Word is out on the internets that Pastor Rick Warren has got a pile of bills he can’t pay. A megachurch, like a Ponzi scheme, will do just fine as long as new members keep streaming in. But there are only six billion of us on earth, and only so many who can make it to Sunday service. The early church did collect a common fund to aid its members, but the Gospels don’t mention construction projects, even small ones. St. Paul was a tentmaker. The Apostles all knew how to work regular jobs when they had to.

A financial model based on expansion has limits. If there is not a plan B for the church that has reached its limit, or the church whose members are facing a recession, a crisis of faith will ensue.

I like my church because they have a reality-based approach to money. That is, they plead with us that the buildings need to be maintained and the staff needs to be paid. Our reward for giving generously is that First Unitarian will endure as a church, not a museum.

For no particular reason, here is a link to my reaction to getting a holy prayer rug in the mail.

The point is–God doesn’t need our money. Our friends, neighbors and relatives might need a loan. Generosity is a virtue, and we should support what we value. If there is value in Saddleback Church it will endure in hard times.

Jesus Would be Really Mad

Jesus was no fan of people who use religion as a cover for bad actions, and he was known to get pretty ticked off at the self-righteous. So if Jesus is the guy we see when we leave this vale of tears I would not want to be Fred Phelps. He’ll have a lot of ‘splaining to do. Phelps, (nicknamed ‘The Rotting Cryptkeeper’ by Pam’s House Blend) is the cult leader who has driven states to pass laws against a behavior he pretty much invented — disrupting funerals to get attention for his anti-gay views. In the past few years he and his tiny band of followers (most of whom are his family) have been harassing the bereaved families of Iraq War soldiers.

While it is a great strength of our democracy that we allow freedom of religious practice within the boundaries of law and respect for others, there are some who have no respect and use religion as a cover for bigotry and disgraceful behavior. Fred Phelps may have reached the end of his free ride

A federal judge in Maryland on Thursday ordered liens on the Westboro Baptist Church building and the Phelps-Chartered Law office…

The $5 million penalty is the result of a lawsuit filed against three of the church’s principals by Albert Snyder, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, whose funeral was picketed by church members.

The senior Snyder contended the picketing caused emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

For several years the Phelps clan have been spewing hate and persecuting people who deserve privacy and respect. It’s a shame that anyone was ever so disrespected as the grieving families Phelps preyed on in his greed for attention. I have often wondered where a guy like that gets the money to travel from state to state. Maybe now that a brave family won a lawsuit we will find out who’s financing him and his disciples.