… … “wedding-related businessess”, “death-related businessess” – the Church belongs to all three categories : Hatched, Matched and Dispatched. The stuff of daily newspaper notices has always been a guaranteed source of income for churches and their professional personnel.,
It is easy to be satirical, even cynical, about religion as a business ; God and the rest of us know there is ample material out there. But when I myself was … in the business, I never felt it was a sham, a gimmick to gyp people. Even Mass-stipends seemed – at a stretch – a justifiable source of income necessary to do the Lord’s work of evangelization, education and edification of the People of God. Some of our competitors made us more than uncomfortable, and embarrassed us with their hard-sell of products and paraphenalia – one thinks of God TV’s “Godshop” (!) – which, if we had been honest we would have to admit were not all that different from our own. But we felt not only that we were ministers of the One and Only True Church but that we were totally sincere and selfless, not like the competition across the street, on the radio and TV, who were better at marketing than we were.
Today religion is still a business. But for many Church-men and women and the believing faithful, it is not considered particularly scandalous or a manipulative means of making money. They feel hurt, if not outraged, by the cruel attacks to which they are subjected. The priests I know, those still in the “business”, sincerely believe such attacks are unjust.
I tend to agree with them, if we except the blatant, hypocritical, money-grabbing “ministry” of the tele-evangelists, hawking their hype, DVDs and sundry products. But the moderate, respectable Establishment clergy should take a closer look at all that exposes them just as much to the accusation of reincarnating those other merchants whom Jesus drove out of the Temple.