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Obedience to the Unenforceable

Want to challenge something? Say your concerns out loud? Make your opinion known?  Speak out?

All of these sound good to me. Speaking out can take time and can mean some messy conversation, might mean negotiation and all that other stuff we know goes on in democratic processes.

Want to subvert something which gets in your way? Want to backdoor in a change so no one will notice? Want to move so fast and subvert the process so unintended consequences happen?

Nope. Not.  Uh-uh. Nix. Nah. Nay. No way.

This week I have been thinking a lot about how much charitable and religious institutions contribute to our nation, the same institutions that are now reeling from a change in law that passed with little debate.

In the 1980s, I worked to help establish one of the first nonprofit resource centers. Working with the more than 10,000 organizations in one state, I came to realize how many things happen because people get together and voluntarily give of their time and money. I also was a student of public policy and knew that while nonprofits could do much, some things must be done through the public sector because of scale and the need for a much larger pool of resources.

In the last two years, we have seen the evisceration of that public sector. And in the nonprofit world, people were bracing for more assistance. At MDUUC, we see it as more people lack access to health care, mental health care or food.

And then, in the last days of 2017, the US Congress created a disincentive for charitable giving by raising the minimum deduction and taking away the ability of many to use it to offset contributions. Done with little public debate, snuck in without thinking of the implications.

I believe we need to lift up what this means –and in the meantime, we need to recommit to the reason we give–not for a tax incentive, though many of us will still get this because of the level we give, rather because our nonprofits and prophetic religious bodies such as our church are essential to keep allowing our democratic process to open its doors wider.

Our public sector is in trouble. We cannot afford to lose the voice of the nonprofit and religious sectors.

The price of giving has been raised — let’s pay it forward with vision.

In faith, Leslie

Rev. Leslie Takahashi serves as the Lead Minister of MDUUC. She collects degrees and has them in English, journalism, public policy and divinity and thinks about all of this way too much.

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