Christians giving to secular organizations? It’s a harder question than you might think. Let’s tackle the easy one first: Should a Christian give to an organization that is opposed to the faith—opposed to Christian values? No brainer, right? If it is against the faith, don’t support it.
On the other hand, what if the organization is morally neutral? It is neither for nor against Christian values. It is the soup kitchen that never shares the gospel; they just feed people. Or it is the youth organization that simply encourages volunteerism. Perhaps it is the camp that simply wants to get kids out into nature. Maybe it is the relief organization which brings supplies to those in need, but nary is a word said about Jesus Christ.Of course, most would argue that there is no such thing as morally neutral.
Regardless, I know some who argue that the majority of the 370,000 nonprofit agencies in the country today are “secular” or non-religious. Likewise, the vast majority of the 85,000 private foundations in the country today are non-religious, secular funders. There are only about 4500 Christian foundations that take applications. In short, the argument is that a Christian should not fund a secular agency because there are plenty of secular funders.
On the other side of the fence, there are some who argue that some secular agencies provide a valid and needed function which is not found in the Christian community. For instance, the arts have often been neglected in the Christian community. The list can be expanded: Red Cross, medical research, hospice houses, higher education, etc. So is the solution that, when a secular agency provides the service, it should be supported? Or is it wise instead to reach over the wall and be an influence?
The question is an important one—particularly in the coming years. We see many Christian organizations and educational institutions struggling. Many secular institutions have built large endowments. And the reality is that the Christian influence in this country is shrinking. There is great need.
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Published February 7, 2011
Topics: Giving Strategies