Thursday, February 25, 2010

Money for Jesus

If you have been in any kind of church, you know that the offering plate will pass by you at least once during every service, but often they pass it around a second time, just to make sure God gets enough money.

As young children, we were encouraged to give 10% of our money to “god.” Yes, we were giving it to god. So, as child I bought that. My reasoning skills were not advanced enough yet to wonder why god needed money from a family with five children who barely had enough food to go around. My dad was in the military (later he became an assistant pastor) and let’s just say the military does not give a flying flip if you have more kids, the pay still sucks. My dad worked hard for us, I want to make sure I give him credit for that! He worked every day of his life until he retired to support his family the best way that he could, but I really wish that, rather than give his money to god, he would have saved it for himself! He is retired now and I would like to see him have enough money to travel the world, take my mom on a cruise and do things they have always wanted to do.

One day we were sitting in a church service with another boring message from the pastor (that he claimed god channeled directly through him- haha). At the end of the sermon the pastor decided that it was time the church “grew” (which technically means more money). So, since he knew that it was not that easy to get more money from his congregation, the pastor decided that he would start asking people to bring their gold, jewelry, and other valuables and put them in the offering plate so that they could gather the money for a new building. I stopped my writing and looked up in surprise when I heard this statement (okay, I know you want to know what I was writing. Well, in my boredom, I used to write the lyrics to “forbidden” songs. Songs like Madonna, “Borderline” and other sinful songs, this was the only way I could make it through the boring sermons about hell and how I was going to burn there.) I felt something twinge in the pit of my stomach.

Even as a teenager I knew that there was something wrong with taking valuables from the “sheep” members of the church. Right away I started seeing the pastor of our church as an evil and hateful man. The next week, I watched people bring their family heirlooms, jewelry and other valuables and place them in the offering plate. Months later, nothing new or different was added to the church.

I wondered why god needed our money anyway. If god was an all-knowing and all powerful god, then wouldn’t he have enough money anyway? So, it was explained to me that the money went to the church, so that the church could help people. But I never saw any evidence of the church helping people. So, the logical conclusion to reach is that the pastor was taking this stuff, selling it, and keeping the money for himself, in the name of god. The next conclusion I came to was that this whole church thing was a major scam. Finally, a bit later in my life, I realized that Christianity was a scam as well. I still believe this. I still wish my dad would keep his money. I wish that pastors of huge churches would stop using the money from poor, hardworking people to buy themselves luxurious homes, cars and private educations for their kids.

Another point I would like to make about this is this: If god wants to bless Christians who spend many days a week praising him and worshipping him, wouldn’t he bless them with free money, wealth and prosperity? And if there were a god, wouldn’t he spread this money around to the poor people all over the world?

God does not need your money! If you are rich and want to help someone, find a really good charity that you know will put that money where it is needed, and give it to them! Depending on the size of a congregation, churches can rack up thousands and thousands of dollars every Sunday. On top of that, since they call themselves “non-profit” they don’t have to pay property taxes for the church building. Non-profit my ASS! This money is free and clear! If hard working people who buy a house and barely scrape by each month paying the mortgage and the taxes on that property are required to pay taxes, then churches should have to do the same thing! Click here for an excellent argument on why churches should pay property taxes.

God is not going to be around when your house forecloses, you lose your job, your child gets sick, or your car breaks down. If he was, I would say give him the money as an incentive/insurance policy. But, since he probably won’t be helping you out, I say, GOD DOES NOT NEED YOUR MONEY! Keep it!


9 comments:

  1. Excellent post. Plenty of insight. I remember thinking pretty much on that same line when I use to sit through church sermons....I could smell the phoniness as it hung thick in the air.

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  2. This is an interesting point of view. I never really thought about it.

    It's true, it seems strange the almighty g-o-d needed our money, especially since he invented the universe.. but a theme that was throughout a good portion of the bible was the theme of requiring christians to be humble and not to collect worldly things.

    As a PK, my parents required me to tithe, and that makes me angry. I was too young during my first few jobs to tell them no, but I often wonder how much cool stuff I'd have if I hadn't.

    One thing that strikes me, and I can only speak for my experience, was that in my father's church, although he asked for generosity during the "offering", it wasn't him that was in charge of doing anything with the money- per federal and state regulations. In fact, as a non-profit, there were stringent tax requirements, and very strict record keeping requirements to run the church.

    Although I saw the true motives (and horrible attitudes) of some of the people working for the church, I knew that my father truly belived in his heart that he was doing good, and he did do quite a bit of good while he worked there.

    That money went to feed a lot of hungry people, went to helping the old or sick in their times of need. The church did great things for the community- and only because my dad was true and by far one of the most honest, humble christians I knew.

    Still, if anybody had secret plans for that cash, I knew who it was. Many of the parishioners, who did not have honest intentions- and who secretly plotted to have my father ousted.

    Even with all this said and done, the records were very specific. Even if greed was present, they were only able to funnel that money into causes or events of their choosing. I think the money gave a sense of power to those people, because it wasn't buying anybody a lexus.

    Of course, this was only my experience. Your results may vary.

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  3. Hi Interested,

    I welcome your point of view on my blog, anytime you want to post something. :) Thanks so much for your comments. I agree that there are people in the churches who do not take money and spend it frivolously. I also know that there are christians/churches who use the money for helping the community and I am happy about that! I just know that a lot of churches do almost NOTHING for the community (I don't count having a "free" easter concert so you can lure people in to hear your message a service to the community) and still get away with not paying property taxes. If they are feeding the hungry and giving clothes/help to the homeless without requiring them to attend their church, more power to them!! I applaud anyone, no matter their denomination who helps others freely and with love and concern. I am just not so sure that churches that(in the south) are on every street corner should not have to pay taxes on the property when they are making a profit and calling themselves non-profit. My daughter knows of a church that charges $1.50 for their members to buy coffee on Sunday morning. WTF? lol I am glad to have you following my blog!

    p.s. Your dad sounds cool! :)

    Lori

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  4. Lori, I expect my example to be an exception to the rule. I think your take on it is pretty spot on. I was just adding my 2 cents.

    ;)

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  5. Interested,

    Thanks for adding your 2 cents. I get happy when I get comments on my blog. I am vain like that- lol :-) I suppose I would not be that happy if someone was rude, hateful or mean, but so far, I have had great comments.

    Lori

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  6. Thanks for talking about the greed that is so annoyingly common in churches. When I see the opulent lifestyle Ratzinger has, it makes me nauseated.

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  7. What your paster did was wrong, but in general, most churches collect tithes as their only source of income. The money they collect goes to their workers and for programs to help those attending the church and the community.

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  8. Lori,
    I found your blog because I liked your comment on a NY Times article. Your writing is helpful to those, like myself, who have found the hypocrisy of the church to be unacceptable. I recently took a class on Environment and Literature and we studied how certain parts of the Bible lead Christians to believe that the earth is for their taking, that they can toll and do whatever necessary to the earth because eventually they will be in Heaven (or hell).

    I wish that people of all religions concentrated less on religion and more on making Heaven on Earth, where people live peacefully, cooperatively and respectably together.

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  9. I like your wording: "...The pastor decided that it was time the church 'grew.'" Why even *try* to involve God when the pastor has everything under control?

    You wrote, "...this whole church thing was a major scam." Although I still believe in God, I agree with you. The church is really screwed up, and yes, it is a scam. Church staffs like to print their official budget in the little bulletins they give you as you come in on Sunday, but you don't really know where your money is going. I went to a church that found out one day that a staff member had embezzled a ton of money. (That's always an encouraging message to get on a Sunday morning).

    You wrote, "...if there were a god, wouldn’t he spread this money around to the poor people all over the world?" Coming at it from a Christian perspective, I would say that this is part of the scam: Many pastors claim that if you "have enough faith" to give money to the church, God will reward you exponentially with money. The funny thing is that the Bible says nothing about that. In fact, the Bible tells Christians to give their money to the poor, not to their pastors.
    This is the first blog entry that I've read on this blog. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you sound like you still believe in God even though you've turned away from Christianity and church.

    Interested commented, "...I knew that my father truly believed in his heart that he was doing good, and he did do quite a bit of good while he worked there..." I'm actually glad to hear that somebody who worked for a church was actually feeding the poor and taking care of the sick with the church's money. I, too, come from a military family, and none of the communities I've lived in have ever published any stories about local churches taking care of the needy. (I saw one such story in a newspaper, but it was only a couple of individual Christians who did the helping rather than the leadership of any church).

    Anonymous wrote, "The money they collect goes to their workers and for programs to help those attending the church and the community." Even given this, though, a lot of churchgoers have no idea where their money is going. Pastors love to tell their congregations about the new building that is in the works or the domestic mission that the youth group is planning, but not about the new Towncar that they just leased.

    Anonymous said, "I recently took a class on Environment and Literature and we studied how certain parts of the Bible lead Christians to believe that the earth is for their taking, that they can toll and do whatever necessary to the earth because eventually they will be in Heaven (or hell)." After growing up in the church and hearing so many different things from so many different pastors, I have come to believe that if somebody sets out to prove something with the Bible, by God, they're going to prove it with the Bible and make it sound credible. I really think that it's coming to the point where somebody saying "It's in the Bible!" is no stone tablet.

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