David has posted a thought provoking piece entitled "The Business Of Church" on his blog, THE VERNACULAR CURATE. I'm not going to engage with the exact content of his post here, so do go check it out. However, it did get my mind concentrating on an old hobby horse of mine which follows.

I think that churches, under their canon law, should outlaw the giving of monies to charities out of church funds. This is not to insist that Churches do not arrange specific events or refrain from putting out a collection box for specific charities. It simply would stop church councils from giving away money that belongs to their churches.

I have often come across situations where churches have failed to pay their parish share or take proper care of their building and/or staff, whilst still giving away the 10% of their income (or whatever) to charity. I think this is basically immoral, as well as being bad management. It also demonstrates what a low regard many congregations have for the financial wellbeing of their staff.

But the main reason I think it should be outlawed is because it makes it too easy for members of the congregation to avoid their duty to be personally charitable and gives the members of the Church council the opportunity of feeling good at no cost to themselves. That is not charity. Also, it takes away from the individual the responsibility of choosing the beneficiary of their charitable giving. I don't think anyone, not even a government minister, has the right to decide to give away money that is not theirs.

However, having said that, I think church ministers and politicians should encourage individuals to be charitable according to their means. This should include coming up with ideas for raising funds for particular charities. This is a perfectly fair way of raising money as people can opt out if they do not wish to support the charity concerned, or give more to that particular charity than the institution would give on their behalf under the system I am suggesting we ban.

Basically, I think we need to make the giving of alms a moral obligation of the highest order and I believe that anything that takes away an individual's choice in this matter reduces the feeling of individual obligation.



  1. If we don’t look after the church building, we need our heads examining. We only end up spending more money later, often as an emergency. Shortly after I took on the property at my church, I had the windows at the back blow in on a Tuesday, and a main cable blow on the Thursday. Both due to neglect.

    A lot of churches may be sitting in buildings which are essentially unsuitable, redundant, and should be sold, but they’ll get a better price for a building in good condition.

  2. Very, very thought provoking post, MP.

    And, of course, this OUGHT to go without saying:

    “Basically, I think we need to make the giving of alms a moral obligation of the highest order…”

  3. MP,
    I know a few churches that make a point of giving away 10% of their income, or the proceeds of certain fundraisers. But they are very transparent about it, with the recipients identified in advance, and not at the whim of the vestry or parish council. My own parish does one annual event, the proceeds of which go to the local food bank, and have other occasional events for a designated cause (such as earthquake relief in Haiti).

    But you are perfectly right that churches that focus on outside giving to the detriment of their own staff or buildings are irresponsible.

  4. Jim, in the post I insist that churches should organise fundraising events and collections for specific charities if they want to. But my contention is that no money should be given away from church funds no matter how transparently it is done. It takes responsibility away from the individual and can lead in the long run to less money being given to charity. Also, I think it is immoral for church councils to choose which charities to send collective funds to. In abroad church you can end up with people arguing about the churchmanship of charities and that sort of thing.

  5. They why claim that people are being generous when they give tax money away? If you live in Britain, you’re giving away only one-sixty millionth.
    How can some countries be described as more generous than others in this case?