What are the thoughts of the Mormon Church about government welfare? My husband is attending medical school and I stay home with our son. We do use food stamps and medicaid for the baby and me. Without this help it would be impossible for me to stay home with my son. I ask this question because I just read a talk given by David B. Haight (when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve). Is this talk right? Thanks for your time
I have not been able to find the talk that you referred to by Elder David B. Haight, but no need–whatever he said, I subscribe to. Apart from that, let me quote to you from the Welfare Services Resource Handbook, published by the Mormon Church in 1980—
“Latter-day Saints are encouraged not to accept unearned government assistance. If an individual accepts unearned government assistance, he may not accept Church commodity or financial assistance at the same time.”
So here is the procedure for a member of the Mormon Church to receive welfare assistance from the Church’s welfare program.
1. Consolidate your bills, and pay them in priority with respect to order of need. Normally, first on the list would be the payment of tithing and fast offering. Next, the essential monthly payments–rent, utilities, insurance, existing outstanding debts, etc. Let’s assume that there is sufficient income to pay for all the bills but the phone bill. Next we make an estimate of what our monthly food bill would be. The phone bill and the food bill would be our deficit.
2. The second step is to contact your parents or other members of your family with means and ask the for the necessary temporary assistance. They could be either unable to assist, unwilling to assist, able to give some but not sufficient assistance, or by able to take care of the deficit. The extended family is the first line of defense. If they can take care of you need, the problem is solved. If not, we go to step three.
3. Contact the bishop of your Ward and lay before him items one and two, and ask for his counsel and advice.
Normally the bishop will assess your problem, and determine if you would be willing to provide some service for the welfare help that you need. If you were not willing to do anything about it he would be perfectly justified in not offering you any aid. But your response may be, “We would be glad to help where we can. However, my husband is attending medical school and his time is very limited, and I have this young son that I must take care of.” The bishop would then determine what each of you could do within the constraints of your availability, and ask if you would be willing to participate to that extent. If you were willing to provide whatever service may be agreed upon, the bishop may have you give to him your phone bill (rather than give you the money to pay it). He may then ask the Relief Society President to visit with you in your home and assess your food needs. Together with her you would make out a list of your commodity needs for the month. The Relief Society President would take this list to the bishop, who would issue a food order from the nearby bishop’s storehouse. With this food order you would go shopping, picking up all the items on the list, and give to the bishop’s storehouse clerk the bishop’s order as payment. This is the principle of the program. Under the direction of the bishop the family provides the service of which they are capable and receives services of which they are in need.