Giving Kiosk – At Church, an `ATM for Jesus – Los Angeles Times,0,6671307,full.story

“It’s truly like an ATM for Jesus”

As an atheist, there are few things that frighten me as much as the SuperChurches of the United States – fantastic (see #6, above) palaces dedicated to the worship of blind obedience and wealth. They’re led by Type A con men whose mission in life seems to be extracting every penny from their parishioners, though of course the parishioners would never notice this. Now, one of these hucksters has come up with a modern way to part the money from its fools:

The kiosks can let donors identify their gift as a regular tithe or offering, or direct it to building or missionary funds. The machines send information about the donation to a central church computer system, which shoots the donors an e-mail confirmation.

The Bakers charge between $2,000 and $5,000 for the kiosks, which come in a variety of configurations. They also collect a monthly subscription fee of up to $49.95 for licensing and support. And a card-processing company gets 1.9% of each transaction; a small cut of that fee goes to SecureGive.

So far, seven other congregations have installed or ordered the machines. All of them are Protestant, and most are in the South. If the idea takes off and makes the Bakers rich, Patty says they will thank the Lord – and give a significant sum to their church.

Of course they will – the Lord is to be thanked because, without him, no donations would be collected at all. God forbid (ahem) they should have to find an honest job! And of course “a significant sum” will go back to the church; churches don’t pay taxes!

The real shame in this (and there’s a lot to go around) is to think of how little of that $250 000 it would take to make a difference in an impoverished African or Asian village, or even to the social programs in the town that hosts the MonsterChurch – this is where the tax evasion stings most. But instead the preacher will spend it on some flash new outfits, and the church will get a new video screen or sound system. And I’m willing to bet some of it is earmarked for consulting services, to figure out new ways of making more, more, more money.

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