‘I Fell Short’: Santorum Sorry for Lack of Charitable Giving After Confronted by Glenn Beck

Billy Hallowell

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum appeared this morning on Glenn Beck's radio program. While Beck and co-hosts Stu and Pat discussed a number of subjects with the contender, the issues of charitable giving and tithing were among the most noteworthy -- specifically the moments during which Beck challenged Santorum to give more of his income to charitable causes. (Related: ‘Proof Is in the Pudding’: Santorum Blasts Specter for Denying Their Past Endorsement Deal) This portion of the conversation started when Pat commented about Mitt Romney's proposal to limit charitable tax deductions for upper one percent of donors. Santorum quickly seized upon the opportunity to launch into his opposition to such a proposal, highlighting the damage it could do to private organizations and religious institutions. "This is a plan that was to destroy the mediating institutions in our society," Santorum proclaimed. "The churches, the civic organizations, the hospitals -- all the things that the government is now trying to take over...and move the private sector and the nonprofit sector out by starving them of money and over-regulating them." Then, the presidential candidate went in for a "campaign kill," saying, "Mitt Romney is in bed with Barack Obama on destroying these vital mediating institutions of our society..." (Obama has proposed similar ideas in the past). Beck patiently listened to this commentary, then he interjected and posed an interesting question to the candidate:

"You're absolutely right on that. Now let me ask you a question. I believe in those things. I am a guy who, 10 years ago, was not doing this. And I just thought, 'Well I give a few dollars here and a few dollars there.' The scriptures require 10 percent -- tithing of 10 percent -- God says 'Give me your first.' Your tax returns show about four percent -- and that's better than most people. But if you're the guy saying, 'Hey...we have to do this ourselves' -- where's your 10 percent?"

Beck's point here is that it's important for people of faith to abide by the tithe that is required of them (i.e. 10 percent). Beyond that, calling for smaller government does, in itself, put more responsibility on people who have the means to willingly provide more assistance to their communities. Santorum attempted to provide an explanation for his lower rate of charitable giving, saying that not all of his contributions are reflected in his tax returns:

"Well, first off I would agree. We all have to do better and I need to do better. A lot of the things I did for charity, for example, aren't on there. I would give speeches for a lot of nonprofit organizations and charge them a greatly discounted fee. That doesn't show up as a charitable contribution, but that is income out of my pocket that I gave in defense to these charitable organizations."

Beck interrupted, though, clearly not swayed by the argument. "Hang on just a second. Hang on just a second -- come on Rick," he said. "I just gave two speeches for free. For free." Santorum responded:  "I appreciate that and you're in a great position to do that. I've got seven kids --." That solicited a chuckle from the radio crew. "Rick Santorum, I challenge you," Beck then interjected. "Trust in the Lord. You give him the first 10 and your kids are going to be fine." "I understand...I agree," Santorum conceded. "I need to do better and I should be better and I fell short." Watch the interview, below (via GBTV):