Church Wants You To Add a Zero to Your Contributions

Adidas recently tried to trademark the term “adiZero” for a new line of footwear/clothing… but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request.

Why?

Because it’s dangerously close to a phrase the Christian Faith Fellowship Church in Zion, Illinois has already trademarked:

“Add a zero.”

As in: Add a zero to the amount you’re already tithing us because Jesus needs more cash.

As in: Giving us $100? Now give us $1,000. (***Edit***: Or, as some commenters point out, Giving us 10%? Now give us 100%.)

As in: We’ll do a couple decent things with the extra money for media purposes but the pastor needs a bigger house!

The congregation sells “Add A Zero” T-shirts and hats in its gift shop, but it does not move a large volume, said attorney Richard W. Young, who is representing the church in the trademark dispute. In some years, they may sell only two or three items with the slogan, he said.

After losing a second appeal in September 2010, Adidas asked the federal government to rescind the church’s claim to the slogan on the grounds it didn’t use the phrase enough. That request is pending.

I don’t really care about the legal battle here — Maybe the two words are legally close to each other and Adidas has to rename their apparel line. Maybe Adidas has a case here since the church is basically squatting on the phrase without making real use of it. Whatever.

But here’s a solution that’ll make for a far more productive church campaign.

Don’t add a zero.

Multiply by zero.

Your contribution will be giving the church exactly what it deserves.

(Thanks to Chas for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://twitter.com/bmovement Ben

    So a 10% tithe becomes 100%? Makes sense.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

     Greed is Eternal.

  • http://twitter.com/ThyGoddess Michelle

    So I’m giving 0…. That means I’m giving 00. That works!

  • EL

    UNICEF also keeps trying to get me to send them more money, but I digress…

    Don’t churches usually wait for a trademark to become famous before re-purposing it for their own uses?

  • Alt+3

    Isn’t a standard tithe 10%?

    • Anonymous

      Now add a zero to that

  • ANONYMOUS

    I’ve been a long time reader, but this will be my first post on your blog.  First and foremost  I  must admit I am not an  atheist.   I  hold the scientific method in high regard to such a point that I am not willing to rule out  the possibility of life after death or intelligent design.  In the words of Carl Sagan ““Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”  To that end,  I suppose I would best identify as a bit of agnostic.  My personal belief  is that arguments about the nature of existence and the origin of life on this planet, as it relates to the overall cosmos, is quite fruitless. All one can really do ,with such questions, is jump on the intellectual hamster wheel and go nowhere with it.  While I respect the rights of atheists to be atheists, the tact I’ve observed here is that your trying to use reason  to wake up people and ridicule  religion out of  existence.  Personally, I find nothing “Friendly” about  your blog.  If your a man of science you will let the facts  do the talking for you.  Can’t  you see that this constant  “I win by you(Christians) losing”, is going to achieve nothing except alienating the masses?  As far as those churches go, they are actually sending money and people to aid in third world countries that the U.S. won’t provide domestic aid to because they refuse abortion. Let me think…. Food, Potable water, shelter, birth control…? It makes total sense birth control services is at the very top of that list!   I digress…. as best I can tell it’s all about the fruit of the poisonous tree , isn’t it?  Sure, you have some people that take the money and run  but that happens with many forms of charity.  Can you please explain to me what is “Friendly” about  “Americans United for Separation of Church and State” filing suit against  the Douglas County’s pilot voucher plan in Colorado?  The American public school system is crumbling, despite the ever increasing amount of money spent, and they want to deny people the right to choose where THEIR tax money is spent just because it might be spent at funding a religiously affiliated institution!!!?   Oh no… there’s nothing wrong with that at all!  Forget that the parochial schools have to adhere to the same state licensing requirements for accreditation as well, the kids will be indoctrinated into the same ol’ 7 days creationist theory. Here’s another Carl Sagan Quote normally aimed to explain why reasoning with evangelical Christians is impossible:

    “You
    can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on
    evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe”

    The same could be said for other groups of people that are maybe too bigoted to really see that they are doing more harm than good in the world.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      I  hold the scientific method in high regard to such a point that I am
      not willing to rule out  the possibility of …
      intelligent design.

      Pthththt. Poser. If you actually held the scientific method in regard, you would probably have read a decent book or two on the current state of knowledge in evolutionary biology, and you would know how inadequate the case for ID is.

      All one can really do ,with such questions, is jump on the intellectual hamster wheel and go nowhere with it.

      I guess you don’t hold the scientific method in high enough regard to actually do any research. Thankfully, there are people who do. Poser.

      • ANONYMOUS

        That’s exactly the poisonous attitude I’m talking about.  Please enlighten me, please explain how evolutionary  biology  blows any theory of intelligent design out of the water?  The basis for any scientific research is that a hypothesis can only gain support or lose support, never proven right or wrong.  There are always holes in any number of theories and evolutionary biology has plenty of them.  Now I know believing in a omnipotent, omnipresent being is beneath you so I won’t even bring it up.  I have trouble with the idea of  things just magically occurring myself.  So here’s a question… Do you believe it’s at all possible that life was brought into existence on this planet by extraterrestrials with amazing technology? We’ve already been bioengineering food  for decades now and  you don’t think it’s  at all possible that an external source had something to do with our development as a species?  Also,  I am aware that frauds come from religion and the ivory tower alike. Ernst Haeckel was right up there with Joseph Smith making up testaments for the gibberish two farmers jotted onto a couple of stones.  I don’t need to tell you about either of those do I? Both were frauds in their own right and both were followed by mindless lemmings  professing the ultimate knowledge they came to believe.  I have to admit my favorite episode of evolutionary biology is Nebraska man, all based off the tooth of a prehistoric pig-like creature. The field of evolutionary biology and anthropology have always been ripe with fraud. I’m not even saying evolution didn’t take place, the fossil record  explains it….but not entirely.   I can see the development but the current explanation is lacking a certain something.  To me it’s much like looking at the source code of Ubuntu,  it functions quite well and undergoes changes but it didn’t just  happen by itself because there was a media for it to happen on.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Please enlighten me, please explain how evolutionary  biology  blows any
          theory of intelligent design out of the water?  The basis for any
          scientific research is that a hypothesis can only gain support or lose
          support, never proven right or wrong.

          Indictment of inductive reasoning, magnification of doubt. But – you want to be selective about it. It is also impossible to “prove right or wrong” that the Earth is not flat. Are you willing to be consistent?  Do you still hold out hope for the Flat Earth theory? Probably not. (Although there are still a few wackos who do, for religious reasons)

    • marty kay

      TL;DR:  Concern Troll is Concerned.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Anonymous, try to focus on one thought at a time. Your stream of consciousness seems to be like a delta, going in many directions all at once. Your first two long comments meander through dozens of issues, but they do not focus on anything carefully enough to make a cohesive statement. A barrage of all sorts of things that you find objectionable about science, atheists, this blog, and a host of other peeves do not add up to making a case for any of them individually.

      Make one succinct assertion about one topic, present your succinct argument, making sure it is not a fallacious argument so old that it has a Latin name, and then present EVIDENCE to back up your argument. (Important: more arguments are not evidence for the first argument. Evidence is three-dimensional and has mass.)

      Your quote of Carl Sagan is often twisted into a perversion of its original intent. Often people try to say that “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” is the same as saying “Absence of evidence for the absence of something is the same as evidence for the presence of that thing.” No, it is not. Absence of evidence is just absence of evidence, period.

      Sagan is also famous for saying, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” So when you gather your three-dimensional-with-mass evidence, be sure that it matches the size of your claim.

      Then, I think you’ll be pleased to find a friendly discussion can result.

  • Guest

    In the interest of fairness (and perhaps the “friendliness” that’s part of your blog banner), it should be said that many pastors’ salaries are quite modest, and many churches prioritize giving to help improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged.

    • Starmandan

      I attend a very modest Baptist church in the bible belt of Texas. The congregation of the church recently approved a $250,000 budget of which almost $70,000 was allocated to the pastor’s salary. In the past three years this pastor has seen a nearly $13,000 pay increase. Seems like I need to make a career change!

  • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

    Okay, I’ll add a zero to my contribution to the Church. This year I will give the $00.00 instead of my usual $0.00.

  • Charles Black

    Here is my donation to the church, donation x 0 = ?

  • marty kay

    edit: oops, duplicated :/

    • ANONYMOUS

      That’s absolutely true, but that doesn’t stop anyone from spreading scientific myths either and other parroting them for generations.  In my observation, “science”  has long been the tool  of  the narcissist intellectual bullies of the world.  Quotes like “You must not be up on the latest science…”,  it’s a method to try and exert power over people and it’s quite tired.  It’s as if these people get their advanced degrees and then how dare anyone question Richard Dawkins!!!  The selfish gene is held in as high regard as the bible thumpers hold Leviticus.  On both extremes you have people who are religiously devout to the thesis to the point it’s heresy to question it or hear an opposing view.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019365643 John J. Ronald

        Quote >>Quotes like “You must not be up on the latest science…”,  it’s a
        method to try and exert power over people and it’s quite tired.<<
         
        Well that's certainly one way of looking at it; very Postmodern & trendy. 

        Or as most people call it: "Wrong".

      • aimee eisiminger

        So you say some hold it in the highest regard, but science has a great way of keeping itself in check.  The best of science is when it is peer reviewed and the checks and balances are in place.  Science is also subject to litigation when it goes wrong, so it has another check and balance in place here.  There is no denying that there is corruption that will always be a problem, with all aspects of human endeavors.  However I wonder who you will turn to when you become ill.  Yes I suppose you will pray, nothing wrong here, but I suspect that you will also consult a physician right?  You will be dependent upon the many people who are working very hard for your well being.  You will be dependent upon the scientists who have come before and have spent many hours studying and testing treatments that will help you become well again.  This is what science gives us.  This is why I have “faith” in the scientific method, because it has worked very well for us.  
         Reasonable and well thought out assessment of the problems that face us as a species has always served us well.  We humans have always made a habit of searching for tools to help us to achieve a better life.  We have tried dancing for rain, but that does not work.  We have tried praying to a statue and that does not work.  But when we apply science we find answers more times than naught.  It is imperfect and sometimes unpredictable.  It is faulty and it is prone to human frailties, but it is the best tool we have to help us out of pain, to move us around the planet and to put us on the moon.  Unfortunately the same cannot be said of religion.  Yes, religion has its charitable contributions and that is wonderful but it is not necessary to have religion to make a better world.  We can make contributions to any organization religious or not to make the world a better place.  We can be human and give just to help others out without the need to espouse our religious beliefs.  I guess when churches start donating without proselytizing then perhaps I will have more respect.  When religion steps out of the way of itself and gives to the humane effort without patting its own back then perhaps it will be worthy of my attention.  It will not change my beliefs but it will impress me.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        In my observation, “science”  has long been the tool  of  the narcissist
        intellectual bullies of the world.

        As opposed to narcissistic anti-intellectual bullies like you.

        It’s as if these people get their advanced
        degrees and then how dare anyone question Richard Dawkins!!!  The
        selfish gene is held in as high regard as the bible thumpers hold
        Leviticus.

        Actually not. The “selfish gene” concept has been criticized among evolutionary biologists because selection happens at the level of organisms. You must not be up on the latest science.

        BTW, the Bible-thumpers seem rather inconsistent about Leviticus. They’re all for stoning homosexuals, and a few insist incorrectly that rabbits chew their cud, but hardly anyone is willing to stand up for the statement that insects “walk on all fours,” or insist on neot eating shellfish.

  • marty kay

    Rubbish, Mr Anonymous. Science has a fundamental feature, in that experiments need to be reproducable. Fraud would not be reproducable, which leads to its detection and exposure.
    Faith, however, quite happily keeps on believing, even after its errors and omissions have been exposed.

  • Placibo Domingo

    How about dividing it by zero? You show me  a god who can do that, and I’ll start showing up to church. (I mean, if Chuck Norris can do it, why not Jesus?)

  • Christian Guest

    Christian Guest weighing in here. I’m not sure why the topic of this article bothers atheists except that you have undoubtedly seen stories of ministers who fleece their churches and live far above the lifestyles of their congregants (a parallel could be drawn here to the bloated overpaid CEO). But if a Christian wants to add a zero to a check, so be it. Is there corruption within some churches? Yes. Does greed exist in many churches. Yes. Are bad things done by people within some churches? Yes. Do some church groups do good with the money they receive? Yes. From delivering food, clothing, and housing to the poor in Honduras, to completely renovating a home for a family whose child is terminally ill, much good can be and is accomplished. But then if we turn the tables and look at atheists, can atheists be corrupt? Yes. Are bad things done by some atheists? Yes. Are there a lot of greedy atheists? Probably. Do some atheists do good things with their money? Yes. But there is a common thread here. It is fallible humans, both Christians and atheists, who do both good and bad actions. If an atheist charity asked you to add a zero to your donation check, would their motivation be greed? Who knows?

    I want to follow up on a couple of things said by anonymous. First, because the title of this page is “Friendly Atheist” I would hope fellow contributors would not attack others but begin an honest and open dialog. Attacking or ridiculing others for their beliefs will only serve to divide us and build walls that need not exist.

    Second, there are well respected scientists who hold various beliefs such as theistic evolution and old earth creation. Are they wrong? It doesn’t matter. Their beliefs, your beliefs, and my beliefs don’t affect the truth.

    And third, people often assign themselves a value of being a free thinker. But to truly be a free thinker, one must not reject the possibility of a particular belief. In other words, if a Christian free thinker dismisses the possibility of evolution, then he or she has established a boundary that precludes them from free thought. The same would be true of a naturalist or atheistic free thinker who summarily dismisses the possibility of design.

    I hope my tone today, and with all my responses, is perceived as a sincere attempt to open that dialog. 

    • Crunkabortion

      I’m sorry that nobody responded to this yet, but I’m an outspoken atheist and quite frankly, I admire the cut of your jib.

      As an atheist, (and a former Evangelical) my main issue with Christian charity is that the giving almost always serves as a Trojan horse for proselytization, which I personally view to be harmful enough to nullify the charity. This isn’t always the case, and I’m really glad for that.

      My own personal exegesis leads me to the viewpoint that if god is as great as one believes him to be, than your charitable act should be perfectly sufficient advertisement for him without having to go out of your way to hammer the point home. Some (all of the Pauline epistles) passages lead in the other direction, but I’ve found that to be the closest to the strategy of Christ himself. He spent more time preaching to the Pharisees than anyone else.

      • Christian Guest

        Thanks for the positive response. I agree with all your comments. The one thing I always assess, when serving others, or supporting those who are supposed to serve others is that they are properly receiving and distributing resources and make themselves accountable. If a church or charity won’t completely open their books, then I won’t have anything to do with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019365643 John J. Ronald

    Apropos of nothing, but life became much easier for me when I figured out that when leaving a tip, you just look at your bill and move the decimal point one space to the left; That’s 10%.  Then double that amount for 20% of the total.  Wanna leave approx. more like 15%?  Pick an amount close to the mid-range between the 10% and the 20% figures, doesn’t have to be precise.

  • SettingtheRecordStraight

    As a member of this church, I would like to inform you of the inaccuracy of your assumptions about this campaign.  This is NOT a campaign, asking the congregation to give more than the 10% (as you alluded to above) required in the Word of God.  It is a stance that we have taken that we are believing God for more than what we may think God is willing to bless us with.  For example, if you are believing God for a blessing of $1,000, the message is “add a zero to it”.  Please do not take it literally – we are standing on the Word that God will do “exceeding abundantly more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).  Understanding that you do not believe in God, may limit your understanding of our faith in God, however, I would ask that you understand the truth of the matter.  Multiplied Blessings.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      Interesting. Why is it trademarked?

  • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

    Troll alert! 
    Hemant, stop calling your blog “friendly”. Apparently you are not friendly enough for every single person that reads the blog therefore you don;t have a right to your own blog name. 

    As far as “having an open mind”, there is a difference between keeping your mind open and believing every bullshit story that goes around. I certainly cannot explain in this space all that’s wrong with ID, but I have some homework for all ID believers: show me that ID can predict anything the way evolution does.

    • Christian Guest

      Marco, I haven’t seen evidence that Hemant has been unfriendly. I have seen contributors on all sides who are unfriendly to other contributors. As for having an open mind, it doesn’t mean you have to believe every story but to truly have an open mind means you don’t establish boundaries that close the mind to any particular theory. As for evolution, there are still significant “placeholders” for those things evolution can’t explain. So I am keeping an open mind with regard to evolution.


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