When last have you seen a church that does not have some sort of moneymaking scheme on the side?
This story is not about atheists or Christians – so don’t get excited before you finish reading it. I don’t care if you are a believer, an unbeliever, a not-surer, or a don’t carer – that is your democratic right – as a matter of fact, I’m sick and tired of the bickering going on between these groups. I write this piece mainly because I feel that Christians have a very selective way in which they practice what is written in the Bible. This is just one example.
Is it just my imagination or are all our churches making a killing by selling various goods and services to their gullible clients; also known as the “congregation.” (Congregation: from the early Hebrew, meaning: sheep that are fleeced by the church of their money?)
In my suburb there are four churches – of various denominations. (Denomination, meaning: the collection-money can be in the form of R10, R50, R100, or R200, notes.) Every single one of these churches has some sort of lucrative method of making money – I’m not referring to the tithe: that mythological one-tenth of the congregation’s income which is supposed to be used for charity.
The church closest to my humble abode, sells anything from boerewors rolls to dark glasses and stringed beads from China. And everything in between. Every day of the week. Every week. They also do trips to Israel and excursions to various other exotic places.
The next religious mall (church number 2) sells artwork, clothes (from China), illegal copies that they make of religious DVD’s, greeting cards, and books. These books have always fascinated me – they explain how to understand books that reveal how to appreciate books that was written in another language that expounds on what was written in a book that someone wrote about what was written on a piece of parchment hundreds of years ago – about the Bible.
There are billions of these books. And they sell like Easter eggs. Why people don’t just buy the Bible, I will never know.
The next church makes money like crazy. They import these guys (mostly from America, because they sound so stuffed-up) to tell the story of their stuffed-up lives. This is called “sharing.” The American is called a “guest speaker.” (They used to be called “snake-oil salesmen,” some years ago.)
Typically, you would have this stuffed-up American stand in front of the congregation and tell them a heartbreaking story of how he managed to stuff up his life, and, after seeing the “light,” how he stopped stuffing up his life. The sheep then their mumble Hallelujah’s, make those ridiculous grabs with the hands to the heavens – some will cry – the preacher will smile and hug the performer; and the money will fly from the wallets like manna from heaven.
Later in the day, the stuffed-up American will take his cut of the manna, thank the preacher kindly, and move on to the next church to share his stuffed-up story.
Shouldn’t we rather celebrate the people who haven’t stuffed-up their lives and who set fine examples to others? But maybe that would not be the Christian thing to do – the stuffed-up American would be without a job.
But the last church in my neighbourhood (church number 4) has hit the mother lode. They sell courses. Counselling courses; how to pray courses; how to stop smoking, drinking, and carousing courses; how to believe everything the pastor tells you courses; and many more. These courses are, of course, a scam. They are designed, set, marked, examined, moderated, and certified by the church. The certificate means nothing.
All of these churches make money – lots of it.
So, finally, this brings me to my original question: Why are Christians so selective in the way in which they practice what is written in the Bible?
According to the New Testament of the King James Bible, and the Gospel According to Saint Matthew 21:12
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
To my mind, whether you are selling doves or stuffed-up Americans, it boils down to the same thing.
So, I ask you, the congregation: “Will you be going to your favourite den of thieves on Sunday?”