Councillors Misunderstand the Meaning of Charity

The Sun had an article and an editorial on councillors Harvey Smith and Jenny Gerbasi providing $200 to support some carolers to a prison.

In general, I would be against the allocation of public funds to private events, but the sums involved ($200) are paltry and, from my understanding, ward budgets are created so councillors can provide discretionary funds for these kinds of things, so this does not particularly irk me. (Although, I am moderately surprised that Gerbasi and Smith would be the councillors to support what seems to be a Christian outreach event with public funds). The Sun seems to be lacking perspective on this issue.

On the other hand, there are two related things that concerned me about this issue, both being justifications of the funding. The first issue concerns Gerbasi's justification:

“What would Jesus do at Christmastime?” Gerbasi asked. “I think he’d support this application. He went to the thieves and the prostitutes and lived among them and cared for them. That’s what Jesus did. Think about it. That’s why I felt kind of passionate about it — and I’m Jewish.”

It annoys me when leftists and progressivists pervert Christian theology to justify their redistributive politics. Yes, Jesus and the New Testament state to visit prisons, care for the orphans and widows, and the like. Yes, Jesus spent time with thieves, tax collectors, prostitutes, and other such marginal individuals.

But, not once, does the the New Testament advocate state redistribution. It advocates private charity and self-sacrifice done out of love for others. There is a large difference.*

Use secular justification as you wish, but do not use a misreading of the Bible or Jesus to justify something that is not spoken to in the Bible or by Jesus.

The second concern being Smith's justification:

“It’s Christmastime, we should be charitable,” said Smith.

This seems to be a common misconception among progressivists. There is some thinking among this group that the use of public funds for "charitable" causes is charity.

It is not.

Using public funds raised from mandatory taxation is not charity. Using other people's money to fund causes, however noble, is not charity. There is nothing moral or charitable about it. Charity requires voluntary sacrifice out of concern for others, not mandatory confiscation for redistributive purposes.

If Smith was being charitable, he would have opened his own wallet for the $100.

Now, if you believe public funds should be used for an activity justify it through a cost-benefit analysis or arguments from political philosophy or pragmatism, but don't pretend that it is somehow noble or charitable to forcibly take money from one group of people and give it to another group of people (however charitable the latter's intentions might be).

As an additional note, One Man Committee posted on this topic, criticizing Brodbeck's editorial insinuating hypocrisy because Brodbeck once gained grant funding for a community center. This is unfair to Brodbeck, as, in the editorial, he allows for funding for community events.

He states in the article:

"A community event is something organized by a community group that provides broad benefits to the public, like a seniors group raising funds to enhance the lives of the elderly."

I'm pretty sure community club socials and block parties would fall under community events.

* For those interested in further theology: Parts of the Old Testament, as the laws of governance for the polity of Israel, did require some redistribution, in particular the year of Jubilee, a tithe to support the Levite priesthood who were not allowed to own land, and laws concerning gleanings. On the other hand, these are quite different from the redistributionism of the modern welfare state. I could have a deeper discussion on this issue, but for now it's tangential.