Perspective

Charity Begins at Church

December can be a difficult month for American Christians, forced to look on passively as their sacred holy days are turned into a generic “holiday season.”  The First Sunday in Advent has been replaced by “Black Friday,” the day on which retailers begin to turn a profit on holiday sales; and the end of the season (formerly St. Stephen’s Day, the Second Day of Christmas) is now “Returns Day,” when consumers swap presents given in love for what they really want.

Everywhere we turn, during Happy Holidays, we are battered by aggressive pitchmen dressed up like Santa and ringing bells for charities other than our churches or showing pictures of starving African children who are being rescued by OXFAM or Save the Children or the even less credible charities whose main effect has been to make matters worse in Third World countries while providing handsome incomes for the global bell-ringers who run them.  (Some of the scams were well documented in Graham Hancock’s Lords of Poverty.)

Quite apart from the money they waste and the mischief they work upon the world’s poor, nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) are an international political force that usurps some of the functions of government.  They have also been, since at least the days of the Spanish Civil War, political in the more trivial sense of partisan.  NGO’s, including those...

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