What Are We Talking About?
Absence of Clothing recently began selling merchandise that read, "If Religion Were The Key to Morality, Then Mega-Churches Would Look More Like Charities & Less Like Million Dollar Businesses." In celebration of this, I'd like to explain just what we mean.
In an article written as of 2012 in Free Inquiry, they calculate that religious organizations pull in as much as seventy-one billion dollars per year. Not only that, but that their tax exempt status causes states to lose out on twenty-six billion dollars in property taxes. To me this is mind boggling, imagine the increase in state revenue if we simply taxed religious organizations, no more complaints about not having enough money in the budget to fund our schools.
What about the pastor's, priests, and general clergymen? While their income is taxed via the self employment tax and federal income tax, they can claim up to 1.2 billion dollars in exemptions via the parsonage rule.
Time to talk about where it gets really ridiculous.
Welcome to Lakewood Church, housing 40,000 followers every weekend. Megachurches began as a phenomena in the United States, where insanely large protestant churches sprung up around the country. Pictured above is the auditorium where sermons are given at the largest megachurch in the United States, Lakewood Church.
These churches hold all sorts of irony, from defying the teachings of modesty within the Christian religion, to straight up being commercial powerhouses.
Prestonwood Church holds a food court so large that it has two of it's own coffee shops.
But why all this show? I assure you it is not to espouse devout faith. It is because boring old men preaching about boring old scriptures in a musty old building, who in no way relate to modern day people, do not wrack in followers, or more importantly, money.
These megachurches offer many things for their followers to do, and do not follow the traditional form of preaching. Instead of going on about scripture, pastors at these churches focus on appealing to their crowd through sermons based on the individual and their relationship with "god."
These churches rely on social trends and monitor what their crowds respond positively to. Everything about them screams, "corporate infrastructure." Their pastors incomes are not a joking matter either, ranging anywhere between 100-900 thousand a year, and that's not including book sales.
For a religion that supposedly teaches of modesty, frugality, and a plainness among the clergy, Christianity (In the United States to say the least) is evolving to become a consumer industry. Filled with entertainment, flashy lights and shows, food courts and the like. I have shown mostly examples of protestant churches because they are by far the most showy, but that by no means limits it to that. The extravagance of the Catholic Church has been long and prosperous, there is no lack of money in the Pope's coffers.
And that's why we say, "If Religion Were The Key to Morality, Then Mega-Churches Would Look More Like Charities & Less Like Million Dollar Businesses"