Faithfully rich

By David Waters The founders of Facebook are joining 55 other billionaires who have pledged to give most of their … Continued

By David Waters

The founders of Facebook are joining 55 other billionaires who have pledged to give most of their money to charity before they die.

A capitalist plot to redistribute wealth? Hardly. “The Giving Pledge“, started by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, won’t redistribute wealth so much as reprioritize it. Fifty-seven billion dollars (they have more) works out to about $10 per earthling, but it’s the thought that counts.

What interests me more than how much they will give away is why. What has caused some of the wealthiest among us to become so unnecessarily magnanimous and benevolent? Have they found religion?

Major faiths consider charity to be a religious duty, not merely as a kindness but as an act of justice and righteousness.

Are the filthy rich trying to show us how to be just and righteous?

Probably not. Nearly all of the pledges wrote letters of explanation, but only a handful mentioned their faith.

Most of the billionaire benefactors attributed their generosity to doing what is right, fair, kind, moral or just plain responsible — without reference to God, Jesus or any religious figure.

“Both of us were fortunate to grow up with parents who taught us some tremendously important values. Work hard. Show respect. Have a sense of humor,” Bill and Melinda Gates wrote. “And if life happens to bless you with talent or treasure, you have a responsibility to use those gifts as well and as wisely as you possibly can. Now we hope to pass this example on to our own children.”

Words to live by, even if life hasn’t blessed you with billions.

It’s possible many pledges were motivated by faith, but just didn’t mention it in their letters. Some of them might have thought any sort of religious confession was inappropriate or too personal or none of our business.

David and Barbara Green, who co-founded Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in their family’s garage, attributed their pledge to the Lord and even quoted Scripture.

“We honor the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles,’ David Green wrote.

Hedge fund billionaire Leon G. Cooperman and his wife Toby gave a nod to three secular figures and one sacred book.

“In the early 1900′s Andrew Carnegie said ‘He who dies rich, dies disgraced,’” Cooperman wrote. “In the 1930′s, Sir Winston Churchill observed that ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ In 1961, President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address stated ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’

“Well before all these gentlemen expressed their thoughts, it was written in the Talmud that ‘A man’s net worth is measured not by what he earns but rather what he gives away.’

Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, is as well known for his contributions to conservative Catholic causes (Ave Maria University) as his contribtions to hungry college students.

“I came into the world penniless and as a Catholic Christian,” he wrote. “I know that I cannot take any of it with me, so it has long been my desire to use the material resources that I have been blessed with to help others in the most meaningful ways possible. My faith has always been a central part of my life.”

The only other religious reference I saw was from Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor. Steyer built a fortune as an asset manager in San Francisco.

“As luck would have it, we live in a city named for a man famous for actively denying his birthright,” Steyer wrote, “a birthright not of ambiguity or even scandal but of confirmed privilege. He stripped himself of his worldly goods (including clothes), identified with animals, and kissed the sores of lepers. Because what he did came to define him, St. Francis is our epitome of a “to do” kind of guy.”

Preach always. When necessary, use assets.

“(Wealth) is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends,” wrote John Wesley, 18th century founder of Methodism.

“In the hands of his children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless; We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death.”

Wesley gave away a fortune and died penniless.

About

  • theduck6

    BILLIONAIRES? What a greedy, manipulative, filthy lot of heartless ba&!ards!!! They surely only got thst wealthy on the backs of the poor and downtrodden. ALAS! I doubt the took any risk or had a novel idea or anything. Dirty *&&%$%$#$%s.

  • insightinc

    Why can’t we all just GET ALONG? The extreme wealthy in this country have benefited not only from their hard work, but also the work of others. With any compassion, they would be inclined to share it. The extreme poor are sometimes that way because they cannot help themselves (low IQ, for example.) They need help. Most of us in the middle should be able to carry our own weight most of the time, but even we need a helping hand sometimes (being laid off, sickness, etc.) No one should ride the back of others, and everyone who has extreme wealth should be willing to help others. I thank God that when I’ve needed help (bad car accident, and then a very sick child) people were there to extend it–wealthy Republicans mostly. Compassion goes a long way as long as it is coupled with personal responsibility. I don’t think that Jesus’ message was contrary to this thinking. He helped those in need and asked that they sin no more. Greed is bad. Sin is bad, too. As a country, we need to focus (like China is doing) on good schools and good infrastructure. Taxes need to support this if we are going to continue to be great. We’ve got to cut back on spending on unnecessary wars and waste. The wealthy will have to continue to contribute more and everyone is going to have to pull their weight as much as possible. It takes both a fair tax code and working to your abilities to make this country work for our children. ALL our children, not just those of the wealthy.

  • dbell2

    Please someone with connection to these good people ask them to allow their wealth to impact the needs of street people and help our local police chiefs declare War on Poverty II. This time around with help I believe we can do a better job than before, especially when it comes to deciding who gets the money – the generals who waged the last War on Poverty with the poverty pimps, or this time around, we let the police chiefs target funding towards those that might pose a safety or security risk for our cities, towns and villages. And I don’t mean the modern day carpetbaggers who helped gentification win the old urban renewal fight. We can and should solve our own local problems with gangs, thugs and criminals before we do anything else.

  • genericrepub

    I guess there is a difference between choosing to give to the charities that speak to you and use the money well, and having it taken from you by the Government subject to lobbyists whims, Congressional greed, and lack of rational and consistent policy.

  • victorlove1

    This is for all you people out there professing that your interpretations of the bible are correct and irrefutable.You are all wrong and you are all right!Take ten of your friends, if you have them, and open the Bible to any page, pick a verse and have them read it. I would bet my life that you will not have a consensuses of ten on the interpretation of that verse, and may very well have ten different opinions. GabHere is my suggestion for the working class to achieve a living wage, specifically those who are in the trades and services industry. RAISE YOUR RATES

  • GabrielRockman

    Victorlove – hard work is not the only requirement to become rich. It is extremely difficult to become rich working for others – it is those who start businesses and have others work for them that become rich. You become rich by making money off other people. If you work for a set amount per hour, your income is limited. Even if you become a lawyer and make $300 an hour, you can only make as much money as there are hours that you work. If you own a business, then you want to make money off your employees. They show up and get paid say $12 an hour, and provide $15 an hour worth of profit for your company. They’re happy getting $12 an hour, and you make $3 an hour off that one person. Employ 100 people that way, and you make $300 an hour off your employees. Employ 10,000 people that way and you make $30,000 an hour off your employees. However, running your own business is extremely risky. Immigrants come to the US and start businesses at a much higher rate than Americans ‘native’ to the US do. The billionaires who came from lower and middle class families did it by starting their own business and employing other people to work for them.Nearly every single business owner works very hard. Yet most of them do not prosper and become billion dollar businesses. It takes more than hard work to become a successful business. Most businesses do not expand at a meteoric rate because the profit margin they make over their employees is so low – often times it costs more to pay salaries than those employees bring in revenue. If that keeps up for too long, the business goes bankrupt. For small businesses, that means the owner files for bankruptcy and starts over. For big businesses, that means tax payers pay to keep a failing business afloat.Your suggestion would drive people out of the service industry if they listened to you. The economics of supply and demand determines the rates. If someone else can and will do it for cheaper, they will. That’s what drives the labor market as well. If someone else will do my job for less money than me, then I will be replaced. If someone else will pay me more to do a similar job, I will vacate my current job and move to the higher paying one.You don’t understand how rich people do things, and your understanding of economics is horrible. I sincerely hope that you do not take your own advice. Otherwise, you may be one of those 99ers that hasn’t found any work for the last 2 years.

  • fishnoises

    God does not care about how much is given away; He cares about the heart. He wants us to obey Him! Jesus was not talking about giving away riches in order to help others, He was talking about it to get our hearts in the right place.

  • victorlove1

    You are right , I am no economist. But I have been in business since 1991, got 20 in as a union master carpenter, retired and started a furniture repair business, I also have a spray on chrome business,3 years old.I can point to any number of businesses in my community who were owned and run by PHD types, They are gone and I am still here.Instincts will take you farther and make you happier than any college degree can, but I base that on my experiences, not others.

  • fishnoises

    (forcing others to give is called stealing…i believe that is one of those thingys called ‘sin’)

  • fishnoises

    To whom much is given, much is expected. Expected by WHO??? man??? Ha!!! God sees our heart. Man looks to outward appearances and on what they think the world should be like. That is breaking another sin, the first one. Stop worhipping the made up God that progressives imagine wants everything to be FAIR. It is not our place to judge what people do with their money! Do we really need to go there?

  • GabrielRockman

    Victorlove – now you’re talking more sense. Businesses didn’t grow to huge empires by charging value added prices and raising their rates beyond what consumers would pay. I don’t know why you made the outlandish suggestion of charging someone $1000 an hour to work on their car and saying that they were undervaluing their services. Such words don’t make sense coming from a business owner.I think I misinterpreted where you said: “That’s how the rich people do it! only in reverse!”That whole paragraph kinda confuses me. Now that you’ve said that you are a business owner, I’m thinking the whole paragraph might have been sarcasm that was lost on me, while I took you to be giving serious advice.

  • MPatalinjug

    Yonkers, New YorkIt is an absolute paradox that in an America that flaunts itself as “democratic” and a paragon of the principle of “Equality,” there are some 400 multibillionaires, billionaires, multimillionaires and millionaires but where, simultaneously, there are around 30 million Americans, fully a tenth of its population, who are wallowing in Poverty.The gap between America’s wealthiest 1 percent and its poor is now a wide and probably unbridgeable chasm–and with those Bush tax cuts going to be extended for [at least] another two years–that chasm can only grow wider.Getting America’s wealthiest–personified by Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Ted Turner, et al–to give a good portion of their mind-boggling wealth to charity, probably out of pangs of conscience and guilt, is no solution to the high incidence of Poverty in an America which is supposed to be the wealthiest nation on our planet with a present annual GNP in the order of $14 trillion.The real solution is for the Tax System to be reformed drastically to make it truly progressive so that the chasm which now divides the very rich and the very poor is deliberately made bridgeable over, say, a period of 12 years.Mariano Patalinjug

  • blasmaic

    There seems to be something immoral about demanding that the rich give their money to charity. Sure, they can do that if they choose, but if they don’t want to then why should they? Besides, what can $55 billion do except earn interest regardless of where it is parked?The 26 year-old who pledged six billion seems particularly odd. Gates and especially Buffet have pledged funds they amassed over decades and won’t have a use for soon. I like Buffet’s description of his children’s inheritence of about a billion each — “they’ll have enough that they can do anything but not so much that they can do nothing.” Actually, a person with tens of billions has no trouble finding things to do.If the Facebook guy is going cough up $6 billion each time he is portrayed badly in a film, then he’s going get a lot more films made. We learned that in high school football. You miss a tackle just once, and the next the play is coming your way again.

  • insider9909

    And yet, David Green who owns and operates Hobby Lobby, is absolutly known as a skinflint when it comes to his own employees, limiting them to part time, minimum wage jobs with no benefits. Not all, but many of the billionaires got their money the old fashioned way…they robbed it from their own employees. Now, they want us to see how charitable they are and, by design, self-righteous by giving to a so-called charity. Channeling your money into neo-con right wing religious organizations that are in bed with multi-national corporations and the NRA are not my idea of charity. In fact, the christian bible tells people who are going to give to charity to keep it secret. If billionaires want to really make a difference, take care of their own employees and lobby the government for an increase in the minimum wage. Other wise, it’s just a show that any god could see through.

  • sarahabc

    So it’s not enough that someone gives of themselves, they also must reference their faith at the church at the same time in order for the author to believe they are truly selfless?It just seems stunning in 2010 a writer for The Washington Post would need a reminder that people even without faith can be altruistic and that faith doesn’t motivate all good deeds.

  • TalkingHead1

    Anyone who read the Bible would know that Jesus Christ was truly one of the original Socialists or Communists in the pure sense – a fact which would be vehemently refuted by the capitalistic, American Christians. They try to rationalize and justify their attempts to reconcile His teachings and their Earthly capitalistic desires by selecting or distorting verses from the Bible Chapters which are not the Testaments by His Disciples and, therefore, which are only secondary supplements to the Bible in importance, but have become the main doctrines to grow and sustain the various Churches under His name. However, true Christians must only adhere to and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ according to the Testaments by His Disciples, which, again, clearly describe him as a Socialist or a Communist, or both. For sure, His teachings directly oppose the values of capitalism which is the real de facto religion of the Americans who profess to be “Christians.” Shame on America for being a fake Christian nation!

  • GabrielRockman

    Mariano Patalinjug – the definition of poverty in the US is very different from the definition of poverty in other countries. Those below the ‘poverty line’ often still own big screen TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, and have air conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter, electricity year round, as well as intellectual freedoms greater than any other country in the world.You claim it to be an unbridgeable chasm, yet you refuse to look at the starting point for most of these billionaires. In this very article, Tom Monaghan is quoted as saying “I came into the world penniless “. Did you even read this article? My guess is no.Numerous other billionaires come from lower or middle class backgrounds and rather than whining about how other people made too much money …. they went out and made too much money. You can either blame others for your own failures, or you can take responsibility for your own life. You choose to not take responsibility and to blame others. The beauty of America is that we are far superior to any other nation in the opportunities we give to our lower class to start a small business and become rich. Yet we find that immigrants take advantage of this freedom far more than those who are born here. Immigrants have lived in other countries and seen their comparative lack of opportunities there as compared to here. You’ve lived here your whole life, and you do not appreciate the incredible opportunities we have here. You believe that telling people that they aren’t responsible for their own actions and that they should blame everyone else is actually good for our country. You don’t realize that your philosophy will ruin the country.

  • GabrielRockman

    Talkinghead1 – you need to read more political theory, or read more of the Bible.Jesus would better be described as a libertarian anarchist than a socialist or communist. He never advocated using the government as a weapon to redistribute wealth. Jesus could also be described as an anarchist-communist in that his ideal end goal was a communistic type society, but he never indicated any desire to coerce people into joining this society.Whether he is described as an anarchist-communist or an anarchist-libertarian depends on your interpretation of his idea of personal property. To be a socialist is to desire government ownership of the means of production.To be a communist is to believe in the eventual non-existence of personal property.To be an anarchist is to believe in the ability of people to voluntarily form groups to their mutual benefit in order to achieve societal goals.To be a libertarian is to believe that initiating force or fraud upon others is wrong, including using the coercive force of the government to take someone else’s property who has not violated any laws.I think you lack both understanding of political theory as well as understanding of Jesus.

  • TalkingHead1

    GabrielRockman,I repeat, America is full of fake Christians, which perhaps includes you, who argue from the slippery slope, as you are. I have read the Bible, many times, and what Jesus Christ taught is definitely NOT compatible with the capitalistic values held so dearly and religiously by the Americans who claim to be devout Christians, with the exception of a very, very few. YOU are the one who really needs to read the Testaments by Christ’s Disciples and interprete it properly, which should not be difficult, at all, without resorting to distortion or convolution.

  • insider9909

    To the religious right, it is not now nor ever been about righteousn­ess or obedience to God. In fact, it is about obtaining wealth and power through the use of violence and corruption­s and greed. The poor, sick, naked, and homeless are viewed as lower than human and a victim of their own weaknesses­. If you lost your job and home, it was because you were a bad employee and person and God is punishing you. The fact that this is in direct conflict with the scriptures is ignored and scorned by today’s church. In fact, I suspect that the real Christ is not someone that the religious right wingers have ever know, and if they did meet him, they would launch a media campaign to attack him, accuse him of being a danger to society and a traitor to his country, arrest him, try him on trumped up charges, and find a way to execute him. Hmmmmm. That story sounds familiar.

  • JWTX

    If anyone can identify with me, when you have a greedy sister in your family who was raised to think everyone owes her life on a silver platter. That is why if ever I die what ever I have will be left to a total stranger who has nothing but hummbleness. Those who are millionaires an billionaires who cares what they leave. I would like to know how they became that way. From ill doings an deceit or from honost hard work that is the question?

  • neraksmar

    Matthew 19:15-29 describes a conversation Jesus had with a rich young ruler, who thought himself righteous because he kept the ten commandments. Then Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. This, the young man could not do, because he was mega-rich. Jesus then said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” I see nothing wrong with giving riches away to charity. Neither did Jesus.

  • GabrielRockman

    Talkinghead1 – please read more than just the first sentence of my post before replying to me.

  • TalkingHead1

    GabrielRockman, You can be sure that my response was to your entire post.

  • GabrielRockman

    Talkinghead1 – Then I am completely correct that you lack understanding of political theory. Here’s a tip: Anarchists are not Capitalists.

  • BurfordHolly

    People like Buffet and Gates give away their money because they didn’t grow up rich.The obsessive greedy billionaire who want to bankrupt the country, like the Kochs and Steve Forbes were born rich and most likely hate and fear the people who grew up without a contingent of bodyguards. Heck, half of their crowd probably never learned to drive, and some probably were never allowed to have a bicycle. They want to make sure that their kids grow up rich and lacking basic life skills, just like them.

  • sharronkm

    The tax laws need to be changed. CEO’s are making obscene amounts of money and bonuses. The difference in wages between the CEO’s and workers is higher than it has ever been. Corporations and congress refuse to do anything about minimum wage and most CEO’s care nothing about the welfare of their employees. It is not like it used to be when companies cared about employees. Trust and loyalty were important. The corporations own congress and congress does as they are told. There is no mercy in congress for anyone but their masters. I don’t think Jesus would look kindly on any of these people. I believe it was Ghandi who said, “I like your Jesus, I just don’t like your Christians.”

  • zimmermann1

    Is it so difficult to accept that non-religious people can be right, fair, kind, and moral? Open your mind to this and accord athiests and agnostics some measure of respect, please.

  • Rayden1234

    Billionairs giving their money away, and of free will. Have you ever heard of the term “WHEN PIGS FLY”

  • GabrielRockman

    Rayden1234 – are you implying that there is a conspiracy coercing billionaires to give money to charity against their will? Does this conspiracy extend to the millions of Americans who aren’t billionaires that also give to charity? I don’t know what planet you are living on, but it doesn’t appear to be Earth.

  • jdsolano

    Bill Gates was a nerd who became a visionary genius; then he evolved into a nasty monopolist; finally he has turned himself into the greatest philantropist of all time. What a ride!!!Zucker-Berg is a nasty nerd who stole the social-network concept from others, then he betrayed his few friends, and became a nasty monopolist. He makes billions selling peoples’ lives to advertisers. Now he’s just trying to use his billions to wash his hands. Pathetic!!!

  • TalkingHead1

    GabrielRockman,You’re the one who must truly be either ignorant of what Jesus Christ taught or stood for. Or, worse, know better, but continue to argue from your self-serving, distorted views. First, let me post the definition of anarchy, from Definition of ANARCHY1a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without governmentDefinition of LIBERTARIAN1: an advocate of the doctrine of free willYou try so hard to politicize the teachings of Jesus Christ, but nowhere in the Bible – particularly in the Testaments by His Disciples – did He advocate anarchy or libertarianism, as defined above. (Or, are your own definitions of anarchy and libertarianism also distorted?) Did Christ teach people to rebel against any government and do whatever as they please? Absolutely NOT. If anything, Christ was described as a strict disciplinarian who encouraged people to follow the Laws of God and embrace morality above human values based on materialism and power. So, do Christianity espouse anarchy or, even, libertarianism, and is either principle any more compatible with capitalism than socialism or communism, then? Clearly NOT. How many Americans claiming to be Christians, do you think, will view Jesus Christ as an anarchist or a libertarian, or a libertarian-anarchist, as you labeled Him, other than you?

  • GabrielRockman

    TALKINGHEAD1 – you were the one who politicized them by calling them socialist/communist. Since Jesus makes no mention of government, I think the comparison to anarchy is a good one. Unlike you, who just looked up anarchy in the dictionary, I choose to use Peter Kropotkin’s idea of anarchy, as he is one of the most influential anarchist thinkers.Jesus also never advocated coercion, thus I consider libertarianism appropriate. He did advocate the following of laws and obeying authority. He never advocated the use of force to convert people to Christianity or to force wealth redistribution.My ideas of anarchy and libertarianism are not distorted, they are merely informed by reading of books on political theory, rather than just looking them up in the dictionary. I still stand by my assertion that your understanding of political theory is inadequate.

  • LETFREEDOMRING2

    The rich have the right to give away their money if they choose and for any reason whatsoever. The government does not have the duty to fleece the rich so that the rest of the country can live on the dole.

  • oskar1921

    While I believe that some of the uber-rich are certainly motivated by a sense of faith or need to give back the cynic in pessimist in me says this is good PR for billionaires in this day and age. Especially when the very rich and wall street are looked upon as the scourge from hell, having caused financially misery for most of us.

  • HookedOnThePost

    The following is not what the mortal prophets from the Old Testament said, or the mortal Paul, but what Jesus, the being Christians call God said about wealth:”Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”-Matthew 19:23-24.For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.’” -Matthew 25:41-45″Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”-Matthew 19:21″Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”-1 Timothy 6:17-19″Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:23.Yet “Christians” will hem and haw about these verses. “Jesus didn’t mean money. He meant spiritual pride,” etc., etc.

  • HookedOnThePost

    The following is not what the mortal prophets from the Old Testament said, or the mortal Paul, but what Jesus, the being Christians call God said about wealth:”Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”-Matthew 19:23-24.For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.’” -Matthew 25:41-45″Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” -1 Timothy 6:17-19And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you,this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12: 41-44″Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:23.Yet “Christians” will hem and haw about these verses. “Jesus didn’t mean money. He meant spiritual pride,” etc., etc.

  • garoth

    It’s great that Gates and some others are giving away some of their billions. I hope they do it wisely, so that it isn’t wasted. Of course, that is the minority, and one of the reasons for restructuring taxes. The gap between the very rich and the very poor continues to widen, and cannot be sustained. We are rapidly becoming a third-world nation, with two economic classes – the haves and have-nots. We do have a form of socialism, where the rich are taken care of while the poor are not. To those who oppose “socialism” and taking money from the poor – we already do that in reverse, by giving the rich extensive tax breaks that the poor do not receive. A “flat tax” would result in the rich giving much more than they do now (not that I am advocating such a tax). The giving of a small percentage of billionaires is not a substitute for good economic policy, or for the need to take care of “the least.” For those who keep citing the bible: Jesus did, in fact, advocate in behalf of the poor. The early church, at least according to Acts, was a communal society – that is how they understood his message. The prophets also loudly condemned Israel for its lack of care for the poor, seeing it as an idolotry of money – which is what we have in present day America – and saw it as the primary reason for the downfall of both Judah and Israel. Jesus was, by the way, less concerned about heaven (he only mentions it a couple of times) than about living out its qualities here on earth; that is the meaning of his proclamations on the “kingdom of heaven,” or the “kingdom of God.” His understanding of this concept is clearly brought forth in his prayer, which, correctly translated, would read to us: “let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, just as it is being done in heaven.” His call was for us to live out “heavenly” or “kingdom” values on earth, just as they would be lived out in heaven. That means sharing with all, breaking down boundaries, caring for the “least,” etc. Jesus does not “force” this choice on anyone; on the other hand, it is clear that those who do not accept this lifestyle are clearly outside of the gates of the kingdom. The prophets, however, saw the response of Israel to this demand to care for the poor as central – stemming from Jubilee, the time when fields, etc. would be returned to their original owners, slaves set free, etc. It was the greatest “forced redistribution of wealth” program ever conceived – although there was little evidence that it was ever done!

  • dlafave

    It’s strange that Waters fails to mention that Buffett and Gates are agnostics, and Zuckerberg is an atheist. So, the likely reason that they didn’t mention religion or god in their statements is that religion played no role in their decision.

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“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

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The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

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Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

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What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

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An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

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Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

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Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

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Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

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“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

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Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

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From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

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Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

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God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

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The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

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Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.