Should Tithing Count as 'Charitable Giving?'

The title of this post is one that I have pondered on occasion for several years. Even so this question is one from a Christian Post article of that title. In it Nicola Menzie, a Christian Post Reporter, deals with the opinion of far left leaning comedian Bill Maher saying:
the commentator and comedian, focusing on Romney and the Mormon Church, insisted that "real charities only care about the charity" and that some churches and other seemingly well-to-do 501(c)(3) organizations, such as symphony orchestras and colleges and universities cushioned with large endowments, should not count as "charities."
Maher's opinion is countered by family wealth counselor Edward Link who says about Maher's opinion:
that eliminates libraries, that eliminates hospitals, that eliminates symphonies and museums. It eliminates churches, it eliminates animal shelters, it eliminates the overwhelming majority of nonprofit organizations in the country if you say the only legitimate charitable giving is if you're giving to somebody that's poor
Link goes on to say something that I really agree with:
I do think churches really need to think a little bit more carefully about the fact that if you're consuming 97 percent of everything that comes in just on your own organization, and your own structure and your own people, I have a little heartburn over that. I'd like to see them using a lot more of those revenues to actually reach out to people in our country or in the world who have really serious and desperate needs.
I think that, with my understanding of Jesus' charge to care for "the least of these", I would have a hard time saying that tithing should count as charitable giving. For sure many churches do seem to be charity cases (smile) but, generally speaking, I think that they often resemble a religious club more than a charitable outreach. I am okay with giving them tax-exempt status in the same way that libraries and hospitals have such status. But calling a church a charitable organization is a bit of a stretch. What do you think? Do you see donations to a church as a gift to charity.


  1. From my understanding of the Bible, tithing is our obligation to God and since it is, it should not be counted as charity. Maybe offerings can be counted as charity but not tithes.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Rygel! There is much diversity of opinion on what a tithe is and who it should be given to. My question is not really what the donation is called (i.e. a tithe) but if that donation is being used for a charitable purpose or not.

    2. oh :) then you have to select trustworthy church leaders

    3. Great point Rygel. I read a few days ago about a church that gives about 90% of its offerings to the poor in their city. Those church leaders are setting a great example.


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