Do you ever watch televangelists? It’s one long infomercial that always ends with a direct appeal in two parts: please pray for us, and send lots of cash, as much as you can.
But why bother with the request for money? People who have the ear of the almighty creator of the universe can tap into a whole lot more than whatever’s in their wallets. Who cares about trifling financial donations when you can get help from the Big Man himself?
Indeed, televangelists’ appeals for money make clear that they know what I know: that praying is like waiting for the Great Pumpkin. People can reliably deliver money, but prayer doesn’t deliver anything.
This reminds me of a quote from that persuasive theologian, George Carlin. About God, he says,
But he loves you! He loves you … and he needs money! He always needs money. He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise … but somehow he just can’t handle money.
It starts about one minute into this piece. (Caution: the dialogue is a bit R-rated. It is George Carlin, after all.)
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Who knows? Maybe the Almighty has a gambling problem and is always coming up short on rent money for his cosmic abode.
Might be a good idea to draw a distinction between people who are intentionally out to deceive and those who intentionally raise money for charities. Otherwise you are throwing the baby out with the water. I am sure you do not intend to make a simple error like that which would be mistaken, by a more cynical mind than mine, for a straw man fallacy. Clearly there are thieves who dress up as clergymen but does that invalidate the clergy? If you want to take down the church then ad hominem fallacy would not do you any good. I give to Church because it is a pleasure and a joy. I give to Christian charities which feed people on the streets, represent in court those who can not get representation and maintain church buildings. By allowing me to do so, and not blasting people for their wallets, God allows my little sacrifice to be part of a bigger thing.
My point is not about whether these guys believe it or not. Televangelists could all be self-sacrificing people who truly put the words of Jesus first in their lives and live on $20,000 per year (silly thought, but let’s just imagine) but that doesn’t address the point I’m making: that the needed input to their ministries doesn’t come from God but from people. And their pitch makes it clear that they acknowledge that.
Good for you for being concerned about helping people. But churches are a very, very inefficient way of doing that. A decent nonprofit will need 10% of their income to run, with the remaining going to their programs. A church or ministry is almost always far more.
This is a bit of a boggling point because it is so off par. What you are doing is setting up a straw man and then, very effectively knocking him down. It looks good, you feel great, but you leave the real target standing. God has never acted like this so to condemn him for not doing what you say he should do is a fallacy. Where else could donations come from other than the congregation? This is gifted to the Church with love and generocity. If you need to see Gods hand then look there. These virtues are God given. They have no survival value. If God were to shower money down from heaven on priests et al then first that would entirely devalue the modest donations of the congregation. Second people are not happy when they are not striving so charity fund raising is important for the Christian way of life and third, although miracles do happen, the point is that struggle through and do our best. In Britain we do not have aggressive televangelists, we have mild mannered church tea parties, so there is a cultural issue between us but I do think that you need to get a better understanding of doctrine than the Ladybird guide to Christianity.
And as to that last comment, thank you for your kindness. But I would suggest that your statistics possibly were derived from the authority known as “the man down the pub”. (wink)
What’s the straw man? I’m pretty sure I’m accurately describing televangelists’ pitches.
Who’s talking about God?? The topic is televangelists.
Why is it always the atheist who has to bring into the conversation the fact that God could do anything?
I’m looking, and I’m seeing people. 100% natural, 0% supernatural.
So the tribe that’s more generous and cares more for others wouldn’t survive better than its neighbors?
Who cares? The goal is to spread the word, right? If so, then maybe God can lift a finger to help out.
Keep ’em poor and striving, is that the idea?? I didn’t realize that that was a Christian goal!
I watch televangelists on TV, and the post was about televangelists. I’m not sure where my knowledge gap lies.
Just thought I would say I do not want you to feel attacked. I have read a lot of your blog and really like it. I am not on a crusade but want a good conversation. If you want me to back off just mail me to say so but you seem quite solid and I hope we could have a good chat.
This might seem odd but I think it is important not trample over peoples feelings.
Wishing you well.
Thanks for the note! A little consideration goes a long way in venues like this, and yours is much appreciated.
Don’t hold back. Give me your best rebuttals. Thanks.
Cool. There is no point doing this if we are going to be trolls.
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