The principle of charity discussed in Matthew 25:35–36 tells us that we should clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit the sick and those in prison is held close to the heart of Mormon doctrine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church), has an outstanding welfare program to help its members, and often those who have no affiliation with the Church at all. The underlying principle is that people should be helped to help themselves. Idleness is a sin, and work is an eternal principle of Mormon doctrine. Therefore, handouts are almost as sinful as not giving anything at all because that practice is not, in fact, truly helping the individual. On the other hand, Mormon doctrine teaches that we are not to judge those who stand in need, but should give freely (Mosiah 4). Also, each person should work hard to provide for him- or herself.
Mormon doctrine teaches that the responsibility for an individual’s temporal and spiritually welfare lies principally upon the individually, secondly upon the family, and lastly upon the Church. If a family is doing all they can and are still failing to provide the necessary help, the bishop’s counsel and guidance is sought. To assist bishops in meeting the needs of those in their congregations, The Mormon Church has established storehouses, projects, thrift stores, employment centers, and family services offices. These are run largely by the donated time, talents, and skills of other Church members.
The following statistics were released by the Mormon Church in 2010 and include just a few of the elements which comprise the whole welfare effort:
- Days of labor donated to Church welfare facilities: 777,381
- Employment an dtraining placements: 168,713
- Total number of:
- Storehouses 143
- Storage and distribution facilities 36
- Employment resource centers 326
- Deseret Industries thrift stores 43
- LDS Family Services offices 79
Welfare Square is the main center of the Mormon Church’s welfare program. “Since its humble beginnings in the midst of the Great Depression, Welfare Square has emerged as a powerful example of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints does throughout the world to care for the poor, foster self-reliance, and provide meaningful opportunities for work and service. Welfare Square is a modern facility composed of a 178-foot-tall grain elevator, a large storehouse, a bakery, a cannery, a milk processing operation, a thrift store, and an employment center—all designed to help people help themselves.” Mormons are invited to donate their labor to welfare square, where the Church produces vast quanitites of food at minimal cost.
In addition to donating time and labor, Mormons are invited to fast the first Sunday of every month, which means they refrain from eating or drinking for two consecutive meals. They are then encouraged to donate what money they would have spent on these meals in the form of fast offerings to the bishop of their ward, or congregation. These funds are then used to help members of that congregation. If there are no members in need, the bishop sends excess funds to church headquarters, where they are redistributed as necessary.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been internationally recognized for its immense humanitarian aid efforts as well, which fall under the umbrella of the welfare program.