commented on What is wrong with a free handout?
2015-04-14 19:18:33 -0700
If I may, I would like to respond to this article. To avoid straying from the doctrine of the Church, the bulk of my response will be quotes from General Conference & Official Church publications.
I have two points in which I disagree with this post;
1. The Church’s welfare program (Fast Offerings) is not set up as a free handout. It is set up to help members become self-reliant.
In speaking about the Church’s relief effort after Tytphoon Haiyan, Bishop Dean M. Davies said this;
“Modest resources were provided to help Church members rebuild their wood-frame shelters and homes. This was not just a free handout. Members received training and performed the needed labor for themselves and then for others.” (The Law of the Fast: Oct 2014) (Italics added)
And from the Church Handbook;
“Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others.”
“Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.”
“When Church members are doing all they can to provide for themselves but cannot meet their basic needs, generally they should first turn to their families for help. When this is not sufficient or feasible, the Church stands ready to help.” (Handbook 2: 6.1.1)
Many Church leaders have spoken about welfare in the Church, and in Government. President Benson was one of the most outspoken on this topic. However, as many people dismiss what he taught as “his opinion” I will quote others. (For more on this, I recomend reading here)
If you search “evil of dole” on LDS.org you will find dozens of references to this quote;
“Our primary purpose was to set up … a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (Handbook 2: 6.1)
Free handouts hurt individuals, families, and communities, not help.
“Even with the universally accepted desire to help the poor and needy, the Lord concurs in our goal but warns, ‘But it must needs be done in mine own way’ (D&C 104:16). Otherwise, in our efforts to help, we may actually hurt them. The Lord has taught us the need to promote self-reliance. Even if we are able to help, we should not give or provide what they can and should do for themselves. Everywhere it is tried, the world learns the evils of the dole. Truly God knows best.” (The Lord’s Way Stanley G. Ellis. Apr 2013)
Elder Marion G. Romney said this;
“A few years ago I read a lengthy book dealing with the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. That fall, in large measure, was due to the purchasing of votes with unearned benefits, such as entertainment, circuses, and food. The government’s actions built up in the people an expectation and demand which eventually could be kept down only by the establishment of a dictatorship. Many of our members live in countries where this history has repeated itself. In the United States, our treasured American work ethic is waning and the purchasing of votes with unearned benefits is dangerously common.”
“One of the most demeaning things a government can do is to teach people that the government owes them a living.”
“By contrast, ever since the Church was organized, it has encouraged its members to maintain their own economic independence and to work for what they get, to produce that which they consume…”
“Church welfare principles have always been with us. Although President Grant’s statement came in 1936, you will note he said that ‘independence, industry, thrift, and self-respect [should] be once more established.’ Also note that he said work should be re-enthroned, not enthroned. If time permitted, we could begin when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden and found the earth cursed for their sake. (See Gen. 3:17.) We could trace these principles through biblical and Book of Mormon times.” (Work and Welfare: A Historical Perspective. Apr 1982)
One more by Harold B. Lee, who was quoting Brigham Young;
“My experience has taught me, and it has become a principle with me, that it is never any benefit to give, out and out, to man or woman, money, food, clothing, or anything else, if they are able-bodied, and can work and earn what they need, where there is anything on the earth, for them to do. This is my principle, and I try to act upon it. To pursue a contrary course would ruin any community in the world and make them idlers.” (Discourses of Brigham Young [Deseret Book Co., 1943], p. 274.) (Teach the Gospel of Salvation. Oct 1972)
2. I feel that the argument of “earning” forgiveness, or exaltation, is mis-leading. Again I will quote from General Conference.
James E. Faust gave a beautiful talk on The Atonement of the Savior;
“My beloved brothers and sisters and friends, I come humbly to this pulpit this morning because I wish to speak about the greatest event in all history. That singular event was the incomparable Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. This was the most transcendent act that has ever taken place, yet it is the most difficult to understand. My reason for wanting to learn all I can about the Atonement is partly selfish: Our salvation depends on believing in and accepting the Atonement. Such acceptance requires a continual effort to understand it more fully. The Atonement advances our mortal course of learning by making it possible for our natures to become perfect. All of us have sinned and need to repent to fully pay our part of the debt. When we sincerely repent, the Savior’s magnificent Atonement pays the rest of that debt.” (The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope. Oct 2001)
While it is true that we can not “earn” our way into heaven, please remember this;
“…I am profoundly grateful for the principle of saving grace. Many people think they need only confess that Jesus is the Christ and then they are saved by grace alone. We cannot be saved by grace alone, ‘for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.’” (The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope. Oct 2001)