I have sat through many sermons about finding your way through the eyes of needles and the "love of money"'s ability to ruin your life. Preachers like to talk about money because it's an issue for everyone and churches need money to survive. It's an easy thing for religious leaders to tell people where to put their money. It's "low-hanging fruit."
At the same time, financially successful church members are often the most respected members of a religious community. People see their wealth as evidence that God has blessed them. As long as they don't brag about how much money they have, people don't tend to mind if you're a wealthy Christian, at least to your face. If you're wealthy, just be modest about it. It's a tension few Christians can balance before they shrug their shoulders and find a red herring to use.
Recently, the CBC posted a story about the ways richer countries abandon religion when times get better. The article reads,
More recent polls have found similar divisions between rich and poor nations. The 2009 Gallup Inc. religion survey, which sampled about 1,000 people in each of 114 countries, found that among nations with a per capita income of less than $2,000, 95 per cent of respondents, in the median, answered "Yes" to the question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?"
In my Christian days, this statistic would have merely backed up my preconceived notions. I would have thought, "Of course money draws you away from God. Money is a powerful force that can control your life." I would have walked away fromm reading this article thinking that it confirmed my bias that money is evil and that I should stay away from it.
Now, my thoughts go the other way: "Of course people don't need God when the going's good; it gives them the opportunity to live a satisfying life on their own." Money buys education, leisure, mobility, and all the things that make preconceived notions harder to defend.
I don't have much money. I have an alright job and a good family. Currently, however, I live in Egypt where the divide between rich and poor is enormous and obvious. We have people who live in the parkades beneath the villas where we live. They have loads of children and next to no money. They are religious. At the school where I work, the workers who obviously get paid a pittance can often be seen praying more often, whereas the more well-off staff members are clearly more, well, liberal. But this is all anecdotal; the CBC article says it all clearer.
I'd even suggest that these different groups worship different gods altogether. Rich God has different characteristics than Poor God does. He has different interests, attitudes, and requirements. I don't think we have any way to know that we worship the same god as the person next to us, even if we worship in the same building or address the same name. Religion thrives on this subjectivity.
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