November 2, 2010

Money: Lots of it

Want to make a million quick? Start your own religion. The formula is simple. L. Ron Hubbard did it with Scientology and made lots of money. Others have done that too. It just takes some moxie and some manipulation, and the money and the followers will start flowing in. Hubbard knew that the axiom about making money on religion was true enough, because some have ascribed the statement “The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion."± However, there is controversy over whether or not he actually said so. Nevertheless, he ended up making money on Scientology and religious books.

Now others have established mega churches that brought in mega bucks. Jim and Tammy Faye Baker made millions, although Jim was convicted went to jail for his antics. Nevertheless, it was true they established considerable fortunes and lived lavishly for years. The media embraced Tammy Faye despite the scandals, but the evangelist movement moved away at the same time. However, she remained in the ministry and her former husband, Jim Baker, continues to serve his new flock with a new wife. He is back in business with a new television show (The Jim Bakker Show). At the time of his death Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam, had amassed a fortune of $25 million. His son died in 2008, leaving a fortune himself.

Senator Charles Grassley of the Senate Finance Campaign committee has been concerned enough about the mega bucks earned by ministers to launch an investigation. An example of luxury is highlighted by Paula and Randy Whiteǂ, who are the pastors of the Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Florida. Grassley has asked for records for tax-exempt cosmetic surgery. He wants Joyce Meyer, who administers the Joyce Meyer Ministries from Fenton, Mo., to document and explain why she needed a $23,000 tax-exempt commode with a marble top.

The list of religious elites goes on, including the mega-million dollar organization of Pastor John Hagee, so the fact remains that religion for some seems profitable, and perhaps those with the most grandiose plans, in the pattern of Bernard Madoff, will make it through the recession with money although might get caught after all. Not that making money selling books isn't reasonable, but claims that are outrageous might be IRS questioned and more besides, if Grassley has his way. It should be interesting to find out what his investigations end up disclosing in the financial empires of the rich, powerful and religious.

It appears that the Christians are the worst offenders of this money grabbing mind-set. Maybe that is because they actively recruit new converts more than another faith. It has always been my experiance when attending a service that they always pass the bucket around and remind you of your duty to give ten percent. Also they have some sort of special need that can only be solved by throwing even more money at it. Then there is the countless number of Christian charities. When was the last time you saw a Jewish or Musslim charity on TV? Never. The Christians have cornered the market. Just the other day I was flipping channels and came across one of those mega churches on TV. A banner ad ran the entire time the preacher was speaking and then continued when the choir was singing. It said call a toll free-number and give money for a pray request. I was truely offended that they were selling prays. If Jesus was alive today he would have flipped out like he did when the money changers were in the temple (Mark 11:15-19).

I believe that Christ and Christianity are meant to be understood, appreciated and experienced as galvanizing inspirations for living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace and humility. Attempting to bend the glory of Jesus Christ toward anything else --especially toward the accrual of personal wealth or power -- is antithetical to what Jesus represented and died for.




1 comment:

  1. Jesus taught us to love God and to love our neighbor. If we do this, then tithing would be a natural response. Why? Because the tithe that we give to the church can be used for furthering the gospel, support of missionaries, and pastors (church staff) as well as help those in need. Tithing to acquire personal wealth is wrong & is a perversion of the concept.
    Also, wealth should not be a motivator for being a Christian. In Jesus' time it was a common belief that wealth was a sign of God's favor and poverty was God's punishment for sin. Jesus absolutely rejected that idea most clearly in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
    I think it is one-sided to imply that all or most Christians are the same as some TV preachers or preachers of “Mega Churches”. Most Christians use their monetary blessings to help others & to further the spreading of the Gospel.