While your heart may go out to Protestants for all the persecution they suffered through the centuries at the hands of the Catholic Church, or even other Protestants, it does not change certain facts:
- Despite ‘protesting’ some of the Catholic Church’s false teachings, they held onto Catholicism's trinity (which changes God from a single Almighty being to a board of directors), Hellfire (which makes God crueler than Pol Pot), and immortality of the soul (which basically makes God a liar – after all, God told Adam and Eve they would “positively die” if they disobeyed Him. Immortality was Satan’s idea… he told Eve: “You positively will not die.”)
- Protestantism lent a confusing addition to the doctrines they received from Catholicism: Once Saved Always Saved. Confusing because, for centuries they tried – and some still try – to scare people into obedience with Hellfire. Then, with the coming of the Love generation in the sixties many of them decided that God accepts everyone no matter what. Accept Jesus and he graciously accepts you, despite what the Bible says in several places. (Matthew 24:13; John 3:36; John 15:13,14; Hebrews 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 10:12.) The serial killer Son of Sam was ‘saved’ four years before he shot 13 victims in 1976 and 1977. A good friend of mine said she 'got the call' and went down front and was ‘saved’ three times before it finally occurred to her that what she was experiencing was an emotional hallucination, not a religious rebirth.
- Protestants have also fallen into the God-dishonoring practice of elevating clergymen with pompous titles and garb. They may call their pastors ‘Reverend’ rather than ‘Father,’ but they can’t show you any scriptural foundation for the term. Only once do Protestants find in their version of the Bible the word “reverend” and that's in reference to God: “Holy and reverend is his name. The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalms 111:9, 10) Furthermore, creating a clergy/laity distinction brings with it the tendency for the clergy to believe that they are above the standards of conduct to which the rest of us mere mortals adhere. It also engenders in the laity the belief that they can pay others to fulfill their obligation to defend their faith and spread the gospel. (1 Peter 3:15)
Protestantism has a lot to answer for. Calvinism’s predestination teaching was responsible for “Manifest Destiny,” the doctrine that justified Europeans expanding across America by wiping out native tribes. It must accept the blame for America’s early history of slavery, as well as the apartheid movement that plagued South Africa from the 18th through the 20th century.
Perhaps their most reprehensible act is this: People with no Bible knowledge see a Baptist preacher on TV waving a Bible and they assume that the actions of those oh-so-pious religionists must be based on that book. Catholicism at least admits their teachings are based on tradition, not on scripture.
Unlike Catholics, Protestants have been the first to jump on every unscriptural fad that has come along: The U.S. census reported that couples living together without marrying jumped 700 percent from 1960 to 1970. Subsequently the Anglican Church, instead of upholding the Bible’s standard, announced in 1980 that objections to people living together without benefit of marriage should be dropped. Other Protestant religions soon followed.
Appointing women pastors took off in Europe in the 1980s, in the U.S. shortly thereafter. The Anglican Church approved women priests in 1992 and today, most protestant churches have joined them.
Now the Protestant churches are lining up to approve same-sex marriage, making excuses to get around the Bible’s clear stance against homosexuality.
Even the teflon reputation of the Pope of Protestantism, Billy Graham, has taken its share of hits.
- While he liked to brag about tearing down racial barriers in his revivals, he endorsed racist Price Daniel in his run for Governor of Texas. Graham claimed to be close friends with Martin Luther King, but when King came out in opposition to Vietnam, Graham castigated him for criticizing American foreign policy.
- In an interview in 1978 he was quoted as saying., “My beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics.”
- On Good Morning America in 1991, when asked about abortion he replied, “There is a Christian position, I think, but I’m not prepared to say what it is.” Ahh, leadership!
- The IRS launched an investigation of Billy Graham’s $100,000,000 organization after they ran ads in 2012 urging voters to “consider candidates who make decisions based on biblical principles and support of the nation of Israel.”
- His son, Franklin Graham, reportedly receives a yearly salary of $1.2 million.
While Protestantism may not have velvet-robed pimps riding around in pope-mobiles, it has nevertheless produced and is still producing its share of anything-for-a-buck prostitutes. Who can forget the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker air-conditioned dog house? And there is no shortage of other examples:
- Jimmy Swaggart’s ‘ministry’ has bounced back nicely from his highly publicized adulterous prostitute/masturbation humiliation back in 1988. An insider claims Swaggart Ministries pulls in $2 million a month from duped donors. A ministry-funded printing facility takes on lucrative commercial printing jobs on the side, including posters for local night clubs and CD labels for foul-mouthed hip-hop artists. His home, the ‘two-bedroom cottage’ he frequently mentions in his sermons, is actually a gold-fauceted, 9,337 square foot mansion on 20 landscaped acres – the most expensive residence in Baton rouge. He was the inspiration of the Ray Stevens song, “Would Jesus wear a Rolex?”
- Pat Robertson’s net worth is estimated to be somewhere between two hundred million and a billion dollars. His involvement in politics – including running for President – is well-known. Less well known is his support of Zaire dictator Mobutu and Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, both guilty of war crimes and gross human rights violations. In 2007 he pronounced that God had told him that millions of Americans would die in a terrorist attack before the year was out. Apparently God was wrong, because Robertson still has millions of worshippers.
- Benny Hinn’s ‘healing’ ministry collects more than $200 million a year. He has a private jet and a $10 million mansion. If he really can heal people, as he claims, why doesn’t he simply start clearing out hospitals? Simple: there’s no money in it.
- Kenneth Copeland also flies around the country in a $20 million private jet. He owns the airport where it lands and lives in a mansion the size of a hotel. When asked by a congressional investigation to reveal his financials, his reply was “Go get a subpoena.”
- Southern Baptist Jack Hyles took a small church in a Chicago suburb and built it into a cult with 50,000 fervent, tithing followers. He died a multi-millionaire. According to his daughter the scandalous sexual behavior of her brother prompted Hyles to set him up in his own ministry in Texas to get him away from the main congregation.
- Jesse Jackson turned his former gig of right-hand-man-to-Martin-Luther-King into a net worth of $10,000,000. He was booed recently when he turned up at the protest in Ferguson, Missouri, not to offer comfort to the mourners but to beg for money.
- Al Sharpton, another media whore, has a net worth of $5 million. Like Jesse Jackson, while he claims to be a Baptist preacher, virtually all his time in the spotlight is devoted to race, not the Kingdom.
- John Hagee, before he changed his status from ‘non-profit’ to ‘church’ (allowing him to skip all those nasty disclosure statements) ten years ago was pulling down a million bucks a year. He’s pastor of a non-denominational megachurch with 20,000 customers.
- Most of the ‘flock’ of Charles Blake’s Pentecostal Church lives in poverty in South Central Los Angeles. But it’s a big flock, and his annual salary is $900,000. He lives in Beverly Hills, not South Central.
Even if your preacher isn’t in that class, how does his lifestyle compare to yours? How does it compare to Jesus’ own? Who pays for it?
I was speaking to a lady who attends a sizable protestant church near my house in Mesa, Arizona. She told me a typical Sunday attendance is about 1,000. They pass a collection basket “once, sometimes twice if there’s a special need,” she said. “How much does each person put in the plate?” I asked. “Oh, ten or twenty dollars,” was the reply.
I said, “Let’s assume it’s ten. Can you tell me what that church can possibly be doing with $10,000 tax-free per week – every week? The mortgage must be paid off by now. They are exempt from property taxes. The light bill can’t be more than a few hundred a week.”
“Well, there’s a staff…” she said. But most of the “staff” are Sunday volunteers. Have you looked at a church during the week? Most of them are locked up. The big ones might have a secretary or two working a 40-hour week. So where is the bulk of that half-million bucks a year going?
Does that sound remotely like anything Jesus did, or said we should do?
She got very thoughtful. Maybe you should, too. Do the math about your own church, see what you come up with.
Since I started this series I've been accused of being anti-religious, agnostic, atheist, Jewish, and Muslim. I suppose equal time requires me to take a look at religions that are not calling themselves Christian. We'll do that next.
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