Elementary School May Return a $20,000 Gift From Strip Club Owner
I am fully aware that I am treading on thin ice when I try to tackle an issue like this. I would like to preface this blog by saying, I am writing it without malice or contempt for any person or religion. At the very least, I write it to encourage debate and thought on the topic of ethics. With that said here is the story.
Roosevelt Elementary School in West Palm Beach Florida accepted twenty thousand dollars in donation form an organization called Rodriguez charities. But now, the school district and parents want to give the money back. They want to do this despite the school being in desperate need of funding because they found out that Rodriguez Charities is run by a man named Joe Rodriguez and he owns strip clubs. A representative from the Christian Family Coalition says they are pushing the school to return the money because “It came from someone associated with the exploitation of women. That is not the message to send to kids.”
I agree, that is not a message to send to kids. But was that the intention of the donation? It would seem it was not. The owner of the strip clubs did not ask the school to “publicize” the owner or the strip clubs to the school or the community. In fact, he has named the charity “Rodriguez Charities”. And the people against the taking of the money had to “find out” the source of said donation. If he called the charity, “Strippers give back” or held a press conference in front of the club to put a good face on his industry than I think it would be a different story.
Not to get “Biblical” on you , but since it is a Christian group that is in protest of the donation , there is a parallel in the Bible. I will try to keep it brief and understandable and I will NOT quote scripture to you in this blog. Basically the question was asked to Paul if it was a sin for a Christian to eat meat that had been offered to a false idol. Completely paraphrasing here, what Paul said was no. He said that since Christians did not believe in any but the One True God, the act of the non believer or sinner of offering it to a false god had no effect on the meat. The meat in essence did not know it was being offered, it is just meat, God’s creation, and therefore good. . So if a Christian should happen upon meat at a market, not knowing the source of the meat he should not worry about where it had come from or been used for, in fact he should not even ask, so as to have a clear conscious. However, if the meat were offered by the sinner who specifically states, this meat was offered to a false idol, he should not eat that meat. Not because it would effect the Christian as stated before it wouldn’t, but because eating the meat at that point would send a wrong message to the presenter that sacrificing to false idols is acceptable. Hopefully that all made sense to you.
So turning the meat in this example, into money. Money in itself is neither good nor evil, it just is. What one does with that money can be one or the other. More so, being the bearer of said money, even if the money had been involved in sin, does not make the bearer a sinner. Even if he is aware that had been involved in sin. What the receiver of the money must beware of is , is the taking of the money telling the sinner that what he did was OK? In our example of the school donation, I do not believe that is the case. Well, not BEFORE the Cristian Family Coalition got involved.
You may remember in the story about Paul, he does specifically say, do not ask about the source of the meat. That way you do not have to worry about whether it is alright to eat or not. It seems to me that this group went out of its way to ask and research exactly where the money came from so that they could make a moral judgment and condemnation on the donation and the donor. And perhaps now in doing so , made the money unacceptable.
How many young children might suffer now? Having these “Moral Police” rooting out the “evil doers” and exposing them to serve their own agenda. Is this good? Sadly that money could have gone to education and empowering the truly young and innocent girls in the community so that they may better avoid the need to dance for money in the future. But instead may now go to building another one of these clubs for the community. How well have they served their community now? How well have they served God?
In my humble opinion if I’m a Christian, and Paul the Apostle tells me to not ask about the meat I’m about to eat, I wont ask. I would as a Christian thank the Lord for the blessing of the nourishment and use it to help me do more good for the world. But that’s just me. So now I have to figure out a way that these kids can still get this money and we can all feel good about it.
Well we may also note that in the Old Testament when God would send his people to victory over an enemy they would take all the goods and possessions of that enemy and divide it among his people. Even though these goods and possessions were more than likely used in sin, and probably stolen from others. The goods themselves, or the money itself in our case is not “tainted”.
Lastly, stripping in itself is not a sin. Lust is. Perhaps even for the ladies involved, tempting married men with their bodies is. But who is to say that these woman are not just dancing for the mere joy of dancing, and that these men do not feel lust while they are near them. Who am I to judge some one’s heart? Who is to say that the exchange of money in this case isn’t just a gift of charity itself. Yes, I’m not stupid I realize how far fetched that is, but we don’t know for sure. And even if a portion of it was earned through the art of dance itself and a person’s innocent appreciation of that dance, how do we know which is the “good money” and which is the “bad”. Perhaps with this line of thinking we could still accept the money even though the Christian Family Coalition has called out it’s source. Let us now, NOT ask which money is which so that we may use the money for good in clear conscious. I fell good right now saying with conviction that I believe that this particular $20,000 dollars is money that was not used for the “exploitation of women” and even better I am absolutely sure that the money will now be used to avoid the exploitation of women.
TAKE THE MONEY.
PS. Again, this is just one man’s opinion, and I am in no way an expert on Ethics or Sin, as I fear I have too much of one and not enough of the other.