There were also quite a lot of mistakes in facts about the Charlotte Free Store in your article.
A bunch of friends/cohorts and I actually started the "RRFM" (Really Really Free Market) in Progress Park, next door to the future location of the first Charlotte Free Store in 2007. Carlos Espin, owner of the future storefront and current location (and Area 15 as a whole) then offered us the store to use a year after seeing us weekly at our location in Progress Park.
The store was not, contrary to your article, lumps of clothing. Our crew and local volunteers worked tirelessly to sort and organize the donations which came in fast and in large amount. We had a library room in the back, and racks and shelves of clothing in the front. There were food donation days, and music gathering nights.
While I understand your article was quick and dirty and not able to express all of this, it would really be appreciated if you straightened out some of these facts.
Though the Free Store was handed off by its original creators to the community around 2010, that was NOT the start of the project by any means.
Christianity is based on one girl really sticking to her story.
The four beatitudes in the Gospel of Luke
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for your will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you, and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of man.
Now the section we hardly hear from the pulpit.
Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, FOR YOU WILL GO HUNGRY.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
The word of the Lord, thanks be to God.
Thank you Ailen.
It is most important to look at the *percentage of giving vs. gross income* to determine if a church is being greedy or not. It would seem to me that Elevation's donations float somewhere around the 10% mark. In other words, 90% of their income goes towards something other than giving? Yet, they are tax-exempt. I know of many corporations, who ARE fully-taxed, who pay a larger percentage of their income to charity than 10%. Let's just stop the hypocrisy and start taxing churches and put that income into social services, like Medicare and Social Security, that consistently help the poor. It always amazes me what people will do for a little Sunday morning theater.
Wasn't it kind of the point of the new testament to teach compassion, charity, and disdain for greed? Isn't going almost completely against the word you preach to gratify yourself to such an extent that you could feed a nation with your bank account, but instead choose to build yourself a palace? All these movements show is how "en Vogue" narcissism is to the point that even the church is now preaching it. Disgusting
Very well written article!
DLP, the comparison you just made has absolutely no logical foundation. ...again.
Jesus's first miracle of creating wine vs. members of Southern Baptist Convention who abstain from alcohol has no bearing on your original argument. I personally don't understand that belief myself, but you're essentially saying "Oh look, those baptists have a whacky belief about the Bible, therefore you do as well".
I'd ask for you to explain the connection, but the fact is that you can't make a reasoned argument on this because the story of the money changers has no bearing on the religious belief of tithing.
Jesus threw out the money changers because the defiling the Temple by extorting pilgrims and the poor. This is completely independent of the Judeo-Christian concept of tithing. Both involve using currency, but besides that your original argument is pointless.
Tithing is about giving your "first fruits" (i.e. the first 10% of your income) back to God as a sign of faithfulness and thankfulness for His blessings. Let me repeat this is a gift back to God, it's up to each person how they feel led to distribute that money. It's also a responsibility of every pastor to remind their congregation of that at times.
Now to clarify, the topic of comparing Elevation to the story in Matthew may have merit if they really have forsaken the message of Jesus in favor of commercialism. But nothing that Elevation or any other single church does can change the fact that Christians are obligated to give 10% of their income.
Churches are religious institutions created by man, so they are susceptible to falling victim to corruption / greed like and individual; however, it doesn't change my obligation to give to God. You just have to do it with consideration and thought.
Your rationalization about the "money changers" not being part of the church ranks right up there with the weird story I heard that the wedding feast miracle is not in conflict with the Baptist prohibition against alcohol because in biblical times people called unfermented grape juice "wine". Apparently the faithful will believe, without question, anything that is spoken from the pulpit.
Religion is a business. Nothing more, nothing less. It's your money, give it to the charlatan if you like, but I don't understand why it is tax free.
Why not? Because hypocrisy is the core of religion.
I believe that the role of the Evangelical church is to help people to come to an awareness that the dominant narrative of greed, denial, anxiety, self sufficiency and so on will never give you what you want so come over to this world of trust, abundance and TRUTH TELLING, and that one will give what you want for safety and joy. If the church is faithful to that than our way of being in this world contradicts the way the world wants us to be. Now the problems is that most of us want to have it both ways but the scriptures tells us that nobody can't serve two masters. The church is a place where the covenant people gather around the God of the Gospel who is going to give you a different life. I find it hard to believe that buying mansions, not disclosing financial statement details such as the pastor's salary and so on it is far a part of the Gospel's world. By the way Tyler, DLP's comment was not taken out of context. To believe that Jesus was targeting the money changers at the temple by overthrowing their tables is to misunderstand the text. We as Christians know who the real targets were. If not ask Mr. Furtick, he knows.
Great article Erin! It baffles me how vocal Christian leaders can be when it comes to issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc. but when it comes to money... mum's the word. Jesus was unequivocally clear regarding his feelings about the rich. Why do so many Christians continue to ignore those parts of the Bible?
Sigh, if only you could reply directly to comments. DLP, your use of Matthew is so out of context...
1) Giving 10% goes all they way back to Genesis - "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.' " - Genesis 28: 20-22
2) Jesus came to fulfill the law and never spoke against this in any of the New Testament. Not to mention, the money changers weren't collecting tithes, but extorting pilgrims and the poor with over-priced livestock for the burnt offerings they needed.
3) Tithing is meant to sustain the entire church in all of its financial needs not just the salary of a pastor.
...Now, with all that being said. There is a history of independent, non-denominational churches running into issues for fraud and embezzlement because there is no true accountability structure or transparency. I love watching Elevation online and pray that they can change to a more open financial model. The work they are doing is really amazing and should not be overshadowed by stories like this.
The purpose of giving to the church is not to pay a pastor's salary and fund a pastor's unaudited (unlimited?) budget. Yes, the staff of the church needs to be paid, but the purpose of tithing is to fund the work of the church. And the allocation of those funds -- from paying the electricity bill, to funding community organizations, to helping people who are in distress -- is decided BY the church -- by the members of that congregation, who hold each other accountable. Not solely by a pastor. All is -- and should be -- transparent. I don't understand this cloak-and-dagger approach to Elevation's finances. Churches must avoid even the hint of impropriety -- to avoid creating the appearance of greed and further driving people away. Yes, some things need to remain confidential ie. donors who wish to remain anonymous. But a church's books should be without reproach.
Our pastors need not be paupers. What kind of people would we be if we demanded our ministers and their families live in poverty, and all of the stress and hardship that comes with that? I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. But -- Elevation's finances and pastor compensation reeks of excess and inappropriate boundaries, at the very least. It is very concerning and alarming for other churches, that this kind of behavior taints their mission and work.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves...
Think of that every time your pastor starts reminding you that God wants you to give the pastor 10% of your GROSS income.
Hey if CMPD doesn't see an opportunity to bust some heads why bother right?
I could be a Republican if I wanted to. Life has been good to me. I have adequate resources and very good health insurance. But my conscience just won't allow it. I actually care about people who are less fortunate. I know that some of them are just lazy and chose to be uneducated, but look carefully. Many of the people the Republicans despise are victims of circumstance. Many good jobs have been lost at the hands of politicians who think the answer to every problem is either a big tax break for rich people or a giant check written to a large corporation. Look at the value of homes that are being repossessed. Those are people who used to make decent money before something happened to pull the rug out from under them. Maybe next time it will be you...
Republicans subscribe to the delusion that wealth "trickles down" from the "producers" to the riff raff. Actually, the economy is driven by consumer spending. It flows UP from the people who have money and need a product or service. When consumers have no money, the economy crashes. And then the finger pointing starts, and almost everyone is wrong.
@jerrykirk - there was absolutely, 100% a Big Red mural on the front of Fat City in 2004. I tried to dig up a photo for this article, because I took one, but it has been almost a decade and I couldn't find it. My research for this article, which included a statement from KC, stated that Fat City opened first, but I didn't look up official city records, so that could very well be backwards. Thanks for your comment & the link!
@Garth - I'm aware that 5 Pointz was established 20 years ago. I'm not sure Mr. Edlin's perspective qualifies as "more accurate." While some may agree with his opinion, there's a large consensus of disagreement among city residents and established artists of a variety of mediums, including aerosol. Thousands came in the past few months to protest the demolition of 5 Pointz and signed petitions for it to be designated an official landmark. When I visited, 5 Pointz curator Meres told me his team of lawyers (who were working pro-bono because they too believed the site was a landmark) felt the likelihood of this designation was very good, and he has since stated publicly that he's sure this is why the art was painted over the minute the courts lifted a restraining order that was protecting it.
Two corrections to my first comment.. 'Center of the Earth' gallery opened in 1989, not 1985, and that was the beginning of North Davidson becoming an Art District, and the actual link to my history on the area is: http://jerrykirk.blogspot.com/search/label…
And for a more accurate perspective on 5 Pointz, from Jay Edlin, author of Graffiti 365 and one of NYC's original graffiti artists, check out:
Jay's response to the argument that "5 Pointz is a New York City landmark and
we're losing something irreplaceable" was characteristically New York: "Nothing
is irreplaceable and I wouldn't call 5 Pointz a landmark."
BTW, 5 Pointz's "history" as a graffiti space only goes back to 1993.
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