As BoingBoing points out, religion in America is worth more than the 10 biggest tech companies combined.
Globally, Christianity alone grosses $10 trillion a year according to Ron Sider’s classic Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger. Sider arrives at this number by combing the gross income of Christians around the world with the gross incomes of churches, denominations, and related missions.
I’ve suggested on The Huffington Post and elsewhere that Christians get serious about using 10% of that annual haul (a tithe) to end global poverty, world hunger, dirty water, and other things killing innocent people (mostly children) everyday.
Consider diarrhea. In the developed world, it happens when you eat sketchy food. Kids suffer through it, add new lyrics to the song, and move on. In most of the rest the world, they die from it. For children under five, it’s the second-leading cause of death on the planet. Diarrhea.
That’s true. I didn’t make that up to shock you, although it should shame all of us rich enough to afford an internet connection, that is, all of us rich enough to survive diarrhea.
Ending Poverty With Global Christianity’s Phantom Trillion generated a lot of discussion. I followed up with some specific ideas for remedy in Rich, Greedy, and Blessed: God Wants to Save Us, Too.
How long must we sing this song? How long will we horde away our riches while singing songs to Jesus about how serious we are about being his hands and feet? Jesus paid it all, we say, and all to him we owe.
There are lots of churches where pastors make serious bank. Some of the richest Christians in this age of hunger are the people supposedly leading global Christianity (always from the front of the room). I’ve had colleagues like that.
It’s been a long day on the truck and on the road. I had the privilege again today of feeding people who can afford to eat away from home and doing so at a fair price. I also watched a woman and her young son leave the Surplus Outlet without the food in their cart because their card malfunctioned. I couldn’t tell if it was declined, just not working, or if it was a gift card with insufficient funds. She was gone, from the store and from the parking lot, before I could find out or offer help. I should have tried harder. I should have done more. It happened so fast. That’s what poverty does.
The thing is, we should all be ashamed. I’m no exception. I was an hour-and-a-half away from home, had no clue where to direct this woman, but, seasoned as I am, I could have done something. Seasoned as I am, sometimes I’m still caught off guard.
It’s not enough for me or Ron Sider or Bono (we get mentioned in the same sentence like, all the time) or you to lay out the facts, admit we all fall short, and encourage each other to do better. We need to do better and more. There are so many ways. Find them. Share them. Do them. Educate yourself and your friends and your churches. Do them together. Tell us about them. Do them again. Agitate. Organize. Give. For God’s sake, give away.