I have been to a lot of different churches over the years, and I always found the churches that preached about money to be the most interesting. I’m a church hopper by birth and today I fall under the title of “Christian” but I attend an LDS church on most Sundays. I started life as a Roman Catholic, then a Bible Church, then Southern Baptist, then non denominational Christian, then United Methodist, then attended Church of Christ university classes, and Methodist courses. I earned a minor in religion from mostly atheist professors at a state college, and have taught world cultures exploring the history and cultures of the “big five” in my classroom for 13 years (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism). Overall, I like the topic of religion, and how it shapes lives, communities, cultures, and acts as a form of social control for the masses. So, lets look at how religion and money work together.
America is unique in that we are one of the few country in the world to have both wealth and a high level of religiosity. Most wealthy countries are less religious and more poorer countries are highly religious. This all stems back to our American forefathers and there need to move across a dangerous ocean to a new wild land. They where looking for prosperity and religious safety. There are very few countries who are founded on the idea of gaining wealth and more religious freedom. This gives Americans a unique relationship with religion and money.
Churches in America are non profits and don’t pay much of anything in taxes if they are
recognized by our government. L. Ron Hubbard worked tirelessly to get Scientology officially recognized during his lifetime because the tax benefits are great for religious businesses, and for growing as an official religion. Joel Osteen is another religious businessman, with his message of prosperity through God. He shows that if he can do it on his own hard work, through Jesus, then you can do it too. Joel’s church is where the Houston Rockets use to play NBA basketball, so no taxes sure does help his cause of prosperity for all. He also recently told those who were affected by Hurricane Harvey they should not develop a “victim mentality.” This message may save his church some money, if he preaches it right. Jews are stereotyped as great businessmen, but studies have shown, that is not the case in all places, but in America their sense of community has helped their businesses flourish. Instead of buy American, they look out for one another in cultural enclaves and buy Jewish whenever possible. This trend promotes the misunderstood idea of the “greedy Jew,” but they are just supporting one another in their own communities. Mormons are statistically richer in America than the average, but over seas they remain poor since most converts to the LDS faith are from poorer countries. These converts are also looking for a change to get out of poverty, and find religions of prosperity can help to a point. There is also a large welfare system within the Mormon church that can be a safety net for those who fall on hard times. Atheists for the most part claim to have higher IQ’s than most religious folks, and some studies prove this, but their incomes are average in America. Muslims, Hindus, and other Asian religions in America seem to be doing slightly above average for annual salaries in America, and most studies show, like the Jews, they remain in tight knit communities, supporting each others businesses. They also tend to have higher levels of education than average, and that can’t hurt in getting jobs and making more money.
Religious lifestyles can sometimes help in the wealth department. Mormons don’t drink, so those bar tabs never add up during college, and later in life with expensive wines. Students at some Baptist universities are also not allowed to consume alcohol, which some studies have shown promote better educational attainment, allowing for better job opportunities later. Jews and Muslims don’t eat certain items such as pork, and kosher is hard to find for Jews, so they tend to dine at Jewish establishments or eat at home more often. Buddhists and Hindus are traditionally vegetarians which is a great way to save money on groceries. Most Christians are taught it is better to give than to receive, and they tend to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, with priests and nuns in Catholicism vowing poverty, this isn’t good for wealth, but you can save at a higher rate with less if you vow poverty. Atheists don’t have to pay tithing, so they should have an extra 10% in their wallets to save or invest if they please, and Muslims pay a Zagat or 1%, so that sounds good compared to the christian tithe for saving money.
Every religion has their own rules, that could turn out to save them money, and allow them to get ahead in the game of life. Some Christian churches preach openly that God wants you to be rich, even though Jesus his son was basically a traveling homeless man with very few Earthly possessions. If you follow Jesus, then God will reward you with wealth in this life, and even more wealth in the life to come (this is uniquely American). Some religions shun all wealth, as they follow their eight fold path toward the four noble truths. Earthly desires are the root cause of all our pain and suffering. This teaching could definitely make a person richer or poorer, depending on how you live according to the teachings!! If I gave up all my desires to buy stuff and get better stuff, I would save a small fortune, but if I stopped working or acquiring money I could be poorer! Some religious groups believe that salvation is in your works and not in your money. They don’t pass a collection plate, but they want you to volunteer for everything. This could save you money, but if time is money, then you are loosing money. Sometimes your time is worth more than a donation to a cause. Some preach that only the righteous get rich, so if you are poor you have to pray more, and do more good works, and you will be rewarded with wealth. Some, just stay poor, because the prayers are a test like in the book of Job, and sometimes faithful people still struggle as a test of faith.
But, no matter what you believe there is something to religions, their networks, lifestyles, and basic beliefs that can shape your financial situation. We are taught the Protestant work ethic in America as part of our American Culture. No matter how religious you are, or what religion you are a part of, we all believe that in America we can work harder than anyone else and become a huge success. People come to America because of this idea ingrained in our culture from religion. Religion is a wealth building machine in megachurches, small chapels, mosques, temples, or your own home cult group. People can grow wealth better in communities of like minded people, that have an obligation to one another and their well being, than on their own with no group.
I highly recommend that you add some sort religious group to your wealth advisory team, or you can gather a group of atheists or whatever, and you can bond over your lack of beliefs or devout beliefs. No matter what, we all need a group to help our wealth situation, and having a group, who we know has our spiritual back in our journey through this money driven life, can help give you meaning and prosperity in the long term. After all, it’s the American way, since our founding fathers, so check out how religion can help your overall well being and wealth.