Mormons and The Morality of Utilizing Public Assistance

by Caroline

Because I’ve been thinking about the directive to not postpone families, I’ve also been thinking about the consequences of such a directive. One consequence, it seems to me, is that several young Mormon families struggle so much financially that they go on public assistance to have and support their babies.

Several years ago, I would think of these young Mormons with a lack of understanding or sympathy. I would think, ‘Why on earth did you start your family if you knew you didn’t have health insurance, if you knew you didn’t have enough money to pay for the children’s food or health care?” Being the cautious sort, I myself was not about to have babies until my late twenties, when both my husband and I had established our careers, owned a house, and had plenty of money to pay for our family.

At the time, there also seemed to me to be something slightly shameful about going on welfare. It boggled my mind that people would deliberately put themselves in a position in which they knew they would need to take advantage of such resources.

However, as I’ve grown older and grown closer with several Mormon friends who had their babies young and utilized public assistance to do so, my attitude has softened quite a bit. I’m grateful for programs that ensure the security and physical well-being of my friends and their families. I now realize that my former attitude was a product of my own privilege and my own narrow exposure to diverse ways to approach life.

But I still do have some lingering questions about Mormons and the ethics of utilizing public assistance. Is there a situation in which it is not ethical to use it? What would that situation be? And what is the Mormon leadership’s attitude about it?

A quick search on lds.org did not produce many results for the terms ‘public welfare’ or ‘public assistance.” But I did find one talk in which Marion G. Romney, (in 1980) talked about the decision in not the most flattering of terms.

“When circumstances combine to require help, it is Church doctrine that one rely upon his family for assistance. Obviously, no one should become a charge upon the public when his relatives are able to care for him.”

Other references to public assistance in General Conference and Church magazines were even more negative. The term ‘evils of a dole’ (1936) popped up a number of time in my search at lds.org, as well as references to the shame of accepting welfare from the government (1944). Interestingly, while the ‘evils of a dole’ quote comes from a 1930’s document about the establishment of the Church Welfare program, it is still quoted – though pretty rarely – in recent times. 2003 seems to be the latest.

So it appears that in the past, certain Church leaders have not looked too kindly on the idea of going on public assistance. However, the very fact that I could find almost no recent references to the topic indicate to me that perhaps GA perspectives on the matter have changed. Kids are way more expensive now. Health care is ridiculously pricey. I wonder if some GA’s understand the new reality that for many young couples to start their families, some kind of public assistance is an absolute necessity.

As for my other question about when it is or is not ethical to use public assistance, it seems clear to me that it is absolutely fine to use it when unforeseen circumstances arise that put a family in a dire situation. An unexpected pregnancy. A health problem. An unforeseen job loss.  Thank goodness public assistance is there for those situations, I say.

I am less clear, however, on the ethics of using public assistance when it is a planned thing. When a young married person says, ‘I’d like to have a baby. The prophet has told me I shouldn’t postpone children because of finances. I know we have no money, but the state will pay for the birth because our income is so low, and then we’ll qualify for food stamps after that.”

Let me be up front and say that I in no way am judging anyone who has used public assistance to have and support their families. (Unlike the me of 10 years ago.)  I am now a left of center person who believes in government programs to help the poor. But I am fascinated by the idea of so many young Mormons – most no doubt Republicans and in favor of limiting social services – deliberately choosing before the fact  to utilize these government programs to have and support babies.

I suspect that most Mormons don’t see an ethical problem in the planned decision beforehand to take advantage of these welfare resources because:

a) they see this as a short term thing – it’s not as if they’ll be on welfare forever and bilking the system

b) they see themselves as eventually becoming upstanding tax paying members of the community, so in effect, they are just getting back a small portion of what they’ll be paying in the rest of their lives

c) all the other Mormons are doing it

d) the prophet told them to not postpone their families

I would like to know how you think about the utilization of government welfare.

-Do you think there are situations when it is less than ethical to go on it?

-Have you yourself made decisions to go on welfare, and was it at all an ethical struggle for you? Why or why not?

-What is your sense of how the Mormon leadership views the utilization of public welfare nowadays?

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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75 Responses

  1. DavidH says:

    I meant to comment on the other thread, but I do not believe that there is any longer in place a “directive” not to postpone children. Certainly many leaders have taught that over the years, and Sister Beck has alluded to it again, but the official position of the Church is that the matter of timing and number of children is between the husband and wife, seeking God’s blessing.

    The most controversial talk about public assistance and LDS couples was given by President Benson at BYU. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6162 Among other things, he condemned taking of food stamps and other “unearned” benefits by LDS.

    However, I do not think this represents the position of the Church, which pretty much leaves to the individual the choice whether and when to accept public assistance. There was a time when a recipient of government assistance could not receive Church assistance, but this is no longer the case.

  2. Caroline says:

    thanks for the link, David! Very helpful.

  3. Kirsten says:

    We lived in the Boston area while my hubby went to grad school. I was home with our infant daughter and we were fortunate to have a “situation”– I cooked, did light cleaning/laundry, ran errands for a family in exchange for our basement apartment. We lived on fumes then and even after we moved to a bigger apartment when our son came along. The biggest expense was health insurance each semester. Hubby was covered, but the kids and myself were not. My parents helped us out once or twice to make the insurance payment. I never even thought of public assistance. After talking with other young families in our ward, I discovered that many of them had the state health care for those with low income. It didn’t bother me,nor did I think of signing up for it. I have always felt that public assistance was there for those in a more dire circumstance than I. My parents were able to help. Public assistance was for those without that kind of safety net. I feel that public assistance is important for those who really need it.
    We never thought of postponing children due to any financial ideal. We felt the timing was right. And even though it was tough during those school years, and we didn’t have much, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

  4. Vada says:

    I think using public assistance to have a baby is becoming more and more a necessity these days, if some families ever want to have children at all. I didn’t use Medicaid to fund any of our costs, even when we had a baby when my husband was in grad school and we were paying for everything with massive student loans, but I certainly didn’t fault anyone who did. Something like half of the pregnancies in NC at the time were paid for by Medicaid. After looking at insurance options, it was obvious to me why that was. We paid huge amounts for the school insurance (which covered pregnancies). When I looked at other insurance I realized that it was pretty much impossible to find private health insurance that covered pregnancy at all. The policies of the ones I could find were that you had to declare your intention to get pregnant, then start paying an extra 200 dollars a month or so for two years, after which you could get pregnant. If you got pregnant in those first two years when you were paying the money, the pregnancy wasn’t covered. It was ridiculous. Since fewer and fewer companies these days are offering health insurance (especially for spouses), and it’s so hard to get pregnancy coverage otherwise, I am certainly not going to judge if someone (in any stage of their life) uses public assistance to have a baby.

  5. Starfoxy says:

    MY husband and I were lucky enough to get our bachelor’s degrees at the same time. After we figured out that we would be leaving school at the same time, we went ahead and planned on my husband getting a job, and us having a baby right away. We timed it so that the baby was born about 6 weeks after graduation. We applied for Medicaid for the prenatal treatment (and every other LDS couple we knew did the same thing). By the time we actually had the baby we had a job, an apartment and health insurance. We haven’t used Medicaid or any other sort of public assistance since.
    Part of why we felt it was a good decision is because we knew we wouldn’t be using it for long, and that we already had and would continue to pay taxes to support such a program.
    Several of our peers were doing the same things.
    And I am of the opinion that medical costs should be taken care of by the community (I am in favor of universal health care). So if someone can afford to feed clothe house and care for a child then the cost of medical care, ideally should not prevent them from having kids.

  6. FoxyJ says:

    We’ve used Medicaid for myself and the kids for most of our marriage. Like someone pointed out, trying to get out-of-pocket coverage for children or for maternity coverage is pretty much impossible. Even if you can get coverage, paying for it is out of the realm of possibility for many young couples. When my husband was in graduate school, his coverage was paid for but it would have been a lot more money for me and the kids. They qualified for Medicaid and I used a state program that paid part of the premium on a sliding scale based on our income. When I was in graduate school, there was no option for dependent coverage. None. So the kids were covered by Medicaid and so was my husband. My husband recently got a good full-time position, but it’s on a contract basis and we have to provide our own benefits. So far we are paying about 15 percent of our income for coverage (right now I need maternity because I’m pregnant), and that’s just premiums. He can’t even get insurance because of a history of skin cancer. After a year of living here in this state he can join their ‘high risk pool’ and get coverage that way. If I knew I would have an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery I’d save my money and just pay out-of-pocket. Assuming I could find a doctor who would do that.

    As you can tell, I’m feeling negative about the health insurance industry in the US right now 🙂 As far as Church goes, to put it bluntly I’ve always assumed comments like the ‘evil dole’ thing were personal opinions from people who don’t really understand the current situation. Especially since this is a world-wide Church, how can they proscribe a specific amount of ‘acceptable’ government help when people live in countries with varying amounts of intervention? It makes no sense.

    As far as myself and my personal revelation, I felt that it was the right time to start a family and that we were led to receive assistance with having our children. I have no idea what other people have done or why they have made the choices they did. I figure that it’s not any of my business. I fully support the Church’s teachings on thrift and self-reliance, but also feel that health coverage is another matter altogether.

  7. Margaret says:

    I don’t have a problem with people going on welfare since I’m generally a leftist and wish that the government provided more services for families such as protected paternity leave and day-care for working parents. But I do have a problem with the hypocrisy of going on welfare and then condemning so-called ‘welfare queens’ or ‘big government socialists.’ Having gone to high school in Utah, many of my friends married young and had several children without considering finances. They are now on welfare but in talking to them they don’t seem to consider it welfare. They do not place themselves in the same category as the single moms on my street getting food stamps. There seems to be some strange disconnection there.

    There was a fascinating debate on this subject in BYU’s newspaper about a year ago. Someone wrote in to condemn those who use welfare to start families and it set off a huge and very angry debate.

    Also, the church recently reprinted another one of Marion Romney’s talks about welfare– In the March 2009 issue of the Ensign, “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance”. The article ticked me off with its subtle jabs at those who receive assistance. I found the language pretty offensive.

  8. Unpopular says:

    I just finished my three years in Wymount, and I know that my beliefs are unpopular. Perhaps, like Caroline, time will lead me to become more charitable. The internet is a harsh medium, and I truly don’t want to offend.

    -Do you think there are situations when it is less than ethical to go on it?

    Yes, I think that planning to use public assistance to have children is unethical. I believe it is there for emergencies. I also think mothers should get jobs (and fathers should work more hours) before going on public assistance. I know it can be done. Two moms in my ward traded free babysitting so they could both work part-time.

    -Have you yourself made decisions to go on welfare, and was it at all an ethical struggle for you? Why or why not?

    We thought about having a baby while in school, and decided that the wisest course of action would be to wait until we had real insurance (3.5 years married) and I finished my PhD coursework (4.5 years married). It was tempting, to see so many people in my ward receiving so much “free money” while hubby and I worked so hard.

    -What is your sense of how the Mormon leadership views the utilization of public welfare nowadays?

    I hear messages of being frugal and responsible. I don’t believe planning to use public welfare to be frugal and responsible.

  9. mmiles says:

    Caroline, If you look in the July Ensign, which was largely focused on self-reliance, you will find counsel there that people who find themselves unemployed should as a matter course:
    apply for unemployment,
    apply for whatever government assistance is available to them.

  10. Starfoxy says:

    Here’s a thought- based on what I’ve heard at church in my lifetime it would be worse to go into debt that to be ‘on the dole’ in some form.

  11. Jessawhy says:

    Caroline,
    Great post. This is an interesting discussion.

    I think the church’s silence on the issue is telling.
    I’m sure the church would rather have families on Medicaid then have to pay for private health coverage for them instead.

    The only thing I don’t find ethical about govt. aid is fraud. If you lie to get the aid then that’s wrong.
    Otherwise, planned or unplanned, if you qualify for assistance, I think you should take it. Let’s remember how ridiculously low the threshold is: appox $1600 a month for a family of 4.

  12. CatherineWO says:

    I have no problem with people using government services when there is a genuine need, particularly for medical care, when private insurance is either unavailable or the cost is prohibitive (which is the case with so many families). Often it is just a temporary situation.
    I know it is not an entirely accurate comparison, but I have to ask the question, If you are entirely opposed to any government help, does that mean that you won’t accept Social Security payments when you retire? We all pay into these programs with every paycheck we earn, with the idea that there will be help for those that need it, including ourselves and our own families.

  13. elizabeth-w says:

    I have no problem with people accessing state programs such as children’s health insurance programs, etc. If I remember correctly, I think the typical amount of time a person accesses assistance is something just around a year, although in these economic times it may be longer now.
    We believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. We also believe in being honest. If you’re honest in your application, and if you qualify for the benefit, I say use it. But, while you’re accessing the benefit, work really hard to get yourself out of that situation.
    Ethics is a tricky thing.
    I know a mother of 4 who stayed home full time while her husband worked 3 jobs and she had public assistance. My values are that she should get a job, even if that job is providing day care so she can be at home. But, others might disagree.

  14. Caroline says:

    Kirsten,
    Thanks for your story. Interesting how you felt that welfare was for people who didn’t have family who could help out. I suspect that more and more young Mormons these days would rather get money from the state than from their family.

    Vada, wow, $200 a month for 2 years before a pregnancy? That’s ridiculous. Like you said, no wonder people choose the state funded option.

    Starfoxy, sounds like your reasoning to use Medicaid falls pretty much in line with the reasoning I proposed most Mormons used.

    Foxyj, your comment reminded me of how incensed I was when I heard on NPR that women of child baring age pay WAY more – maybe twice as much? – for private health insurance policies as men of the same age. That just seems so wrong to me. Our health system is indeed seriously messed up in some ways.

    Margaret,
    “But I do have a problem with the hypocrisy of going on welfare and then condemning so-called ‘welfare queens’ or ‘big government socialists.’ Having gone to high school in Utah, many of my friends married young and had several children without considering finances. They are now on welfare but in talking to them they don’t seem to consider it welfare. They do not place themselves in the same category as the single moms on my street getting food stamps. There seems to be some strange disconnection there.”

    Great point. This is one aspect of the topic that is particularly fascinating to me – how some Mormons wrap their mind around taking welfare while voting to limit said welfare and thinking negatively of others who use it.

    Time for bed… I’ll respond more tomorrow. Thanks everyone!

  15. CoriAnton says:

    First of all, I really enjoyed reading your post.

    1- I think it is probably not ethical in the majority of cases. It’s irresponsible to demand that others pay to raise our children for us.
    2 – We’ve decided against it
    3 – It definitely seems that the stigma about it has gone away, both in society, the church, and particularly mormon culture. It’s amazing to me the number of young couples who are figuring out how to apply for gov’t assistance even before they’re married/have kids. It’s in the plan ahead of time.

    I have to say I lean to the side of not wanting the gov’t providing many services, but I have to give credit to margaret who points out the hipocrisy often involved. I’ve known so many married students at BYU with kids, on medicaid, who will go on and on about “welfare” and how much is wrong with the system, never making the connection that they’re receiving it themselves.

    I don’t have a problem with people using it when a situation arises beyond their control, but I take issue with those that think that my wife (struggling and working to help put me through grad school) should be paying taxes to pay for them to have kids instead of saving that money so that we can do the same.

    I’m basically tired of people thinking that the money coming from the gov’t is “free money” that just magically got there and is up for the grabs (and if I don’t grab it someone else will, so I might as well.)

  16. mb says:

    A while ago in our Relief Society a mother of four whose husband had gone back to school to finish his degree mentioned the fact that times were tight but that they were determined to make it without public assistance. Immediately several women piped up that it was their taxes that had paid for that public assistance and they’d certainly be really happy if she used it.
    And one of my friends spent last fall working with one of her elderly visiting teachees, helping her to sign up for and receive state aid for her heating costs. Certainly that was something I fully support.

    Thanks DavidH. for the link to the Benson address. That was interesting reading. I enjoyed going through it and identifying the principles behind the details.

    I think there’s a difference between planning ahead to depend on government assistance when, with some good work and sacrifice, you could manage to fund things on your own, and tapping into it when things unexpectedly require it. The former involves planning on getting something for nothing, a thing that, in my experience, tends to increase my selfishness and decreases my sense of capability, both of which diminish me, and may well fall into the definition of “less ethical” that Caroline asks about. So I think that needs to be taken into consideration as one considers one’s options.

    Benson’s summary of “learn the joy of work, the ability to postpone wants, and the economic independence not to be a slave to any man” sound like good general principles. The personal applications will be different for different individuals. So it behooves us, as Caroline points out, not to judge each other.

    I think it is like the principle of Sabbath day observance. It is good to act in our own lives according to the principles involved, not according to specific details of what someone else, in their personal practices, determines is okay to accept or what is not.

    Also, I notice that the biggest thing mentioned on this thread is health insurance. Certainly health insurance is a whole different ballgame now than it was in 1977, when Pres. Benson gave that speech. That’s another reason to focus on the principles, not the practices or situations. The former doesn’t change, the latter two do.

  17. Dorigen says:

    Really interesting (and tricky) questions you’ve raised. I absolutely think there are situations when it is unethical to use gov’t assistance, but aside from outright fraud I think it’s tough to judge someone else’s decision to use it.

    My husband and I have never had to use welfare, but we were both older, both finished with grad school and had jobs when we got married and even started thinking about a family. Tough to say what we would have done in different circumstances.

    I think that the general perception of gov’t (and church) welfare has definitely morphed since its inception. I would agree that the lack of recent statements about it indicate that church leaders recognize how tricky it can be for families to negotiate this.

    Having said that, the church is pretty clear in its current counsel on self-reliance. We are supposed to do what we can to take care of ourselves and provide for our own families. (I wonder if people see using welfare as part of doing that?) Then if we need help, we are supposed to turn to our families first. I’m a ward Relief Society president and I’m amazed at the number of people I’ve seen in financial trouble who refuse to ask their families for help, but have no problem asking the bishop to pay their rent. Not sure what that is.

    With the current economic situation, my stake leaders have counseled us to encourage members to make sure they take advantage of all gov’t assistance available before turning to the church for help. For instance, if you qualify for food stamps, do that before getting a food order. (Which, frankly, is going to be so much easier for you anyway.) But this is for those people who have been hit by hard times, not necessarily people who are “planning” on using assistance. As it is, I’ve become incredibly well-acquainted with local welfare resources since I got this calling. We just had a big stake RS training specifically on welfare resources available in the community.

    As one who generally favors state welfare programs and universal health care, I’m not overly troubled by young couples using Medicaid and WIC to start their families. But I am REALLY bugged by the hypocrisy of those same people complaining about everyone else abusing the system, as Margaret pointed out. There are so many people who complain about big government handouts, but are perfectly willing to take them.

  18. Rick says:

    It is definitely an ethical struggle that we dealt with when we started our family. Our financial situation is tight because we were in school. For me, that makes it seem more ethical. I believe one purpose of public welfare is to help people establish themselves through education. That is good for society. So I didn’t feel too badly about accepting welfare while in school. I wasn’t going to delay my family until after my phd because then we’d be too old to have much of a family (and I think good parents raising good kids is ALSO a good thing for society). So we felt it was okay in our case.

    I would feel differently if I was already in my career, and simply did not make enough of a living to support my children. Then I would feel that we shouldn’t have any more children if it meant we’d be permanently needing welfare.

  19. We have a broken health care system and we should fix it. I’m guessing that there are very few Mormon families who can say that they’ve never benefited from pell grants, government subsidized school loans, veterans benefits, the former AFDC (now TANF), social security benefits such as skilled nursing care coverage of the last resort, the WIC program,Free or Reduced Cost School Lunches or State Health programs of some sort.

    It’s time for Mormons as well as others to get educated about how the system is currently working and then engage candidly in a conversation about what can be done to fix the problems in the system which are legion. This means supporting the current effort to try to fix the health care system before it entirely implodes.

  20. Emily U says:

    Excellent post, Caroline. I feel that this issue is the elephant in the room when the topic of postponing families comes up.

    I don’t really have a problem with people using public assistance because I’m in favor of universal health care, and as Jessawhy mentioned, you have to make so very little money to qualify, that I don’t begrudge poor people using it. I think the reasons you give are the rationalizations people use for having babies on Medicaid – I’ve heard people give those very reasons.

    What burns me up is people who I know are conservative Republicans, rage against “big government” and resent “welfare moms,” but don’t mind using welfare themselves. Or, for instance, a relative of mine who rants against “socialized medicine” when half his grandchildren were born on Medicaid and raised on WIC.

  21. mraynes says:

    I used medicaid to cover my first pregnancy. We had no intention of using government insurance when I got pregnant but then my BYU health insurance refused to cover my pregnancy.

    I think if a church-sponsered company can refuse medical coverage that I had paid for and should have been covered under, then they don’t have a leg to stand on in the ethics department.

  22. Rick in Nashville says:

    If one applies the 5/4/07 statement concerning doctrine, http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine
    most attempts to label the use of public assistance/welfare as unethical, immoral or even doctrinal, fall flat on their faces. Assuming that one who is not receiving benefits as a lifestyle or by fraud, they are also hypocritical.

    Many, if not all, who criticize people who utilize these programs, have no problem rationalizing their own use of government programs such as social security, medicare, pell grants, student loans, etc. BYU does accept tuition paid with pell grants and subsidized student loans and where is the moral indignation about tax payer funded dollars over that?

    Unemployment insurance is insurance partially paid for by an individual’s payroll taxes. You qualify for benefits directly based on what one has paid in during the previous couple of years.
    Other benefit programs such as food stamps are income based and are not given to those who have sufficient income and assets, unlike social security.

    I didn’t postpone children and had five by the time I was thirty. I had to prostitute myself to an evil Fortune 300 corporation for 14 years to do so. In addition, I sacrificed my education and made sure my spouse got her BSN. My cousin and his wife both got masters, great careers, the mansion, etc, and didn’t have a child until forty. I’m sure he and his wife will be able to afford couple’s mission and such before I will. His choices have not negatively affected his calling into priesthood leadership positions. In retrospect, which one of us made the right decision?

    I imagine I’ve paid more to support these programs than I will receive back from them. Assuming it’s not a lifestyle or done fraudulently, it’s none of my business what other folks in my ward do. If I want to condemn other church members for ethical lapses, there is plenty of fertile territory to choose from in the population that condemns those discussed in this blog.

  23. madhousewife says:

    It’s interesting to me that so many people found it impossible to get private insurance coverage that covered pregnancy and childbirth. I didn’t have any such problem, but then, that was 10 years ago in California. (Trying to get individual insurance for a pre-existing condition, on the other hand, is in fact impossible.)

    I think people should avoid using public assistance if they can, but I agree that it is really only unethical if it is used fraudulently.

    Interestingly, my husband and I had three children while he was still in school, and we never did use public assistance (nor were our parents supporting us), but people still tsk-tsked us for our irresponsibility, having all these children that we couldn’t possibly afford.

  24. S.L says:

    Just wanted to point out that many of my (conservative, Republican) friends in my ward (currently living in Wymount) who are on Medicaid are not at all anti welfare. At least in my experience, my peers are well aware they are realizing welfare assistance of whatever form, and that has changed their tune entirely. A lot of them are republican because of single issue stuff like abortion and SSM, etc, but many of them are quite sympathetic to typically Democratic social programs like food assistance, WIC, etc. And all of them talk about how they want to get off benefits ASAP, and most are actively working out plans to do so. I’m seeing much less of a libertarian bent among them then I did among my parents generation (E.T. Benson’s era).

    So maybe the tune is changing?

    There are situations where it is unethical to recieve public support. I believe MOST of the young mormon families like myself and my friends are trying to make those decisions likely. I have met one family who does what they can to exploit the system, and it is frustrating and disturbing to see.

    My husband is a PhD student at BYU. I’m working part time and staying at home with my ten month old. So far, we’re making ends meet, BUT our BYU health insurance monthly payment will be 800 a month. No way in hell will be able to pay that (rent is 650). A little perspective. You can see why my neighbors are going with medicaid so often.

  25. S.L says:

    yikes, should’ve edited.
    “I believe MOST of the young mormon families like myself and my friends are NOT trying to make those decisions lightly”

  26. E.D. says:

    The theme of the comments seems to be ethics. If you absolutely need help, then you should get it. No one wants you to starve or be homeless and, as it has been noted, you will eventually be paying back into the system. The people whom we resent being on welfare are those who are making it a way of living. They burden and drain the system so that those who really need help are not able to get it, or end up being painted with the same brush used to paint the leeches of the system. So, the comments seem to show a number of people with ethics and integrity who, while using the system, were making plans to get out of the system and then pay back the system.

    My biggest problem with the government system of services is that they take – I don’t give. When I give to the church through fast offerings or humanitarian aid, I do it voluntarily, through my own choice, while making it a part of my monthly budget. The government offers me no choices of the services I will fund and a large quantity of the money they take from taxpayers covers their building operations and employees who oversee the services and disburse the welfare. I’d rather give to the church or a non-profit organization who has little to no overhead and can use more of the money to help those in need. And, if I can give directly to someone in need, that’s even better.

    I do tend to lean libertarian and hate anyone, especially the government, making choices for me and my money. I’m very capable of helping the poor without mandatory intervention.

  27. ZD Eve says:

    Just this month I received a bill for over $300 for my daughter’s six-month vaccinations. We have insurance–or, as I like to put it, “insurance”–but they are refusing to cover shots and well-baby checkups. And as so many have noted, getting pregnancy covered–even “covered”–is often difficult, or impossible. I’ve known insured people who pay the thousands of dollars to have a child that the _un_insured paid out of pocket for a pregnancy twenty years ago.

    I realize that providing for, raising, feeding, clothing, caring for and educating my children is my and my husband’s responsibility. That said, I also think society should provide a certain level of support for the parenting enterprise, since it will not continue to exist unless it produces the next generation. Part of that support, in my view, includes affordable health care. This doesn’t seem to exist for many people. The insured are the new under-insured, and the under-insured are the new uninsured.

    All of that’s a longwinded way of saying that I would never bat an eye at anyone using public assistance to pay for health care, especially. I do understand the concerns about people who start their families before they can afford to pay for everything themselves, but at the same time the economy and health care have changed so drastically in the last couple of generations that it’s just no longer possible for most people to start having kids when they once did AND pay for everything themselves. And of course we never know the entirety of others’ circumstances. They may have planned to wait and been surprised by a pregnancy, for example.

    Especially in this economy, I consider it a matter of sheer luck that my husband and I have never had to use public assistance. Our circumstances, like everyone’s, could change any day.

    I’d share others’ reservations about those who use public assistance and criticize it but to be fair I’ve never heard anyone criticizing it who (to my knowledge) was on it. Maybe I was in a different world during my BYU years.

  28. Maria says:

    This is a great discussion. My husband spent some time working for a county in Idaho. He worked with the county commissioners, all of whom were LDS and in leadership positions in their wards. He encountered many individuals applying for aid through the county. Interestingly, in order to receive the aid, those in need had to submit a detailed description of all of their spending. They basically had to promise to to spend on anything charitable or superfluous while receiving aid, tithing to the Church fell in this category. The commissioners really struggled with giving counsel and help to LDS applicants who needed the aid but had to stop paying their tithing in order to get it. And, that made it harder for these individuals to go to their bishops and ask for help, when they weren’t paying tithing and exhibiting ‘faith’ in the first place. What is a bishop to do? Tell his ward members to keep paying tithing and refuse the aid, the ward will step in and help? Or, take whatever the government is giving, the Lord will forgive the unpaid tithing?

  29. anonymous says:

    My conservative-leaning husband refused to let us get any governmental help during our lean student years. He said that if we really needed it, we’d go to the church for help.

    After a few weeks of my skipping meals (due to no grocery money) and watering down the kids’ milk & apple juice to stretch it further, I went and applied for WIC without telling my husband first. The milk, carrots & peanut butter were so heavenly.

  30. jenna says:

    I have a sister in law who wrote a long rant on her blog about how evil universal healthcare was and how welfare was destroying our society. Meanwhile, she was using Medicaid to pay for her pregnancy and birth. Ugh.

    I wasn’t completely comfortable with other people during school who would use foodstamps and other government assistance during school instead of trying to find jobs. I mean, we did get Pell Grants and subsidized loans, but we mostly supported ourselves by working our tails off. I’m not the most sympathetic persons sometimes and usually think, “Jeez, if I did it, why can’t you?” It really bothered me when moms would drop out of school because they got pregnant. I had a baby in the middle of my Junior year (not planned), but there was no way I was going to let that stop me. I know too many moms who have never gone back and finished. That doesn’t have anything to do with this except that I’m not good at putting myself in other people’s shoes.

    So yeah, I don’t really agree with using welfare unless you absolutely have to, but I have to remember that I don’t understand other people’s situations. However, I have known student couples who were leasing Escalades and getting food stamps as well, and I have a really hard time understanding how that can be ethical.

  31. ZD Eve says:

    Anonymous, your story reminds me of something my MIL once told me about the early years of her marriage. My FIL worked for CES as a seminary teacher and made so little that they qualified for food stamps, but at the time CES forbade its employees from using them. Hopefully both salaries and policies are more generous now, although from what I understand it’s still very difficult to support a family on a CES salary.

  32. Caroline says:

    Everyone, thanks so much for your comments. I’ve read them all with great interest, and I’m sorry I can’t respond to every single one of you. (Turns out I’m going to Sunstone – driving all night. So I don’t know when/if I’ll get a chance to respond more later.)

  33. cyril says:

    Isn’t all this hating on the WIC recipients who simultaneously decry welfare abuse a little like hating on the drug addict who decries drug abuse? A user can still be a valid critic, even while being a stunning hypocrite. Indeed, it appears these casual users are the best evidence of failure of the system. They prove Benson’s points precisely.
    For me, I think the law is fairly clear and the rationalizations fairly weak. No one is entitled to pursue an M.D., J.D., Ph.D., correct? Why then would they be entitled to pursue such degrees and have several small children at the same time? Makes little sense to me.

  34. kristine N says:

    Getting on welfare (whether that means medicaid, housing assistance, or food stamps) is heavily encouraged in my neck of the woods, especially at church. I get the impression a lot of people recognize providing a reasonable standard of living for their children is worth any possible embarrassment. Actually, I believe there’s a guy in my ward who studies welfare and welfare users and according to him the majority of welfare users are just like the grad students with whom I interact at church–people who are in a tough financial situation, usually because of school, that is temporary. Using welfare allows them to pursue educational opportunities that would otherwise present a severe hardship to them and their families.

  35. Stephanie says:

    I think that a lot of times, these types of conversations go all or nothing. Either all government services/entitlements are good or all are bad. You either have to want single-layer universal healthcare or want the government completely out of your life.

    For me, government serves a useful purpose, but we need to keep it in check. With regard to entitlements, I think the gov’t has two main responsibilities: create equal opportunity and serve as a safety net. To that end, I support public schools, pel grants, student loans – things that provide equal opportunity to all to succeed if they want to. I also support limited food stamps, unemployment, etc. as a safety net, but a safety net is just that – something you turn to in an emergency when all other resources are exhausted.

    To answer your questions:
    1. Yes, I do think there are situations when it is less than ethical to use safety net services. I think that planning to start and raise a family on taxpayer money is one of those situations.

    2. We had three children while my husband was in graduate school. We paid for private insurance through the school and took out a boatload of student loans we are paying back over a 30 year period (even though we lived on a very tight budget). We qualified for food stamps, but I didn’t feel it was someone else’s responsibility to feed my kids if I could feed them myself. I chose to stay at home. I could have chosen to work or postpone having kids. So, taking out student loans seemed the most self-reliant thing to do.

    I was surrounded by other LDS couples who were using food stamps, Medicaid, etc. to get through school. It would irk me to see them using WIC to feed their kids while shopping at GAP.

    3. I really don’t think that Mormon leadership views the utilization of public welfare much differently now. I thik that if they did, Marion Romney’s article wouldn’t have been printed recently, and we would have different counsel over the pulpit.

    I am not going to begrudge people who use government services because they find themselves in a tight spot. But, I have a hard time figuring out why some Mormons think that the command to “multiply and replenish the earth” and not postpone having families “entitles” us to start those families using the money of others.

  36. Moniker Challenged says:

    It’s like we’ve been commanded to start a fire in a swimming pool. If I just had enough faith… Seriously though, I haven’t ever met anyone within my Utah/Idaho contacts and age group (35 on down)who hasn’t utilized public assistance (and family assistance) to fund their young family. I’d love to hear from anyone who has juggled education, early childbearing, and self-sufficiency successfully. Anyhoo, judging by the continued urge to procreate early and often (at least indirectly), I’m led to conclude that either Church leaders don’t worry much about self-sufficiency when it comes to young people, or they are completely oblivious to the conflict in advice and how people are handling it (generally by ignoring half). I’m welcoming other ideas here.

  37. Moniker Challenged says:

    That would be the admonition to procreate I was referring to as being indirect at times. I wasn’t suggestion that we’ve been encouraged to procreate indirectly (sperm donation?)- I think that’s frowned upon, unless adoption counts.

  38. cyril says:

    Moniker,
    Maybe that explains why the bankruptcy rate is so high in Utah. If your anecdotal evidence is true (which is kind of shocking to me if it is), then maybe the dole starts early and often, thereby creating a culture of dependency that crashes into eventual bankruptcy.

  39. cyril says:

    Also – admonition and counsel do not justify or equal entitlement , though I understand and am sympathetic to your fire in a swimming pool argument.

  40. Craig M. says:

    Related ethics question:
    Is it ethical to go to the church for welfare assistance in a country where the government already has a program for such assistance?

    Members in the United States and other countries with social welfare programs could be seen as draining the church’s welfare funds which could otherwise go to more needy countries.

  41. Cameron says:

    My wife became unexpectedly pregnant during a small gap of her insurance coverage. We reluctantly signed up for medicaid, etc. Then she miscarried. When she got her new insurance ($100 a month – who can’t pay for that unless their disabled or lazy?) we got pregnant again, and were so glad that our insurance was paying for it. Like some have mentioned, I feel very strongly that if you’re against the nanny state, you should do your best to take care of yourself. I saw it as a matter of principle, and that doing otherwise would be hypocritical.

    Our life insurance counselor (LDS) asked us why we weren’t on Medicaid and Baby your Baby, saying that we paid taxes. I didn’t bother going on a rant, I just politely insisted that we wouldn’t do it.

    Now, we are both unemployed and I have a few job prospects and she’s due in a month. That’s okay. I’m doing my best, and if we need money, maybe we’ll ask our parents if it gets bad enough, but I don’t think it is moral to go on welfare casually and for convenience.

  42. Mike says:

    I am sure of the dilema here. It would appear to me that if you follow church doctrine, that this is a mute question. By the time children come into your lives you will have an education and most likely be prepared emotionally and financially. I am a convert, but one thing I have experienced is in the law of paying tithing, it just seems to me as long as I pay my tithing, well the Lord makes sure I dont go without. So you see, if I follow church teachings and pay my tithing, this is a dilema that will not appear and this becomes a mute question.

  43. Jana says:

    Cameron,
    You wrote:
    Then she miscarried. When she got her new insurance ($100 a month – who can’t pay for that unless their disabled or lazy?) [sic]
    My response is that you are very lucky that her insurance cost only $100/mo. I’m not lazy, but I am disabled and I because I’m also a cancer survivor with expensive ongoing health needs, no private insurance carrier will cover me. While I think it’s wonderful that healthy people can so easily get cheap health insurance, those of us who desperately need it are typically not so fortunate.

  44. Starfoxy says:

    A few people have mentioned the idea of going to family first. While I agree that this would be ideal, I can understand why some people are reluctant to approach their family members for financial help.
    The biggest thing is that the bishop’s storehouse, or the DES doesn’t have the sort of memory that family members can have. Asking a parent or other relative to help with rent for a month or two can turn into years of emotional blackmail even in seemingly emotionally healthy families.

  45. Anonthistime says:

    I really struggle with the family issue. I have several family members (ranging from grandparent to parent to uncles/aunts) who are not self-reliant. They seem to have no problem living off of other people on a consistent basis (YEARS). I struggle with what my responsibility as their family member is. On the one hand, I feel that I am counseled to help family members in need. On the other hand, they seem to have no desire to really help themselves, and they would suck my children’s futures away if they could. So, I try to help in areas that help them to be more self-reliant (paying for tuition so they can further their education) or true emergencies (but there are “emergencies” every week – that’s what happens when you don’t do things like maintenance on your car. It breaks down on the side of the road and costs thousands of dollars to repair).

    It then makes me feel guilty that they are going to the church for help, but I don’t think that just because we are blood-related means that I have to let them suck our finances dry and leave us destitute.

    To my knowledge, none of them use much (or any) public assistance because that would be “bad”, but living as a dole off their family and church seems OK.

  46. D'Arcy says:

    Caroline,

    Thank you for this great post that addresses such an important topic. I fear my brain is a bit tired, and I haven’t really ever had to have experience with this. I’ve received my education and always been able to afford my own health care, etc. And I don’t have children.

    however, I look at several friends who took the opposite paths than I did, married young, had babies, are on various forms of welfare and why I never thought it was a good, these friends are some of the absolute best parents I know and I can’t imagine them not having their many children and not having their families.

    It was so good to see you, by the way!

  47. Peggy Sasha says:

    To answer your question about how the Mormon leadership views public welfare currently, I went to the lds.org website and looked under alphabetical topics and brought up welfare. There were at least 10 different talks listed there with names such as “Becoming Self-Reliant” and “In the Lord’s Own Way”—-all of them teaching the same principles of self-reliance, family and church assistance that has been taught in the church since the beginning. Here is a quote from one
    The Lord’s “own way” includes, first, reliance on self, then on the family. As parents care for their children, they, in turn, may reciprocate when parents become less able. Family pride promotes solicitude for each member, taking priority over other assistance.

    If one’s family can’t help, the Lord’s “own way” includes the Church organization. The bishop is assisted by priesthood quorums and good sisters of the Relief Society, organized to look “to the wants of the poor, searching after objects of charity and … administering to their wants.”
    So the teachings of the prophets and the church have not changed; they are the same as they always were on this issue. The people, however, have changed and what we are seeing now is a response to the change in the people–not the correct principles always taught.

  48. FoxyJ says:

    I agree that the principles have not changed; however, how we apply those principles can change. We currently need about 700 a month to pay for our insurance premiums for our family (I’m pregnant, we have two children, my husband has had skin cancer). We’ve tried family; my husband’s mother is disabled and no longer working. My parents are also not in a financial position to help us out with this. If I were to go to the church for help, as is “the Lord’s way”, my bishop would probably send me to the state because it is a longer-term need. I guess when we are talking about ‘welfare’ the question is often muddied by what we are talking about exactly. Short-term crisis, medical bills/insurance, housing assistance, unemployment, disability, etc. There are many needs and my experience is that the church welfare system is only able to meet some of them because it is only set up for certain, specific needs.

  49. Anonthistime2 says:

    I have quite a bit of anger and confusion about this bc the LDS part of my family are EzraTaftBenson-Bircher-Birther-Truther-Deathers are the only ones who have relied on public assistance. They go on and on about “those people” (basically members of minority groups) using “their” money, and yet they have used public assistance, incl. AFDC, food stamps and subsidized housing at various times. I believe in socializing many of the costs of raising families. I ardently support public schools. I believe that medical outcome should not depend on the wealth of the patient. I believe that children should have food, clothing and shelter as a matter of right. I just wish that when my LDS relatives accuse me of being a “threat” to their “liberty” and responsible for the “unredressed genocide of the Saints” because of my liberal politics they would just remember that they have used the same services which they would deny others.

  50. Steve M says:

    I tend to believe that public assistance funds are not intended for those who, within a few years’ time, will be within the 95th percentile of wage-earners. And so, if someone is currently attending a prestigious professional program and will be making over $100K per year upon graduation, I generally would not encourage early child-bearing if it means going on public assistance.

    But pregnancy and/or deficits in personal finances are not always planned or even foreseeable. Therefore, I think that public assistance provides an important safety net of which young couples may sometimes have to avail themselves–even if they will be making plenty of money in a year or two.

    I also find reliance on public assistance less objectionable if the couple actually supports the program later in life, and votes accordingly. What bothers me is when those same couples who relied on public funds to raise their young children later condemn, and vote against, social welfare programs. It strikes me as incredibly hypocritical.

  51. Kelly Ann says:

    Thank you for this thought-provoking thread Caroline!

    As a kid, I never thought of our family as poor. However, when I realized that a family we knew that received food through a non-profit (probably in addition to government assistance) ate better than us, I asked my mom why we didn’t. We had the essentials and she was proud of her independence.

    I can see the ethical use of such programs (we did have church assistance for a time). However, what appalled me was to realize that another acquaintance milked the government for all she could. She didn’t get married so she could have welfare. That made me sick.

    Now, as I know quite a few young Mormon couples using public assistance, I don’t really worry about it. They will be contributing members of society. And even if they are not, it is not my place to judge.

    However, the most common use I see is of Medicaid (not food stamps). This really just makes me wish we had some type of universal healthcare system.

    Putting the young families aside, I am absolutely appalled by the number of singles I know who are uninsured. It quite frankly scares me. Sometimes their families absorbs the costs, sometimes the church, and sometimes they acquire massive quantities of debt. I think the government should do more in this matter.

    • Russ says:

      The LDS Church position in 1977.

      Occasionally, we receive questions as to the propriety of Church members receiving government assistance instead of Church assistance. Let me restate what is a fundamental principle. Individuals, to the extent possible, should provide for their own needs. Where the individual is unable to care for himself, his family should assist. Where the family is not able to provide, the Church should render assistance, not the government. We accept the basic principle that “though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.”

      Latter-day Saints should not receive unearned welfare assistance from local or national agencies. This includes food stamps. Priesthood and Relief Society leaders should urge members to accept the Church welfare program and earn through the program that which they need, even though they may receive less food and money. By doing so, members will be spiritually strengthened, and they will maintain their dignity and self-respect.

      —- so I would say avoid taking something from others through government force.

  52. BoJ says:

    Thought it might help to a different quote, this time from the Ensign. I think the Church’s position is clearer than some might think, when you look at the many prophets opposing government welfare as a primary means. http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=52ce1f26d596b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

  53. Tom says:

    I am way way late to this blog, but this topic is on my mind lately and I found your blog googling “Mormons & Medicaid”. My biggest problem with this whole issue is what many below point out and has come up so much lately with health care reform. People accept assistance to children and plan to do it, then condone others and decry socialism etc. Blows my mind. One final BIG questions. Does the very high cost of maternity health care push people (on purpose?) to use Medicaid? I don’t see how it could be so expensive and be in line with the idea of having kids right away. Very odd if you ask me.

  54. Single Mom says:

    I can’t say I know much about your religion. However, from what little I’ve read, it seems you basically stem from Christianity and do recognize Jesus as God’s Son. In saying that, I’m left utterly confused.

    There are numerous situations in which individuals live rather “apart from God” during portions of their lives. During those times, basically, things happen. For instance, I am a single mother of two wonderful children. I do not have a college degree and cannot get one until I pay off student loans from a previous attempt to attend college. Yes, I attended and did not finish. My children were young and things were just too rough. Some of you may think yourselves more righteous than someone like me, but such is life. None are perfect. We all make unwise decisions at some point in life. As the Word says, all have fallen short of the glory of God.

    Not then, I do not receive any child support. Frankly, I’ve chosen not to pursue it because of the type of person the father is. I fear visitation rights when he’s in and out of jail on a regular basis, has been brought up on rape charges, etc. I’d rather live in extremely poor conditions than have him left alone with my children. I love them and would die in order to see their protection. Honestly, I don’t much trust our justice system in terms of “parental rights.” He doesn’t bother to come see them, which shows a lot to me as a mother.

    At any rate, I work at a minimum wage job, earning around $7.65 an hour, part time. Note that it’s near impossible to get full time at this job because hours have been cut drastically. I bring home around $850 to $900 per month as income. We live in government housing because there is no way I can afford anything better. My children receive TennCare, though I have absolutely no insurance myself. Yes, we also receive Food Stamps as I could not fully feed my children alone. I have a mother who helps us out as much as she can. However, she also works in a low paying job and barely makes it herself.

    I am in debt including student loans and medical bills. About the only way I could ever get them paid off is to do it at tax return times and even then it will take a few years.

    I agree that I’ve made some absolutely horrible decisions in the past. Now that I am a believer in Christ, I also know that I am much better off.

    You who don’t agree with individuals partaking in govenrment assistance, answer this question:

    Should my children starve because I make poor decisions while lost? Should we all be without a roof over our heads? Should my children suffer medical illnesses for lack of insurance?

    I’m not sure what your Mormon faith teaches you in terms of helping the poor, but I know what mine tells me.

    We are a fallible people and often “make our own beds.” The difference is in the hope that in the end, we will see how we went wrong and work to improve. In my case, I don’t see my family coming off of government assistance for a very long time (at least, until after the children are grown) simply because I could never find a better paying job while without a college education. It is humiliating and I hate it with an undying passion. Though, I find myself eternally grateful because this is how God has chosen to provide for us at this point in time.

    What bothered me most about this whole issue was the fact that people who follow Jesus are complaining about their tax dollars going to the needy. You may not agree with the idea that some are misusing those funds, but you would allow a few bad apples to harden your heart against those who are truly working and doing their best?

    That reminds me of hearing folks state that they refuse to consider Christ because of the hypocrites in the Church. There are -always- going to be those who abuse any and every thing. Turning your back to a much-needed thing is akin to general stereotyping.

    It’s just extremely disheartening to see how fellow believers view certain things.

    My Bible tells me this:

    Concerning the young man who wished to have eternal life.
    Matthew 19:21
    Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

    Matthew 23:14
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

    Matthew 25: 34 – 40
    34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

    38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

    39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

    40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

    Not everyone is able, or even meant, to attend college and possess the ability to make a wealthy life for themselves. Jesus spoke highly of the poor many times in scripture. This alone leads me to believe that though we will suffer in this life, we are truly blessed. We may be frowned upon and others may turn their noses up at us, but we can hold tight to the fact that our Savior loves us.

    I may never climb the social ladder here on Earth or become one of the prestiged. Yet, my true wealth lies within my Lord, Jesus.

  55. Ashley says:

    Single mom,

    I just read your post, and just wanted to clarify a few things. I don’t think that people are saying that people in need shouldn’t have help provided them. In fact, I am a Mormon and can personally testify that giving aid and service to others as Jesus did is one of our main beliefs.

    With that said, I think people are saying that there are two options if you do not have funds available at the time:
    1) Have kids now, knowing that you will have to be on government assistance
    2) Don’t have kids now, but wait a few years until you have finished school, or built up a financial reserve, or something else in order to pay for your own children and not have to be on government assistance.

    I completely agree with you Single Mom that it is great that there are government programs available to help you in your struggling time. And no, I do not judge you, and I think it is great that you have a testimony of Jesus Christ and obviously have studied the life of Jesus and try to be more like him. I also think it is great that you try to recognize the qualities of Jesus in others. On this, it is so great that in your hard circumstance that you can be blessed with government assistance. I hope that things work out well for you in the future.

    I think that this article is talking mostly about PLANNED use of government assistance, even though postponing having children for a few years would mean that these people would not have to be on government assistance and those funds could go to people like you who are in very difficult circumstances and are in definite need of that.

    Personally, I am a recently married LDS woman, and I am in this exact dilemma. I feel like the gospel, the plan of Salvation, and others are encouraging me to not postpone having children, but I feel like I don’t really know what that means. I do not know if this means “don’t postpone having children unless it will make you go into debt or on government assistance” or if this means don’t postpone having children at all?

    My husband and I have been discussing this a lot recently, and will be praying about it over the next little while to figure out together with God what we should do. I know that ultimately this is what will make my decision. I have ethical issues with planning on using government welfare (when I wouldn’t have to if I waited a few years to have children), but if I feel that the Lord is telling me that it is time to have children right now, I will. That is the bottom line. I will do what I feel God is telling me to do. If that means having children now while my husband is still in school, then that is what I will do. People may judge me for that, and think I am using the system. Honestly if God did not tell me that having a child now is what I need to do, then I will wait until I have gained more financial stability.

    BUT, if I feel that God is telling me to have children now, I will, even if it requires some government assistance. I don’t care if people judge me for that. I will do what God tells me to do no matter what. I care more about what he things than about what those around me think, and I will always strive to follow his will and his path for me.

    So, I will pray about it with my husband. Together, with God, we will decide what to do. It may not be the most ethical thing, but whatever God says is what will happen.

    Single Mom, I hope this gives you a clearer view on the topic, and on Mormons. I know that God is happy that you now believe in Jesus Christ, and I know that you are someone who is just striving to do your best and provide for your family. In my opinion, there is no shame in being on government assistance in your situation. I am grateful that there are programs available to help you and your family. I wish you and your family the best.

  56. Rose mullen says:

    I think it is wrong for any person to choose a lifestyle that they know they can not afford. It is irresponsible. Why should my hard work pay for their irresponsible decisions. If they can not pay they should not play.
    Why would the rules not apply to them? What would happen if everyone were like them and just decided to let the cards fall where they may and just go on welfare. Who would then pay for all of us?

    • Alison says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly on the matter Rose. There are people out there who NEED welfare, like Single Mom. Young LDS couples who CHOOSE to have a child when they cannot afford it are being irresponsible and no different than others who abuse the system. I have been working for 2.5 years since I have graduated college and have since watched my taxes increase as I have gained more experience and thus made more money. Some of those tax dollars go to help those who are on welfare, which under normal circumstances I understand. However, I have a serious issue with paying for people who are PLANNING on having children when they can’t afford it- why should my hard earned money go towards someone who is making a CHOICE to go on welfare. How is that fair to tax payers and people that actually need welfare due to circumstances out of their control? Misuse of welfare only gives people a bad taste about the entire program so why should these otherwise morally upstanding, young individuals contribute to that? I understand that at some point these young families will get on their feet and most likely contribute to the system, but why is it right for them to use it like their own ATM to afford the child they decided to have? How is using others for your own personal gain Christian? Just to clarify, I am not a member of the LDS church nor am I married but I am a Christian. I also have just begun filing my tax return and am frustrated by those who abuse the system. I mean no disrespect to anyone by my comments, but there is a BIG difference between planned and unplanned situations. I think there are definitely circumstances where welfare is necessary, I just don’t think supporting young mormons who decide to have children when they can’t afford them is one of them.

    • Diane says:

      Rose, I paid for your freedom with my blood, sweat, tears. I got injured and am disabled. Sent to live in the same streets I swore to defend. Now I have to live on government assistance, as most bishops ignore the needs of the veterans in their wards, and you think to call disabled people irresponsible. It seems to me that you are very ungrateful and unappreciative of your freedom.

  57. Welfare says:

    I don’t have much to say concerning this matter because I feel like I am one of the only ones who has had two unplanned children. We didnt have maternity insurance because we weren’t planning on having children. In these circumstances, we have had the choice of paying anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 per baby out of pocket which we do not have, or sign up for medicaid. We have taken ourselves off of Foodstamps because I feel that is a choice we do have. Medicaid is not. Have a newborn sent to the ICU would sink us. But Foodstamps is a cherry on top, which we used for a year but then got rid of it because we felt it was irresponsible. I know our Savior will be our judge and would feel honest saying to Him, “We used Medicaid to pay for our first two children, but we did not abuse the benefits given to us.” Starting a family is work. Really, really hard work that makes me exhausted almost everyday. My son demands my wife’s time and energy, who is pregnant again, and I often come home to two exhausted people. I love them and do my best. I am grateful for a financial way to hold us over until I am done with dental school, but it will be a freeing day when we get off.

    • Mormon GOP says:

      As a tax payer and a liberal democrat from the northeast I find it a little contradictory that Mormon couples and extended families plan on utilizing welfare. It wasn’t set up to play host to a particular set of religious values about procreation. It was set up to help disadvantaged peoples in the event they find themselves in an untenable situation.

      And yet, I guess the hypocrisy of it all. For the Mormon faith to espouse republican candidates with republican values, except when you need “socialism” from the government. Romney lashes out at the welfare state, 47%, the makers and the takers. And yet all along you have a preponderance of Mormon women specifically planning on going on welfare to enlarge their personal families while at the same time voting predominantly republican.

      It floors me. I guess those are real republican values. Paul Ryan was on welfare as a young man with his mother and siblings and yet he stands tall as a defender of the constitution, democracy, capitalism and the destruction of Medicaid and Social Security. What kind of values are those; “I’ve got mine, so forget the rest…”

  58. BAFFLED says:

    If all Americans lived on the take first give back later if you can then what would happen to our wonderful nation? What happens when a family never is able to give back? Deficiency of funds for the nation!!!!! Quiet frankly I do not feel that any person should be provided government public assistance purely on religious grounds.(because you worship a particular faith) If ones faith has requirements for their faithful not to work and participate in the American Capitalistic System upon adulthood then that particular religious organization should be required to take of it’s parishioners without the aid of the federal and state governments.

  59. Kat says:

    I am appalled by the amount of young mormons abusing government assistance programs. I can not believe this behavior is condoned. I am not Mormon anymore and I can not believe that my taxes are subsidizing all of these families and to boot paying their tithing. How can the church accept tithing from people on government assistance. Disgusting!

  60. aaron says:

    Being ethical in an unethical situation. The government takes from you by force to give to others regardless of how you feel or believe. While at the same time requiring you to have insurance that they deem appropriate. That insurance continues to cost more and cover less. This is because insurance company lobbyist wrote the laws to suit there interest not yours. This will only continue to get worse. As with all ethical questions people are on all ends of the spectrum while both in the same religion, family ect. The root of this problem is that the Government restricts the free market from taking place in the health care industry. If the government would get out of the way competition would increase cost would go down and people would have many more choices for their individual circumstances.

    • Kat says:

      Yes I do believe in less government and free market but that is not what is happening. Yes the government is stealing from us but that does not morally obligate people to abuse the system. These young people are not stealing from the government they are stealing from taxes payers. Welfare is not a system that you use now because one day you will pay your share. I just have a hard time finding it ethical for a church that touts itself on self reliance to condone and continue to coerce young people into having kids on welfare. It my not be against the law to pay tithing, but is not ethical to take from me via welfare and turn around and give it to the church! Religious institutions don’t pay taxes and then it’s being funded by me.

  61. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Kudos!

  62. No bother Laura. Very happy to spread only a little love that is Gaelic . Hope the songs are coming along nicely.

  63. stefan modlin says:

    Interesting writing . I learned a lot from the analysis – Does anyone know if my assistant might get ahold of a blank ED General Forbearance Request copy to complete ?

  64. Diane Brady says:

    Interesting that no one here has mentioned female veterans. It might be an interesting topic. I applied for food stamps soon after becoming disabled. I only recently applied for medicade when the Veterans Administration decided they were too close to a disability payout and quit seeing me at their medical center. In order to continue with appointments and procedures that prove my claim for disability I had to file for medicare.. Rated at 50% disabled by medical standards. Help in my ward is not available. I even got a letter from the bishop that no help from the church would be rendered. I have been homeless (with my son) more times than I care to recall. These Bishops have no clue as to what goes on in the world of womanhood much less the life of a single mother. When P.A. was RS prez a wheelchair bound single sister applied to her bishop for assistance and was TOLD by Bishop to get on public assistance. She was a Navy Veteran. Female veterans make up the fastest growing segment of the total homeless population…60 thousand and growing. Untreated PTSD is the main cause. While rare…we women, Mormon, veterans ..do exist….yet there are thousands of programs for male veterans and pitifully few for females. Bishop is like…Oh Brother Sam…I’m sorry you had it rough in the army. Let us help you…all the while looking down their nose at Sister Sally who had a hard time in the army and gets ignored…..sometimes I get a visiting teaching letter, sometimes I don’t…..haven’t seen a home teacher for 6 months….haven’t seen a soul from my ward since my last bout with homelessness in the winter of 2015. Trying to live on 900 a month…300 due in rent each month. Can’t afford to run the air conditioning and this last heat wave has made it very dangerous for my son and I baking in our tin can trailer. Hard to sleep when its 95 degrees inside your house. Personally….if it weren’t for public assistance my son and I would be dead. America expects us to sleep on the very streets we swore to defend. We pay the price for the freedom you all enjoy. Paid for with our minds,bodies, and souls…and returned home from war…rewarded with poverty and pain.

    • Shanna says:

      Diane, rest assured, any government assistance given to an honorably discharged veteran is 100% earned. The issue here is un-earned entitlements and the rationalization that it’s ok to expect to go on them in order to feel better about yourself for not “putting off” having kids. The author is totally off base. It’s not “putting off” having kids to try and get in a situation where you can at least modestly provide for a family without being a drain. When I see able bodied, young, married students in my ward get pregnant and openly talk about how free their baby is thanks to medicaid, I am appalled. Especially when they claim God told them to. I believe in personal revelation, but I don’t ascribe to it being a means for God to micro-manage our lives. But that explanation is an entirely different topic. They are purposefully planning to take from a system meant to help those who didn’t plan to be in need and cannot help themselves. There is no moral justification for this behavior.

  65. Gretchen says:

    Why have none of you heard of the Mormon welfare program? They provide their own food, clothing, and other types of care to their people. The members of the church tithe (give a tenth of their income) and donate additional money, and much of this goes to fund this program, plus their members volunteer to work at their canneries and warehouses, and on other food organization and preparation. The leaders of the church do not get paid. I’m not sure about medical assistance.

  66. Rick S says:

    Why is it that Mormon members of the GOP have recently voted for leaders whose stated purpose is to take health care coverage away from many millions of their fellow citizens? I understand that the scriptures tell us we should be caring for the poor and disadvantaged among us. Why the hypocrisy among so many? Is it true that you think that as long as you are OK than you have no moral responsibility to help others? That’s seems to be the only conclusion one can draw from the recent elections. What happens when it is YOUR child that needs an operation costing hundreds of thousands of dollars (as mine did) and YOU have no insurance, no family, and no way of paying for it. The Church Welfare system will NOT cover such a situation, and YOU may have to face the loss of a child because you could not get the operation your child needed. Is this the kind of people you are? What is to recommend you when you are called to judgment? Please consider the hypocrisy of your ways and begin to live your lives according to the scriptures and expect the same of your leaders.

    • Shanna says:

      You must understand that deciding to get pregnant on purpose (because it’s “free” now) and expecting taxpayers to pick up the tab is a bit different from having something catastrophic happen that is not your fault. One deserves compassion, the other is simply being entitled.

  67. Robert60 says:

    I am sure that Rick and other critics of Mormons are unaware that Utah birth’s paid by Medicaid is the lowest in the nation. Latest statistics for Utah is 31% with neighboring New Mexico at 72%. Is it a shame that more Utah birth mothers fail to look to the government for assistance?

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