The Easiest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

Wanna make a bundle?

Just start a church like these characters did:

The punchline can be found here.

I know some of you have calculated how much money you gave your church back when you were religious, money that was later used for (among other things) proselytizing to strangers and brainwashing a lot of children.

Feel free to share that amount in the comments if you remember it!

(via Ape, Not Monkey)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    The Christian bear(?) holding a banana gives that site +2 charisma.

  • Danijel

    none,and i never will…

  • scipio1

    I can go one better than that:

    http://eternal-earthbound-pets.com/

    Wish I’d thought of it…

  • kaellinn18

    For me, it’s at least seventy-five thousand USD, and I’m only 30. I’m a recent atheist, and when I was a Christian, I tithed reliably for years.

  • NotYou007

    I was raised Southern Baptist so the plate always made the rounds every Sunday but we had these envelopes that you placed your money or check in so nobody really knew how much you where giving. I think my parents only gave a dollar or two each week.

    I didn’t attend church in my teenage years but in my early 20′s when I thought I had found god again the huge non-denominational church didn’t pass around plate so they never received any of my money.

    Now my ex-wife who is Catholic. The few times I went to service with her parents that would drop a good fifty bucks each Sunday but then again they could afford to do so. They were far from poor but still that was 200.00 a month, if not more.

  • http://saganist.blogspot.com/ Saganist

    My total is easily in the tens of thousands of dollars, and I was only tithing to the Mormon church for about 7 years.

  • Melody

    At the charismatic church I used to attend the same couple that would be up at the alter every Sunday getting special prayer for their financial troubles, would pull out their checkbook during offering time, because the preacher was a proponent of the prosperity gospel – “Pressed down shaken together and runneth over.” He would always say that god returned sevenfold or hundredfold or whatever multiple he felt like using that day. In the year that I attended that church, that poor couple never did get their sevenfold return and I’m guessing they still haven’t. I just don’t understand how the pastor could look into their tearful pleading eyes and tell them to get out their checkbook. What a crook!

  • http://atheistreadsbible.blogspot.com/ Jude

    When I was active in church, we had one great youth minister. One summer, he had us collect and repair clothing to donate. We also raised money and donated it to an orphanage. Then we took a trip to Denver to visit the place that compressed the clothing we donated to be sent overseas and to visit the orphanage. I never felt that even one penny that I donated to the church went to the wrong place or was misguided. We were a small, independent church, so we could see where the money went–it stayed 100% in our church and with the specific missions that we decided to support. My Mormon cousins, on the other hand, were forced to tithe 10% of even their babysitting money, and it went to support their obscene church structure.

  • http://cafephilos.wordpress.com/ Paul Sunstone

    Some years ago there was a mega-church in Springfield, Illinois. I attended it once out of curiosity because meaga-churches were new back then. Collection was taken seven times. Later, I discovered the church was privately owned by its senior pastor. I don’t know whether the church is still around, or still in private hands. I haven’t been back that way in years.

  • http://astrogaijin.wordpress.com Austin

    I’m still in my teen years so I never gave my own money, but when my family goes which is just basicly only at Christmas and Easter with my whole extended family. We go to a small Catholic church in small town Wisconsin. Normally it’s only a couple of dollars. But I do remember that they do the $1 challenge. Where everyone can only give at max $1 and it goes to a local charity or something like that.

  • Secularlez

    I guess it’s a good thing I left before I started making my own money.
    I don’t think I’ve given over $75.
    Of course it was my parents money at the time but I had discretion in what I could spend my allowance money on.
    I stopped attending church when I was around 13.

  • Alex

    It’s not just the tithing that seems such a waste, it’s the waste of real estate and property tax exemptions. The more churches your town has the more you have to pay to support them!

  • Steve

    To paraphrase George Carlin:
    “God is all knowing and all powerful. And he needs your money!”

  • Lena

    When I as a kid there was this man in our neighborhood. Everyone knew him…he was a bit “off,” always broke and trying to make an easy buck. I remember one day running into him while I was walking with my father. They stopped to chat and he told my dad that he was going to start a church because he heard that people who did that made a lot of money. My dad humored him for a bit and then we went on our way.

    He did it. He started a pentocostal church and made a killing. From then he was always walking around in suit and driving a brand new car every year.

    I grew up culturally Catholic so church attendance was never big in my family. When we did go we’d give a dollar or two when they’d pass the basket around. The mandatory tithing was one of the reasons that many in my culture give “los convertidos” (the converted, i.e. the protestants/evangelicals) the side-eye.

    My sisters and I did, however, attend catholic school from K-12 (because of how truly horrible the public schools in our district were, not for religious reasons) so the church got plenty of money from us that way, though I can’t really complain on that score. The tuition the schools collected barely covered teachers salaries, and many students paid reduced rates because of need. They did a lot of fundraising to make up the difference.

  • Kim

    Despite being an Atheist and not believing in anything churches preach I am grateful for their existence. Working in the social service field, if a client is having a bill problem and needs financial assistance for bills or food, churches will give to anyone if they have the funds, religious or not.

  • http://atheistinaustin.blogspot.com/ Atheist In Austin

    If you want to see a great movie on this topic, check out MARJOE. (I saw it on Amazon Prime Instant Viewing.)

    The new pastor at the Southern Baptist church my parents attended (and forced us to attend) drove a full house of people away with his fire-and-brimstone style and hillbilly ways, leaving just our family, one other family, his daughter’s family, and some older women. My dad must have been giving more than our house payment, maybe much more. Then he tried to raise $70,000 to replace the roof. And had an affair with my mother. My parents got a divorce. Oh yeah, then he had an affair with the only other married woman in the church, who wasn’t elderly or his daughter.)

  • mihoda

    $60. Which is $60 too much.

  • Jennifer

    So I was playing around with bad translator, and after doing a few movie quotes, I decided to do parts of mass I remember from growing up. I got this, and it seems so relevant to this topic:

    Original text:

    “The LORD be with you. And also with you. ”

    …50 translations later we get:

    “Expensive”

  • Scotty

    In 15 yrs, I would guess that I gave somewhere in the neighborhood of $100k…Damn, it’s nice to have access to everything I earn minus what uncle takes.

  • Robbie

    I have never given to a church, however my mother considers herself mormon and although she hasn’t been to the church in 15 years (due to mental conditions), she gives 10% of her disability check every month. I am just glad my father told her that she couldn’t tithe his paycheck or they would be broke.

  • Moose

    I was raised as an Anglican, and was “coerced” into joining the RC Church after the “Love of my Life” stated this was compulsory.

    The Marriage had a fairly good run (almost nine years) and did produce an offspring (my one and only daughter).

    My policy (as I opposed virtually everything the RC’s were for) was that for the duration-they got $20/visit-which meant about $40/year for Santa Claus and and the Easter Bunny.

    They gouged us about $800 for the wedding (well, to be honest, her parents). Add $130 for a Baptism (a useless affair that traumatised my child)-well then it all ended. Add another $950 for the annulment (also paid for by the parents).

    I could have opposed the annulment-but quickly realised that would cost ME money…

    SO… $40/year for 9 years-about $360 + $130=$490, but with a $1750 rider attached from her benighted parents.

    Gee-for almost a decade I managed for less than $50/year!

    Still sucks…

  • annette

    Not so much in actual cash, maybe. Probably several thousand dollars. However, my husband and I were missionaries for several years. He left his field of education and worked in construction to make ends meet while were ministered. We lost 8 years of good pay, then 7 more as he had to go back to school to get a Ph.D. after realizing missions work was bull. So, you could say we lost about 15 years of reasonable pay and retirement savings.
    On terms of a couple hundred-thousand dollars, perhaps. Stupidity tax :(

  • http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com Michael Caton

    Has anyone looked at how much more global economic growth there would be if religious tithing around the whole world (Christian+Muslim+whatever) were instead invested in developing world charities or companies? Something to think about.

  • Erica

    When I was a kid (around 8 years old), I found a $50 bill at the airport with my grandparents. At their suggestion, I gave half of it to our church because I thought it was the right thing to do. Even though I really didn’t want to deep down, I acted like I wanted to. They don’t know I am an atheist because we’re not very close anymore. Wonder how they would react.

  • Vanessa

    My parents give $20 a week every week for over 30 years. You’re a math teacher, you do the math XP

  • Amanda

    I was a practicing Mormon until my early twenties, and I always paid my required 10% tithing. 10% of my paper-route earnings, babysitting earnings, the money I made as a soccer referee – all of this before I was 16 and started working a “real” job. They were really nice about things, though – they’d print you off a tithing statement at the end of the year, so you could make sure you’d given enough. Luckily I got out of it before I ever started making any decent money, but still…

    Of course, my tens of thousands are NOTHING when compared to how much my still-religious family members have thrown away over the years.

  • Liz

    Eh…probably a couple hundred. I stopped giving money at 15, stopped going to church at 17. My church would send around collection baskets twice every once in a while. The first collection for the church and the second for some random charity. I always donated to the charity (depending on what it was) after I reached the age of 12 and realized I didn’t like church

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Christians have been noted for their gullibility for millenia:
    The Death of Peregrine
    by Lucian Samosata

  • wright1

    My income was rather modest during my 15 years as a Christian. Still, I fell completely for the “be proud to tithe for the Lord’s work” BS. I probably gave my rather fundie church (anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-science) over $9000 U.S.

    No doubt much of it went to fund things that would have repulsed me even then, had I thought about it more clearly. Now, I just wince at the memory and try to apply critical thinking when asked for charity.

  • Justin Miyundees

    Don’t forget secretly shuttling pederasts to & fro between unsuspecting trusting parishes and then denying justice to victims of institutionalized child molestation – I mean, does the pope wear a funny hat?

  • Rich h

    used for (among other things) proselytizing to strangers and brainwashing assraping a lot of children.

    Former catholic…

  • Unholy Holly

    I tithed to the tune of about $10K, which would be double that at 2.5% annual if I had kept it. My brother, who is quite religious, broke from his church when it demanded that the elders tithe to set a good example. My brother noted that tithing was not something that Jesus promoted, being an OT thing, but they required it anyway. Now my brother, still religious, calls himself a follower of Jesus and shuns the church politics.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    As a UK tax payer I contribute an unknown amount to the tax exempt status of our churches, about 67p per year to the head of the Church of England (Ol’ Queenie herself), a share of the £250k each that the Lords Spiritual take in expenses each year and some small amount to English Heritage that keeps the old church buildings standing. I don’t mind the latter but I really hate giving money to pay for religious people in our legislature and I see no reason at all why churches shouldn’t pay tax. Charities avoid tax because they work to repair social issues that the state would otherwise need to spend money on. Churches don’t necessarily act as charities.

    Voluntarily I haven’t given them a penny, ever. Nor do I intend to.

  • q-bert

    Yup! It’s pretty horrible that I give money to a church and in turn they manage to feed, clothe, house and educate the homeless through City Union Mission. How dare they use my money to build schools and orphanages in Rwanda. It’s such a blasphemy that they set up a scholarship fund for the kids of my 33 yr old friend who just died from cancer. That’s terrible isn’t it?

    I will say this however, there ARE a lot of scam artists who work under the disguise of church leaders. What they are doing isn’t church and they aren’t Christians. That describes 75% of all of the examples of “Christians” that you use on this site. Example” The Westboro Baptist Church. They aren’t Christians at all. But those who don’t know any better (people who run this site) go on and say “Wow! Christians are really whacky! Watch the Westboro Baptist Church!!!” I’m telling you, there are a lot of imposters out there, so PLEASE educate yourselves a bit on the subject. Do your homework. All of the atheist vs “Chrisitan” debates that I’ve seen posted around the internet by atheist friends are always between a leading prominent atheist author and some Catholic priest that nobody has ever heard of. Why is that?

    The Catholic church is whacky and are money hungry. I’ve had a priest pretty much admit that to me before. So why do your prominent leader debate the imposters of Christianity rather than the real thing? Why not take on a Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, John Piper, Joshua Harris, etc? Can someone help me out here?

  • TikiCricket
  • Russell Altizer

    went weekly for 10 years as a kid and my parents always gave me $5 for the plate (they dropped me off for church rather than going with me, which should have been a hint at the time.) Tack on a little extra for around Christmas and I probably gave close to $4000. Not a ton, but certainly money I wouldn’t mind having back.
    More embarrassing still is the fact that, in my early teens, I was an usher for the church and was responsible for collecting the hard earned money of others.

  • Jochen

    There are tons of secular organizations that will take your money and use it to build orphanages in Rhwanda.
    But there is a good chance the money you donated to “god” was not used in that way.

    And to answer the question: As my parents got me baptized, my first paycheck automatically contained a deduction for the catholic church in Germany.
    Isn’t it convenient when the government collects money for ‘god’ without you having to give…

    I left the church officially a few weeks later and stopped that non-sense. At that time, leaving the church was a free ‘service’.

    Nowadays you have to pay 25 Euros for the pleasure of leaving an organization you never signed up for in the first place. Yay, Germany.

  • VirtualStranger

    I’ve personally never given a single cent. My grandmother, on the other hand, thought that it would be a great idea to empty out her brother’s entire life savings (without his permission, of course) and give it to some church in Florida.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    @q-bert, it is good that your church does all those good things. The secular charities that I give to do similar things but without the use of any gods.

    Also since when was there a membership requirement for Club Christian? I bet that the WBC would consider you (or anyone not a member) as not a True(TM) Christian too. I have no doubt that they are as Christian as you. It is only that they pick their verses differently to you.


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