Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 19, 1960
NUMBER 3, PAGE 1,14b

When Is Charity Not Charity

Bryan Vinson, Longview, Texas (In Gospel Truth, April, 1960)

"Whatever is bestowed gratuitously on the needy and suffering for their relief, alms." Thus do we read a definition of charity in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. From this definition we would be led to the conclusion that in giving where the object of benevolence is not in a state of need, there is no charity. Only those in a state of need are objects of charity, therefore. This is an interesting and timely distinction which needs to be made in the light of the recently publicized financial report of Boles Home, covering the fiscal year of July 1, 1958, to June 30, 1959. We do not propose to give this report, but to cite some figures embodied therein to the end that those who read his may be able to see that in giving to charity, that is, contributing to this home, they are not in reality doing so.

The total revenue for the year was $429,947.18. This lacks but $52.82 being $430,000.00, which would be $2,000.00 per child, as they state in this report they cared for an average of 215 children during the year. Notwithstanding the fact they had an income of such proportions, they record an operating deficit of $11,700.81. The report states also that total operating expenses were $275,842.68, whereas the amount spent in actual child care was $230,041.66, or a total for each child of $1,069.96 From these figures there is no escaping the fact that this is a big business at Boles. An institution that can gain in its assets within one year $154,104.50, which means this is the value of its increased assets over the worth of all it possessed the year before, certainly is not only big but highly successful in its operation. No statement is made as to the total assets of this institution, but having a total income of $429,947.18 for the year and of this $154,104.50 being an increase in assets, we can well believe it is a multi-million dollar business as reflected in its holdings.

Among the items of income there is listed interest of the amount of $1,797.99 on notes and bonds, thus they are in the business of loaning money. Also, income from oil leases and revenues amounted to $30,214.29. This is enough to impeach the idea that this institution is an object of charity. For instance, brethren, individuals and congregations, contributed $157,458.84 to Boles, whereas the total net profit in increased assets aggregated $154,104.50. That is, it lacked but $3,354.34 being self-supporting last year, and with the increase in assets of $154,104.50 the revenue from this should certainly take care of this differential for this current year without any contributions from churches and individuals at all. Therefore, the conclusion follows that Boles is not a legitimate object of charity, and those who have given to it claiming tax deductions on the basis that they gave to charity were actually, or shall be at least in the future, guilty of misrepresenting the matter even though mistakenly so.

Brother Oler stated in this report as a justification for its present form that "oversimplification of financial data is quite likely to be misleading and can all too readily be misunderstood." We fear in his effort to avoid oversimplification that he failed to render as clear, full and simple a report as was needed. There are some questions it rightly provokes as not supplying the answer to as it is given. For instance, the cost of administration is $55,489.19, or approximately $250.00 per child per year. More than $20.00 for each child each month was spent for administration. Under this thirteen items are mentioned besides "etc.", no one of which is itemized, but all grouped together. Salaries, publicity and Boles Home News, are three of these. Concerning them some information would be welcomed. Several years ago bro. Oler stated, as an inducement for brethren to give to Boles Home, that the matrons in the home were rendering a "sacrificial service" by working for $60.00 per month. I suppose there has been some increase in their salary since then. But neither then nor now does he state what his salary is.

I believe that in order that brethren might be assured "how wise, efficient, honest and careful is the management of Boles Home in using the dollars sent" there, that this item should have been given. Too, what is the nature and cost of publicity connected with the administration of this Home? What and who is publicized, and at what cost and to what purpose and value? Next, the cost of Boles Home News? What purpose does it serve? Does the publishing and circulating of a propaganda sheet, coupled with news of brother Oler and his wife, their comings and goings, contribute to the feeding and clothing of poor little orphans? Also, as touching the job of printing, is it done by the Just A Moment Printing Company? Isn't this owned by brother Oler? Even in the affairs of our government it is regarded as improper and unethical for a member of the administration to own stock in a firm doing business with the government. Mr. Charles Wilson disposed of his stock in General Motors on becoming a member of the Eisenhower Cabinet. Does the Superintendent of Boles Home award the contract to publish Boles Home News to his own printing firm, either with or without competitive bidding? If without being submitted to competitive bidding how can he know the administration is "wise, honest and efficient as well as careful.

These questions are not raised as designed to reflect on anyone connected with this institution, but rather to suggest some things which we believe could well have been incorporated in a report which is designed to reflect that brother Oler thinks the brotherhood is interested in; namely, how wise, efficient, honest and careful the administration is in its management of the many dollars sent there by brethren. Inasmuch as he recognizes that the brethren are interested thus in how the Home is conducted by those in charge, it occurs to me they would have been interested in these matters suggested in these points raised in the questions we have posed.

There is no obligation on the part of any of God's children to support with their money anything, however meritorious its objective, without being fully apprised of where every cent goes in the execution of its mission. Brother Oler requests brethren to study this report very carefully, and should you not have a copy of it I feel sure he will supply you with one on requesting it. I think it merits a close study, and an answer to these things which it does not contain. Heretofore opposition to Boles and similar institutions has been based on the fact they are without scriptural authority as touching their relation to and dependency on the church. This is the principal ground where they must be regarded as unacceptable, but it is thought that in view of this report being sent abroad a few remarks on what it both contains and what it doesn't contain might be of help in enabling brethren to more fairly and competently appraise its claims and evaluate it merits.

In no sense do we oppose the existence of an orphan home privately owned and operated as any other legal business venture, but our opposition is fundamentally founded on their claimed affinity with the church and as entitled to support from the treasury of the church. Certainly no one is justified in charging us, therefore, with being opposed to either the proper care of orphan children or the existence of an institution designed to accomplish such care.