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.