Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Business of Religion

One of the many facets of religion I despise is the marketing angle. If religious faith were able to stand on its own merits I might not begrudge them of the massive amounts of moola they rake in. The Christian Broadcasting Network alone raked in an astounding $462,597,261 in 2005, profiting a cool $35,488,767. Ahh the power of television.

Back in the day monies were extorted in ways that are well, medieval. Promises of damnation and hellfire, or relief from it all the way up to just taking your shit. While RICO statutes prevent that in the modern day, there is still a long line at the ATM at the foot of the stairway to heaven. Religion, like every other contemporary product, has evolved its marketing tactics into subtle psychological manipulation to sell the masses. As the naked pastor hypothetically lays out a plan of deceit, isolation and fear to condition the congregation, he gives valuable insight into the modern day workings of the religion industry, supported by the users comments showing just how "hypothetical" these practices are. The art of marketing, in specific church marketing, is its own industry. A Google search on church marketing registered 7,490,000 hits, compared to 2,140,000 hits for religious charities.

I find the practice of manipulative marketing detestable on all levels, in all industries. The marketing of religion I find to be the most heinous of all. It exploits a weakness in the human condition to sustain itself while offering nothing tangible in return, a true parasite. A term was recently introduced into the American lexicon; "infotainment" to refer to news that is presented less on its own merits, than on the human interest, shock, humor etc. value that a team of writers can apply to it. Let's coin a new phrase "faithtainment" which is what modern American incarnations of Judeo-Christian religions are using to drive attendance and hence contributions. Arena size churches boasting of jumbo trons, stages with professional lighting and sound, bookstore\gift shops, coffee shops etc. to make the experience of worship more comfortable for those caught in the trappings of a capitalistic society, all in an effort to put butts in seats and dollars in the collection plate.

The modern American church is in practice, far more a corporation than an institution of worship. As noted in forbes pastors are more akin to CEO's and the church business model is the envy of the corporate world. Churches don't pay taxes on the vast majority of income, they have legions of people who will work for free and are largely unaccountable as there are no stock holders.

While I hold little importance in the bible itself, there are some good life lessons in there. The numerous contradictions, and heavy editing through two milleniums lend a bit of doubt to it being the actual word of god, but there are many who believe it is. I would love to hear PEO's (pius executive officers) stammer and stutter to reconcile their practices with the ideology thier god.

John 2:13-16And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

I could sit here and pick quotes from the bible all day in regards to the evils of money, it would do no good. As all things, the bible is open to interpretation and can be spun to fit any need. In an environment that teaches blind faith, especially in the face of fact and reason even at times in the face of their own teachings amounts to hypocrisy on high, and the fleecing of a naive populace. Amen.

1 comment:

Rob the Granola Guy said...

In one of the Economist magazines laying around the house, there's an article about how big corporations are hiring evangelical pastors to work on site. There's even a very succcessful company that provides ministers for companies that want them. The company is making millions.