Friday, October 21, 2011

Why No Hired Worship?

Why No Hired Worship?

In my previous post I noted that there are parts of society that money is not expected or allowed to influence. For instance, why don’t churches hire worshippers? Here’s the scenario, at (let’s call it) the Church of Coyote: you go there, you punch in your time-card, you go to your pew, the minister tells you how to go about worshipping, and then you and the flock go to it. There’s singing, and chanting, and hand-clapping, and witnessing, and maybe some speaking in tongues and falling down; meanwhile the service is video-recorded. At the end of the service you punch out. The church tallies up your hours, and at the end of the month they mail you your pay.

This’ll certainly fill up the pews, far better than the volunteer system now common. The flock will arrive early, and demand to stay late. Their devotions will be enthusiastic and well-practiced; after all they’re being paid for it, and what’s more pay is based upon performance. (That’s part of the reason why the service is taped; for the clergy to inspect effort.) It’s not all that different from a soup kitchen, which has a food-for-sermon deal; this is money-for-worship, much more professional and up-scale.

But ah, that word ‘professional’; as in the world’s oldest professsion; for the worshippers are giving devotion for pay; what is that but prostitution? And they admit it boldly; they call themselves “Coyote’s Bitches”. Better a bitch than a sheep; sheep get shorn, but bitches get paid!

But where does the money come from? That was the one weak point in the scheme. The purest form of the scheme would be a closed loop: church pays worshippers, worshippers worship god, god blesses church, church sells blessings for money to pay worshippers. It’s a valid business model, if you can find a god willing to hold up his end of the deal, and a church able to monetize a god’s blessings. Well, Coyote the Trickster is disreputable enough to hire worship, but could you really expect him to pay?

Let’s bring this down to earth. Can a scheme like this work? The services are video-taped, then sold for entertainment value; that pays for at least part of salaries and upkeep; but does it pay all? Maybe a paid-worship church is like a soup kitchen, a form of charity. Or maybe it’s a jobs program, adminstered as a faith-based initiative. Or maybe it’s a plutocrat’s monument to his own ego. Or maybe it’s a tax-evasion scheme, or maybe a way to launder money. Or all of the above. Nobody involved asks questions. 

And maybe this describes all religion. So I think this can work! So explain to me, then, why churches don’t hire worshippers.

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