Pay up or get out!
April 17, 2001 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Pay up or get out! ''Please be advised, that you are in default in the payment of tithes to the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Inc., for a period in excess of 90 days.'' ...If the money isn't paid... ''all privileges of membership in the Church will be immediately suspended....'' God loves you, but we won't if we don't get the cash, Now that's Religion!!!
posted by revbrian (21 comments total)
''Please be advised,'' her letter begins, ''that you are in default in the payment of tithes to the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Inc., for a period in excess of 90 days.''

Inc.!?! They consider themselves an incorporated company?
posted by mathowie at 8:33 AM on April 17, 2001

"God, Inc. has announced monday that it's filing for bankruptcy, sending stock prices toiling down more than 40%...there's not some good news however, self esteem co and self-worth, inc. has merged, the stock went up 1/2 a point."
posted by tiaka at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2001

Now, the real question here is...should that be Gross or Net. That link is Windows Media audio link, so's I don't get yelled at.
posted by Doug at 8:46 AM on April 17, 2001

And here I thought bill collectors were in league with Satan. Shows what I know.

"Kindly remit. Failure to do so in a timely fashion will result in immersion in the Lake of Fire for all Eternity, where radioactive lampreys will gnaw on your ankles and scuttling demons will prod you with red-hot pitchforks and there is naught to read but Tom Clancy books.

Have a nice day!"

posted by Skot at 8:48 AM on April 17, 2001

[Inc.!?! They consider themselves an incorporated company?]

Most churches are incorporated. It would almost be foolish not to be for tax exemption purposes. Of course, there is also liabilty issues.

If, for example, in your pastoral counseling you gave advice that turned out poorly - You can be sued.
posted by revbrian at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2001

Cheap shots, folks. There is another pastor quoted in the article who emphatically states that requiring people to tithe is "not Christian."
posted by jmcnally at 9:59 AM on April 17, 2001

Well, gee, as far as I know tithing is a required part of the Mormon Church, and they're Christian. Holy cow, disparate opinions among religious leaders?! In the same faith?!?!
posted by starvingartist at 11:52 AM on April 17, 2001

Of course it's incorporated. That's one of the things you have to be to be a non-profit, uhm, corporation. Which is what you need to be to make donations tax deductible. And of course they need money. Those are lightbulbs illuminating the pews, not the light of a just and benevolent God.

I'm always surprised that people are surprised that religious entites have to pay utilities, mortgages, salaries (you didn't think your pastor, priest, or rabbi worked for free, did you?), insurance, and, in some cases, taxes.

Clearly this case has to do with internal church politics and factions falling out with each other. If the letter-writing faction thought that the letter might become public, I'm sure they would have found some other way to annoy the other faction.

If they had really thought about it, and if raising funds was what they were after, they would have followed Matt's example and set up an Amazon Honor System site.
posted by idiolect at 11:52 AM on April 17, 2001

Here in the South, tithing is very christian. I don't have any figures on it, but it is common, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20% of a family income at times.

Revbrian is right, it is necessary for a church to incorporate for non-profit, tax exempt status. It is also helpful for legal documents and Dept. of State information.

It's kind of touchy when a church is in a pinch, and people have promised money that they have not paid. Even though you may preach that money is not something to obsess over, the church still has to run on it. You can't, as a church, send faceless form collection notice letters like this though, especially to people who don't have the money. Maybe the "Tab" should devise progressive tithe structures, but I bet they'd lose some high-end membership if they tried that. I think the person in charge of this must have worked at a business before working there.
posted by mblandi at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2001

Spend some time on a church finance committee (as I have) and you'll get down to brass tacks very quickly. Ten years ago the church I belong to (but haven't been to in a while, guilt guilt guilt) was down to under 100 active members (many aged inactive, though). We were renting out half the building to community groups and having trouble keeping the roof intact. The saving grace (and I mean that as no pun) was an endowment that allowed us to run a deficit ... but at the rate we were going, we'd exhaust it in 8 years. There was concern we'd have to sell the building.

In those days, we really depended on a few well-heeled donors to make good on their pledges. We couldn't have survived otherwise.

Fortunately we embarked on an expansion program that's brought us to some 250 active members, many of them young families, ensuring long-term survival. The endowment is back up (continuing bequests helped) and we've been able to repair the building and survive losing our tenants as church needs forced them out.

I don't see that we could ever be this hard-nosed about it, but many non-profits do treat pledges as accounts receivable, and they can legally be turned over to collection agencies. For instance, there is a Chicago case where a million-dollar pledge to a museum led to a lawsuit.
posted by dhartung at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2001

Hey, was I the only one who read one paragraph quickly as:
Paying tithes is a tradition in some Protestant churches that comes from an Old Testament EXTORTATION to give the church 10 percent of one's earnings.

I know it's not a real word, but it's a good freudian slip!
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 12:27 PM on April 17, 2001

on palm sunday 1964, when i was 11 years old, a violent tornado ripped through our neighborhood. the first thing in its path was the catholic church we attended. the church was levelled. parishoners, many of whom had seen thier homes destroyed, pledged tithes for the replacement of the church. a year later, on a sunday in which the first mass was to be held in the new church, we arrived to find in the foyer a large bulletin board on which were posted the names of those parishoners who had fallen behind on thier pledges. my father took one look at that, (our name was included), uttered a 'blessing' the likes of which have never been heard in that church to this day, turned us around, marched us back out to the car, and he has not set foot in any church (other than for weddings/funerals) since. i really admire my dad. i really despise organized religion.
posted by quonsar at 1:03 PM on April 17, 2001

I grew up in a Protestant church and received a similar letter but only after I hadn't gone in over a year.

It said that If I did not receive communion I would no longer be considered a "member" of the church.

What were they going to do? Not let me in the door should I show up someday. Refuse to take my "tithe" (offering). Not pass me the plate?

Nothing like brotherhood and Christianity. Religion is full of hypocrites.

No wonder most wars are fought over religion.

Can't we all just get along?
posted by chainring at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2001

Don't mix up religion with Christianity. You don't have to belong to a church to be a Christian.

There are many different religions within Christianity.

Catholicism, Protestantism, etc...

Each establishes their own "rules" and "laws." In many cases, these rules and laws have absolutely nothing to do with the Bible, or how it has been interpreted.

Many churches lose sight that they are supposed to be a place of worship. Not a place to enforce rules and laws.
posted by da5id at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2001

Well, gee, as far as I know tithing is a required part of the Mormon Church, and they're Christian. Holy cow, disparate opinions among religious leaders?! In the same faith?!?!

LOL... Mormons beleive many different thing then other christians... of course, the same could be said of Catholics as well...

I, myself, would rather not read "Jesus, the Western" (The Book of Mormon)

I always wonder if mormons wear their sacred garment while having sex? Anyone know?
posted by da5id at 2:38 PM on April 17, 2001

They must be taking lessons from the Church of Scientology...
posted by Witold at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2001

My ex-mormon husband tells me that they are indeed SUPPOSED to wear their "mormon underwear" at, ahem, all times-yep, even THEN.
posted by bunnyfire at 3:42 PM on April 17, 2001

For Roman Catholics, once you become a Catholic, there's no way back. Technically, you can't stop being a Roman catholic except if you petition Vatican or they throw you out, if I remember correctly.

As far as some of those southern christian churches go: I can't seen to understand why anyone in their right mind would give any money to an organization that has preachers earning 100s of thousands, and sometimes millions, of dollars. I certainly wouldn't give them a cent.
posted by Witold at 4:06 PM on April 17, 2001

Well, I knew a family growing up that was sort of fringe Mormon. You know, they actually drank coffee. He's a hippie art prof, does paintings of family in nude, that sort of thing. Daughter goes to BYU, meets scion of ultra-rich SLC family, wedding to be held in the Mormon Tab.

Both fathers, having failed certain tests, were excluded from the ceremony.

There's something just plained fucked up about that.

Beyond that, I'm live-and-let-live per LDS types.
posted by dhartung at 5:25 PM on April 17, 2001

Preach it!

my church prints out their budget-i think monthly......the cool thing is we don't owe a dime on the building-which is only just over a year old...our pastors refused to go into debt for the building, and it is sure nice to know none of my giving goes to the bank for interest payments!
posted by bunnyfire at 5:27 PM on April 17, 2001

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Fahey ordered the church to hold an annual meeting, and to allow members to see the books. Church leaders are appealing to the state Appeals Court.

This seems pretty wacky to me. Maybe just because my dad was a super-hard-line accountant guy (he was the Chruch treasurer), but at my church growing up, we had monthly "business meetings" and there was always a thorough, detailed accounting of assets, cash flow, liabilities, etc. etc. They certainly knew what financial shape they were in. I suppose most churches aren't so lucky.

Another example from my church growing up. Each year, the church would encourage members to calculate their tithes and any extra offerings (offerings are the stuff over 10%) and commit to a certain amount that they would contribute each week, but it was really only to help the budgeting process, and no one was held to their pledges.

But of course, my church did everything the right way and yours was the crazy one! You LUNATICS!!!

Religion is full of hypocrites. No wonder most wars are fought over religion.

I think you'll find that the entire world is full of hypocrites. Religion can exert a powerful influence over people and the fact that that power has been and continues to be abused should come as no surprise. The fact that wars are fought "over religion" is just a convenient situational confluence often used to make a pointless argument. If it wasn't religion causing wars, it would be something else (or, at least, the true purpose would be more transparent).

The fact that religion has been abused as an excuse to go to war does not obviate any and all value true religion may have.
posted by daveadams at 6:06 PM on April 17, 2001

« Older   |   Jack Kevorkian's lawyer in trouble. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments