When we say that money can’t buy happiness or solve life’s real problems, we assume a certain level of economic privilege. In fact, a little bit of cash can relieve many of the problems people face every day.
And though cash may seem to be the most material of all things, lack of it can create a spiritual crisis. That’s the thinking behind the Principle Foundation, a relief fund that provides Christian Scientists with money to get back on their feet after a setback. The foundation will pay for car repairs so that someone can get to work, for example, or replace furniture that was ruined in a flood.
How the Principle Foundation Works
Recognizing the benefits of cash in dire situations like these, the foundation offers immediate grants to Christian Scientists who find themselves in crisis. Rather than submitting a formal application for aid, church members who need assistance call the national office to explain their situation. Staff members confirm the requester’s connection to Christian Science, contact the foundation’s local committees, and perform an interview to verify the details. Each request receives individual attention, and there are no specific criteria for determining need. However, there are certain ineligible categories, including educational expenses and medical expenses for care outside of Christian Science.
As applicants are facing immediate financial challenges, funding decisions are generally made within two to three days. If the request is approved, a check will be mailed that same day, unless it is more appropriate to wire funds to a bank account or make a direct payment to a utility or auto repair company. All requesters receive support through prayer, regardless of the grant decision.
Remittances do not have to be repaid. Instead, each grant is intended as an expression of love that will alleviate a burden, not increase it.
A History of Aid and Disaster Relief
The Principle Foundation was founded in 1958 by Walter LaSalle, a Kansas City executive who was healed by Christian Science. In gratitude, he established the LaSalle Foundation, which was renamed in 1967. It has an office in Kansas City, a small paid staff, and a network of volunteers throughout the country. The foundation has an endowment that generates some income, but most of the money for its grants comes from donations. The program is separate from the activities of the Christian Science Mother Church in Boston, although it often coordinates with it and with other Christian Science organizations.
The grant program is especially powerful in helping Christian Scientists recover from natural disasters. For example, the Principle Foundation made grants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri. More recently, in September 2017, it actively solicited both donations and grant applications to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. To ensure that it can meet the needs created by natural disasters, the Principle Foundation has a dedicated Disaster Relief fund, although funds may be moved to the general program after two years.
In addition to assistance through grants and prayer, the foundation’s website offers other resources to help Christian Scientists through hard times. These include Bible verses for contemplation, information about resources that are available in local communities, other financial assistance options for Christian Scientists, and testimonials to provide inspiration.
The Principle Foundation balances the spiritual medicine of prayer for those in need with the power of physical cash. In many cases, this combination is enough to help people through the problems setting them off course.