I’ve still been thinking about the $1Trillion collected by American churches over 20 years. This is just in the USA, but if I saw the number added in for the other western/developed countries, I’d probably just want to weep even more. In my earlier post on this subject, I messed up the number of zeros involved… it should have been $1,000,000,000,000. I threw out some examples of what could have been done with this money, but I think the math on those is off as well. Now with the recent G8 Debt Cancellation Deal which is a good start but perhaps that’s all it is I’m realizing with greater clarity just how grievous is the church’s use of money.
What could $1Trillion buy? You could pay off the total debt of 27 of the world’s poorest countries: Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and 9 others (not named, see BBC link above). This would reduce your cash on hand to only $945Billion. Covering off every other country in Africa might only cost you $275Billion, taking you down to a worrying $670Billion. Getting concerned about your dwindling fortune, you could purchase all of Microsoft, McDonald’s, Walt Disney, and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. Based on market cap at the time of writing, you’d then only have $180Billion left over. With this, you could support about 25,000 indiginous pastors for 10 years. You still have $100 Billion left (not to mention that stock portfolio sitting there for a rainy day). Just start splitting that up between AIDS research and various global relief organizations. You’ll only be worth a little under $500Billion in your stock portfolio, better pray for the markets to do well… you just gave away a little over half of the $1Trillion you had to work with, better ration it from here on. If, however, you sold it all, you could give $76 to each person on the planet. Some would scoff at what you’re doing and spend it on overpriced coffee, and others would be very grateful you just provided for them and their family for a full two and a half months.
I realize one of the pro-megachurch arguments is that resources can be used more effectively when pooled… but what did the church do with $1Trillion over 20 years? Buildings, carpets, pews, hymnals, salaries….
I think I’m going to be sick.
During this time though, the church has been waging war on hot issues like homosexuality, stuff that’s really important to God. Ezekiel says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.”
God, don’t look this way. I really think I’m going to be sick.
Alright, consider a few verses on in Ezekiel when God says he will restore the fortunes of Sodom, and then you can go back to your dinner, with my apologies for ranting all over you. I will add my disclosure that I participate in the evil side of this… but these days I’m genuinely feeling sick about it and I’m not sure what to do with it yet. Can we Make Poverty History, or will we always have the poor with us? At this rate we could end poverty, but instead we choose to have the poor with us… and they will be, always.