Monday, August 14, 2006

FLEECING THE FLOCK

Reagan said 'trust but verify'. It applies well to religious giving as well:
Billions of dollars have been stolen in religion-related fraud in recent years, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a group of state officials who work to protect investors.

Between 1984 and 1989, about $450 million was stolen in religion-related scams, the association says. In its latest count — from 1998 to 2001 — the toll had risen to $2 billion. Rip-offs have only become more common since.

"The size and the scope of the fraud is getting larger," said Patricia Struck, president of the securities association and administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Securities. "The scammers are getting smarter and the investors don't ask enough questions because of the feeling that they can be safe in church."

Yes, you should be able to trust in such situations, but if money is involved the crooks will show up. And if money is involved, even the faithful can be tempted.

At the congregation I attend the weekly contribution is counted by two to three men who are not the treasurer before it is handed over to him. The treasurer posts a monthly list of income and expenditures for all to see. The ultimate protection for everyone is complete financial transparency.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

3 comments:

susanna in alabama said...

You should also mention the efforts made to ensure that work supported in other areas is a) actually being done b) by reputable persons c) in the proper manner. A number of churches I've attended, Wilsonville being one of them, have done a very good job of vetting preachers before supporting them and then keeping tabs on things without trying to dictate the actions of the congregation where the supported preacher works. It's a delicate balance, because you don't want to get in the position of interfering with the autonomy of the other local congregation.

I also think it's great that you and the others worked with Ed in India to visit with the preachers supported by congregations in the US. I was glad to see the photo of you with the preacher we support there. As long as there's been religion, there've been religious scammers. They'll get theirs, eventually, but in the meantime it's good that we have the means to separate wheat and chaff.

Good job!

me said...

It's a pity!

It's a pity indeed that money is the root of all evil. So sad that
it is the cause of religious related scams. Churches I believe don't publicly expose such scams because it would greatly affect it's reputation. But does the church do something about it?

Alan said...

Well, 'me', money is the root of all kinds of evil, not all evil. And as for 'the church' doing something about it, I pointed out in my post how the church where I attend embraces transparency when it comes to money. I also address such issues in my sermons. That's what we can do. To my knowledge there are no current cover ups or scams going on.

What else would you suggest we do?