The Politics of Compassion

Imagine your child bringing home a book from the school library telling the story of a little boy with two daddies. No doubt you'd be outraged—and you'd be quick to ask how a book endorsing homosexuality found its way onto the school library shelf. You'd be even more outraged if you discovered that your own money had helped put it there—courtesy of a contribution to the United Way. Yes, in many localities the United Way has taken up radical politics. A few years ago in New York, a coalition of 23 gay and lesbian groups received $110,000 through the United Way. Last year in California, the United Way donated $4,000 to the Bay Area Network of Gay and Lesbian Educators. The network used the money to buy books with homosexual themes and place them in 42 San Francisco schools. Not content just to give money to gay groups, the United Way has also started punishing organizations that refuse to kowtow to their liberal social agenda. In both San Francisco and Portland, Maine, local United Way chapters cut off hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to the Boy Scouts. Why? Because the scouts refuse to hire homosexual scout leaders. What we're seeing is the invasion of politics into philanthropy. It used to be that charity meant direct aid to those who were poor or suffering. But in the 1960s, social activists began to argue that the way to help the poor was by changing the structures of society. Instead of giving direct aid to the needy, philanthropic organizations began giving money to groups dedicated to radical social change. As Christians we're commanded to have compassion for the poor. But the Bible also requires us to be good stewards of the money God gives us. When charity volunteers come knocking on our doors, we need to take a close look at where our donations are really going. The good news is that United Way supporters are beginning to do just that. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, today increasing numbers of donors insist on designating which organizations their money goes to. The numbers show that most Americans don't fall for the new definition of charity as political activism: They designate their funds for traditional charities such as hospitals and cancer agencies. So if you donate charitable dollars through the United Way or any other umbrella organization, find out exactly where your money is going. Decisions about funding are made by individual United Way chapters. If you find that your local affiliate is giving to a homosexual group or a hotline that refers clients to gay organizations, you can designate that none of your money be earmarked for those recipients. Even better, give directly to the church or charities that you wish to support. It's still the most effective way to be a good steward of your charity dollars. You and I need to fight back when we see philanthropies transformed into politicized activist groups. Otherwise we may very well see our own children get off the school bus carrying books that extol homosexuality—books paid for with money out of our own pockets.


Chuck Colson



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