Insight on the News
Money and the Church
● Of Christ Jesus, the Bible says: “Though he was rich he became poor for your sakes.” (2 Cor. 8:9) How well do today’s churches follow his example?
Recently the Anglican Church of Perth, Australia, spent $6,000 to survey people’s attitudes toward the Church. The result? According to the “West Australian” newspaper, the survey showed that “the Church has become a monolithic, money-hungry, incomprehensible institution for the average Anglican in Perth.” This doubtless helps to explain why only 6 percent of Anglicans there are regular churchgoers.
In the United States, Boys Town, an institution in Nebraska for homeless and neglected boys and that is directed by Catholic Church officials, has received considerable publicity. In March 1972 reporters uncovered evidence showing that the institution had gained a net worth of $209 million. Yet every year 30 million letters went out requesting donations. In one year donations and investments brought in about $25 million, four times the town’s expenses. Under the heading, “Boys Town, America’s Wealthiest City?,” newspapers showed that the town had a net worth of $190,000 for every inhabitant. Church officials quickly announced plans to use some of the wealth for new institutions and also to stop money requests. But a year later the letters requesting funds were going out again.
● Macumba is the general name given to a wide variety of rapidly spreading Afro-Brazilian cults. Brazil is the world’s most populous Catholic country. But, as a Rio de Janeiro dispatch says, “millions of Brazilians who are Catholics on paper actually are more active practitioners of African-based voodoo cults.” Many Brazilians attend Mass on Sunday and Macumba centers on week-nights; many give their children both Catholic and Macumba baptisms. These voodoo cults, in fact, merge Catholicism with their rites. Thus one goddess, lemanjá, is worshiped simultaneously as a native Indian spirit, an African saint and the Virgin Mary. Rites include magic and spiritism.
What is the Church’s view of this? Dominican friar Raimundo Cintra is quoted as saying: “We must not condemn the primitive religions but take lessons from them, adapt our religious language, ceremonies and liturgy to the needs of the people.” Nineteen Brazilian bishops in a Council at Pôrto Alegre approved a motion to introduce cult songs and incantations in the Catholic liturgy.
To fellow Christians, the inspired apostle Paul wrote: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. . . . what sharing does light have with darkness?” No, early Christians did not try to merge pagan practices with Christianity so as to gain or hold members. They knew that God wants pure worship rather than mere numbers.—2 Cor. 6:14-16.
Living for Today
● The world is in the grip of economic crisis. Yet, strangely enough, most exclusive clothing and jewelry shops in the U.S. say that business is better than ever. Dealers in luxury cars report growing sales and more customers buying high-priced optional equipment. Explaining this unusual situation, an industry spokesman says: “Inflation and bad economic conditions aren’t going to affect the average [luxury car] customer as much as other people.”
The vice-president of Cunard Lines puts it this way: “The economy, you know, begins to crumble at the bottom. The top is the last to be affected.” Steamship business reflects this. During January, four around-the-world luxury cruises, lasting from 79 to 94 days, sailed with solid bookings. Rooms and suites on the “Queen Elizabeth 2” ranged from $10,000 to $97,035. The ship carried 5 tons of lobster, 15 tons of filet mignon, 17,000 bottles of wine and champagne. Passengers were promised seven meals a day (including tea).
This free-spending by the wealthy in the face of severe, worldwide financial crisis doubtless reflects a desire to shut out, for a time at least, the hard reality of present conditions. As the Bible expresses it, many say, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”—1 Cor. 15:32.