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“God” Really Doesn’t Need Anyone’s Money

By Lilandra, the Mrs. Ra

How many former believers remember being told that their money already belonged to god anyways?  Heck, he apparently had enough lucre lying around to pave his streets with gold. Prosperity gospel preachers encourage their followers to give to god as if he is like a usurious, heavenly banker. They promise he just wants you to trust him; then he will return your money with interest.

Despite logical holes you could drive a truck through, like why would a god need streets of gold, many people still believe that if they trust god/their church with their money that god will repay them and bless them with more. During my believing days,  I actually sat through a pledge drive where a woman testified that she was so strapped that she was charging diapers on her credit card.  After she started tithing and more, she said she was finally coming out ahead in her finances. The pastor concluded the service by asking people to put their money in a chest on stage. He actually told people to don’t worry about filling out the amount on the check, because God would reveal to the church how much they could give.

In reality, churches overall are grossly inefficient with their god’s money. According to PZ‘s post about a report by The Council for Secular Humanism’s analysis of church finances, the Methodist Church I visited, their parent organization allocates just 29 percent of its resources to charitable causes.

For instance, the United Methodist Church allocated about 29 percent of its revenues to charitable causes in 2010 (about $62 million of $214 million received). One calculation of the resources expended by 271 U.S. congregations found that, on average, “operating expenses” totaled 71 percent of all the expenditures of religions, much of that going to pay ministers’ salaries. Financial contributions addressing the physical needs of the poor fall within the remaining 29 percent of expenditures.

The recommended level for overhead and salaries by charity watchdog groups is 35 percent.  However, Methodists are not even among the worst sinners for wasting money meant for the less fortunate. For example, the Mormon church spends a mere 0.7 percent on charity overall.

Contrast that with the secular organization Doctors without Borders, which spends 89 percent of its coffers on charity. Donations are definitely getting more bang for the buck.  If you choose to support the largest atheist charity drive on BlogTV this weekend, your money will do actual good for real people in need, and definitely not be going ostensibly to paving some god’s streets with gold.  Really, why won’t most churches admit that most of the offerings are not doing the most good for people who really need it? And if you support this atheist charity drive, no one will ever ask you to send a blank check.

Comments

  1. DPB says

    Really, why won’t most churches admit that most of the offerings are not doing the most good for people who really need it?

    Because “Give to feed the homeless!” makes people feel better about themselves and encourages people to give more than “Give to overfeed and house one person!”

  2. StevoR says

    ^ Not to be taken as meaning that I personally believe in any god btw! Just love that line and quote which seems apt here.

  3. innocentinfidell says

    Aronra, dont really know how to get a message to you better than this perhaps…but can you please post your thoughts on the new A+ . We out here would like to hear exactly how you view it and what your opinions of it are? You have been one of the commentators that has appeared to be quite on the concept thus far?

    regards

  4. A Hermit says

    I used to give monthly to MSF, along with Oxfam and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.; all good secular charities. Somehow the MSF contribution got dropped in the last round of re-organizing. Putting them back on the list today. Thanks for bringing them back on my radar.

  5. Jessa says

    Could you share the source for the 0.7% figure on Mormons? I always thought they kept their finances secret.

  6. Jessa says

    The trail ends in an error page on the church’s website. Oh, well. I’ve just been arguing with Mormon friends (who like to say their church gives massive amounts to charity) that their church spends huge amounts on things like fighting Prop 8 and building City Center. It seems odd to me that if an organization wants to be known for humanitarian efforts it would spend so much on a shopping center. They don’t see a conflict. It’s a difficult argument to have when neither of us has any actual numbers. Thank you for pointing out the link to me, though. :)

  7. belexus73 says

    Aaaaaamen to this post! One of our key narratives as the freethinking community moves forward is how much more effective we are in doing do goods. Numbers like we see in this post need to be spread far and wide. Everyone make sure they pony up some cash or elbow grease for smart, worthy causes.

  8. says

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