Pay LDS Tithing or Feed Your Family?

General Authorities need to be careful about the advice they give members during General Conference.  Suggesting that tithing should be paid before feeding your family is NOT good policy.

In April 2017 General Conference, the following advice was given:

After some events related to a civil war in Central America, my father’s business went bankrupt. He went from about 200 full-time employees to fewer than five sewing operators who worked as needed in the garage of our home. One day during those difficult times, I heard my parents discussing whether they should pay tithing or buy food for the children.

On Sunday, I followed my father to see what he was going to do. After our Church meetings, I saw him take an envelope and put his tithing in it. That was only part of the lesson. The question that remained for me was what we were going to eat.

Since this is a General Conference talk, you are right to presume that the story has a happy ending, unfortunate shades of the “prosperity gospel:”  Give us your money and you will prosper.

And in April 2005 General Conference:

No bishop, no missionary should ever hesitate or lack the faith to teach the law of tithing to the poor. The sentiment of “They can’t afford to” needs to be replaced with “They can’t afford not to.”

One of the first things a bishop must do to help the needy is ask them to pay their tithing. Like the widow, if a destitute family is faced with the decision of paying their tithing or eating, they should pay their tithing. The bishop can help them with their food and other basic needs until they become self-reliant.

Before giving the above advise, General Authorities of the LDS Church need to consult with pediatricians and public health officials who see the tragic effects of childhood hunger graphically demonstrated on the bodies and minds of children.  Hungry children:

  • are sick more often, and more likely to need hospitalization;
  • suffer growth impairment that precludes their reaching their full physical potential; and
  • incur developmental impairments that limit their physical, intellectual and emotional development.

And a possible legal issue was pointed out in

If you are giving money to your church and letting your children go hungry that is neglect.  Child protective services should be brought in to look out for the welfare of the children.

I hear stories about people being faithful and paying tithing then somehow ending up with just enough to get by.  Great, you made a bad decision and it wasn’t catastrophic.  Unfortunately we don’t provide televised speaking opportunities to those where the bad decision, led to worse circumstance.

Does This Make Sense?  Does This Lead to Self-Reliance?

Additionally, it doesn’t make sense to take money from the poor and dole it back in the form of welfare.  Hardly a procedure to promote self-reliance.
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