swipe your card for jesus September 28, 2006Posted by Brad Richert in business, religion.
I just can not pass this one up: Pam over at Pandagon found an article on church ATMs. Yes, they are exactly what you think they are: tithing machines for the new generation. The best part is that SecureGive, the pastor of Stevens Creek Community Church’s for-profit company, is installing these automated ushers at other churches for $2,000 to $5,000, plus a $50 monthly fee and 1.9% of each transaction is shared between SecureGive and a card-processing company. Things that make you go hmmm… Just wondering, when Jesus returns do you think he will storm into Stevens Creek and overturn the tables… I mean… ATM machines?
In all honesty, I can not believe that this has not happened sooner. Ever since the Calvinists admitted that knowing who was Christ’s elect was a matter of earthly success, Christianity never has been the same (I doubt many Calvinists continue that belief – but many evangelicals do). I doubt that John Calvin had the perverted Prosperity Gospel movement in mind when he first came up with his “unconditional election” doctrine, but c’est la vie. One has to wonder whether Mr. Baker, owner of SecureGive and pastor of Stevens Creek, watched The Simpsons episode when Mr. Burns takes over the Springfield Church (which led to Lisa’s meeting with Richard Gere) and actually thought it was a good idea.
Maybe I am being a little harsh on Mr. Baker. I admit that I was wierded out about the idea even before I heard that his personal company is profitting from the venture. Sure, there is no difference between using my debit card at a gas station and for giving tithing. Churches should not be afraid of change. The problem though is that change, as many Christians know, is not inherently positive. Mr. Baker’s proclaims that his motives are innocent: bringing the church into the 21st century. If this was true, I would pat him on the back. However, the fact that he is making a business out of tithing pretty much puts him into the “money changers” category, don’t you think?
And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you make it a den of robbers.” – Matthew 21:12-13
What do you think? What is the principle of the above passage and does it correlate to the business of SecureGive? We do not exactly sacrifice pigeons and cattle anymore, but Christians certainly give monetary tithings (which is a modern replacement for sacrifices). The people who sold the animals for sacrifices made a business within the temple courts, thus profiting from the commandment to tithe. The issue here, most Biblical scholars would agree, was not so much that it was in the temple, but it was for the temple. But hey, Jesus was American, not Jewish, right? – so who cares about those silly Jewish temple laws?