Religion follows many different paths
There are many types of religions in the world, with most folks convinced that “theirs’’ is the only “real’’ one. Every generation, we’re hopefully getting a bit more tolerant of religious beliefs which differ from our own, but there’s still plenty of intolerance to go arounD.
In small communities such as ours, the members of church congregations form a bond much like a family, supporting one another in good times and bad, and also generously contributing to the finances of their church as best they can.
Most of our area church leaders deliver their messages in a low-key manner which doesn’t mean it’s the same in all churches; we’ve been at a few services over the years where the sermon was delivered in what we would term a fire and brimstone manner – not our cup of tea, but it is for some. We must admit we’re a bit put off by many of today’s TV evangelists that broadcast church services almost every day of the week, any hour. There are usually huge audiences at these services and while it must cost big bucks to buy air time, we find it offensive that far too many of these preachers spend more time asking for money than they do delivering religious messages.
Simply putting money in the collection plate isn’t their preferred means of gaining financial support. It usually involves encouraging you to purchase expensive publications you just can’t live without, or, preferably, getting out your credit card and “signing up’’ to donate a large sum, or, better still, to make a monthly pledge. Many of those who rush to the phone to make a donation can’t really afford it, but are swept up in the moment, brainwashed , in our opinion, into believing that if they really want redemption, they’d better pay up, or else. We can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ve tuned in to a broadcast in the wee hours only to hear the leader pleading for donations, and not little ones, either. We frequently find ourselves listening in for a few minutes amazed at how they operate.
A number of years ago, The Wiscasset Newspaper ran an editorial critical of a now-long-gone evangelist and his tearful wife. A reader quickly responded, saying she found it sad the newspaper had chosen to criticize two such wonderful people. Asked if she was a supporter, she eagerly replied that she sent them money every single week. We all know now what happened to most of that money, all donated in the name of religion.
A recent TV broadcast of an outdoor service in a Central American country convinced us that many of those in attendance could ill afford to dole out their hard-earned money but we’re sure they did, anyway. Based on the huge turnout, we’re sure it was a financial success.
Being religious should never mean you’re obligated to donate money to “buy’’ salvation, and some of these TV ministers (I have a hard time giving some of them that label) certainly are leaving that impression.(Where do they all come from, anyway? It seems there’s a new one on TV every week.)
We feel sorry for the thousands of well-meaning people who sincerely believe that making huge donations they can’t afford is what is expected of them if they are to be considered true believers. This time of the year, we should all be thankful that many churches around the world, including right here in town, understand what religion is truly all about.