"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge." ~~Adolf Hitler
So far as I know all human cultures have religion. Those religions vary from
culture to culture, of course. One's religion is often the first thing people
notice when distinguishing a member of one culture from a member of another culture.
Religion serves as a marker for "us" and "them." As such,
religion is often "flourished" by those who want to reject or attack
members of another group. It is easy and tempting to say that their beliefs show
that they are evil and a threat to us and must be destroyed. Note that this is
a use that people make of religion, not what the religion, itself, would necessarily
have them do.
Religion also keeps groups together. An excellent example of this under very
trying circumstances is the Jewish faith. Despite social factors that would
have destroyed the group identity of most cultures, the Jewish religion has
maintained itself and its cultural identity over thousands of years with no
corresponding national or societal identity until recently. There are Jewish
persons of all sorts of societies and cultures.
My point here is that religion has many consequences, some good and some not
so good. Please note that I am talking about religion, not faith, not doctrine,
not spiritual truth, not God. I am talking about what people do with faith,
doctrine, and the social organizations that develop around these beliefs. It
is about those not-so-good uses that some people have made of religion that
I want to address here.
We have all heard about the "Elmer
Gantry" type of man who preys
upon the religious to get their money. We have also heard of those who exalt
religion as a means of raising their own status as the priests of ancient Egypt
did. We have heard of those who use their high place in a church to live a
life of luxury and ease. There is even the Biblical case of the money changers
in the Temple. And we know of those who use religion as a political device
to control others.
These cases all involve a large element of money. Acquisition of money is
the objective or motive in some cases. In others, money is used as a tool to
bring about a desired, non-religious end. But in all these cases, religion
is being abused, subverted, debased, and exploited.
Physical object money (POM) lends itself to such unworthy ends and means.
In fact, it provides the temptations that motivate much of it. But what about
a non-POM? Would that kind of money have any affect on religion?
A money which has no physical object representation, which comes into existence
when earned and ceases to exist when spent, would have a considerable affect
on the unsavory aspects of how people have used religion in POM societies.
For one thing, one would never have to suspect an ulterior money motive of
the minister. One cannot give one's non-POM to a church or anyone else. It
ceases to exist when spent and can buy only luxuries. Therefore, the minister
would have no incentive to ask for your money. The minister could ask for luxury
goods and services, of course, but that rather makes his greed transparent.
One doesn't ask for a fancy sports car for the minister to show the glory of
Also, unless they are doing things which actually benefit others, the highest
officers in a church would be gaining no money regardless of how exalted they
claimed to be.
If a politician attempted to use a religion to justify conquest it would do
him no good because conquest always costs far more than peace and generates
far fewer benefits. Therefore, the armed forces would not obey orders to march
in conquest since it would end their being paid.
Many religions use tithing, the giving of a certain percentage of one's money
income to the Church. Obviously, the gift of money would no longer be possible.
But that does not mean that one would be unable to give to one's church. The
most precious thing one can give is one's self. I think that this giving of
one's self would greatly increase and would likewise greatly benefit the churches.
However, if one did want to give material things to a church, one could give
any of one's property whether acquired by purchase, as in the case of luxuries,
or by gift as with capital goods. But the church, itself, cannot own any property.
Only individuals can own property. This would be a significant change from
the current situation.
Some individual would own the church building and grounds (including any cemeteries).
When one gave to the congregation by helping to build or maintain the building,
one would be giving that labor and materials to the one who owned the church
building. If benefit were derived from that building, all the contributors
would be paid accordingly. In other words, people would be rewarded for their
gifts. This might give rise to interesting theological questions of whether
one is getting credit in heaven for works which are rewarded on Earth. If one
wanted to give secretly one would need to be careful to not let the Payers
know of one's good works.
A church might have available for its use a comfortable building and equipment
which was constructed and maintained by those of some other faith. On the other
hand, if some church building were not used to benefit anyone other than the
owner, there would be no pay for those who labored to build or maintain the
Those who had provided the materials would not be paid. Thus, those churches
which clearly provide benefits to the community will prosper. Those which do
harm (preach hatred and such for example) would tend to wither and die.
So the wealth and magnificence of a church building would reflect the good
being done by the congregation and its ministers.
Those who are called to the ministry by their faith today must find some means
of support, some congregation or other source of money. Congregations would
not even be able to pay their ministers. In a non-POM society, those who are
called to the ministry need have no concerns about survival. They will be provided
with their body's requirements while they attend to the requirements of the
souls of themselves and of others. No inspired person will be prevented from
preaching by the need to support a family.
I cannot say whether non-POM will result in a greater attention to religion
and its place in our lives. I cannot say whether non-POM will bring anyone
to Christ, for example. But I can say that non-POM will reduce the incidence
of sin (as defined by every religion I know). If this is important, if less
sin contributes to religion, then non-POM will be an important contributor
to religious life.
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