Sarah Silverman "Sell The Vatican, Feed The World"

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Johnny - posted on 10/13/2009

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I spent two years working at a church mission. A mission that runs a soup kitchen, uses it's pews as beds for the homeless, it's office as a place for them to get their mail, runs a day program for those with mental health problems, provides showers and toiletries for them to get clean, and an advocacy centre to help people with welfare and housing issues. One of my colleagues washed the feet of the homeless, which besides being an act of enormous piety and charity, is incredibly practical as they commonly have feet problems because of lack of facilities, being on their feet all day, and never having anywhere to take their shoes off. I was moved on a daily basis by the glory of the faith of these people and how that lead them to help those most in need. Not once did I ever see them expect any sort of participation in religious services or prayer from the people they were serving. They believed that those they served would see and learn about God through their good works.

This mission struggled with finances and still does to this day. Not a season goes by where there is not a news item about their desperate need for help, to pay the rent, to feed the hungry, to provide clothes and blankets. And during the time which I worked there, who did I see help? Citizens in the community, people who happened to see their requests on the news, someone who had recovered from being down and out and wanted to lend the next guy a hand up. People who were on their own tight budgets but would find a few clothes or a few dollars to spare. Not once did I witness anyone from the mega-churches around here show up with money or offers of assistance.

The beautiful massive neon-lit churches love to tell the world of their piety and faith, but their words are so often hollow and as meaningless as the blurbs on their flashy signs. I had friends at the Gospel Mission down the street who frequently complained of the same thing. All those who love to show up to church on Sundays and trumpet their moral superiority the rest of the week, but not once life a finger or spend a dime for charity. I do know that the members of the Salvation Army and much of the Catholic community in our city do good work and donate a great deal to help, but many of the congregations of the popular mega-churches seem to be simply selfish and greedy. They instead focus on those parts of the bible which they tell us guide one to seek wealth and follow a strict "family values" code. They ignore most of the words of Jesus in favor of those passages which suit their own self-serving agendas.

I am an agnostic. But I do respect Jesus as a great teacher. I do not think that Sarah Silverman nor those who appreciate her humor (like myself) are attacking Christians. They are attacking the self-righteous and the selfish. I do not think either of those traits belong to true Christians. Donating to build a great big fancy church for you and all your friends is not an act of faith equal to donating to help someone get a bite to eat or a warm pew to sleep on. The Vatican, the mega-churches, and the grand Cathedrals are not put there in the service of God, they are for us and our self-indulgent desires for prestige and popularity. Perhaps my view on this would be swayed if I had ever seen a soup kitchen in the basement of a mega-church or heard of the Pope housing the poor within the Vatican City walls. I have not.

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Quoting Christa:

Diana, you're right I'm assuming. Also why should you hold the churches to a higher standard? They are after all run by people just as human as anyone else, and though they strive for perfection, nobody will ever achieve it. They should be held accountable just like anyone else. Obviously religion is a touchy subject for me (in case you hadn’t figured that out ;-p) and it frustrates me when a Christian does something wrong and they become the reason religion is crap or hypocritical. My dad would never put one of those Jesus fishes on his car because he didn’t want to be in a situation where he made someone mad and they could say “damn Christian”. People expect Christians to be held to a higher standard when we are just as human as the rest. We try to be better and follow Jesus’ example, but we aren’t perfect. None ever claim they are. We can succumb to the same temptations as the next person, including greed. If you hold religious people and religious organizations to unattainable standards, they will always disappoint you.

Like I said if there's a church by you, speak up. I honestly can say there are no mega churches in my area that I know about. And I've already emailed my own church to see our financial statements to make sure I'm not supporting a church guilty of what we are talking about.

You're right about Sarah too, I know she's not the wealthiest out there and normally I just brush her off because I find most of what she says totally outrageous and offensive so I just move on. But since this was the topic, I voiced my opinions. It is just a pet peeve of mine when these celebrities act like they could do no wrong and then tell the rest of us we aren't giving enough of ourselves and should do more. When Katrina happened it really bugged me all these celebrities out there with millions and then they wanted to be patted on the back for giving 100K. Good for them, but that's like me give 20 bucks. I just think it's more meaningful when they put their money where their mouth is. Lead by example, you know?



I tend to hold churches to a higher standard because that's what they say they are...They say they are a light on a hilltop, shining for all to see how great God is. I also hold churches to a higher standard because as individuals, people are weak, but together, believers are supposed to be strong in God, and so should be able to collectively make the right decision-to feed and clothe those who need it rather than building a million dollar building-and build, say, a half million dollar building and give that other half million away.  It's not about being perfect-it's about being compassionate and having that "servant's attitude" that Christians are suppposed to have. Massive amounts of wealth and expensive stuff don't compute with the message that's in the Bible-not when there are a lot of people suffering. If a group of people can't figure that out-then I have no confidence in what they claim to believe.



Keep in mind that Silverman is poking fun at herself in this clip, too. She's including herself in all of this.



 

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hehe...That's hilarious. And of course she's being tongue-in-cheek, but she has a point. When churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on buildings and things to go in buildings and make themselves a status symbol, yet there are people who are hungry and have no clothes or shelter right around the corner, I feel to qualms about calling them hypocritical.



Christa, I don't need a copy of the financial records of the megachurch just down the street to know that this is so. They have a huge church building and a huge gymn, as well as one of those big scrolling neon signs outside the front-which alone costs thousands of dollars. We call it Six-Flags-Ove-Jesus. =D There is no need to look further into their financial recorsd-because I don't care how much they're giving to charity-they didn't need a scrolling neon sign outside of their church-they spent thousands of dollars on it when that money could've been used to help those in need. And the same sort of thematic goes for a lot of them-certainly not all, and I'm not even sure I would say most, but a lot of them, to be sure.

Lindsay - posted on 10/13/2009

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Ok, I don't have speakers on this computer so I'm just going off of this question....



I remember having a disscussion about this in high school so I'm going off of what I remember. I'll check later and see if I can find something on this.

If the vatican was able ot be sold, it would generate a one time payment of a few $100 million dollars. While that seems like a huge amount (and it is), that's much less than what the US alone pays out yearly in welfare programs. And I'm pretty sure the pope has no legal right to sell anything in the vatican. He doesn't own it, but is responsible for maintaining it. The vatican actually only has a yearly budget compairable to the Diocese of Chicago. A portion of it is to keep the utilities and such but mainly it goes towards charities and missionaries.

With this theory, why would you not also sell any piece of artwork in every museum to feed the poor? The one time payout wouldn't even make a dent in the problem. But if they keep financing missionaries and teach these poor people how to grow their own food and learn trades, it will go a lot further than giving people a few meals.

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Johnny - posted on 10/14/2009

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I agree that it would be nice if we all were held to the standard of caring for others, regardless of religious affiliation. However, Christianity has specific tenets requiring it's followers to be charitable, while as an agnostic, I make that choice on my own, without any such requirement. I follow no book, leader, prophet or God that informs this decision, it is only by personal choice. Followers of a religion that includes charitable acts are being held to that specific standard which is defined by their faith, and thus you can put that expectation upon them. Followers of other faiths (or no faith) do not have such a stipulation put on their life are free to choose how to live their lives, and whether or not they chose to take care of others. When someone signs up for a faith, they should follow it. Those that make different choices are not obligated to follow the same rules. And I've never heard any arguments suggesting that Christian charity is subject to biblical interpretation, I may be wrong, but it is a must for it's followers.

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Quoting Laura:

they are at least suppose to try...I would argue that many evangelists and people who own/run such opulent, extravagant properties, by your definition are not actually Christian



lol...I would tend to agree with you.

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Quoting Christa:

"It's not about being perfect-it's about being compassionate and having that "servant's attitude" that Christians are suppposed to have."

Everybody is SUPPOSED to have that attitude.



No, everybody is not "supposed" to have that attitude. It's a good quality to have, and it makes people easier to deal with, but if their personal beliefs and value system don't' dictate that they live with a spirit of servitude, then that's their business. However, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that is part of Christianity's value system, which is why I ascribe it particularly to Christians.

Isobel - posted on 10/14/2009

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they are at least suppose to try...I would argue that many evangelists and people who own/run such opulent, extravagant properties, by your definition are not actually Christian

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Would it piss off Christians even more to know that Sarah Silverman is Jewish and just simply touched a raw nerve? Oh, and a comedian who pokes fun and satires ALL religions, races, and often includes a lot of sexist material in her acts. Yes, they are acts-inclusive to offend EVERYONE. Meant to raise eyebrows and get people fired up and think.



Yeah the mega-churches have sprung up over here too. It's just bizarre for me I guess. In my area growing up, we attended such a modest synagogue. The local Catholic church was also very pretty and somewhat grand. I've visited some beautiful and old synagogues/churches that are architecturally appealing and old-fashion with charm. But the gigantic ones popping up? Close to a million dollars just for the property, and then the actual building? I'm sure it costs "the church" a pretty tax-exempt penny ;-)

Jenny - posted on 10/13/2009

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I'm going to get my torch!



I'm with you 100% on the wasteful homes and vehicles. I mean surely even 1000 sq. ft per person (not including staff ha ha) is enough? Why does one family need to own 6 houses? I work for a custom wood furniture company and the floor plans that come through there are mindboggling.



I have 920 sq. ft. house with two adults, two kids and two large dogs and we make it work. I drive a 93 Grand Cherokee and my partner drives a Harley Davidson and a work van. I know there's room for improvement but we are certainly living semi-responsibly. It's the extravegance at every level that is killing us.

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I guess for me, the difference is that churches are supposed to give help where it's needed and provide people of faith with a place of worship. I feel like they should be held to a higher standard than the individual, because they are supposed to have integrity and are built as the eartly manifestation of something that cannot be seen. And I don't think it's a very good example if that eartly manifestation has a multi-million dollar building and big, expensive sign and fancy furniture and billboard/TV adverts, but I never see them doing any real good in the community.

I just think you're doing the same thing to rich people that you're claiming we're doing to religious people-jumping to conclusions and stereotyping-and for the record, although she may be quite rich, Sliverman is nowhere near that top tier of richest people in the world. Now I'm not trying to turn this into "oh, poor Sarah Silverman," but I do think it' s a little much for you to stereotype her (and other "liberal elitists") as not doing anything while defending churches and saying that we need to look at financial records before making judgements.

Let's not forget how much in taxes those rich celebs pay, versus the little to no tax churches pay...

JL - posted on 10/13/2009

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The point was a tongue and cheek perspective on the situation..she stated that she was watching this on her huge screen tv to also point out how that is just wasteful and obviously speaks for that fact that WE ARE ALL at fault for the greed that pervades this world. We all fall into the trap of consumerism while there are people in this world who are starving to death. It was a message to all of us and we should all heed to it. I admit I fall into the wasteful spending category as well and so do Mega churches.



She wasn't making a realistic point about selling the friggin Vatican. A church should have a nice building but having one that looks like it has the same building designers the mall used for its new mega plex theater is ABSURD. Religion to me is suppose to be about faith and spirituality. Faith, spirituality, and GOD cannot be found under any rock, brick, or within the confines of any wood structure.These things are found in your heart.



I get fellowship but I don't get spending such large amounts of money that are obviously required to build a church that looks like it came straight out of Las Vegas. IT is unneccessary wasteful spending for me to buy a huge home built for a family of 10 for my family 4 just as much is it unneccesary wasteful spending for a denomination to build a huge tacky church. She has many times in other aspects of her routines pointed out the ridiculous frivilous lifestyles celebrities lead.



Neon blinking lights and buildings that are larger and in better shape then the local schools, soup kitches, nursing homes, and daycare centers make me sad.



I am not calling out all churches or demonintations or religion in general just the ones that look like Disneyland and have become more of a commercialized venture than an actual forum for faith, spirituality, and fellowship. I live by a Megachurch and they have commerical ads on tv, billboard ads, a church that is HUGE AND PURPLE with neon signs, and this in an area with the lowest economy, lowest job rate, highest crime statistics, and the lowest education in the county. Honestly stastically since the church has been built..which it has been a few years now things have not gotten better in the area. I fail to see how the money spent on a huge tacky church does any future good. A bigger building for a church could be built without spending money on needless things like a Neon signs and billboard ads.

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That's not what it means at all. It means that I'm not interested in how much money they're spending behind the scenes, I care about what I see, which is that they are spending thousands (actually hundreds of thousands) of dollars on a sign that lights up and scrolls when USM had to beg, borrow, and plead to have the same sort of sign installed in front of the university. They don't *need* that sign-they just wanted it. So it's not the "nice" building they have that is the problem-it's the superbly expensive nature of everything there put together with the fact that I never hear about them doing anything charitable around here-no soup kitchen, no outreach, no nothing.



Why do you to assume that all churches are at their base good, and they can do no wrong? I gave most churches the benefit of the doubt, as you can see if you read my post-but you are unwilling to entertain the idea that even a very few churches could be overspending on needless drivel.



You're also doing the same thing to Sarah Silverman and every other celeb that you're claiming we're doing to churches-assuming shit without really knowing. In case you didn't know, Silverman particpates in several different charities, pariticularly those geared to depression sufferers and autism. You haven't looked at her financial records-yet you're willing to condemn her as a "liberal elitist."



At least I gave most churches the benefit of the doubt. You weren't willing to do that for any celebs or rich people.

Jenny - posted on 10/13/2009

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You don't have to assume. The evidence is in front of our eyes. You can do all of those good things with a modest building too.



What about the LDS church in Salt Lake? Mormons are recommended to tithe 10% of their income to the church. That building is not needed, required nor neccessary. Jesus would not appreciate it at all.

Jenny - posted on 10/13/2009

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There's a town next to us that is now taxing churches on their properties. I'm going to write my council members to push for it here too.

Natalie - posted on 10/13/2009

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"Just then he [Jesus]looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, 'The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all!'" Luke 21:1-4, The Message Translation

Practice what you preach...

Isobel - posted on 10/13/2009

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ok...I was playing devil's advocate...the christian church does PLENTY of wonderful, charitable things...I just see a small amount of hypocrisy...that's all

Lindsay - posted on 10/13/2009

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Quoting Laura:

well...the "donation" of said assets is up for debate. And Missionaries won't help the poor without wasting money on a church first...



That may be your opinion.



Most "missionaries" that I am referring to are ones that adopt a city, build schools, send teachers and doctors that are strictly volunteers. The church is typically an abandoned pre-existing building consisting of floding chairs and a cross. But they do splurge on a soup kitchen to feed these people. It's about helping people get on their feet and find a better way in life without descrimination.

Isobel - posted on 10/13/2009

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well...the "donation" of said assets is up for debate. And Missionaries won't help the poor without wasting money on a church first...

Lindsay - posted on 10/13/2009

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And because the Catholic church has assetts that were donated years ago people assume that they don't help the poor? The Catholic church has exceeded any other orginization, religious or charitable, in helping the poor. It's constant within churches around the globe as well as the church as a whole. Playing an active role in building communities and teaching people to provide for themselves will go much further than selling the vatican and giving a one time hand-out to give someone a few meals.

Isobel - posted on 10/13/2009

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and museum curators never claimed to care about the poor...just beauty and culture.

Natalie - posted on 10/13/2009

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I love Sarah Silverman, and I love her idea. I know she's being tongue in cheek, but it's a good point- how can the leaders of the Catholic Church preach about giving everything up to God (sorry, not in the mood for finding exact scripture, but we all know that humbleness and charity are important tenants of Christianity) and hang on to all that wealth?

JL - posted on 10/13/2009

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I love Sarah Silverman. She points out the obvious absurdities when it comes to social issues. I live in the South in the US..talk about wasteful spending...MEGA CHURCHES and there is one on practically every corner.

Jodi - posted on 10/13/2009

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Very clever, and absolute genius, I loved it!!



But......

Feed them for how long. Shouldn't we sell the Vatican in order to enable them to feed themselves? After all, that is the only way to have a long term solution :)

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