I used to receive outlandish junkmail with promises of better health and wealth. All I had to do was buy this or that and all my problems would be over. Some were even more over-the-top. Those included plastic angels, swatches of cheap fabric, and even an illustrated drawing of Jesus, that if you stared at it for a length of time (usually until your eyes crossed), He would "miraculously" open his eyes! Of course, they also urged you to send them money so that you could "sow seeds" into the Kingdom of God. The logic behind this, supposedly, was that you reaped what you sowed. If you sowed money (into their ministry, of course), you would reap one hundred fold.
What was sad about this was (is) people fell (fall) for these clap traps! Wasn't it PT Barnum that said, There's a sucker born every second?
In the 21st Century, there's a more subtle form of religious husktering coming from the pulpits. The so called preachers and elders controlling their small town congregations through subtle guilt trips. Some churches even send "bills" for their congragation's tithes to their homes. However, when a member of the church falls into a bad way financially, they are ostracized and made to feel that in some way the individual has failed. Therefore, they are being "punished" for their sins. In between the lines, however, what is really being said is that the "church" will not help the member because they cost too much money.
Folks, for many churches in America, it's about the money. They love to get our money but won't help in a pinch. Sounds more like the American Business model to me.
I am not afraid or worried about God. It's His people that are doing the damage. Isn't it a wonder why people won't go to church anymore?
One Lutheran church in downtown Canton, Ohio, gives out food on certain days of the month. What exactly do they give? Expired food and spoiled meat. Another gave out eleven day old loaves of bread. I heard the story of one member of a non-denominational church in Navarre, Ohio, who gave another member three bags of groceries. Some of the contents had been expired since November of 2004. The eggs were frozen and one month passed the expired date. Salmonella anyone?
In all fairness, the church must give out what the members donate. The members donate from their cupboards what they don't use. So, the unfortunates get a collection of very odd items; the stray can of waxed beans, cranberry sauce, and bags upon ghastly bags of prunes. What a feast!
The saddest incident that I personally know of involved the Salvation Army of Canton, Ohio, which was giving out single sanitary pads to women in need! This also emcompasses their clothing drives. Anything church members deem unfit to wear, including stained underware, were given to the less fortunate members of the same church in a pious act of "giving".
Are the pastors even concerned with the breakdown of communication? Isn't it supposed to be "Love your neighbor as yourself?" I may be wrong about these church members. However, I don't think their last meal consisted of waxed beans, cranberries, and prunes.