Secondly, private charities are able to offer more accountability to those they help. This is why at-risk black children who participate in local church activities receive far more benefit (as measured in educational outcomes and over-all stability) than children who participate in government-run after-school programs. It is impossible for public programs, no matter how well intentioned, to equal the holistic care that local churches provide.
Yet the federal government is not just scrutinizing the tax-exempt status of various organizations. For years now, the Obama Administration has called for a cap on the tax deductions that can be taken for charitable giving by the wealthy. This would, in short, divert donations away from private charities and toward the government. Most recently, the Charitable Giving Coalition warned in a letter to Congress that, “Giving will decrease if the charitable deduction is capped, limited or replaced by other provisions. For example, if the Administration’s proposed 28 percent cap were imposed, the sector could lose upwards of $5.6 billion per year, according to one study. Additionally, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the Administration’s 28 percent cap proposal would reduce individual charitable giving by an estimated 2.2 to 4.1 percent, which would result in a loss of up to $9.1 billion annually in charitable donation.”
Because the Administration’s proposed cap affects mostly wealthy donors, larger organizations like colleges and hospitals are more likely to be negatively affected. This would reduce options for medical care and education for all Americans, forcing more people to choose a government-run option. While some might not see this as inherently negative, ask yourself if you would prefer to be treated in a private hospital or a publicly funded hospital.
I am not suggesting that the Administration wants to do away with faith-based organizations altogether. But I believe they want to marginalize them to the point where they become the “irrelevant social clubs” Dr. King warned us about. The kinds of churches they are comfortable with play an extremely limited role in the lives of the people who attend them and do not seek to influence anything that goes on beyond their four walls.
This is not so much an issue of party, but of power. This Administration wants a government that gives everything, so it has the power to take it all away. What can you do? Every voice of every reader of this article can make an impact. Go on your senator or representative’s website and tell them how important it is to limit government’s interference with charities. Let them know that the IRS needs to back off of the unmitigated scrutiny of these important sources of help for the American people.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.