Friday, 31 August 2007

Part 1-Religion: A Profitable Enterprise?

From time to time, my friends have sought my erstwhile opinions with regards to setting up a profitable business. While I am not exactly a business guru of the Robert Kiyosaki or Donald Trump types; I tend to read up a little on business and finance, and sometimes I just simply discuss these topics over lunch, and rather inevitably, the subject of business ownership crops up.

Free enterprise, being part and parcel of democracy, is definitely a driving force behind capitalism and free market policies. After all, what better than a little avarice and covetousness to enamor the masses? Besides, everyone wants a piece of the action: Your neighbour next door has just bought the latest Jenna Jameson dildo, and you know you wanna get one too, even if your husband's got a porn star tool with two giant nuts in between.........

Unfortunately, free enterprise doesn't necessarily equate to equal opportunities. Some people get rich, some people don't. Some businesses go bust, some hang there by the skin of their teeth. It is a dog eat dog world in the open market, and some businesses are destined to do better than others.

In such uncertain circumstances, the question beckons: What kind of business has the best potential, the lowest risk and highest turnover? To add to this magnificent equation, how about throwing in a few freebies, like, taxes, plus government grants to boot? Fantasy? Well, not on.

Setting Up A Religious Organization

Now, this may sound upsetting to some, especially to some fundamentalist Christians who contend that God, not monetary gain, is the central theme to their religious practice. As an atheist and a secular thinking person, it strikes me with awe that religious organizations, far more often than not, surpluses other secular and even government institutions in terms of sheer grandeur that borders on opulence.

Megachurches in the US and even in Singapore are often architectural monuments that can only be described as "lavish and extravagant". From titanium-clad buildings of the one and only megachurch (City Harvest) in Singapore, to the majesty of the Vatican headquarters, one wonders how, and where, the money does indeed come from.

Clearly, money makes the world go round, and in the case of Religion, money is clearly the driving force behind the insane need to proselytize and "spread the Good Word".

Getting Rich the Easy Way: Building Your Own Religious Empire

In the words of Benny Hinn, the huckster faith healer-cum-evangelical pastor: "Years ago they used to preach, 'O we are going to walk on streets of gold.' I would say, 'I don't need the gold up there. I've got to have it down here."

Indeed, no sane religious leader really believes in what he really preaches: The real rewards, it seems, is never a keepsake of the divine. The key to success, it seems, lies with the believer.

The aim of any successful religious empire is to master the ultimate fleece: Give ye folks as much faith as ye wants, and let my church keep your money. The ultimate product which any successful religious movement needs to peddle with extreme finesse: Faith. Faith doesn't exactly move mountains, but it does induce the faithful through tear-jerking theatrics which will invariably convince the swindled masses to part with their money without question. Throw in a couple of part-time actors and actresses feigning diseases and suddenly "springing" to life, and a little wireless aid (Popoff was exposed by James Randi to have been prompted by Popoff's wife when he accurately alluded the exact names of the faithful and their individual ailments: Popoff claimed at that time that God "spoke" to him), and your masquerading circus is complete.

It is hard to imagine selling any type of product with more ease and the least persuasion: No product tryouts, no warranty, little threat of being sued (unless you are in the business of selling Jesus-diets and other palatable products), and best of all........its all tax-free!

In most secular countries, religion is treated with utmost respect and reverence to the point of absurd groveling: Tax-free status is granted to religious organizations, the same type of status one would expect to be granted only to charities, becomes automatic privilege. An extremely successful fraudster in the mould of Peter Popoff and Benny Hinns can stand to generate millions of dollars from one single session of faith-healing: Minus the stage props and the rest of the fake gadgets, this is one "smash-and-grab" operation well worth a try.

Given such stellar and rather mind-boggling advantages, it is small wonder that churches, mosques and other religious institutions tend to spring up and breed with reckless abandon. The key question is, how can you compete with entrenched religions which have already been swindling the masses for millennial (Case in Point: Vatican Church)?

(In Part 2: I will illustrate how you can go about building your very own religious empire.)


L>T said...

Do go on, I'm already fantasizing about my Religious Empire.

Marty said...

I'll create a church, The True Believers of the Pissed-up Testicosticals.

Large-breasted disciples only, please.

No teetotallers allowed.