Skip to comments.Why Cash Remains Sacred in American Churches
Posted on 06/23/2017 1:06:53 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
On Tuesday, June 27, it will be 50 years since the first automated cash dispenser which came to be known as an automated teller machine (ATM) was inaugurated in London.
Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face. I belong to the generation who stood 45 minutes to an hour to deposit or cash checks in the pre-ATM era. I remember getting yelled at for taking my bicycle through the drive-up line at the National Bank of Detroit to avoid the much longer line inside. It did not take me very long to become an early adopter of the magical cards and 24-hour banking.
Later, in my work as a historian of American religion, I extensively studied the role money has played in religious life. In my book, In Pursuit of the Almightys Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism, I retold the American history of the nations largest religious stream in terms of the search for money to pay for religious ministries and the purposes for which churches spent the money they collected.
So, what impact did ATMs have on church life?
Giving to the church
Fundamentally, the legal separation of church and state in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the United States did more than simply assure freedom of religion it privatized what until then in Europe had been a public good and provided funding under the auspices of the state. In the U.S., religious leaders and their ministries had to increasingly depend on voluntary donations and to appeal ever more strenuously for those gifts.....
(Excerpt) Read more at realclearreligion.org ...
Whats the point?? The churches in Europe are government-sponsored. The churches in America arent. The churches in Europe are, reportedly, moribund. The churches in America have done better than presently, but still . . .
In a respectable church, the people who know what you give only know because you want a tax deduction. The pastor and congregation do not have a need to know.
Nowadays you can contribute to your church from your IRA, and get the same benefit as if you were itemizing - you just dont have to report that money as income, even tho it came from pre-tax IRA money. Knowing that, you know that you do not in fact have any idea whether or not a retired person is or is not contributing. Let alone how much.
The case is similar to that of contributions of appreciated stock, which is perhaps even better because you avoid Cap Gains taxation and you still get the full tax deduction. Which, of course, only matters if you itemize, and would have in any event. If your other deductions dont amount to break-even on itemizing, or near it, then you arent getting full value out of your deduction for charitable contributions.
People who give cash give far, far less than those who write checks, or give online. It isn’t even close.
“The second dimension for consideration in the appearance of ATMs in the lobbies of evangelical churches...”
Never seen one. But I’ve only been going to church for 40 years. And the vast majority of the giving in our church comes from checks.
I have never once in my life put my name on money that I give to the collection plate on Sunday. I take Matthew chapter 6 seriously.
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