Religion as a system of 'wealth production'.

copacetic

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There have been a couple of threads about religious VS secular morality recently, earlier today I stumbled onto this article:

http://www.businesspundit.com/15-religious-swindles-that-shame-the-holy-name/

What crime combines billions in annual earnings, sneaky accounting, a lack of media coverage, and the good Lord himself? Religious fraud. Conning the faithful, it turns out, is a lucrative art.

Christian leaders alone stole more than $27 billion in 2009, according to one estimate. Such leaders steal more money than is spent annually on global religious missions. Narrowing it down even more, Utah, arguably the fraud capital of the United States, has a fraud industry “double the size” of its ski industry.

If you’re a slippery type, these figures represent a heck of an opportunity. Indeed, the priests, ministers and thetans below have grabbed this chrysobull by the horns, perpetrating religious swindles that put the finer tenets of their theology to shame.
Of course, I am not putting this out as gospel truth, but often the argument is made that religious institutions do a lot of good, and of this there is no doubt - But if the religious institutions are actually pocketing far more money for themselves than they are being charitable, in an underhand manner no less, then is appears to my cynical mind to be a diversion from the enormous heist being perpetrated on the world.

Just up the road from where I live, there is a large church - The pastor of that particular establishment got caught red-handed having stolen somewhere in the region of R70 000. What happened to him? Well, nothing at all. He asked for forgiveness and his congregation, no doubt wanting to be Christian about it, did the right thing. The following week, I am sure, these same people were happily dropping notes into the collection basket.

This sort of thing totally bewilders me. The couple of charismatic services I have been to, smacked of outright and blatant guilt-trips for money. Is this simply me being cynical? Or do I lack the necessary rose-tinted spectacles, as provided by a particular faith?

I think the mechanism of religious belief and the heights that religious leaders elevate themselves, allow for the grossest corruption and unashamed stealing, often from the very people who cannot afford to give.

Personally, I would much rather take lessons of morality from someone going to work in a beetle, as opposed to a helicopter.
 

Avenue

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Nope, no cynicism there. A lot of charasmatic teaching revolves around God wanting you to live blessed lives financially. unfortunately a lot of these people dont see it happening in their own lives, or they believe in their heads, but not their hearts- you know what im saying, and so they try to manipulate it. Of course there are always those who are blatantly trying to rip you off.

That said, charismatics do believe in the biblical principle of sowing and reaping, that the only way to release Gods blessing in your life is to give. So often they will go into poor communities and encourage them to give, because they believe that is the only way for those individuals to get out of their circumstances.

So I think its usually one of those two principles at play, or a mix of both. Somewhere between manipulation and a genuine concerne for peoples welfare.

Personally, I would much rather take lessons of morality from someone going to work in a beetle, as opposed to a helicopter.
if you believed that God wanted you to be wealthy and blessed, then you would probably look to the dude flying the helicopter, so it all depends on your theological standpoint.
 

cozinsky

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Religion is evil and should be banned outright. It is the biggest fraud perpetrated on humankind.
 

rza

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One of the signs of a fraud pastor:
1. He preahes about tithes, even though the bible says offerings are a matter between God and man and no person should offer anything to the church under compulsion.
 

copacetic

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Religion is evil and should be banned outright. It is the biggest fraud perpetrated on humankind.
Commentary of this nature really adds little to the discussion and is in fact the reason that many religious people avoid engaging.

*edit*

While I do not disagree in principal with what you say, it is an extremely complex issue and broad generalizations from any viewpoint serve no purpose, other than to divide us all even further.
 
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Nerfherder

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I think that if any kind of organisation is going to accept money and make a profit then they need to pay tax and be audited.

This is the only way of solving this problem.
 

Bosvark@

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sorry to say - but it is for so many "christian" people in leadership. Really maked me mad.
 

copacetic

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Nope, no cynicism there. A lot of charasmatic teaching revolves around God wanting you to live blessed lives financially. unfortunately a lot of these people dont see it happening in their own lives, or they believe in their heads, but not their hearts- you know what im saying, and so they try to manipulate it. Of course there are always those who are blatantly trying to rip you off.

That said, charismatics do believe in the biblical principle of sowing and reaping, that the only way to release Gods blessing in your life is to give. So often they will go into poor communities and encourage them to give, because they believe that is the only way for those individuals to get out of their circumstances.

So I think its usually one of those two principles at play, or a mix of both. Somewhere between manipulation and a genuine concerne for peoples welfare.

if you believed that God wanted you to be wealthy and blessed, then you would probably look to the dude flying the helicopter, so it all depends on your theological standpoint.
I personally see a lot more corruption and manipulation than altruism, but I recognize, of course, my bias against religion in general, which is why I call into discussion my cynicism.

That's the thing though, this whole 'sowing and reaping' business, it's such a perfect system to extort from people. If it's not working, well, your faith is not strong enough, you need to give more. It's a self-perpetuating money making machine, as far as I can gather.

I meant to put this into my first post:

L. Ron Hubbard said:
If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion.
 

Kaine

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I think that if any kind of organisation is going to accept money and make a profit then they need to pay tax and be audited.

This is the only way of solving this problem.
this +1. do they pay property taxes? anyone know? I know most churches own some, or a lot of land and houses.
 

copacetic

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One of the signs of a fraud pastor:
1. He preahes about tithes, even though the bible says offerings are a matter between God and man and no person should offer anything to the church under compulsion.
That would render the preacher at every single church service I have ever attended a fraud.

Surely this is a source of immense frustration for you, as a Christian, that these sorts of miscreants are misrepresenting your faith, and giving Christianity a bad name for people like myself?
 

copacetic

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I think that if any kind of organisation is going to accept money and make a profit then they need to pay tax and be audited.

This is the only way of solving this problem.
Yes, it's absolutely archaic and absurd that these institutions pulling in so much money get away with so much. The poor sods putting money into the collection basket are certainly getting taxed, so why shouldn't the church?
 

Valis

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but often the argument is made that religious institutions do a lot of good, and of this there is no doubt
No they don't. This is completely untrue, pure propaganda trumpeted by the churches. The truth is religious institutions contribute 0,0001% to charity. They love going on about how they help people and look after the poor, blah blah blah. Complete bullship. Research has shown that religious people are LESS moral than non-religious, they contribute less to charity, they are more likely to be criminals, they cheat more on their spouses, they contract more STDs, etc etc. I am so sick and tired of hearing these claims about the religious being good and moral, without the slightest shred of evidence to back them up. I for one am going to call bullship every time I hear these claims, as the evidence clearly shows the opposite. /rant
 

Avenue

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That's the thing though, this whole 'sowing and reaping' business, it's such a perfect system to extort from people. If it's not working, well, your faith is not strong enough, you need to give more. It's a self-perpetuating money making machine, as far as I can gather.
It is open to corruption, definitely, and normally those types of individuals are easy to spot. They will encourage you to give to their ministry or their church only, they will lay a guilt trip on you etc etc etc. But there are others who encourage you just to live generous lives in all areas. Iv seen pastors (who aren't wealthy) giving car guards R100 tips, just because they believe in the principles. So once again, it depends on the person. Believe it or not, there are those who do have pure motives, but they aren't as vocal as the other type and so they often just fly under the radar
 

Keeper

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It happens, whattaya gonna do.

The worst ones are not the preachers / churches themselves, but the traveling band ones that throw events in big tents, and also the ones writing books "talking with God" etc/etc - there are thousands!

If I really talked to God/walked in heaven/whatever and wrote a book, and made money, I would surely donate EVERY single cent of the money earned on that book to poor/homeless/needy.
 

Avenue

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No they don't. This is completely untrue, pure propaganda trumpeted by the churches. The truth is religious institutions contribute 0,0001% to charity. They love going on about how they help people and look after the poor, blah blah blah. Complete bullship. Research has shown that religious people are LESS moral than non-religious, they contribute less to charity, they are more likely to be criminals, they cheat more on their spouses, they contract more STDs, etc etc. I am so sick and tired of hearing these claims about the religious being good and moral, without the slightest shred of evidence to back them up. I for one am going to call bullship every time I hear these claims, as the evidence clearly shows the opposite. /rant
now this is the opposite end of the spectrum- I know people who have given up everything to serve others, based on their religious convictions. I know people who have taken in aids orphans, volunteer in childrens homes, etc. When I was in college there was a guy who came and spoke to us who had a feeding scheme in africa that was feeding 500 000 kids daily. This dude drove a burned out car and wore a cheap suit. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian is a fraud or in it for the wrong reasons.
 

Valis

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If there is anyone that would like to do some real research and look for truth then please try and examine historical evidence and disprove Christ
First of all, you are the ones (xtians) making these claims about a magic man, the burden of proof lies with you. Secondly, all the historical evidence shows there was no such person as Jebus Xist, period. Just off the top of my head, "Jebus of Nazareth"; the town of Nazareth didn't exist at that time in history, this is an archeological fact. The so-called "gospels" were written hundreds of years after the supposed events took place. The "new testament" was compiled by the council of Nicea under the direction of the Emperor Constantine. Your own "babble" even contradicts itself, just looking at the first two books in the babble, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 that completely contradict each other. You don't even know anything about your own religion, now you're trying to point a finger and tell us to go do some research. Methinks you are the one that should be doing the research! I think you will find atheists know a helluva lot more about religion than the people that practise it! That is the reason we reject it. People cling to religion out of ignorance, and that is the only way they are able to keep adherents, by lying and keeping them in the dark.

Josh McDowell, seriously? That just shows your complete ignorance (and arrogance).
 

Avenue

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If I really talked to God/walked in heaven/whatever and wrote a book, and made money, I would surely donate EVERY single cent of the money earned on that book to poor/homeless/needy.
while I dont disagree with you necessarily, Im interested to know why you think these people should give all their money away- the bible says "do not muzzle the ox while it is treding grain", and "a workman is worthy of his wages", in regards to this very issue. Christians believe that all work is a ministry, whether you are an accountant or a preacher. They believe that some are called to be businessmen, while others are called to sudan to feed the hungry. So surely if the author has to donate all his money, then so should the businessman
 

copacetic

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No they don't. This is completely untrue, pure propaganda trumpeted by the churches. The truth is religious institutions contribute 0,0001% to charity. They love going on about how they help people and look after the poor, blah blah blah. Complete bullship. Research has shown that religious people are LESS moral than non-religious, they contribute less to charity, they are more likely to be criminals, they cheat more on their spouses, they contract more STDs, etc etc. I am so sick and tired of hearing these claims about the religious being good and moral, without the slightest shred of evidence to back them up. I for one am going to call bullship every time I hear these claims, as the evidence clearly shows the opposite. /rant
You've just made quite a slew of accusations, backed up by less than a little.
 

copacetic

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It is open to corruption, definitely, and normally those types of individuals are easy to spot. They will encourage you to give to their ministry or their church only, they will lay a guilt trip on you etc etc etc. But there are others who encourage you just to live generous lives in all areas. Iv seen pastors (who aren't wealthy) giving car guards R100 tips, just because they believe in the principles. So once again, it depends on the person. Believe it or not, there are those who do have pure motives, but they aren't as vocal as the other type and so they often just fly under the radar
I believe there are pure and good types, no doubt. But this goes for any sector of the community and various businesses. What boggles my mind about this, is the willingness of people to get fleeced, right in front of their eyes.

I've no issue whatsoever with people attending church and living their faith, I just wish that some were not so blinded by it they often allow their leaders to get away with murder.
 
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