- And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all of them who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
- And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple by El Greco
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
I was discussing the City Harvest Church (CHC) case with a colleague who is a non-Christian with a particular distaste for CHC. His view is that if one is trying to evangelize, one should at least know enough about the subject matter to answer simple questions. He said that the best answer he got out of CHC's "evangelists" was "I see you are very interested in this, why don't you come down and there will be people who will be able to discuss this further with you." More quick wit than substantive content, he declined.
I was pleasantly surprised that he was familiar with the above biblical anecdote which has resonated with me (for a long time). When I was much younger, I found it extremely distasteful how my church was a cesspool of discussion about stock trading, discussion about property, boasting of children's exam results with little mention of "God", "Jesus" or "The Holy Spirit" in the fellowship hall. Much later, I understood that these people were in church to network with other "English-speaking professionals" much like some boys go to church to meet girls. (Granted, it may have been a biased picture not representative of the whole, but it was a big enough segment, and thankfully, the youth ministry made up for that deficiency.) This childhood background has fueled my disdain for the zombies that lust for money (as opposed to chewy grey matter). These impressions, in turn, fuel my vehement distaste for the money grubbery that is CHC.
Since ancient times, those seeking money have understood that foot traffic is strongly correlated with commerce (location, location, location), just as today attendences are correlated with takings. This would be a great case study at the Harvard Business School with its low cost of customer acqusition (through a viral engine of growth), high retention rates by giving people what they want: "you will be wealthy" and "God is indeed Santa Claus" and effective cross selling to increase lifetime customer value.
There is much schadenfreude going around on this matter. Many people have written about this matter in the past days. Disgusting anecdotes of coercion to "give" have emerged. Criticism of teachings at CHC, having been around for an even longer time, are receiving a fresh infusion of readership. (I am pleased. *chuckles*)
On a seperate note, the level of brainwashing is quite clear noting that some CHC members "remain loyal" in spite of clear signs of aspiritual greed (e.g.: giving a "discount" of $770k and then recovering that discount from some other fund). We should bear in mind that the amounts we are talking about are not peanuts, we're talking about the entire bag. Those people... it will take some time...