Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Church and the Red Cross

I promised to write a post about my aggravation with the Red Cross, but I have since decided that it is not the Red Cross that I am aggravated with.  It is the mentality of the Church.

The Red Cross does not promote Jesus Christ.  They are purposefully secular.  I have a problem with that.  The Red Cross can do whatever it wants, but so can I.  And if I choose to do disaster relief, I will be certain that the cup of cold water given out will be done in Jesus’ name.  Shouldn’t that be the focus of all Christians?

The Southern Baptists have the third largest relief agency in the United States.  You probably will not hear that on the television, but it is true.  If the Red Cross serves a hot meal, then it is most likely that a Southern Baptist volunteer cooked it.  Why aren’t Christians investing more money into such Christian organizations?

I am afraid that the answer is that Christians would rather support a secular agency than a Christian one.  If that is not the case, why do Christians give more to the secular than to the sacred?  Why should the coffers of the Church be drained to pad the pocket of a secular organization when the Christian organization can do a better job?  Why not direct those funds somewhere else?  Why not organize your Church as a shelter, if you have the means?  Why not support a Christian organization to support?

Have I been misinformed?  Is it, or is it not the policy of the Red Cross that folks not speak about “God” while working for the Red Cross?  If the answer is yes, then, thank you very much but I will find an alternate way to help the people.  If the answer is yes, then they should seriously consider changing their name to the “Red Plus”.  Also, I wonder if the Red Crescent has the same restrictions.  Somehow, I doubt that is the case.  Muslims probably would not stand such secularism.

I know that some of you out there like the Red Cross.  So why do you support it over a Christian organization?  


Anonymous said...
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Sojourner said...

Just so you know, I am deleting comments that are merely commercials. It is annoying.

Dr 4LOM said...

I think your angst here is slightly misdirected. While I agree with you that an organization that chooses a symbol like a cross should regard it's background with reverence, but don't forget that at one time people of Jewish faith used the broken cross(later bastardized as a swastika) as a symbol of crushed faith and nothing at all to do with Jesus in name. Symbols create powerful entities in our society, but I don't think that's most important here. I think what you're missing is validity. Why is it less adequate for a church to sponser relief while an organization that is less organized gets the credit? Why is it that those Red Cross folks told the church that people had to starve instead of allowing them to give the food that was cooked in the church kitchens? The answer is a lack of leadership. Put it in any frame of reference you want, but the problem is organization and direction. Recently the neo-conservative movement has drawn up funds for "faith-based initiatives". To many this would seem to be a great idea and to others the worst ever, why? Because people fear a lack of direction. While we'd love for churches to have the ability to mobilize and help the less fortunate, we're frightened they may build an army of brain washed miscreants. This is an answer to why churches struggle to raise funds while secular organizations in obvious disarray make gains. I think people have the same fears about organized religion that were around in Martin Luthor's time. As silly as it may seem to a man that belongs to such a good caring parish, many people have been burned by organized religion and have difficulty putting trust in those venues. It would be glorious if we lived in a society that respected both, but just as the media twisted the tragedy of Katrina to be about dead bodies and looting instead of the rescue effort and help needed, they've turned religion into a battleground for scandal and mistrust. We've also been very fooled by our governments by the politically liberal agendas as well. We believe that because a socialized action plan is built in Congress that it will be run by the best people available and we can see just by the top four men in FEMA that is definately not the case. The people that make a career out of helping folks, people like you Brad, are left to the wayside when decisions are made and examples are ingrained in peoples minds. Instead we hear of fools that made it to high positions for reasons unaccountable and we form a layer of mistrust. A layer of mistrust that has one backdoor, litigation. I may be entering tin foil hat region here, but I know that if I give moneys to a secular organization and it's ill spent that I can sue for my money back or at least change the people in charge of that money. If I give to a church, that money is gone. No matter what I claim, if it's they don't align with what I thought they believed or that the money didn't go where they said it would, should the money be ill spent, it's lost forever. That's not one hundred percent the truth, nor do I believe it's forefront in peoples minds, but there's a veil there that's created a myth. And the myth is a fear of donating to a church out of fear of where the money's going. What needs to be a top story in the news(we tried on Channel 19 up here btw, and they edited all of that good stuff out, grrrr) is which people are putting that money to good use so that more can be drawn. The media though also fears a backlash. Remember in the U.S. money talks. One other thing that the church will never(hopefully) have on it's side as well is advertisement. Just putting a sign up that says "give to our church" eliminates your validity as a church organization. People immediately assume that money will go in the pockets of the evangelist, and that's the media's fault too. Just check out the 700 club. I just hope you realize that regardless of the litigious graft and insurance woes, and regardless of the lack of support by Christians across the board the things that you all are able to accomplish can only be described as miracles. You've certainly touched my life in ways I can't describe and I know for a fact it was in the name of Christ. And I'm very grateful for that as well.

Sojourner said...


I think you misunderstood me. My article was not a call for everyone to give to Christian relief efforts such as the SBC or the Salvation Army. It was a call for Christians to give to such organizations.

Of course non-Christians think that we are at least a little whack, or else they would be Christians themselves. As far as Christians building up a "brain washed" citizenry, your comments seem to indicate that the government does a good job of that already. We'll leave that to them then.

My fundamental problem with the Red Cross is not lack of leadership, it is the standard policies of the organization. Others have no qualms with their secular purposes. Let the secular world give to the Red Cross. I'm not for shutting them down. I just want Christians to be more aware of their options, and I believe that Christians can flat do a better job, that they have answers to the questions that arise in disasters that no one else has, and I believe that they can point to a hope that brings joy when all other hope in this world is crushed.

Dr 4LOM said...

I see what you mean now. That's sort of why I mentioned the advertisement bit though as well. As a church, you can't exactly spend the money to run ads for even your local neighborhood. Not only is it not cost effective, but it invalidates your approach. I guess the only real answer is somehow getting people to trust their own a little more. It's an interesting dilemma, one that I wish there was a good answer to. Perhaps it still lies in a lack of trust in the organization, but I can't see that in a church like yours. I don't know. It's a rough spot to be in trying to do what you can and raise support at the same time. It's almost as if you need to spend half of your efforts on figuring out how to raise funds when that time and effort just isn't available. I'm telling you though, the reason the Red Cross is so successful at pooling those very same resources is because they have the means to ask louder. They have hundreds of celebrities and advertisements and I just don't know where a church could get those resources. Sad question for me is, and it's probably the same basic one you're asking: Why do we listen to a celebrity more than our own pastor?

Anonymous said...

I for one, will never give a thin penny to the Red Cross...for many many reasons! There are lots of other places it will be better spent. Such as yourselves!

pappy said...

It seems to me that the Church just need to make their members more aware of the "Christian" alternatives to the red cross. Red Cross does wonderful work in helping those in need, no doubt. But as believers, we should be passionate about God recieving the glory for our works instead of an non-profit orginazation or the government.

Anonymous said...

There are many christian relief organizations out there that do phenominal jobs and deserve our support,our money and our time. They can and are using the worst of situations to feed the body and the soul. Thank God for them!

In my perfect world, secular organizations would be unnecessary. But this is not a perfect world. We took care of that mess up with Adam and Eve. As unpalatable as the word "Secular" may be to some of us Christians, secular organizations such as the Red Cross are a necessary part of God's work. Skepticism of organized religion and distrust of other faiths are a fact of life.

I wonder how many would have been comfortable recieving help from a Muslim relief group on September 12. How many prisoners of war would be withheld assistance if the Red Cross was not secular. Would the Somolian rebels have surrendered the tattered remains of those American soldiers to a Christian organization?

Keep in mind all that the Red Cross does. Right now disaster relief is on everyone's mind, and its not without its problems. But a lot more goes into disaster relief then feeding and housing our neighbors in need. For instance, Texas Baptist Men are doing a teriffic job of helping out, but I wonder how many of those men recieved their First Aid and CPR training through the Red Cross? How many hurricane victims will find themselves hospitalized and in need of blood or other donated tissue collected by the Red Cross? How many workers were first inspired to serve God by the Red Cross volunteer who showed up at charred remains of their home at 2 in the morning with the keys to a hotel room and a check to help their family get back on their feet?

Could the church fill these needs, probably. But considering the massive size and structure needed to serve the entire world in this capacity, would that be the best use of limited Christian financial resources? I mean that as a question, I don't have the answer.

Remember the American Red Cross is just part of a world wide organization. In a disaster of this size Red Cross Volenteers will come from around the world, many having recently served in the Tsunami areas. Not all those folks will be Christians, but most will.

Many will see the face of Jesus for the first time wearing a Red Cross vest. God will use that to open many hearts to his word. God's next servant may be wearing a different uniform. It's my experience that God will put someone else in their path to bring them the word, when the time is right.

Be patient, we serve an AWESOME God. He will use many paths to reach people's hearts. Let's refrain from criticizing how others are called to serve him. Remember Satan will use any crack he sees in our armor. As we reflect Jesus maybe some will provide the loaves and fishes, some will provide the word and others will provide both.

God Bless you all and your work.

Anonymous said...

You have a great site and are doing incredible work. Your comments re: the Red Cross are well taken. They have become a de-facto government organization. It's up to the church to get the word out about other alternatives and I think we've done that. I see Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, etc. on the News Channels all the time. The government isn't going to help us. They will always suggest the Red Cross first. It's just the way it is.They've been doing this for 150 years or so and have a good reputation, deserved or otherwise.


centuri0n said...

Brad: you can activate word verification from your blogger dashboard to stop the annoying spammers.

centuri0n said...

Also Brad:

The Red Cross was founded by Christians for a christian purpose: relief to the downtrodden. It is odd that today it is seen as a secular institution.

I'll be the first to admit it does not have a church to which it is accountable. But to call it a strictly-secular organization is an overstatement. One of its guiding principles is to give aid without regard to the ideology or religion of the injured, but that does not forbid the volunteer from being who he or she is -- and if that happens to be Southern Baptist, good on them.