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November 4, 2010 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Pastor Ed Young comes up with the spiritual successor to Give us all your money
posted by Blazecock Pileon (97 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hit play on this song before opening video.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:20 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yay for inline vimeo!
posted by Aizkolari at 5:25 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Am I saying your life's gonna be problem-free? No."

man, this religion bites
posted by Greg Nog at 5:27 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is awesomely horrible and strangely quotable. I hope he becomes an internet sensation and then contracts projectile leprosy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:33 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a cynical but weirdly fascinating rhetorical technique: 'Do you want to be a leader? Then do exactly as I instruct you.' This summer, I watched street magicians go through their patter in repeated performances for hours and hours, and their spiel for securing donations at the end wasn't a million miles from this - make it clear that you expect a certain minimum amount, and that you'll be annoyed if you don't get it, break rising uncomfortableness with some humour, then reiterate that you expect a donation, and explain exactly how they should deliver it to you. It leaves a lingering tension and discomfort that people can easily break by, well, giving you money. I was always a little shocked at how much of a hard sell the crowd got.

But those are street performers hustling for loose change - it's kind of fair game. This man is actively evil.
posted by RokkitNite at 5:49 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's not a firm believer in the idea that the meek shall inherit the earth--the meek don't have the balls to try to guilt-trip the faithful into giving him their bank account information the way this "man of God" does.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:49 AM on November 4, 2010


Naaw, man, just hip to this.
posted by eegphalanges at 5:57 AM on November 4, 2010


So, who here's seen Marjoe?
posted by echo target at 6:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Praise Mammon
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I feel about this kinda the same way I felt about the clips of Jeremiah Wright's sermons that were circulating during the Obama campaign two years ago. There's not much context here, and it's a message that comes from within a certain tradition that outsiders are going to have a hard time putting in context.

Ed Young comes out of a fundamentalist Baptist tradition that teaches that the Old Testament tithe (giving 10% of your yield of crops or livestock to the support the temple and priests) is something that God still requires of Christians in regard to the church. That's not something that he invented, that's the standard fundamentalist belief about the tithe, and it wasn't a doctrine that they came up with out of greed (although it may be abused by greedy church leaders). The strict teaching about the tithe is part of an overarching approach to the Bible that emphasizes the importance of obeying the commands of God, literally interpreted. Fundy and evangelical pastors have been telling their churches for a long, long time that when they get paid, they should give 10% to God right away--that their contribution to the church should be the very first check they write each month. The reason they say that is because that's exactly what the Bible says about your crop. When harvest comes, you take the best of it to the temple first.

Now, like a lot of fundy doctrines, I can give you 20 reasons off the top of my head why that's a lousy way to read the Bible, but that's not the point I want to make here. What I want to say is that, while I would never preach this way, and I understand how this looks to outsiders, from inside Pastor Young's tradition, he's giving the crowd what they want. I think one thing outsiders don't often understand about conservative preaching is the extent to which preachers are speaking for the congregation more than to it. They already agree with him about the tithe, because that's how they think the Bible should be read. Now he's doing what they want their pastor to do--applying long-standing doctrine to the current times, calling them to greater discipline, and reminding them of the rewards of faithful obedience.

When I was in the preaching business and I covered money topics, I talked about supporting the budget of our local congregation as one of many good things that could be done with your money, and I talked a lot about poverty relief and aid organizations. And you wouldn't believe how many church members came up to me and said I wasn't being faithful to the scriptures if I didn't call the church to give 10%, right away, every month, to the work of the church. They wanted me to preach more like Ed Young, and they harbored suspicions about my doctrinal soundness because I didn't. In Ed Young's tradition, there's a much much stronger history of tithing than there is in mine, and I'm sure a large percentage of his church is applauding his "bold, faithful preaching."

Clearly he enjoys it, and clearly he's supporting rather than critiquing the traditional teaching. But when your denomination has spent 100 years saying that obedience to God means tithing, it's not a huge stretch at all to say "one good way to consistently do what you already know you ought to do is to choose your amount and then set up an automatic withdrawal." From what I know of Ed Young, the guy's not a charlatan or a huckster. He's just unusually unapologetic about a consistent application of established doctrine.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:01 AM on November 4, 2010 [48 favorites]


I am a firm believer......
That this man is a scumbag. I also note that he is in Miami.
(yes I am bitter and angry).
posted by adamvasco at 6:03 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


From his church's website:
Besides a cash gift, there are many creative giving options:
  • Stocks

  • Bonds

  • Gold/Silver

  • Land

  • Homes

  • Cars

  • Jewelry

  • Coin collections
  • But even more interesting: The video from his Twitter feed, in which he encourages everyone to vote and says, "I'm going to do exactly what Rush told me to do."
    posted by Houstonian at 6:05 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Mote, meet beam: Particle or wave?
    posted by eegphalanges at 6:10 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    "Don't want [to tithe]? Fine, live under a curse."

    You know what? If you fear curses, maybe you're not smart enough to handle your own money. Give it all to Ed.
    posted by ColdChef at 6:10 AM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


    He's just unusually unapologetic about a consistent application of established doctrine.

    He's a huckster with a receptive and pliant audience. But I'm not convinced that having that kind of audience makes him any less a huckster.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:12 AM on November 4, 2010


    And I thought my shul chairman laid it on thick during his annual Yom Kippur appeal.
    posted by PenDevil at 6:14 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Ed Young comes out of a fundamentalist Baptist tradition that teaches that the Old Testament tithe (giving 10% of your yield of crops or livestock to the support the temple and priests) is something that God still requires of Christians in regard to the church. That's not something that he invented, that's the standard fundamentalist belief about the tithe, and it wasn't a doctrine that they came up with out of greed (although it may be abused by greedy church leaders)....

    no true scotsman....

    or you could say that fleecing the gullible is such a strong part of the Southern religious tradition that it's become doctrinal...
    posted by ennui.bz at 6:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This is just gross. That guy should be thrown in jail.
    posted by pwally at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2010


    He's a huckster with a receptive and pliant audience.

    I dunno, there are 3 folks in the front row at around 6:36 who seem to be laughing a little incredulously at the end.
    posted by mediareport at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2010


    @Pater Aletheias: I appreciate your thoughtful perspective on this, but I'm still struggling to make sense of it. For example, at 1:50 Ed Young says: "How many of you guys show up and expect a blessing without this? [holding up bank withdrawal slip] You're wasting your time and God's time." Is it really possible to say "you can't receive a blessing from God without giving me a check first" without being, on some level, fraudulent?

    Maybe your point is that he really believes that's true, and his audience already believed it was true anyway, because someone else told them it was true before he was born. I guess I can see the moral distinction there, and it's interesting to know. But, does it make this video any less upsetting?
    posted by jhc at 6:31 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Pastor Ed Young linked to luxury.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 6:34 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Is it really possible to say "you can't receive a blessing from God without giving me a check first" without being, on some level, fraudulent?

    I think the distinction is that you're not giving the money to HIM, you're giving it to GOD. He doesn't make the rules, god did.
    posted by ColdChef at 6:36 AM on November 4, 2010


    from inside Pastor Young's tradition, he's giving the crowd what they want.

    Fair enough, Pater Aletheias, but is he really giving them what they want if he has to threaten and shame them into doing it by pointing out his supersekrit security cameras that will put everyone on the YouTubes if they don't fill out that card RIGHT NOW?

    That's just creepy. That's mafia tactics right there. "Pay the nice man, or we don't know what MIGHT happen to your front store windows, capiche?"
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:39 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Fundy and evangelical pastors

    When I first read that I thought you meant pastors who were particularly into funds. Whoops.
    posted by WalterMitty at 6:45 AM on November 4, 2010


    I can't currently watch the video, but I wanted to build on what Pater Alethias said:

    But when your denomination has spent 100 years saying that obedience to God means tithing, it's not a huge stretch at all to say "one good way to consistently do what you already know you ought to do is to choose your amount and then set up an automatic withdrawal."

    You might think that the automatic deduction part is shady, even if you don't think the tithe part is. But this is increasingly common in churches of all sorts. ParishPay provides this service for millions of Catholics, including the Archdiocese of New York.
    posted by Jahaza at 6:55 AM on November 4, 2010


    Y'all need to back the fuck off! God's up his grill. What do you expect him to do?!
    posted by dobbs at 7:01 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


    "We've got security cameras that are awesome that you can't see."

    Christianity in a nutshell.
    posted by swift at 7:14 AM on November 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


    Fair enough, Pater Aletheias, but is he really giving them what they want if he has to threaten and shame them into doing it by pointing out his supersekrit security cameras that will put everyone on the YouTubes if they don't fill out that card RIGHT NOW?

    This is an important distinction. I mean, he sort of mediates some of his statements by making half-jokes, but he's basically using bullying, fear of peer disapproval and high pressure sales tactics to get people to fill in there and then. If the congregation really were completely on board already, why would he have to strongarm them like that?
    posted by RokkitNite at 7:17 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


    But if you don't tithe, how can you ensure your front-row seats in heaven? You don't want to end up in a nosebleed seat for eternity, do you? And the pastor's cut? Oh, well, that's just the handling and convenience fees, same as Ticketmaster. Come on now, hurry up and sign. There are a lot of other folks who want that seat if you aren't going to buy it.
    posted by caution live frogs at 7:18 AM on November 4, 2010


    I think the distinction is that you're not giving the money to HIM, you're giving it to GOD. He doesn't make the rules, god did.

    I think the distinction is that some people have fairly faulty bullshit detectors, and it's no coincidence that the fundamentalist tradition attracts large crowds of the same kind of people who would fall for the classic "give me all your money or the invisible sky wizard will put a hoodoo curse on you" gambit.
    posted by FatherDagon at 7:21 AM on November 4, 2010


    From what I know of Ed Young, the guy's not a charlatan or a huckster.

    Having watched the video, I disagree vehemently. The man is an Evangelical preacher!
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:35 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


    Ed Young comes out of a fundamentalist Baptist tradition that teaches that the Old Testament tithe (giving 10% of your yield of crops or livestock to the support the temple and priests) is something that God still requires of Christians...

    It's not his personal greed, he's just following the tradition of skimming the cream off the suckers established by the writers of his holy book thousands of years ago. So that's ok then, right?
    posted by rusty at 7:38 AM on November 4, 2010


    Hit play on this song before opening video.

    I was really expecting this.
    posted by shakespeherian at 7:40 AM on November 4, 2010


    >Clearly he enjoys it, and clearly he's supporting rather than critiquing the traditional teaching.
    Clearly he's ignoring the parts of the New Testament where Jesus tells his followers to give their material possessions to the poor, not to some scheister spending his flock's money on a Falcon 50 private jet. I doubt he ever preaches separating milk plates from meat plates with equal zeal, for reasons that are obvious, along with many other commandments that Jesus doesn't bother to repeat for some reason.

    We don't excuse other leaders for reflecting the attitudes of delusional masses in exchange for wealth and power. Swindling people out of their money is wrong, and will always be wrong, regardless of what weak apologetics are employed. Abusing religion makes the crime more heinous, not less.

    Shame on this man for defrauding people through distorted Christian teachings, and shame on you for defending him.
    posted by notion at 7:58 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Clearly he's ignoring the parts of the New Testament where Jesus tells his followers to give their material possessions to the poor, not to some scheister spending his flock's money on a Falcon 50 private jet.

    Not that I want to come out on Young's side, but you are overlooking the bit where Jesus praises the poor widow who gives all the money she has to the temple treasury.
    posted by shakespeherian at 8:05 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Pastor Ed Young linked to luxury.

    Well, crap. That's pretty damning. Clearly, I haven't followed the guy's career closely enough. I can respect pastors who preach a hard line on tithing, but only if they are equally strict about the "don't store up for yourselves treasures on earth" part. My instincts are always to give the benefit of the doubt, but it looks like the cynics were right about this one.

    It's a shame, too. Ed's dad, Ed Young, Sr., has had what seemed to be a respectable ministry at Second Baptist, Houston, for a long time, and his brother, Cliff Young, is part of a Christian band called Caedmon's Call which has some of the more thoughtful and sincerely devout lyrics of any of the more popular Christian bands. But it looks like Ed Jr's preaching success grew faster than his virtue did. Damn, that sucks.

    Fair enough, Pater Aletheias, but is he really giving them what they want if he has to threaten and shame them into doing it by pointing out his supersekrit security cameras that will put everyone on the YouTubes if they don't fill out that card RIGHT NOW?

    That's just creepy. That's mafia tactics right there. "Pay the nice man, or we don't know what MIGHT happen to your front store windows, capiche?"


    I don't know. Clearly I was wrong about the this one, but that still looks more like a joke than a threat to me.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:07 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Holy rollers used to give bang for their buck though, with really cool music and stuff. I love holy roller music. Does he at least strip down to his knickers and ask for dollar tips? otherwise I'd rather stick with the mormon tabernacle choir, at least they sing.
    posted by shinybaum at 8:09 AM on November 4, 2010


    A few months ago, I was behind a Mercedes S class in traffic with a license plate that read "TITHE". Don't really know if the driver was a pastor, but...
    posted by jeoc at 8:14 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Is it really possible to say "you can't receive a blessing from God without giving me a check first" without being, on some level, fraudulent?
    That's the kicker right there. It can easily be argued that the doctrinal position he's advancing isn't about giving to HIM, but giving to GOD AND HIS WORK, which for members of that congregation happens to be Ed Young. There's a lot to object to, but he's not arguing that All Christians Should Send Money To Ed Young -- they should tithe to their local congregation.

    Churches I attended -- at least, the non-skeezy ones -- took a very visible, very obvious collection every Sunday. It was also said explicitly that it was NOT for visitors or people checking things out. It was for the folks who'd decided to officially become part of the congregation.

    It's a little bit like the PBS telethons. Annoying, but churches pursue a model that is essentially impossible to sustain unless the people who attend kick in cash regularly.
    posted by verb at 8:17 AM on November 4, 2010


    I think the distinction is that some people have fairly faulty bullshit detectors.
    Yeah, see, that's definitely a problem. While I think there's a strong case to be made for an emphasis on members of a congregation supporting the church they're a part of, it's definitely an easily abusable system. Maybe they can fix it in the next patch.
    posted by verb at 8:19 AM on November 4, 2010


    I hope, at least, that this money-sucking attempt was brazen enough that some members of the congregation can see this grifting scumbag for what he really is. Sadly, I kind of doubt it.
    posted by Hydrophage at 8:24 AM on November 4, 2010


    @RokkitNite: The street performer isn't asking for your bank account information. People hustling a little is just redistribution of wealth. People hustling a lot is capitalism.
    posted by outlandishmarxist at 8:27 AM on November 4, 2010


    At the very least tax this fucker
    posted by schwa at 8:29 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


    As an aside, the male-centric perspective of this was surprisingly jarring ('ask your wife for your routing number cos only the man is filling in the tithe'), and even in the meta-commentary in the video ('if you are a real man you will leave the church').

    This guy appears to be remarkably immoral. Mocking people being in debt and urging them to tithe should be a crime.
    posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    There comes a time in your life when you need to take a good, long hard look at the man in front of you and ask yourself one question: "What does God need with a starship?"

    God doesn't need your money. People need your money. If you want to give it away, give it to people who can use it. Bypass the asshole who is making you feel like a bad person if you don't give him your bank info. God is not running a Nigerian scam. Give me your info and I promise eternal life! That's not how it works, people. Give the money to people who transparently use it to help others, with no strings attached. Make THIS life better. Don't worry about whether the next one exists or not. If you make this life better for everyone, you've earned a spot in the next life. If there is no next life, you didn't waste the time you had here.

    I grew up Catholic. They passed a plate weekly, sure. But no one gave anyone shitty looks for not throwing in cash. The priest didn't spend half the sermon begging for my change. In fact he never mentioned it, not once. He talked about god. That's kind of why the church exists, isn't it? Spreading the message of god, not the threat of god abandoning you if you don't pay up.

    Screw the corporate-entity for-profit god. Don't let your religion be one of guilt and graft. Throw the moneychangers out of the temple already. Let the hucksters buy the starship on their own dime.
    posted by caution live frogs at 8:44 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


    It's hard to know where to start with this.
    posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:49 AM on November 4, 2010


    He's not only asking people to give him their money, he's being an asshole about it.

    I would think telling people about all the wonderful things the church will do with the money, e.g. feed the poor, help congregants with no health insurance, would be more persuasive. But I'm betting this church probably doesn't do anything nice like that. That's the problem with a lot of Christianity today. They don't DO anything, just yammer forever about God and how people who believe a certain set of things are better than everyone else and spend people's money. Fuck every church like this.

    Not that I want to come out on Young's side, but you are overlooking the bit where Jesus praises the poor widow who gives all the money she has to the temple treasury.

    It's been a while since I read the New Testament but I do not remember this. Yikes! Do you have the verse chapter thingy? I though Jesus was all about sticking it to the greedy temple trolls who were shaking people down.
    posted by Jess the Mess at 8:56 AM on November 4, 2010


    I am not a crook!
    posted by ericb at 9:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It's been a while since I read the New Testament but I do not remember this. Yikes! Do you have the verse chapter thingy? I though Jesus was all about sticking it to the greedy temple trolls who were shaking people down.

    Mark 12, verses 41 - 44. It's very much a passage about sticking it to the richies, and the self-important, etc., but just because Jesus was opposed to the money lenders in the temple that doesn't mean that he was against giving money to the temple at all.
    posted by shakespeherian at 9:02 AM on November 4, 2010


    Jesus praises the widow who gives her mites* because she is being incredibly charitable. He doesn't shake her down for the mites, and nor does he insist that some male relative of hers be the one to do it.

    Congratulations, Ed Young! You've set Christianity back 2,000 years!

    *Mark 12:41-44 41 And he sat down over against the treasury, and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: 44 for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:04 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Also, Jess the Mess, remember that in a pre-welfare state, the temple was the source of charitable funding for the poor and sick, etc. It seems pretty clear to me that Jesus's point was "How awesome is this poor lady for giving all she has to help others, and these rich folks are being jerks for priding themselves on giving more, even though they won't miss it."
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:06 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Right, I didn't mean to imply that Jesus was down with shakedowns; I was offering it as a counter to the earlier implication that Jesus was against giving money to the church.
    posted by shakespeherian at 9:13 AM on November 4, 2010


    At the very least tax this fucker

    He is being taxed. Churches as institutions aren't taxed on the donations given to them, but a preacher's salary and benefits are taxed at about the same rate as anyone else.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:14 AM on November 4, 2010


    Pastor Ed Young linked to luxury.

    Jesus Fucking Christ, what an asshole!

    ... spending his flock's money on a Falcon 50 private jet.

    And not telling them about it!
    "News 8 discovered the jet parked in a hangar at Alliance Airport north of Fort Worth, tucked away where only a select few can see it.

    Those who hear him preach every Sunday have never been told about the aircraft.

    'The staff members are told that there is no plane, and several staff members who have actually been on the plane have denied that there is a plane,' said the former employee source.

    ... But it's not just the jet and the international travel the Young keeps out of sight.

    News 8 has also learned that Young's 10,000 square foot, $1.5 million estate on Lake Grapevine is not listed on the tax rolls in his name, but rather in the name of 'Palometa Revocable Trust.'

    Records show that Young was paid $240,000 a year as a parsonage allowance; that's in addition what sources say is a $1 million yearly pastor's salary.

    ... News 8 has also learned that in 2007, Young sold the intellectual property of Fellowship Church's marketing Web site, CreativePastors. He also sold the church's membership mailing list to a newly-formed, for-profit company called EY Publishing."
    As mentioned above, he's indeed a shyster!
    posted by ericb at 9:16 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I understand the concept of tithing, but (and since I'm not religious, I could be completely wrong on this) I always thought the point of it was to provide money that the temple/ church could use to redistribute in various ways to parishioner in need. Food, shelter, counseling... that kind of thing, as well as to pay for the upkeep of the church.

    Why do the faithful not get more upset when they see things like private jets, mansions, and fleets of luxury cars? I sort of think it might be a "Look how good my leader is living, we must be the best" thing, but don't they understand how much more value that money would have had being put back into their community faith?

    Or maybe I don't really understand it after all.
    posted by quin at 9:17 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I realize that this guy kept it hidden, but many televangelists who live in opulence don't even bother to try to hide the wealth.
    posted by quin at 9:19 AM on November 4, 2010


    Pastor Ed Young linked to luxury.
    "[Ole] Anthony says he and his Trinity Foundation investigative team have been monitoring Ed Young for the past three years. He believes Young has fallen into the same trap as many other televangelists he has investigated over the years."*
    Trinity Foundation website -- "Monitoring and investigating religious fraud since 1987."
    posted by ericb at 9:23 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


    In addition to his "10,000 square foot, $1.5 million estate on Lake Grapevine"* :
    "Young's condo is located in a new high-rise building in Coconut Grove, Miami, which is gated and off-limits to the public. His 2,600 square foot unit was purchased in 2007 for $1.1 million.

    From his 16th floor front balcony, the Youngs enjoy a spectacular view of the Dinner Key Marina, the largest marina in Florida."*
    posted by ericb at 9:28 AM on November 4, 2010


    I realize that this guy kept it hidden, but many televangelists who live in opulence don't even bother to try to hide the wealth.

    Prosperity Theology. Basically, why would you take advice on getting rich from a poor person? If you're going to preach that material wealth comes through faith, then it only makes sense that the pastor is the richest guy in the room.

    It's not my theology, but there it is.

    Also, thanks for the insightful comments, Pater Aletheias.
    posted by GuyZero at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I see a problem in these comments about the church, and I think it's the same problem we have in the US about how we see government.

    We demand church do good works, but we don't want to pay for it.

    I am not defend Ed Young Jr, a guy who appears to have his hand in the till, but I do worry there's a disconnect coming through here. A 10% tithe can do a hell of a lot of good. It's up to the congregation (and in more top-down churches the denomination) to hold the church administration accountable, but I know a number of big churches that run huge social services programs based entirely on congregation donations that top out at 10%.

    And I'll note, too, that one of Islam's pillars is the Zakat, the weekly tithe of all believers to a benefit fund for those in need. It's required. No namby-pamby "give what you desire," but if you want into Heaven, you write a check. (And this, by the by, is why you see so many Muslim congregations in trouble with giving money to "terrorist organizations" -- because groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have huge Zakat-funded social service and education programs that get entangled with more moderate groups who don't do their homework.)

    But I do see this pervasive belief in America that we deserve free ponies, and the church/state better give them to us, but hell if we're going to pay for them.

    By the way, only 5% of American Christians tithe, and only 9% of those give 1/10th of their income or more. The average tithe varies from study to study, but it's usually between 2-2.6% of net income. And that's in line with the general population's charitable giving.

    Americans, despite having the highest GDP in the world, are remarkably stingy.
    posted by dw at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Ed Young Jr.'s Admissions Are More Damning Than The Original News Story.
    posted by ericb at 9:33 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I can respect pastors who preach a hard line on tithing, but only if they are equally strict about the "don't store up for yourselves treasures on earth" part.

    Can you name a single one that does that, on the large national scale? (i.e. not just some podunk town chapel somewhere with a congregation of 60).
    posted by FatherDagon at 9:34 AM on November 4, 2010


    Ed Young's Response [25:55].
    posted by ericb at 9:37 AM on November 4, 2010


    This reminds me of a friend's account of a service she attended in Toronto. It involved a lecture on how people weren't giving enough money to the church and a rockin' song that included the lyrics "you better open up your purse or God will put you under a curse".

    "Scriptural" or not, that is incredibly tacky. My friend was so offended she never went back to that church.

    I don't think it's out of line for churches to ask for money, but it really should be done in a business-like, low-key way.
    posted by orange swan at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2010


    @me: >> Is it really possible to say "you can't receive a blessing from God without giving me a check first" without being, on some level, fraudulent?

    @verb: > That's the kicker right there. It can easily be argued that the doctrinal position he's advancing isn't about giving to HIM, but giving to GOD AND HIS WORK, which for members of that congregation happens to be Ed Young.


    I can get behind two basic pitches for donations. One is, if you don't contribute, we can't afford a church. The other is, if you don't do good works, you can't receive God's blessing, and giving the church money is one way to do good works.

    This video as pretty firmly in a third category: if you don't give the church money, you don't receive God's blessing. It's a different kind of proposition -- a straight-up trade of blessing for money. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a guy making that kind of offer (as opposed to the first two) turns out to be shady.

    @dw: I see a problem in these comments about the church, and I think it's the same problem we have in the US about how we see government. We demand church do good works, but we don't want to pay for it.

    There's definitely a value to religious giving. When Catholic Charities stopped handling adoptions in Massachusetts (because they'd rather kids not be adopted at all than be adopted by gay couples, for Christ's sake), there was no secular organization ready to step up and do what they had been doing. See also, "My research establishes a link between secular views and strikingly low levels of charitable giving and volunteering."

    A big question that people who aren't part of a church should grapple with is, how to step up to an equivalent level of charity without the religious structure?

    But the answer sure isn't Ed Young.
    posted by jhc at 10:08 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Ah, wasn't content with just any jet, he had to go and get a Falcon 50 (plane porn).

    If you ever want to get in a pissing contest with rich guys there are mainly two factors that are important for this sort of thing- how many engines it has, and how far it can go. The little Falcon 50 has 3, which automatically makes it better than two. And its range out of the box is 6,480 km. It's fast too, and go 915 km/h and usually hustles along at 888 km/m, which may be hard to grasp, this thing can go just short of the sound barrier (Mach .86).
    posted by zenon at 10:21 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    And with planes like this it doesn't really matter how much it cost up front (a cool 9 million) it is the operating costs that are just staggering.

    The Falcon costs approx $3,566 per HOUR of operation, or about $8.5 per nautical mile. There is a price for being fast & having 3 engines. It is also very very expensive just sitting on the ground. It will cost you around $685 000 just to keep the lights on every year - most of that goes to pay for servicing and maintenance, and you'll likely need someone to pilot, and a co-pilot too.

    Hell this thing requires over 3 hours of maintenance for every hour it goes zipping about.

    I guess what I am saying is that this fella didn't just get himself a private jet, he got a ridiculous one. This isn't the jet Jesus would buy.
    posted by zenon at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Let's see, Fellowship Church in Grapevine, just check my handy does this church have any outside financial oversight I trust do-hickey and... no.
    posted by SoFlo1 at 10:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    The problem with tithing is that mega-churches should be doing mega-good. Costs of maintaining the church holdings, printing the brochures and literature, and other day-to-day costs of running a church probably follow the same savings of bulk as any other agency. It doesn't cost the same amount to run a church with a congregation of 100,000 as it does to run 100 churches with congregations of 1,000 each. So the amount available to preach to the masses and do good works must be fantastic, right? For example, the Mormon Church must be doing awesome things if annual shake-downs, er the chance to discuss the blessings of paying tithing ensures that everyone may enjoy such blessings of tithing 10%. Or the church can amass land "roughly comparable to the state of Delaware." But being pressured to tithe isn't only for the Mormons.

    I understand the want to follow the Bible, especially if you've been raised to believe that the Bible is a literal source of guidance. And I understand the need for the church to take in money to cover costs and do good works, so donation cards are in the seats of the congregation. I used to attend church, I remember those, and I remember the bowl being passed, with comments reminding the congregation to support the church's work. But this video is beyond that.

    This is a long, detailed explanation on JUMBO SCREENS about how to fill out an automatic deposit form. This is part of a sermon to thousands. This walk-through is not necessary to give to God, or God's servants. This is about the money. If people really want to give 10% a month, they can talk to someone afterwords, visit the website or pick up a brochure after the sermon. But spending over 5 minutes on this, talking about picking up the blue sheet from their seat, holding it in your hand, and "looking foolish" if you haven't isn't about tithing for the lord. Cameras recording everything, posting the videos on YouTube? This is about goading people into acting along, this is about fear and threats. This is about money for this man.
    posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Now, as some of you might know, I'm ordained under the Universal Life Church, a good enough church that they ordain people over the internet and let 'em marry other people together, if those other people don't mind having their wedding officiated by some guy who did what they coulda done if they'd thought of it a couple months earlier.

    And in my tradition, my particular practice of faith, which you don't have to agree with to take part in, you should all write me a check, today, right now. I only want seven percent of your money, which, in spiritual terms is a real bargain. We're all friends here, and I'm not going to let my friends pay retail for salvation. No siree, I'm giving y'all a discount because I like you.

    Now, I realize a lot of you are atheists, and you're thinking, why should I give this guy money? I don't even believe in the thinnest worn flannel of a God, a God so deist it doesn't exist. Well, I've got keystroke loggers that are invisible and run from your root directory on all of your computers, but I can't reveal them because that'd be an affront to your lack of faith. I know, I know, some of you aren't convinced, but I got another reason — because I will curse believers with a magic hex, and you know that freaks their shit out and you love to laugh at freaked out believers. Just put in the memo line who you want me to hex, and shazam! I'll send the hexee an e-card too, just in case they don't hear about from the ALMIGHTY GOD.

    If you do already believe, you know what I'm saying is Gospel. You know that I represent your faith pretty well, and that my beard is luxurious to the touch, and you've thought about stuffing your pillows with my whiskers because you can't get enough of that musky beard smell.

    Am I saying that if you donate to me, you'll always smell my beard? No. I can't make that promise. Only God can make that promise. But yes, I am saying that, exactly. Smell my beard.

    And after I'm done with my jetpack or motorscooter or mountain of cocaine that I buy with your tithes, I'll make sure that God knows who did it, even if I have to scream your name out to the police as they arrest me. I will pretend to be you and you will get all the credit in heaven.

    I hear you saying to yourself, "How can I be a spiritual leader?" in that dumb, sarcastic voice you think sounds like me, and I'm telling you how — you give me seven percent of your money. Or 14 percent if you want to enter the super-secret Heaven's Elect club, which includes discounts on everything from a bris to a backrub, all sanctioned by the very fact that God's not stopping me from doing it, and there's not a stone he can't lift unless he makes it, but don't think about that too hard. It's a paradox. God's paradox.

    I mean, seriously, how do you show up to Metafilter and expect a favorite without giving me seven percent? It's insulting! You're insulting God! And when God gets back, I'm going to tell him! And he's going to be pissed!

    (Also available for weddings.)
    posted by klangklangston at 11:03 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Aren't multiple screens in a "church" a bit tacky?
    posted by Cranberry at 11:07 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I just watched most of Pastor Ed's clarification and it looked a little unconvincing. For example, "I don't have a 10,000 sq foot house, I have 7,800 sq feet of air-conditioned space. And I have a share in a boat, and and a publishing company, and stocks and shares. And a pension. And a condo. But I haven't paid for the condo or house so it's ok"
    posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2010


    a preacher's salary and benefits are taxed at about the same rate as anyone else

    Actually, no. The Clergy Housing Allowance isn't subject to state or Federal taxes.

    And on the one hand, sure, clergy do a lot of work out of their homes. On the other hand, so do college presidents, but they still have to pay taxes on their housing allowance.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This isn't the jet Jesus would buy.

    But this IS the jet that you should buy for Jesus!
    posted by LordSludge at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2010


    I grew up in a pentecostal church and there came a time at one of the churches my family had gone to for a long time where, I guess they were low on funds and tithing was not hitting the levels they wanted, so they basically barricaded the doors and "prayed" that the congregation would give. Because they're doing "god's work" no one will call their higher-ups on stuff like this, but this actually did finally set off some serious alarms in a lot of congregation and likely hurt more than it helped.

    At another assemblies of god church, they'd basically hold all night prayers, but at least there they didn't have ushers blocking the doors as they passed around the title satchel.

    I assure you, a great number of these pastors and executive staff at churches have no interest in living in austerity and asceticism. They want the flashiest toys, they want a regular lifestyle, and they want to fob it off on building their church and doing more good work.

    In the end, the entire organizational ethos is founded on guilt. There are parables like the poor woman giving that cause people to step outside of the bounds of what they can afford, with promises that "god will provide", there are stories about storing "treasures in heaven", there are untold social pressures that make it very clear you are personally hurting the church if you do not give. I would personally be completely amazed if there wasn't a leaderboard in some churches where people try to beat one another with their annual giving, or score certain "achievements".

    ...actually, I think I just hit on a fantastic game/church hybrid that I need to go develop. And integrate with Facebook. I'll be right back.
    posted by disillusioned at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2010


    Cranberry, see the size of the congregation in this video linked above by ericb. Not everyone can be up front and personal with such an inspirational man. Also, you don't need traditional printed hymnals for everyone, and the current line in the song can be highlighted so everyone can keep along with the singing. For those who have only been in more traditional settings, it feels weird, but it's not uncommon in more modern churches.
    posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 AM on November 4, 2010


    Aren't multiple screens in a "church" a bit tacky?

    My sister-in-law (whose suburban Methodist church we attend every Christmas to see our niece sing in the choir) attends a church with two screens to let everyone follow in the hymnal, not to mention to tell people to turn off their iPhones. I think their sanctuary seats 1500, which means nowhere near the size of a megachurch. It's weird to me, too, but it seems to be the done thing.
    posted by immlass at 11:52 AM on November 4, 2010


    Just so you know, they are getting the part about the curse from the book of Malachi:
    Chapter 3:6-12
    6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
    “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

    8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

    “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

    “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD


    My church teaches about tithes, offerings and alms. Tithe is the ten percent, offering is anything over that one feels inclined to give, and alms are directly to the poor. Our church is incredibly open with our finances-in fact they used to print the budget in the bulletin every week. Another thing they do is tithe ten percent of what they get in the offering plate to go directly to support missions and missionaries.

    Rarely does the pastor preach about tithing. In fact for years and years he never said a word about it. But he-and we-do believe that the 9/10ths go farther if you give God the tenth-after all, He really does own all of it. That having been said, we believe in being wise where that money goes, and if our pastors were acting the fool with the money, they wouldn't be getting any from ME.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:59 AM on November 4, 2010


    So the amount available to preach to the masses and do good works must be fantastic, right?
    Having worked at a genuine megachurch for a couple of years, I can say that some actually are doing really startling and impressive things. One program that comes to mind is the network of homeless shelters and food pantries maintained by the church all over the Chicagoland area. Another program that always impressed me was the auto garage. A team of volunteer mechanics restored cars that had been purchased by the church or donated to the program and maintained a bay of thirty or forty autos at any given time. Area families that needed transportation but had lost their cars could come in, explain their situation, and get a free car.

    All sorts of arguments can be made about the social cost and the implied ebt to the church that was felt and how it was a soft-sell for religion, but I will say that I've seen some large congregations leverage their size to do interesting and encouraging things. It's not to suggest that it's all roses, but it's not all dudes with bad tans and gold Caddies telling the rubes to fork up more cash for the new mansion, either.
    posted by verb at 12:06 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This discussion has gotten me wondering: how do most churches decide what to do with their offering?

    In the church I went to growing up, the breakdown was published: a certain percentage to salaries and overhead, a certain percentage to the bonds for the building (it was a fairly new church), and a certain percentage to missionaries and Christian aid organizations. But when you gave money, you could indicate on the envelope if there was a particular way you wanted your gift to be broken up.

    If you wanted to support a particular missionary, you just had to send a copy of the missionary's doctrine statement to the board of elders, and they'd approve it. The church officially supported hundreds of different missionaries and organizations, which really meant that there were one or two people in the church setting aside part of their offerings for each of those organizations.

    Is that kind of system unusual? This was a pretty middle-of-the-road evangelical church, and I'd always kind of assumed that most churches had some form of the same system. "Supporting the church" shouldn't just mean paying the church staff's salaries.
    posted by roll truck roll at 12:13 PM on November 4, 2010


    He's a huckster with a receptive and pliant audience.

    I dunno, there are 3 folks in the front row at around 6:36 who seem to be laughing a little incredulously at the end.


    That's his Jewish accountants and lawyers.
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2010


    That's his Jewish accountants and lawyers.

    And his Congressman.
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:18 PM on November 4, 2010


    Nearer to thee....
    posted by adamvasco at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2010


    Clearly he's ignoring the parts of the New Testament . . .

    Most fundamentalists seem to ignore virtually all of the New Testament, and concentrate on the Old. Despite their repeated invocations of Christ, they are not Christians.
    posted by Neiltupper at 1:23 PM on November 4, 2010


    It's a different kind of proposition -- a straight-up trade of blessing for money.

    See: Catholic Indulgences.
    posted by ericb at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2010


    Ah crap, this reminds me, I need to send our guild leader some cash by paypal for our Vent server.
    posted by Xoebe at 2:54 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    "I'm in debt! Tithe. [inaudible] so difficult ... these student loans. Tithe." -- Ed Young

    "But now the guy's gotta come up with Paulie's money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me." -- Henry Hill, Goodfellas, narration.
    posted by pfarner at 11:36 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


    See: Catholic Indulgences.

    ericb, are you just in it for the yucks? Or do you have a serious point? An indulgence is not a blessing and simony in general has always been prohibited.
    posted by Jahaza at 11:52 AM on November 5, 2010


    Did you click through to my link? It's about the "abuses" of indulgences, especially during the Middle Ages ("professional pardoners," etc).
    posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on November 5, 2010


    Which is part of why it's not clear what your point is.
    posted by Jahaza at 12:38 PM on November 5, 2010


    I find it abhorrent when religious figures use guilt, promise impossible rewards (such as salvation(, etc. in return for money.
    posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Jahaza: - I think what ericb is on about ; and I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong is something like this from the wiki page :
    Many of these quaestores unfortunately exceeded Church teachings, whether in avarice or ignorant zeal, and promised impossible rewards like salvation from eternal damnation in return for money. I would not be so polite and just state that like the pardoners of old
    Ed Young is a scumbag and those who defend him or his ways are equally scuzzy. Little old ladies are donating their $10 while eating cat food so this arsehat can fly around in his falcon jet. Are you OK with that?
    posted by adamvasco at 1:09 PM on November 5, 2010


    What adamvasco said!
    posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on November 5, 2010


    So then why did you write "See: Catholic Indulgences." and not "See abuses of Catholic indulgences"?
    posted by Jahaza at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2010


    Oh, Jesus Fuckin' Christ ... maybe because I expected people to fuckin' click on the link!
    posted by ericb at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


    What a great point, Jahaza!
    posted by roll truck roll at 1:36 PM on November 5, 2010


    Abuses of Catholic Indulgences is an oxymoron.
    posted by adamvasco at 1:51 PM on November 5, 2010


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