probably a good thing that people are helping, whatever their reasons. But I wonder sometimes...wouldn't it be better just help with no other agenda?
    In their minds, the religious agenda constitutes a form of spiritual help, providing comfort in this life and salvation in the afterlife. Simply put, the spiritual agenda springs from the same emotional source (a combination of religiously habituated compassion and spiritual duty) as the charitable agenda. While I woud certainly be annoyed at proselytization attempts directed at myself after receiving charitable assistance, I can't really say its any less genuine than simply providing material assistance because it relieves guilt and makes someone feel good about themselves. I also think fia provided some good ethical guidelines for such situations.

  9. #9
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Is all "charity" created equal?
    Have you heard of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides? Charity is an important and complex part of Judaism but I think there is some universal truth in his views. He believed there were 8 levels of charity, with differing levels of altruism attached to them:

    1. Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others. The greatest level of charity.
    2. Giving anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy and wise. This is performing a mitzvah solely for the sake of Heaven.
    3. Giving anonymously to a known recipient.
    4. Giving publicly to an unknown recipient.
    5. Giving to the poor person directly into his hand, but before being asked.
    6. Giving adequately to the poor person, after being asked.
    7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
    8. Giving "in sadness" (giving out of pity): It is thought that Maimonides was referring to giving because of the sad feelings one might have in seeing people in need (as opposed to giving because it is a religious obligation).


    I'm not sure what he wrote about agendas and how they factor in - the 8 levels apply more to individuals than organisations. I suppose giving with a motive or expectation of reciprocity (either physical, emotional or spiritual) would fit more in the levels 4-8.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Have you heard of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides? Charity is an important and complex part of Judaism but I think there is some universal truth in his views. He believed there were 8 levels of charity, with differing levels of altruism attached to them:

    1. Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others. The greatest level of charity.
    2. Giving anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy and wise. This is performing a mitzvah solely for the sake of Heaven.
    3. Giving anonymously to a known recipient.
    4. Giving publicly to an unknown recipient.
    5. Giving to the poor person directly into his hand, but before being asked.
    6. Giving adequately to the poor person, after being asked.
    7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
    8. Giving "in sadness" (giving out of pity): It is thought that Maimonides was referring to giving because of the sad feelings one might have in seeing people in need (as opposed to giving because it is a religious obligation).


    I'm not sure what he wrote about agendas and how they factor in - the 8 levels apply more to individuals than organisations. I suppose giving with a motive or expectation of reciprocity (either physical, emotional or spiritual) would fit more in the levels 4-8.
    I like that list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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