While atheists are usually somewhere in the middle to upper class, we certainly aren't on par with the churches in terms of wealth and power. So sometimes I think I should see about starting my own heathen church. Imagine the good we could do while cashing in on those faith-based initiatives.
Money.co.uk wrote an article recently called The Business of Religion which I wanted to share with you.
Here are some highlights:
The Catholic Church
- Worth hundreds of billions worldwide
- 1.81 billion followers worldwide
- Notorious for Pope Ratz saying condoms actually help the spread of AIDs and for many cases of abusing innocent children.
- Fortune comes from priceless works of art. The catholic church was implicated in the disappearance of Nazi gold, discovered in a shrine in Fatima in which the church admitted to having in 2000. They also make money from tourism to the vatican.
- They are one of the largest providers of humanitarian care and relief in the world. (but it's a vehicle to spread their indoctrination and increase their numbers)
The Church of England
- Worth billions
- 25 million baptized members (but I believe babies are baptized so the number is misleading, as people don't necessarily stay in the church once they grow up)
- Fortune comes from $320 million in cash donations from congregations, $400 million in legacies, events and services and $320 million in Gift-Aid donations. They used to be the biggest landowner in Britain but they sold it off to fund a multi-billion dollar investment portfolio which earns $255 million or more a year.
- Spends their money on pensions, salaries and maintaining 16,000 ancient buildings. They have 43 cathedrals which need constant care.
- Worth unknown but definitely in the hundreds of millions, probably in the billions
- They claim to have over 8 million followers worldwide (3.5 million in the US alone), but a 2008 survey showed just 20,000 Americans identified themselves as scientologists.
- Notorious for their ridiculous beliefs and extortionist fees for spiritual growth (plus their brutal way of dealing with people who disagree with them or speak out against them)
- Fortune comes from fees incurred when someone wants to advance in the church and get "clear". It costs over $272,ooo to reach Operating Thetan VIII which is the highest rank in the church. They are basically a fee-based operation and members are encouraged to even take out loans if they can't afford the courses.
- Some of the things they have spent their money on: $114 million to forever preserve L. Ron Hubbard's writings. A cruise ship called Freewinds was $15.2 million. They spent $6 million in an ad campaign to try to neutralize the expose' of Time magazine. $3 million in gold bullion.
- Combined worth somewhere around $2.4 billion
- No official figures on the number of followers. It's an American phenomenon, but televises worldwide.
- Notorious for their "prosperity gospel" which states that "Jesus blesses believers with riches". Of course you have to show your belief by sending in money. They call it "seed money". Some speak in tongues, some pretend to heal the sick.
- Fortune comes from donations, ads, selling merchandise to followers and other commercial activities.
- Televangelists don't seem to mind living the life of luxury while bilking money out of desperate poor and old people. They have multi-million dollar homes, fly in private jets, and have international 'crusades' at $3,000 a night.