Tithing: A duty to God or a tax on idiots?

Do you tithe? Do you give money to your religious organization? How do you decide who to give your money? Do you consider tithing to include money given to charitable organizations? I’d be interested to read your opinions. Comment away.
I spent a while reading the Money and the Bible section of Free Money Finance Blog, where there are excellent posts on the point of tithing. I originally prepared this post as a skeptical comment for posting on a blog but it kind of grew to be much longer:

… Of course, 10% of gross given to God sounds like a wonderful deal… for the churches. I mean here they get 10% gross of all their members’ salaries and income to do with as they interpret what God pleases… And that all sounds dandy and fine, until… you have to figure that there a number of problems associated with tithing.

  • 1. tithing started prior to national tax rates in excess of 20% of ‘gross income’, ‘compulsory contributions’, house taxes (depends where you are), VAT, fees, etc.. It is quite shocking once you begin to add up just HOW much money you give to Caesar, as an employee. In Roman times, tax rates were not as high!
  • 2. Then of course, you have to give 10% of gross salary to ‘God’, too. That’s 10% of gross from a salary that is NET of tax, ie. well in excess of the actual money you get to spend.
  • 3. These days, governments do try to care for poor people in the community, in many countries (hence we pay taxes as a form of social redistribution), based on humanistic principles that we should look after those less fortunate. Our contexts have changed…
  • 4. You aren’t really giving the money to God, anyway. You are giving the money to a bunch of people who may or may not be like minded. In other words, when you donate to your church, what exactly are you donating to. In the U.S., there is little or no oversight of religious donations, even when the scandals involving ministries are quite gross. One is only reminded of the scandals of televangelists.
  • 5. Lastly, think about that the reasons why this kind of commandment is frequently mentioned. Those in power in the religions (and Christianity is NOT exempt) use guilt to extract their pound of flesh from the congregations, otherwise many of them would cease to exist, they would have no power to run flashy TV stations, radio channels, expensive websites.

So when you hand over your money to your church or religious group or whoever, while you are fulfilling your good stewardship as a general command, who are you really serving? Your own bad feelings at not giving or God’s good graces? And who are you giving it to? What will they do with the money? Who will supervise them? Can they demonstrate that, in the essence of moneyspeak, they will have good governance over their financial resources?

Investors, if you tithe, you still must do your due diligence. I’m not saying don’t tithe, I’m saying – Pray about it, Think about it.