Let The Buyer Beware
By John O..
Church is big business today. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cult, like the COG offspring, or whether it conforms to a more “acceptable” format. It’s all still big business.
So therefore, it’s interesting to have a look at the background behind some of these corporations and see just how easy it is to “start your own church.” The late Ron L. Hubbard of the Scientology church once said: “If you’re going to make money in today’s world, you have to start a church.”
Let’s then take a realistic peek behind the scenes and see how easy it is to have your own church business, bring in money, have people regard you as guru, and then sell out your soul for the acquisition of mammon. Inside the protection of your own church, you can give false information to congregations about their well being (e.g. on healing), you can teach false doctrine (e.g. rigid laws that follow your interpretation), you can mislead people on their finances (e.g. tithing), you can ruin peoples’ security (e.g. giving ALL to help “the work”), and lead them astray from any spiritual truth they may have ever had. You can destroy people’s lives, their health, their attitudes, their families, their hopes and dreams, their retirement, their will and spirit, all in the name of “God.” And it’s all legal.
Some may take exception to the fact that all this is legal, although it’s NOT moral or ethical, but that’s the way our laws are written. We live in the United States, and that’s a great blessing. And in the U.S. we have a lot of freedom. While this is never misused by most folks and we’re thankful to enjoy what we have, some will always take advantage of these freedoms. Over the years, we have seen all sorts of hate-filled groups who demand a variety of “special” rights, only because they feel they can. If they don’t immediately get them, many will go on a rampage, or start protesting, whine, or even riot to get attention from the authorities. Although, what they may be doing is not ethical or moral, unscrupulous, money hungry lawyers usually find a loophole in such behaviour, so the untoward activity is seen as “legal.” When we have such abundant freedoms, there are always base people who will abuse them. So it is with many churches.
Here then, are the steps to help us legally start our own cult and make lots of money. While there’s satire herein, the FACTS ARE TRUE, and the following can realistically be the address of a future church leader to his friends and family who are looking to go into the “church business.” Many a reader will recognize the following as being familiar to something they’ve known or experienced. Most will see it all as having happened already.
The meeting is called to order, and the leader speaks . . .
My friends, I’ve called you all here because we want to make money. Since we’re all intrinsically lazy (pause for giggles), we want to make as much money as possible in the shortest period of time. It is my proposal therefore that we start a church, and we control the purse strings. Here’s how we can proceed.
FIRST, We register the name of the church and open a non-profit (no shares) corporation and we pay the fees involved. It’s usually much less than $500. This corporation must be registered with the state in which we plan to do our business. Obviously, our corporation has nothing to do with anything of higher spiritual values. It’s business and that’s all. We mustn’t ever get carried away with any thought of a God being involved. However, it’s always wise to throw in the name of “God” somewhere, as this tends to make all people think that somehow our corporation and God are spiritually connected.
We will follow the regular rules of incorporation with our application. It’s always a lot cheaper in most states to incorporate as non-profit. We may as well start incorporating in California as anything goes there, and any fruitcake can start a church in that state. In these applications, we must put down something that looks like we’re actually doing something that will benefit mankind. So, we put down that we’re (for example) going to preach a gospel, and feed the flock. It sounds good and it all goes to make good paperwork in the state’s Chamber of Commerce, but naturally, God has nothing to do with it. All sorts of other fluff and stuff can be added, but it doesn’t matter what we put down for a corporate purpose, we can do whatever we like, as no one will ever check up on us.
We don’t have to be anyone special to incorporate this way in most states, as the state itself doesn’t care. It gets its fees, and that’s all that matters. We need NOT be ordained ministers to start our church, for most states don’t give a hoot. If we must, we can always say that we have studied theology from some school or other, and since no one checks on this, they’ll think we’re ordained ministers.
With incorporation (that comes in a week or two), we can then legally call ourselves ministers, perform marriages, run our church with the by-laws that we ourselves made, and garner in flocks for profit. In this way, even someone like Adolph Hitler could make application in most states, incorporate, call himself an apostle, perform all church functions, and garner in tithes, etc. And it’s all legal.
If some states are a little reluctant to grant incorporation or tax exempt status, then we will wait a year or two. Once our church is “established,” all other states will eventually grant us incorporation . . . because we’re now “legit.” That’s how we work the system.
SECOND, is getting the tax exempt status. This may be getting harder in some areas, but if there’s no criminal activity evident in our board members and the agenda seems Ok, then we’ll get one in due time.
We must make sure of a couple of things. No one in our corporate group must ever have had a brush with the law. If you have, then change your names and reapply for another social security number. Illegal aliens have been known to do it all the time. Check with any their relevant people for details if you feel there’s a problem.
The tax exempt status is for one purpose only. It is NOT to help out the congregation to give them a tax break. It helps us – as a business – to make more money. Again, it is NOT for the primary benefit of the congregation. In actual fact, we don’t give a damn about them or their tax exempt donation. We only care about our income, but without that tax exempt status, people won’t give as much because they know that cannot deduct their donation and get their tax break. So, the purpose of the exemption is primarily to stimulate donations for our business profits only.
At the end of our tax year, we must submit our forms to the IRS and the state. In these forms, we must make sure that our income equals our outgo. If the income greatly exceeds the normal outgo, then we must “hide” money somewhere to make that balance sheet equal. We can add to our expenses, or even create phony programs to which we appropriate millions of dollars, if our income becomes that big. We can create phony, overseas “work” and hide millions in those foreign areas. Since it’s almost impossible for the IRS to track down any overseas church activities, this is a good place to conceal a good chunk of our income. Of course, that money is really in off-shore accounts, but we will say that it’s for investment in the work overseas. And everyone will believe it. How can they prove otherwise?
At all costs, we must get rid of all excess income. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the guise of miscellaneous expenses, buying things that we don’t need, buying extra things that we do need, bonuses and more bonuses, new cars every year, and a brand new, shiny, personal jet aircraft each for our top corporate leaders. They all need to travel in style if they are to minister to the world’s leaders, and of course, remember our motto . . . God loves quality. And it’s all legal.
THIRD is that we need a product. Jesus is usually a good commodity. God is always for sale, and Jesus is the bait. Since it’s acceptable to most people to accept Jesus (even though they know nothing about Him), then we’ll use Jesus as our lure.
We’ll tell people something obscure that Jesus said (we’ll find something or other), and we’ll make a religion out of it. We’ll drive the fear of God into everyone’s hearts if they don’t conform, because we’ll claim that our teachings were “divinely given.” We’ll be safe from much of the criticism, because most people won’t bother to check for themselves. Most folks would simply rather listen and have someone else tell them what to do. Because most people are like this, we have our business already booming.
Prophecy is always a very saleable commodity. If we can find some book on prophecy somewhere, make a few modifications, and come out with a new set of scenarios, then people (who will never check for themselves) will believe that we have God’s ear, and He has ours. We’ll write brochures on this and all other subjects as well.
So, now we’re set. We have our product, the literature, the pitch that we’ll use, and all that now brings us to the . . .
FOURTH thing, which is the advertising. We’ll use any method we can. P.T. Barnum said that there’s one born every minute, and we’ll use the radio and TV and the Internet. For a modest investment, we can be bringing in money within two to three months.
We must focus on areas of the country that are Bible oriented but areas that are not too bright or too scholarly. If people were taught to believe that the Bible is God’s word and if they’re ignorant enough, then we can convince them that this book says anything we want. This is our first and primary market, because these people will form the base of our corporate income . . . all the trusting folks who are Biblically ignorant but very sincere. And we can make merchandise out of them.
All our literature must be free. The karmic principle of sowing and reaping applies to everything and not just to good deeds. We can use this principle to serve our purposes. We’ll give away literature free, and as sure as the universe stands by its laws, we’ll reap the harvest of money from these folks who have received their “free” literature.
If we all work hard, then within a couple of years, we’ll all be driving new, luxury cars, and living in new homes. We’ll even justify decorating all those houses, from the tithe payer’s income, by putting each home in the category of a “parsonage.” Coupled to this, we’ll be able to justify all the parsonage expenses. For example, we can justify all decorations, utilities, repairs, general upkeep, additions (like extra rooms and a swimming pool), all food, servants, etc.
Since all our transport (cars, gas, upkeep) is paid for by the work, and our clothes are purchased by the corporation, then our salaries are pure gravy. We can easily justify $200k a year in our individual salaries which we can put into interest bearing, off-shore accounts. However, we must pay the legal taxes on our paycheck. I know, these taxes are a nuisance and that’s a burden that we must all carry if the work is to be successful and we are to retain our tax exempt status. Of course, we can siphon off all the tax free bonuses we want and at any time.
My personal feelings is that we can work moderately hard for a year . . . two at the most. Then we can take it relatively easy for the next ten years or so, and then we can all retire in luxury. And it’s all legal.
Are we all agreed? If we are . . . then let’s start our own church.