Ever since its legalization and later adoption by Rome beginning in the 4th century A.D., Christianity has undergone transformation from a renegade offshoot of Judaism to a formal institution with vast wealth and political influence. The emperor Constantine (r. 306-337 A.D.), as head of all religions within the Roman Empire, held the title of Pontificus Maximus, which as the empire crumbled in the West was adopted by the bishops of Rome. Over time, successive bishops and Christian councils made changes to the religion’s dogma, including the deification of Jesus of Nazareth, whom his followers called Christ, and although individual monks, priests, and bishops took vows of poverty, the church itself gathered vast wealth through the collection of tithes and through the patronage of wealthy nobles.
By the late 1400s-early 1500s the Roman Catholic Church had grown so corrupt that it was literally selling salvation to lay members in the form of indulgences—written certificates purportedly shortening the time souls would have to spend in Purgatory in exchange for money given over to the Church. This proved to be the final straw for Christian reformist monks such as Martin Luther, who went on to help spark what is today known as the Protestant Reformation.
Today salvation is sold by corrupt churches in the form of tithes, or donations. The penalties for failing to pay tithes can include expulsion from a parish, as a Florida woman recently found.
A Florida church sent a delinquency notice to a new member reminding her that worshipers were expected to pay $1,000 in required fees or face possible removal.
Candace Petterson said she started attending the Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church about six months ago after moving to a new home in the Tampa area, but she received a troubling letter last week from the church, reported WFTS-TV.
That’s not all.
Petterson posted a copy of the letter on the church’s Facebook page, where one church member in “good standing” scolded the younger woman for publicizing her complaint.
“I love my church and my pastor,” said member Bonnie Maxwell. “I know people have their opinions regarding the letter that was sent out to this young lady and put over social media. I don’t understand why so much negativity about paying a monthly assessment of $50 a month, that you already knew about. If you go to a club or a bar whatever you wish to call it every weekend, you are paying about $10 or maybe more to get in the door and then paying again for drinks.”
“As Christians we are required to be obedient,” Maxwell added. (Emphasis mine)
Obedience. You will give it. Empty your wallet. Shut up and pay. We’re a business, after all, and we have a product to sell. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know. Never mind what the Bible does or doesn’t say. Good Christians aren’t supposed to think. You pay us to do your thinking for you. Just sign the cheque and Jesus will be your friend for all Eternity—or until your bank account runs dry, whichever comes first.
If there is a God, and if Jesus’ soul is still out there somewhere looking down at the spiritual descendants of his followers, I can’t imagine either of them caring about money. What use for it have they? They’d care about how we treat the least among us.
That there are still those today who call themselves Christian yet nevertheless require money from their fellows in order be allowed to participate in the faith, is one of many reasons why so many ultimately lose that faith. Maybe it’s time for a different approach.