Pharyngula

Start off 2010 with schadenfreude

Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church is bleeding money. He just sent out a letter begging for almost a million dollars from his followers.

With 10% of our church family out of work due to the recession, our expenses in caring for our community in 2009 rose dramatically while our income stagnated. Still, with wise management, we’ve stayed close to our budget all year. Then… this last weekend the bottom dropped out.

On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive – leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year, unless you help make up the difference today and tomorrow.

Good.

I don’t mean that it is good that people are poor and suffering; I think it’s wonderful that a pious fraud who preys upon them is feeling a teeny-tiny pinch. I’d feel even more cheerful if I didn’t think that his begging from the faithful will most likely work.

Hey, if anyone wants to see me go into raptures, all they have to do is add to Saddleback’s woes by making their fleecing operation taxable. That would definitely break the back of Saddleback.

Comments

  1. #1 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 31, 2009

    It’s the Purpose Driven Money Bail Out!

  2. #2 AF Comm Guy
    December 31, 2009

    As I recall from an earlier article, Saddleback church lost a $3M lawsuit recently and that is why they are hurting for cash. Still, you would think that a mega church would be able to come up with that sum. It makes me wonder just how solvent these churches really are or if they instead operate on a long line of credit.

  3. #3 JD
    December 31, 2009

    I’m sure he could raise the money easily if he just wrote another one of those stupid fucking books. That shit rag of an ass-driven drivel.

  4. #4 vekbot
    December 31, 2009

    Dirty bastard. He’s sunk so low, he’s popping out the other side of the planet.

  5. #5 Nevrotic
    December 31, 2009

    From the linked article:

    “# Click HERE right now to and give as large an end-of-the-year gift as you can to help avert this crisis. If we all do what God leads us to do, we?ll all be a part of a miracle.”

    So apparently when a large number of people choose to answer a plea for money, it’s a miracle. Divine intervention, not their own free choice, causes them to donate. Their money is being forcibly taken from them by God and handed over to his lackeys. Someone should do something about this.

  6. #6 Strangest brew
    December 31, 2009

    Tax the fuckers!…My new year resolution!

  7. #7 Qwerty
    December 31, 2009

    The best reason to not give money is when the letter states: The church does not make its financial information public.

  8. #8 VoiceoftheGods
    December 31, 2009

    So a single weekend shortfall left a $900K hole in the budget? Does that mean these loonies rake in close to 2M a weekend? I think I just died a little inside.

  9. #9 sunsetbeachguy
    December 31, 2009

    That reminded me of George Carlin’s bit on religon.

    All powerful deity, watching over you ready to condemn you to a pit of fire to burn until the end of time, but he loves you very much.

    AND, he is all powerful but really bad with money, he needs money!

  10. #10 Celtic_Evolution
    December 31, 2009

    And the reward for helping poor, poor Mr. Warren make up $900,000 out of his multi-million dollar budget will be… what exactly?

    Megachurch whoring makes me sick…

    “Please, please… I’m begging you, send us your money. You will get nothing for it and we will do nothing extra to earn it… we just expect you’ll give it to us because god wants you to, and dammit we’re suuuuuuuuffering.”

    This is a Purpose Driven Request. The purpose is to separate you poor, credulous saps from your cash.

  11. #11 Joel
    December 31, 2009

    AFCG: This is a different church. Saddleback has not, to my knowledge, lost any lawsuits recently.

    Bit of irony hipocrisy here. Reading between the lines, it appears that the good Christians at Saddleback decided that Nintendo and Fischer Price needed tithes worse than the baby Jesus did this year.

    Reason for the Season indeed!

  12. #12 cag
    December 31, 2009

    My wife (one of those) gave some money to David Mainse (a smarmy con man, 100 Huntley Street in Canada) some years ago. A follow up letter appeared soon after, in which, I paraphrase –

    “it is 4:30 in the morning and I am sitting here unable to sleep worrying about the church’s financial situation. Please help.”

    I do not trust the pleadings of any of these so called messengers of god. Needless to say, I did a “return to sender” on the letter and gave my opinion on their preying on the vulnerabilities of the gullible. No follow-ups were received.

  13. #13 me
    December 31, 2009

    Did the 900 ft jesus tell him to collect that money?

  14. #14 uknesvuinng
    December 31, 2009

    Will he die if he doesn’t get it?

  15. #15 Patricia Queen of Sluts, OM
    December 31, 2009

    Good.
    Now let’s see if he can out act that old fraud Oral Roberts.

  16. #16 Legion
    December 31, 2009

    Wait a minute. Wasn’t it Warren who said that god has planned every moment of our lives in advance?

    Clearly, god has purposefully screwed up the finances of some of Saddlback’s members for the purpose of bankrupting Warren’s temple of doom.

    Don’t fight it Rick. It’s all part of god’s mysterious plan.

  17. #17 steve
    December 31, 2009

    I have an idea: how about Warren take some of the money he makes from all those books he sells and put that down in order to cover this “shortfall?”

  18. #18 history punk
    December 31, 2009

    If the prosperity gospel has taught us anything, it is that God smiles on those he loves and obeys him. Thus, we can conclude that Warren has done pissed off the baby Jesus.

  19. #19 epawson
    December 31, 2009

    http://ncse.com/news/2009/12/lawsuit-against-science-center-over-creationist-film-005249

    California, being a place I’ve always considered fairly liberal (They elected the Govornator), seems to be at the forefront of conservative christian idealism. First gay marriage and now this. What is it that conservitave America wants with California?

  20. #20 Andreas Johansson
    December 31, 2009

    Oral Roberts

    It may amuse someone to know that I for quite a while was under the impression this was an obscene nickname for Pat Robertson.

  21. #21 --PatF
    December 31, 2009

    Hmmm….
    Rod Parsley’s church in trouble…..
    Rick Warren’s church in trouble……
    Oral Robert’s University in trouble…..
    Oral Robert’s dead…..

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

  22. #22 NixNoctua
    December 31, 2009

    Tax the fuckers!

    Damn straight.

  23. #23 Insightful Ape
    December 31, 2009

    Are the “explorers” over at Liberty University going to put off their expedition to Turkey and donate to good ol’ Ricky instead now that so many of the faithul are hurting?

  24. #24 erpease
    December 31, 2009

    The last week was Christmas week which is the one week when churches expect a lot of extra visitors and more generous offerings. From the sound of it many of the extra people didn’t show up and/or the regular congregation didn’t give more than usual.

    Some churches do earmark a part or all of the Christmas offering to specific good causes such as homeless shelter or food for the hungry (and make sure you know it goes there by having people write checks directly to the charity). I think this is reasonable especially if the church is going beyond its usual service and having carols and Christmas music.

    The one negative repercussion of this is that a certain group of ministers in Uganda is likely to view this as a judgment on Rick Warren for rebuking them over a proposed bill in Uganda they support calling for the death penalty for serial homosexuals (one offense nets life imprisonment) and several years of imprisonment if you know someone is homosexual and don’t turn them in within 24 hours (or if you support homosexuals). They already sent Rick Warren a letter rebuking him in turn and now a video response.

  25. #25 Traveler
    December 31, 2009

    Joel @11

    Reading between the lines, it appears that the good Christians at Saddleback decided that Nintendo and Fischer Price needed tithes worse than the baby Jesus did this year.

    I have friends in his flock. This is precisely what they did this year.

    epawson @19

    What is it that conservitave America wants with California?

    Our money and our votes.

  26. #26 Larry
    December 31, 2009

    Hey, folks, bigotry in the name of jebus don’t come cheap, ya know. I mean, Teh Gays, they aren’t gonna suppress themselves.

  27. #27 KillJoy
    December 31, 2009

    Oi. Uganda. *Froth*
    You just HAD to go and ruin my schadenfreude by mentioning that whole…Uganda….thing.
    Now I’m going to rant and flail for two hours about it, and its my poor long suffering coworkers who will have to deal with it. Not YOU. Selfish.
    :P

  28. #28 Legion
    December 31, 2009

    Some churches do earmark a part or all of the Christmas offering to specific good causes such as homeless shelter or food for the hungry…

    Doesn’t matter. The very concept of mega-churches is fundamentally flawed. These institutions now find themselves in a position where they’re trying, delicately, to make the case that they’re “too big to fail.”

    Too. Damn. Bad. The religious industrial marketplace is overdue for an economic correction, and it looks like 2010 may be a banner year for opportunities to pick a used pew at a liquidation sale price. Yaaa capitalism.

    Oh, and one more thing. Tax the fuckers!

  29. #29 Michael Lonergan
    December 31, 2009

    “Still, with wise management, we’ve stayed close to our budget all year. Then… this last weekend the bottom dropped out.”

    Uh, Rick… I’m not a genius, in terms of book-keeping and that shit, BUT… even I know waiting til the last weekend of the month to make your budget is really really stupid.

  30. #30 tresmal
    December 31, 2009
  31. #31 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 31, 2009

    If Rev Rick doesn’t make his $900K, will Da Lawd call him home?

  32. #32 mattb
    December 31, 2009

    This is absolute bullshit. He is begging for money knowing full well he is going to get boat loads. In fact he is going to get even more than if he had met his budget in the first place. Christians are going to dump tons of their funds into his church just in time to shave a little more off their taxes. Then Warren is going to thanks Jesus and all those good Christians for sending in their money just in time. A miracle! He’ll also report that not only did they make budget but they far exceeded what they asked for. Just wait and see, he’ll be making the announcement soon enough.

  33. #33 Aaron P
    December 31, 2009

    “Hmmm….
    Rod Parsley’s church in trouble…..
    Rick Warren’s church in trouble……
    Oral Robert’s University in trouble…..
    Oral Robert’s dead…..
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!”

    Happy New Year indeed, now lets just get Pat Robertson’s scam business to implode!!

  34. #34 Stogoe
    December 31, 2009

    Sadly, Legion, I don’t have room for a pew, and megachurches don’t have any cool things like lordly rods with saints’ finger bones in them, or censers, or chalices, or that ornate box where they keep them fancy crackers.

  35. #35 The Tim Channel
    December 31, 2009

    If I thought it would do any good if they pray for Rush Limbaugh’s imminent demise I might give them a dollar. Hell, if I thought it would do any good I’d be on my knees til they were bloody.

    Happy New Year (in two hours here in Deutchland)

    Bonus:

    New Years Dog Blogging:
    http://thetimchannel.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/new-year-dog-blogging/

    Holiday on Ice – Muenster:
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=5185&id=100000544051827&l=a1340d9664

    Enjoy.

  36. #36 religiongonecrazy
    December 31, 2009

    Religion in this day and age is more about money than following a life similar to Jesus. As I don’t want any further suffering for the poor due to the economy, I do hope the state tax revenues go on to get further depleted so they start to look at these religious institutions and finally decide to overturn the tax redemption status to gain extra dollars for social programs that really help the poor (and that the Right are eroding on a daily basis). You can’t tell me that the members of the church who give their limited income are benefiting from that one million dollars being pulled in every year. That money is going into the church coffers for investment as well as the pockets of individuals such as Rick Warren.

  37. #37 MadScientist
    December 31, 2009

    The abridged Warren: A lot of your friends are out of a job, please ignore them and give more money to me.

  38. #38 sandiseattle
    December 31, 2009

    Start off 2010 with schadenfreude

    I think I will disobey this command. I’d prefer to start the Newyear with hope and happiness.

  39. #39 a.debaser
    December 31, 2009

    Wait, so because people who are a part of the church are unemployed because of the recession, the church needs more money to take care of “the community” who is in trouble — by taking money from — those same people hit by the recession?

    Purpose driven fleeching.

  40. #41 Richard Murray
    December 31, 2009

    $900,000 in the red after a single weekend?

    That says just one thing to me when the news comes from a moral, self-righteous, evangelical god-botherer…

    Last weekend saw one HUGE meth-fueled gay orgy in Rick Warren’s neighbourhood.

  41. #42 Biology Blogger
    December 31, 2009

    I think they are regretting the money they spent on propH8 to pass.

    As much as I hate the bigot, I never saw anything about “fraud”, PZ.

  42. #43 ukko
    December 31, 2009

    Biology Blogger, PZ said he was a fraud not that he committed fraud.

  43. #44 Rev. El Mundo
    December 31, 2009

    I’d say this announcement is proof of the Myers effect.
    ~Rev. El

  44. #45 MGG
    December 31, 2009

    @8 and 41:

    If I were to guess, they were probably expecting a certain amount of end-of-year giving, and they didn’t get it.

  45. #46 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 31, 2009

    Posted by: sandiseattle| December 31, 2009 4:54 PM

    Start off 2010 with schadenfreude

    I think I will disobey this command. I’d prefer to start the Newyear with hope and happiness.

    Gosh but you are so defiant and rebellious.

  46. #47 Patricia Queen of Sluts, OM
    December 31, 2009

    Maybe he just hasn’t been caught in a fraud. Yet.

  47. #48 Free Lunch
    December 31, 2009

    As much as I hate the bigot, I never saw anything about “fraud”, PZ.

    Except that there is no demonstrable truth in any religious doctrines. If they weren’t hiding behind God, they could easily be tried for fraud.

    Warren is very smug about not taking any salary from his church. I have no idea how much of his book income he gives to the church, but prosperity gospel is a pretty revolting concept. Only hard predestinationism is more revolting.

  48. #49 Thinker
    December 31, 2009

    It might be a good Psych PhD theses to try and figure out why since forever, stupid and needy humans keep giving Federal Reserve debt instruments to worthless preachers.

    (Boy will they all be surprised when all those debt instruments turn worthless between Friday (after banks close) and the next Monday!)

  49. #50 Robin
    December 31, 2009

    Tee hee. Just think, if his followers don’t divvy up, Saddleback will become Brokeback. One wonders what effect that would have on Warren’s relations with the Ugandans?

  50. #51 Lynna, OM
    December 31, 2009

    @24

    The one negative repercussion of this is that a certain group of ministers in Uganda is likely to view this as a judgment on Rick Warren for rebuking them over a proposed bill in Uganda they support calling for the death penalty for serial homosexuals (one offense nets life imprisonment) and several years of imprisonment if you know someone is homosexual and don’t turn them in within 24 hours (or if you support homosexuals). They already sent Rick Warren a letter rebuking him in turn and now a video response.

    Holy crap! That video response from the pastors of Uganda was monstrous. The idiots have banded together to upbraid Warren for “bowing to the pressure from bloggers and homosexual champions”… and there’s more. Arrggh. So Rick Warren saying that the Ugandan kill-the-gays law was a bad idea has united the Ugandan homophobes in their fight against “the evil that is homosexuality.” Seems like C-Street/The Family campaigns against gays are now out of their control. They fanned anti-gay campaigns in Africa, and now they are reaping the wind.

  51. #52 Stuart
    December 31, 2009

    A Happy New Year to P-Zed and all Pharyngulans from 2010 London

  52. #53 Lynna, OM
    December 31, 2009

    For those that want more information on the video response from Ugandan pastors to Rick Warren, Box Turtle Bulletin has posted a good article. Excerpts:

    In the first video posted to YouTube on December 28, Ssempa continues to misrepresent what the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would provide….
    Ssempa then argues that the crime of ?aggravated homosexuality? is an absolute necessity in order to criminalize raping of children, which Ssempa incredibly claims is not against the law in Uganda. The problem with that, of course, is there is no such gaping loophole in Ugandan law….
    The bill goes beyond criminalizing sex with underage minors ? which Ugandan law already does. It penalizes any gay person who is HIV-positive with death by hanging, the method of legal execution in Uganda, whether that person had sex with a minor or a consenting adult….
    Both parts of this video response taken together follow roughly the letter that Ssempa sent to Warren demanding that Warren apologize for his condemnation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

  53. #54 Scott M
    December 31, 2009

    What is it that conservitave America wants with California?

    Either drag it back in time to the 1950s with Beaver Cleaver, build a wall around us so we don’t infect them with things like tolerance, or undo our moorings and to us adrift in the sea…in either case they almost certainly want us to go the way of Sodom and Gemorrah…and intend to cheer the entire time.

  54. #55 Timothy
    January 1, 2010

    I’ve never understood why religions organizations aren’t taxable. Doesn’t the Constitution say that Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, but isn’t exempting them from taxes explicitly making a law?

  55. #56 Talen Lee
    January 1, 2010

    The conservatives want California, so that when Texas secedes they’ll have a prayer at winning another election ever again.

  56. #57 Richard Eis
    January 1, 2010

    These institutions now find themselves in a position where they’re trying, delicately, to make the case that they’re “too big to fail.”

    Too big to fail…Now why does THAT sound familar?

    So they were expecting about $1 million dollars in one weekend…which they had already spent? Putting them in the red.

    That really must have been one massive chrsitmas party.

  57. #58 daveau
    January 1, 2010

    ‘Tis@31-

    Do you think that he is aware that actually playing the “god will call me home” card will expose him as the fraud he is, and that’s why he hasn’t done it? We can still hope.

  58. #59 BlueIndependent
    January 1, 2010

    Actually, I’m starting to come around on the “tax them silly” idea. The point was made recently that if tax exempt status was removed from religious organizations, that congregants would then have a legal cause to argue that they deserve the requisite representation in politics. To my mind this could feasibly then dramatically increase the political power of organized religion, giving believers of pretty much any stripe an inherently higher standing politically than atheists would have. Believers could speak both as individuals, *and* as part of an organized theist front that these days is very much opposed to social progress. That to me sounds like a really bad idea, and I think most churches bigger than those Jesus-in-a-trailer gigs one sees strewn about the nation’s sequestered wooded areas would be able to swing annual tax bills (assuming the tax rate wasn’t in the 40-50% range, a rate I doubt would scarcely even be proposed).

    I think that, unfortunately, letting them remain tax exempt may be the better option. We wouldn’t want to revoke tax exempt status, only to then be faced with a D.C. that is overrun with priests, rabbis, imams, and other assorted snake oil salesmen the way it currently is with corporate personhood-driven money brokers who appear to be getting damn near everything they want. Oddly enough, removing tax exempt status from the religious seems to be a Pandora’s Box I’m becoming less willing to open.

  59. #60 Lynna, OM
    January 1, 2010

    Rick Warren needs to take some strong-arm lessons from the mormons.

    “A further reward for paying tithing is a guarantee against being consumed in the burning which is to accompany the second coming of the Savior.” (Marion G Romney, Trust in the Lord, Ensign May 1979.)

    “The payment of tithing is also worthwhile as fire insuranc.” (Marion G Romney, Concerning Tithing, Ensign June 1980.) [God as a rip-off artist, selling overpriced fire insurance?]

    ?I could not think of anything better than the counsel I had received from my father: ?Even if you don?t have anything to eat, always pay your tithing?.” (Jorge Luis del Castillo, Lessons from the Old Testament: My Father?s Last Words, Ensign December 2006.)

    “One of the first things a bishop must do to help the needy is ask them to pay their tithing. Like the widow, if a destitute family is faced with the decision of paying their tithing or eating, they should pay their tithing.” (Lynn Robbins, General Conference address April 2005.)

    On March 19, 1970, the LDS First Presidency sent a letter to presidents of stakes and missions, bishops of wards, and presidents of branches in answer to the question, What is a proper tithe? “For your guidance in this matter, please be advised that we have uniformly replied that the simplest statement we know of is that statement of the Lord himself that the members of the Church should pay one-tenth of all their interest annually, which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this.”

    Sister Sidney Sperry, speaking at the October 2003 General Conference: “Many years ago John Orth worked in a foundry in Australia, and in a terrible accident, hot molten lead splashed onto his face and body. He was administered to, and some of the vision was restored to his right eye, but he was completely blind in his left. Because he couldn’t see well, he lost his job. He tried to get employment with his wife’s family, but their business failed due to the depression. He was forced to go door-to-door seeking odd jobs and handouts to pay for food and rent.
    ”One year he did not pay any tithing and went to talk to the branch president. The branch president understood the situation but asked John to make it a matter of prayer and fasting so that he could find a way to pay his tithing. John and his wife, Alice, fasted and prayed and determined that the only thing of value they owned was her engagement ring?a beautiful ring bought in happier times. After much anguish they decided to take the ring to a pawnbroker and learned it was worth enough to pay their tithing and some other outstanding bills.”

  60. #61 Richard Eis
    January 1, 2010

    Lynna, its sad that people believe that their god needs money more than they do.

    Not that my respect for mormons wasn’t already below zero, but its now in the negative thousands.

  61. #62 Cactus Wren
    January 1, 2010

    VoiceoftheGods @#8: “So a single weekend shortfall left a $900K hole in the budget?”

    That “single weekend shortfall” was AFTER “10 packed Christmas services”. I wonder where all the money from those went?

  62. #63 Andreas Johansson
    January 1, 2010

    Blue Independent:

    Actually, I’m starting to come around on the “tax them silly” idea. The point was made recently that if tax exempt status was removed from religious organizations, that congregants would then have a legal cause to argue that they deserve the requisite representation in politics.

    Huh? Companies pay taxes and don’t get any extra political representation beyond that of their owners and employees – why would churches work any differently?

  63. #64 BlueIndependent
    January 1, 2010

    “Huh? Companies pay taxes and don’t get any extra political representation beyond that of their owners and employees – why would churches work any differently?

    Not small businesses but big ones do at both the state and federal levels in the form of lobbying. Imagine Warren, Dobson, Haggard, Graham, Hagee, etc., being the biggest churches in the land (who btw also already have built-up political sway in elections and have been invited to the White House by presidents of both parties) grooming special parishioners to “work in Washington” on their behalf to kill things like stem cell research, equal rights for gays and lesbians, etc. I think that, were the government to start taxing churches, they’d have people lobbying them in D.C. by the next day. Further, the big corporations have successfully lobbied to have their taxes lowered in very dramatic fashion for the last 25 years. Churches could then feasibly start lobbying to make the case that if they’re being taxed, they want a bigger share of tax revenue for “social services” and “infrastructure development”, etc.

    I get what you’re saying, and I know there is already plenty of action on the part of religious interest groups to push specific legislation, but if big corporations are already as powerful as they are, why add another major lobbying force to the mess? Maybe it wouldn’t make any difference at all. Who knows. I’m just wary of anything that might give them an end-run-around excuse to grab more power than they already have.

  64. #65 MosesZD
    January 1, 2010

    Maybe the sanctimonious bastard can give up most of his 80K-to-100K parsonage allowance. Also his cars, his luxury “work” vacations, etc.

    He can live like the rest of us…

  65. #66 VegeBrain
    January 1, 2010

    My blessing for the year 2010: May Rick Warren’s church continue to go in debt until it becomes bankrupt.

  66. #67 sudomabinusri
    January 1, 2010

    Pray to Je$u$, Pastor Ricky, and all your wishes will come true.

  67. #68 Jimmy Johnson
    January 1, 2010

    Maybe Pastor Rick needs to go out and get another job for a few weeks to cover his ass and make sure the “church” continues to function.

    Hey, if W were still president he could have church services in the White House and dun the GOP for whatever he needs.

    The bullshit-driven life…

  68. #69 timrowledge
    January 2, 2010
  69. #70 Swulf
    January 3, 2010

    Yes, needless to say the fuckwits came charging to the ‘rescue’, wallets in hand:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/pastor-rick-warren-asks-for-900000-gets-24-million-for-saddleback-church.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29

    Not to worry, this guy will eventually come undone, like all the rest of his ilk. Just a matter of time.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!