Corporations and parishioners are increasingly coming together to spread the word of God and make money. All across the country churches?once intimate places of spiritual interconnectedness?have been replaced by stadiums of worship that utilize advanced technological innovations to awe, edify, and rip off those in attendance.
The jig goes something like this: Corporations underwrite the construction of vast religious complexes that awe people into regular attendance. The preacher?s image is projected onto a big screen. His calm baritone is beamed out by state of the art speakers. From all sides, his voice fills the room. The seats shake as he gives expression to the word of God. It?s a rousing experience to be sure, and one that is increasingly paid for by corporations. In return for their funding, the churches circulate corporate promotional calendar, fliers, and, if the corporation is really lucky, broadcast an endorsement straight from the pulpit. Trusting the pastor's judgment, the flock simply surrenders their money to whatever service the corporation is hawking. In such a manner, countless Christians are fleeced every year.
You might be amazed at how little it takes to rent space in a sermon. Father Henry Wienneski, an Arizona parishioner, tells me he has been approached countless times by corporate representative eager to use the church's trusted position in the community as cover for rip-off schemes. ?A corporate representative will approach me and say something to the effect of, ?we were going to give $5,000 to the Red Cross this year but you know, we decided, why not keep it in the neighborhood? I notice your parish doesn't have a bus. Now, I know the money won't buy a bus but we thought it could help. I'll just write out this check to you and trust that you'll know the best way for it to help the church.?"
Wienneski recalls attending a retreat once where morticians coaxed business from pastors by offering free gifts, including beepers, funeral plots, sides of beef, country club memberships and large sums of cash. It's quite a deal for the mortuary. They invest $6 in a beeper, and in return they get a pastor who feels obliged to send bodies their way. So the mortuary rips off another family for $5,000, $10,000, $15,000.