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Religion - Money

For an organization who receives a billion dollars a year in revenue the Watchtower should be more careful about what they say about the rich churches of Christendom.

Watchtower 1980 January 1 pp.6-7 Will the Church Practice What the Pope Preached?


Perhaps the dominant appeals of the pope during his American visit were to reject materialism and to share with the poor. A few hours after lecturing the United Nations on this matter, he told an audience of some 80,000 at New York's Yankee Stadium: "We must find a simple way of living. For it is not right that the standard of living of the rich countries should seek to maintain itself by draining off a great part of the reserves of energy and raw materials that are meant to serve the whole of humanity."

However, what effect do you suppose those words have when coming from a man clad in royal robes, who rides around in beautiful limousines and lives in considerable luxury? Bishop Mariano Gaviola, secretary-general of the 1970 Bishops Conference of the Philippines, gave some idea as he noted: "When the bishops [and we can add, the pope] condemn graft and corruption in the government or speak against the misuse of wealth, some people wonder whether it is not a case of the pan calling the pot black."

The Catholic Church's outward manifestations of wealth have concerned many Catholics. The Province of Canada, reporting the views of Augustinian monk Robert Adolfs, stated on September 2, 1967:

"Father Adolfs says bluntly that the church can survive only if it follows the example of Jesus Christ by emptying itself of all 'princely splendor' and taking on the humble role of a servant. . . .

"He says the Pope, and the cardinals and bishops as well, should quit wearing elaborate robes and crowns and other articles of dress that 'are suggestive of a royal court' rather than of a servant who washes the feet of his brethren."

Pope John Paul II, to a limited degree, has apparently attempted to avoid the image of pomp and splendor. Like his predecessor John Paul I, he has rejected the shoulder-borne papal throne for audiences. But is that enough?

In 1971 Jose Cardinal Clements, head of Bolivia's Catholic Church, proposed that the Church rid itself of treasures accumulated over the centuries and use the money to build homes, schools, roads and industries. "A true poverty gives the church authority and credibility," he said.

But will the Church follow this proposal? Will it practice sharing its wealth with the poor, as the pope advised the rich nations to do? It has not been inclined to do this in the past; whether it yet will do so remains to be seen.

However, the really important question is not: Will the Church practice what the pope preached? Rather, it is: Will it practice what the Bible teaches?

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1978 November 8 p.29 Watching the World

Message to New Pope

The periodical Il Mondo, described as "Italy's leading economic weekly," recently published an open letter to the new pope, John Paul I, appealing for "order and morality" in the Church's financial dealings. "Believe us, Your Holiness," wrote the weekly's editor, Paolo Panerai, "we understand well the [need] of the Vatican to have financial autonomy to sustain its apparatus, to spread the faith, in addition to pious works. . . . But don't you think, Your Holiness, that to achieve those objectives there are ways other than the most unscrupulous channels that capitalism offers?"

With the letter Il Mondo published a report that asserted that the Vatican bank (Institute for Religious Works) has an estimated $2 billion (U.S.) in deposits, held in part by "some of the biggest Italian industrialists and businessmen." The editor asked: "Is it right that [the Vatican] has a bank whose acts help Italians transfer capital [abroad] and evade taxes?"

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1975 May 1 p.263 Insight on the News

Insight on the News

Churches' Money Woes


The Vatican has had problems of another type: bad investments. Reporting on the crumbling empire of Italian financier Michele Sindona, "Business Week" magazine lists the Vatican as one of the "big losers." Of the Vatican's investments in two of Sindona's banks (one now bankrupt and the other closed by Swiss authorities), the magazine says that "the smart money in Rome puts the total Church loss between $40-million and $50-million." The "National Catholic Reporter" comments that if all the money given the Catholic Church were put in one bank account, "the Church of Rome, Inc. would undoubtedly be the world's largest multinational corporation." "And," it adds, "dollar for dollar, it would probably be among the worst run corporations in the world.""

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1980 March 8 p.30 Watching the World

Watching the World

Embarrassment of Riches

• Seven prosperous money institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany are owned by the Lutheran Church and five by the Roman Catholic Church, according to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper notes that "some of them are proud of this, whereas others shamefully try to hide their success, although it cannot be concealed completely." German Lutheran and Catholic churches are supported by state tax money, and Süddeutsche Zeitung contends that the churches fear a change in tax laws that would dole out the money on the basis of need rather than the set percentage they now receive.

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1981 April 8 p.31 Watching the World

Watching the World

Lot of Talk

• American Catholics recently were given an insight on where some of their collection money goes. Only the United States Government and General Motors spend more to talk on the telephone than the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. Michael J. Dempsey, who is setting up a multimillion-dollar satellite communications network to link the Church's 170 American dioceses, reportedly told the nation's Catholic bishops that the Church now pays $110,000,000 a year for telephone service.

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1970 February 8 pp.21-3 Churches in Business

Churches in Business

IN RECENT years there has been growing evidence that churches are deeply involved in big business, much to the consternation of a great many people. They have invested huge sums of money in a wide variety of business enterprises. Because the profits they receive from these businesses are very often tax exempt fewer taxes come in to all levels of government. This creates a greater burden for the average taxpayer.

An article appearing in Reader's Digest of March 1969 discussed this tax loss and said: "For federal and state governments, church-owned and church-operated businesses represent a large loss of revenue—the taxes that would be collected if the enterprises were run by competitive private industry. It is impossible to calculate the loss exactly, but responsible estimates put it at $6.5 billion a year."

Think how much individual taxes could be reduced if these taxes were paid. This loss is just in the United States. Other countries are also losing from tax-exempt church income from businesses.


"The United and Anglican Churches in Canada have more than 100 million dollars invested, 100 million dollars in every kind of imaginable enterprise, yes, even in some of these industries manufacturing arms and napalm to be used against human beings."

The Vatican is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and it too is deeply involved in big business. From its position on the Tiber River in Rome it governs a vast business empire that stretches around the world.


The vast business holdings of the Vatican and of other religious organizations bind them inseparably with the business world. How unlike the true Christians concerning whom Jesus Christ said: "They are no part of the world"!—John 17:16.

The religious organization that truly is serving God, in harmony with the example set by Jesus Christ, concentrates on preaching and teaching the liberating truths of his Word and does not become involved in commercial businesses. Following the Bible's instructions, it does not involve itself in "the commercial businesses of life."—2 Tim. 2:4.

[Emphasis Added]

Know Jehovah (book, 1971) pp.131-6 7 Christendom Will Know—at Her End

Christendom Will Know—at Her End



44 Wait, though! What about the tremendous wealth that the system of false hypocritical religion has amassed? Will not the religious controllers of all this material wealth be able to use these vast riches in buying their way out to safety or to buy food and drink to stave off starvation? Jehovah will not let silver or gold bribe him or his executional forces so as to spare religious systems that have trusted in material riches to save them in the day of reckoning. By His prophet Ezekiel he says:

45 "Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah's fury. Their souls they will not satisfy, and their intestines they will not fill, for it has become a stumbling block causing their error. And the decoration of one's ornament—one has set it as reason for pride; and their detestable images, their disgusting things, they have made with it. That is why I will make it to them an abhorrent thing. And I will give it into the hand of the strangers for plunder and to the wicked ones of the earth for spoil, and they will certainly profane it. And I shall have to turn away my face from them, and they will actually profane my concealed place, and into it robbers will really come and profane it."—Ezekiel 7:19-22.


49 The religious leaders of Christendom have adorned themselves with gold and silver crucifixes, rings, miters, crosiers, regalia, thrones, and other paraphernalia. They have made such costly things the "decoration of one's ornament," and they have set such as a reason for priding themselves, considering themselves as somebodies higher than the common, ordinary laity.

50 They have also used such gold and silver and jewels for decorating the images and emblems used in their churches. "Detestable images," "disgusting things," Jehovah calls them, despite their artistic construction. As in the case of ancient Jerusalem in the day of Jehovah's fury against her, those gold and silver and bejeweled articles of false worship will be plundered by the antireligious "strangers" and will be seized as "spoil" by the irreligious "wicked ones." They will not consider as untouchable the things, even religious images, held sacred by Christendom. They will profane such reputedly holy things. What enormous accumulations of wealth in Christendom will fall to the greedy irreligious despoilers in the "day of Jehovah's fury"!


54 Those shocking events of ancient history were prophetic and reflect the now not distant future. When Jehovah turns away his face from the hypocritical worshipers of Christendom, what can we expect, in the light of the past? The profanation, misuse and destruction of the things now rated as sacred by Christendom, even her most sacred things, be they the very heart and center of Christendom, such as Vatican City, or the palatial residences of the patriarchs of the various sister church systems, Greek Orthodox, Constantinopolitan, Armenian, Coptic, or palace of the Anglican archbishop. Nothing will be sacred to the looters!

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1980 May 8 p.15 Mind Your Money

Mind Your Money

[Box on page 15]

Religion and Your Money

People donate a lot of money to religious causes. In the United States such donations amount to about $18,000,000,000 a year.

Much of the money is no doubt used for the purpose intended. But is everyone pleased with the way their contributions to religious groups are used? In a letter to the "National Catholic Reporter" one man recently wrote: "Ever since I was a young teenager I have had complete faith and trust in these organizations." But "now," he continued, "my faith and trust have been shattered."

This man was disillusioned by scandals involving donated funds. He mentioned Father Flanagan's Boys Town. Also the Pallottine Fathers, who raised millions of dollars through massive mail appeals to help starving waifs in other lands. But the head of that monastic order had to plead guilty in court to "fraudulent misappropriation" of funds. The man also referred to the investigation of the Pauline Fathers for allegedly having squandered as much as $20 million on high living and bad real estate ventures.

Protestant evangelists use radio and television appeals to draw many millions of dollars yearly from home listeners. The evangelists may offer a free religious item of small value on the air. But "once you've written, your name is in his computer," says "Presbyterian Survey" magazine, and you'll be bombarded with letters asking for money.

A former Southern Baptist radio official explains that much of the money is used to buy more broadcast time to get more money to buy more broadcast time. And since the evangelists are "under continual scrutiny by [tax officials]," he says, they may "establish a university and make themselves president, [so] they can pay themselves large sums of money without IRS scrutiny."

It is commendable when a person contributes his funds to help others. And certainly not every appeal is fraudulent. But clearly it is wise to think twice before contributing, even when the appeal is made in the name of religion.

[Emphasis Added]

Cheque 221868 March 7, 2024

[Copy of cheque, payment of fine for polluting a pond]

[Obtained using Freedom of Information Act request: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Environmental Enforcement, 14th Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany,New York 12233-5500]

£30,000 Watchtower Cheque 2



[Emphasis Added]

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