December 9, 2002

Less For the Soup Kitchen
A new study reveals that Protestants are, in effect, giving more money for the building fund and less for the soup kitchen.

The good news, according to the study by Empty Tomb, Inc, is that protestants are donating a greater portion of their income to church - an average of $622 in 2000 or 2.64 percentage of their incomes, up slightly since 1983.

But, the study reported, more of it than in the past went to help churches with general upkeep and less to "benevolences." "If you give money for congregational finances you can see the nice new carpets, improved lights, better music," said Sylvia Ronsvalle, a co-founder of Empty Tomb told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "People need to see that same type of result and accountability when they give for missions."

Besides the obvious possibility that people are more self-involved and less altruistic, some other possible explanations include:

  • More people are giving their "altruistic" gifts directly to mission-oriented charities because they're more effective
  • Opposite theory: people are giving less to mission-oriented projects because they don't believe they're effective
  • The church building boom of the 1960s has finally come back to haunt congregations. Many churches face fairly desperate repair needs.
  • What's the case in your House of Worship?

    >>>In my house of worship, they're a bunch of lazy good-for-nothing goobers who embezzle all the money for the minister's prostitutes. Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration but really I wouldn't give this guy a nickle if his life depended on it.
    --Paul O'Donnell

    What's Happened to Mulsim Giving?
    A Washington Post article reports that Muslims have given less to charity, or are giving more in cash and anonymously. They fear that the government crackdown on Islamic charities thought to aid terrorist organizations will ensnare good charities (and their donors) as well as bad.

    "If the diversion of funds from charities is really the issue, then I think the government is making it more difficult to monitor where the money is sent, not less," warns Salam Al Maryarti, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a lobbying group. "At least with nonprofit organizations, there is a system for reporting. Now individuals are sending money -- cash -- to other individuals, and who knows where it is ending up?"

    Part of the problem is that it's hard for a typical Muslim to know which charities assist terrorism. There may be a need for Muslim Better Business Bureau organization to assess such things, but they'd better be ready for serious threats and attacks.

    By the way, the article also reports that Muslims give about 2.5% of their income to charity, which, if true, would mean that Muslims are about 11 percent more generous than Protestants.

    December 6, 2002

    Bush Fire Still Burning
    Did everyone catch the artful way Pat Robertson got out of a trap set for him by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday's "This Week"? Robertson has been bashing Islam as evil. Bush has been saying it is a "religion of peace," and even indirectly rebuked Robertson for saying otherwise. How was Robertson going to avoid breaking with the Bush Administration over this crucial issue? Here's what he came up with: Bush is clearly peddling a "lie" about Islam but it's okay to lie as part of the worldwide war against terrorism.

    But the sparring over the true nature of Islam was reignited after Bush visited the Washington Islamic Center and praised Islam's morality.

    Papal Reductio
    John Paul II has been losing weight and controlling some of his Parkinson's symptoms since he went on the Zone Diet, made famous by Madonna and Demi Moore. The Vatican recently announced that the Holy Father's holiday agenda was a little lighter as well, to give the aging pontiff time to rest.

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