Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Obscene Christians in a time of suffering

If you have watched any Christian television at some point in your life you may be familiar with this building:

This is the world famous "Crystal Cathedral" in Orange County, California. The prominent architect Philip Johnson designed the main sanctuary building, which was constructed using over 10,000 rectangular panes of glass and its sanctuary seats 2,736 persons.  I think it would be fair to say that you would be hard pressed to find another church like it.  It may not have as much gold and famous art but it somehow manages to outshine the most opulent Cathedrals of the Catholic Church.

Somehow it manages to look even bigger from the inside

Now my parents were kind of big fans (some members of my family still are) so I've had to sit through quite a few episodes of "The Hour of Power" which usually turned out to be far more bland than the name suggested.  Now the founding pastor of this megalithic mega church is this guy:

Rev. Robert H. Schuller 
Just to make it interesting I should point out that the good Reverend here wrote the following book (among many others):
Amazon still has a few copies! Buy now!

Chew on that fact for a moment.  Now try to comprehend the following.  The Chrystal Cathedral is in debt.  Lots of debt.  How much debt?  Well it depends on who you ask but Wiki & others tend to put it at over $40 million.  That's a 4 followed by seven zeros.  In US dollars, not Zimbabwean dollars.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that it would be a lot of debt for a small country, never mind a single church!  Now let's say you are the Reverend Schuller.  What do you tell your congregation?  Do you say "I'm sorry, we've clearly made some terrible mistakes and we will work hard to get out of this mess?"  Turns out that no, instead you go before your congregation and say:

"I need more help from you," Schuller said, according to the Orange County Register. "If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help."

Yep, he wants you to give a lot more money to him because "This ministry has earned your trust".  Dude!  Like WTF?!  You say the words but I don't think you understand the sentence you are using.  Ending up in tens of millions of dollars worth of debt is the opposite of earning someones trust.  When someone is in so much debt that Oprah herself could not bail them out then who in their right mind would trust them with any of their money?  Yet this guy wants people to give double and triple the amounts they usually would.  During one of the worst recessions in recent history.  Thousands are unemployed, houses are being foreclosed on faster than the banks can fill in the paperwork but apparently the trustworthy place to put the little money you have left is in a giant Xmas tree ornament/church.  What??!


GumbyTheCat said...

Oh, you know full well being a shameless manipulative liar is prerequisite for being a megachurch preacher.

40 million dollars... think of all the hungry people that kind of money would feed. Sigh...

Oh well. I guess I should realize by now that Jesus wasn't about feeding the hungry or clothing the poor, he was about the tithe and the saving of millionaire preachers' financial butts. I'm sure that's in the Bible somewhere... right? Right?

Eugene said...

You know, usually in cases like this people point out how many poor children in the 3rd world could have been helped by this much money. Thing is, this kind of money could do so much good right there in the USA! In a time where so many are unemployed right there in California $43 million could do so much more than keep "The Hour of Power" on air. How many small business loans could you give with that kind of money? How many jobs could could you create with that money right there in the US? While I'm sure a lot of hungry Africans would love a piece of that pie, I know there are just as many hungry Americans who could benifit from that money NOT going down the bottomless money pit that is The Crystal Cathedral.

Eugene said...

Although believe it or not, I actually managed to find a megachurch preacher far more shameless and manipulative, check out this video of Ed Young

He doesn't just ask his congregation to give double and triple amounts, he asks them to hand over their bank account and routing numbers so he can take from them directly! Be warned though, that video is pretty sickening, the guy uses every manipulative ploy in the book.

Don't ask why your pastor needs a million dollar condo in Florida, don't ask why he needs a 10 thousand square foot mansion in Dallas, don't ask why he has to have a private plane for ‘ministry trips’ and a parsonage payment of over a 1/4 million dollars a year. Just hand over all your bank details!

This story has a happy ending though, after this media report on his lavish lifestyle, attendance at his church has dropped by 50%

GumbyTheCat said...

Eugene, if that Ed Young scandal story wasn't a relatively old one, I'd post that disgusting video on my own blog. It is revolting. I wonder how many naive idiots actually supplied him with their bank account numbers.

I notice his Wikipedia entry contains no material about the trouble he and his church are now in over his lavish jet-setting lifestyle.

Hell, I might post that video anyway! Ha ha.

GumbyTheCat said...

Hey Eugene -

My blog is now on its own domain!


Just for your records *wink*

Yeah, I'm dropping the Gumby aspect. I always thought it was a bit cutesy. I will still be posting as GumbyTheCat though!