While the economy continues to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, there is one group of institutions that is having a harder time recovering than others: churches. While confidence in the housing market grows, and the employment rate sinks further, polls show that more Americans than ever have no religious affiliations. This new trend has significant implications for the fiscal security of churches nationwide.
Last week, in response to growing financial concerns, cardinal Donald Wuerl announced that it would now be selling eternal salvation at a significantly reduced price. Traditionally, members of churches have been expected to pay tithe, or 10 percent of the yearly earnings before tax to the church. The winds of change may be blowing, however. In his announcement, Wuerl said that “while studying the Bible late last night, I realized it had been interpreted incorrectly all along! The New Testament clearly indicates that the devout must only give 5 percent of their income to the church!” He went on to indicate that he believes the mistake was made when the Bible was translated into German, going as far as to say, “You can’t trust those shifty Germans.”
After the ground-breaking announcement, Wuerl sat down with Cardinal reporters. He gave them a more detailed insight into how church officials hoped to see the future of their establishment. Wuerl explained that with this new move, the Catholic church was “going back to the basics.” He cited that during the greatest increase in Catholic membership to date, during the Middle Ages, the church emphasized money as a means to accomplish salvation. He also iterated that he had the full support of the 12 other American cardinals in launching this campaign, which hopes to emulate the church’s former success.
While surveys found that many Catholics found the announcement to be extremely progressive, it was less popular among Protestant leaders. In an interview, an evangelical elder said “Reinterpreting the Bible? That’s our thing!” This sentiment is not mirrored by statistics, however. While the number of religiously unaffiliated has not changed, preliminary data suggests that various protestants are transitioning and becoming Catholic. When asked about their decision, many of them sited monetary reasons.
At press time, Wuerl presented the Pope with a duffel bag full of $100 bills.