The Merchants of Faith

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 4BC - 65 AD - Roman stoic philosopher

This week I ran into an old college colleague at an airport. We started talking about the price of gas, which is a very current topic, went on to traffic patterns and ended up discussing the antics of one of our most popular exports to the world and whom I call #1 merchant of faith in our country.

This friend filled me in on another little scam of this scoundrel. It turns out that he organizes youth in small groups he calls "cells". When he shows up at one of these saturday evening meetings, he tells the youngsters, especially if they are mostly girls, that in order to prove their faith, they have to "donate" something that they really value. Family heirlooms have been lost this way: grandma's old earrings, mom's engagement ring, things like those. We couldn't help but wonder what happens to these pieces of jewelry at the end of the saturday evening meeting? Do the pastor and his wife check the spoils of the day? Do the pastor's daughters now wear grandma's earrings?

And this is not the first time I heard about these scams. An acquaintance claims she was coerced out of a pearl necklace she later saw hanging from the neck of this very same preacher's wife at a social event. She went over to the woman and demanded her necklace back. Good for her!

This is what upsets me royally about these charlatans. They claim to be inspired by God, yet they will not stop requesting their faithful to tithe. And they keep looking for ways to go above and beyond the customary "10 percent". Isn't God supposed to be uninterested in money? Aren't the "real riches" to be found in heaven and not in earth?

Regardless of whether there is a heaven or not, the problem with these greedy scoundrels is that they are benefitting from the gullibility of their faithful and taking unfair advantage of them, to their personal benefit. At the end of last year, U. S. Senator Chuck Grassley started an investigation into the finances of six large ministeries. The reason behind this investigation was not related to faith or anything divine. It related to very mundane things:
  • Personal use of church aircraft (for vacation, not for preaching)
  • Real state purchases (for living, not for worship)
  • Furniture purchases (for household use, not church)
  • Purchase of luxury vehicles (Rolls Royce and Bentley)
  • Jewelry received as Donations (sounds familiar?)

Need I say more?

So... these are the rulers for whom the belief of the common man that religion is "true" is "useful". Words of a wise man.


Luis FIGUEROA said...

Mmmm, me recuerda a los diezmos y las primicias que cobraba la Iglesia Catòlica; y no de forma voluntaria. Por otro lado, ¿quièn maneja una religiòn y no habla en nombre de dios? Yo le doy una ventaja a Luna: les da algo a cambio a sus fieles; y en general, si tenemos que escoger entre males, la ètica protestante (Weber) es menos perversa que le ètica catòlica. Por lo que he visto, los seguidores de Luna -en general- no ven la pobreza como una virtud, y se saben hijos del Rey, y ven natural vivir como tales. En fin...saludos.

Zarek said...

Luis fi said

... reminds me of the tithings charged by the Catholic Church, which were not voluntary. On the other hand, who within religion does not speak in the name of God? I concede one advantage to Luna, he gives something to his faithful in return, and generally speaking, if we have to choose the lesser of two evils, the protestant ethics (Weber) is less perverse than the catholic. For what I've seen, Luna's followers (as a rule) do not see poverty as a virtue, they see themselves as children of the King and think it is only fit to live as such...

hey, deja que los curas hagan algo que me encachimbe y también a ellos les voy a tirar. Unos son tan malos como los otros. Las indulgencias... shit!

hey, let the priests do anything that pisses me off and I will shoot at them, as well. They're all equally bad. Indulgences... shit!