About All That Supposed "Charity" Work Churches Do

Sep 6, 2018
About All That Supposed "Charity" Work Churches Do
  • Christians do love to rabbit on about all the community service and charity work that churches supposedly do. Even atheists often buy into the idea that churches constitute some kind of valuable hub for such activities, such that a community loses something tangible when a church closes (especially in small towns). They also huff and puff about how much more charitable they think Christians are compared to atheists.

    NONE OF THIS BLATHER IS TRUE.

    Churches do next to no charity work anymore--if they ever did much at all. The vast majority of members' donations go toward upkeep of their clubhouse and salaries for its employees. The next biggest chunk of change goes toward recruitment drives and clubmember services.

    Lambchopsuey got her hands on a real live church budget for a small-town church of about 100 people. Take it away, Lambchop... (Source: Comment post.)

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    In the past, I have several times remarked that Christians' "charitable contributions" typically consist of payments to their churches, which amount to little, if anything, more than funding their own private clubs and clubhouses. Now, Jesus supposedly gave apparently strict guidelines for charity:

    For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. And Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

    Now, when I've made these observations, a great many Christians have insisted on how much "good works" for the poor and needy churches typically do, "works" which are invisible to the casual observer (moi).

    Well, as it happens, I happened to happen upon an actual church's Financial Budget for 2008. Let's take a look, shall we?

    INCOME

    Members...................$70,200
    Other..................... 14,000
    TOTAL INCOME..................................$84,200

    EXPENSES
    ADMINISTRATIVE
    Pastor....................$58,505
    Pulpit Supply.............. 500
    Pianist.................... 5,167
    Member Travel............... 400 .........$64,572

    OPERATING & MAINTENANCE
    Utilities.................$ 3,640
    Pastor's Mileage........... 1,200
    Telephone.................. 3,480
    Insurance.................. 4,425
    Office Supplies............ 250
    Nursery.................... 1,425
    Janitor.................... 1,440
    Publicity.................. 1,050
    Presbytery................. 704
    General Assembly........... 1,012
    Postage.................... 400
    Security................... 300
    Miscellaneous.............. 500 ......... 19,827

    MINISTRIES
    Upward..................... $300
    Inward (Teaching, Training, Materials)
    ........................... 1,500
    Outward (Home Missions; Orphanage $500; Salvation Army $300; Soup Kitchen $200; World Missions $500; Outreach $1,625)
    ........................... 3,125
    Advertisement.............. 700 ......... 5,625

    TOTAL EXPENSE......................................$90,023
    GAIN/LOSS.............................................$(5,823)

    Notice how the charitable giving (orphans, the hungry) is equaled by the amount spent on advertising, and dwarfed by the amount spent on Publicity!

    But plenty is spent on the club members (pastor, member travel, etc.) and on self-promotion!

    Jesus must be so proud...​

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    Cas note: Christians certainly know about that Bible verse at the beginning of the comment. They've been working tirelessly for centuries to reconcile that with members' single-minded pursuit of wealth and accumulation of worldly goods. The usual rationalization for their desires runs thusly:

    Jesus didn't mean that ALL wealthy people needed to do that, despite what anybody reading the Gospels might immediately think. He didn't hate WEALTH. He just thought that one rich guy was a little too interested in wealth. That one guy needed to do that--not Christians generally. Look at all the good works rich people in Christianity are doing with their money! What's the point of selling all of it and losing out on all that good charity work?

    And then you see a church budget and realize why only a fraction of churches are fully transparent about their finances.
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