Begins at the Racetrack
by Mad Dog
A church in
Norrfjaerden, Sweden has installed a credit card reader so worshippers
can easily and conveniently Swipe-n- Pray®. Smart
parishioners are whipping out their cards and racking up frequent flier
||Raising money is never
easy. School groups hold bake sales. Girl Scouts peddle cookies. Heck,
even President Bush has to go to Congress and beg for money, much like
you and I when we go to the boss and stammer our way through what we
hope is a convincing argument about why we’re worth more money, why
it’s the company’s moral obligation to make sure our wardrobe is
refreshed quarterly, and why deficit spending works for the government
but not for us. Hey, at least we don’t have to talk anyone into giving
us a $74 billion raise so we can afford a new war.
Churches have it much easier. Passing
the collection plate is a time-honored tradition, which is a good thing
since it’s much classier than having someone stand in the center of
the aisle with a cardboard sign that says: “Will pray for food.”
There are teachings to back up this practice. The Bible, Torah, and
Quran all encourage tithing, which means you’re supposed to give
between two and ten percent of what you earn to the church, the exact
amount depending on who you ask, how religious you want them to think
you are, and whether you base your calculations on your actual income or
the amount you report to the IRS.
Meanwhile in Los
Angeles, nuns at St. Michael’s Elementary School have taken a
different approach to raising money— they’ve started going to the
They’re trying to bring this practice into the 21st century.
For several years now a company called ParishPay has been setting up
automatic tithing withdrawals for churches around the country. Now
there’s a new wrinkle—they’re accepting credit card payments. For
a small fee—hey, you didn’t think they were doing this out of the
goodness of their heart, did you?—they transfer a preset amount of
money each week. This is a great way to eliminate the guilt you feel
when you don’t wake up on time to make it to church, do make it
but—whoops!—forgot your wallet, or go on vacation and manage to cram
six bathing suits, your Best of Danielle Steel boxed set, and those
sandals that embarrass everyone who gets within twenty feet of you in
your bags but just don’t have room for that self-addressed stamped
envelope with your house of worship’s name on it.
Meanwhile, a church in Norrfjaerden,
Sweden (motto: “Don’t worry, we can’t pronounce it either.”) has
installed a credit card reader so worshippers can easily and
conveniently Swipe-n-Pray®. Or is that Swipe-n-Pay? Smart parishioners
are whipping out their cards and racking up frequent flier miles for
their donations. Hey, why not upgrade your seat while you upgrade your
Church officials say they installed
it because many of the young church-goers don’t carry cash, which is a
distinct problem since this small village doesn’t have an automatic
teller machine, meaning people can’t stop on the way to church and get
cash even if they want to. A temple in southern India had a similar
problem yet took a different approach to solving it—they had an ATM
installed. That’s right, the Sri Venkateswara temple now accepts
donations at an on-site automatic teller machine. It’s too soon to
know how popular this will be, but considering that as many as 50,000
worshippers a day leave cash and gold at the temple, it will definitely
help lighten their pilgrimage load. Now they can leave their cash at
home and bring their gold card to the temple. This arrangement with the
bank also allows the temple to accept donations online at their web
site. One-click karma boosts are long overdue.
If every taxpayer in the United States kicked in $25 and we
gave it all to the nuns at St. Michael’s Elementary School, we’d
each get $850 back on our investment. And
we could give the government the other $108 billion.
in Los Angeles, nuns at St. Michael’s Elementary School have taken a
different approach to raising money—they’ve started going to the
race track. After eliminating bingo, bake sales, and a Sister Mary
Margaret kissing booth at the St. Patrick’s Day Fair as old news
fundraisers, they convinced 100 supporters to kick in $25 each so the
nuns could bet on the horses. It’s true. The nuns took the money to
the race track and bought a Pick Six ticket, selecting the horses they
thought would win in each of six races. They went back to the school and
spent the morning praying that Sister Mary Margaret wouldn’t be
insulted because they didn’t like her kissing booth idea. Just
kidding. Actually she was relieved. What they really did was pray, and
they must have done a bang-up job because they ended up winning nearly
$200,000 which they promptly blew in Las Vegas. Just kidding again.
Actually they’re splitting the winnings, with $85,000 going to the
school so students can have new desks and the same amount going to those
foresighted people who supported the donation drive. The remainder of
the money, of course, went to the government for taxes. You can’t say
the school isn’t doing its part to help lower the federal deficit.
This raises an interesting
possibility. If every taxpayer in the United States kicked in $25 and we
gave it all to the nuns at St. Michael’s Elementary School so they
could go to the racetrack, if their luck (and divine guidance) held out
we’d each get $850 back on our investment. And we could give the
government the other $108 billion. Plus its tax share of our winnings,
of course. That would go a long way towards balancing the federal
budget. And face it, it’s a lot easier than holding bake sales and
selling Girl Scout cookies.
©2003 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while at the racetrack.