Saturday, May 14, 2005

Faith & Finances

The Ozarks Angel ran across an interesting piece of promotional material from one of Springfield's most influential and affluent businesses the other day. The slick new publication, only in its second year, is entitled Faith and Finances, Directing God-Given Resources to God-Given Goals.

The Assemblies of God puts this thing out and sends it to ministers and churches in an effort "to be the preferred provider of superior integrated financial services to Assemblies of God churches, affiliated ministries, ministers, and laity distinguished by a commitment to biblical stewardship."

Shew. Somebody worked hard on that one - and my, how the language of the church has changed over the years, and note the lower case 'b' in biblical. That's new. But it all makes sense. The more money the faithful make as faithful stewards, the more tax free income the church gets. And you can forget about the image of the collection plate - now tithes are automatically deducted from checking accounts. Someone told me recently that you now must pay a healthy fee ($3,000) to become a full-fledged member of certain mega churches like James River Assembly. Sort of like joining the country club, I guess. I wonder if they check your credit report first.

Anyway, the lead article in this bit of righteous propaganda is cleverly entitled "Social Insecurity". The piece is written by Randall K. Barton, who is president and CEO (yes, CEO) of Assemblies of God Financial, but it reads like a Karl Rove-approved position paper, copied and pasted directly from Bush's script on Social Security "reform". Right wing Christians have become so politicized they apparently feel the need to tout their official positions on domestic policy as though they were drawn from the scriptures. Lots of people find that scary.

Were you one of those people who thought that the religious right was just going to be a flash in the pan? That they would dry up and go away after the initial rush of putting their man in the White House and controlling the U. S. Congress? Think again, brethren and cistern.

The line that once separated church and state in this country is not just blurred, it's in the process of being obliterated altogether. This is the single biggest threat, in my opinion, to the existence of the good old U. S. of A. It's being loved to death, prayed to death, preached to death and pro-lifed to death by a self-righteous Christian minority, who despite all their faults, do get out the vote. (Of course, their man lost in 2000, but the Lord, who often works in mysterious ways, somehow prevailed.)

Another interesting point about AG Financial. Remember how the Christian right got all worked up over Terry Schiavo? Remember Frist's speech? Tom Delay? Remember Bush cutting his vacation short (Gasp!) in order to underscore the importance that Congress should step in to keep this renegade judge from "legislating from the bench"? All this acting out to stroke the righteous pro-lifers out there . . . and then, here's a nice full-color ad on the back of Faith and Finances that says:

As the nation has been focused on the Terry Schiavo case, did you know . . . that an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 adults in the U. S. are in a vegetative state? That an estimated 165,000,000 American adults do not have a living will?

The ad then directs the reader to contact a Faith and Finances website that will help them set up their own Living Will, as a gift to your family.

Is this not an admission that even these self-proclaimed pro-lifers would just as soon have their own feeding tubes yanked if they were in the same straits as Ms. Schiavo? So what was all the protesting about? After dragging Terry Schiavo's husband through the third level of hell, they admit that he was right all along? More evidence that there is very little conviction behind the noise.

At the bottom of the ad, there is a nice little Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."

I read that in an entirely different context than they intended, and I find it comforting.

1 comment:

General Tonic said...

I think the writer of Ecclesiastes intended it in exactly the fashion you imagine. Have you read all of Ecclesiastes? It may be the least "modern Christian" of the 66 books of the bible.

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