"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say to you that they have their reward." "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly"That's Matthew: 6, Verses 5 & 6 - look it up. While I not a theologian, I do understand very clearly that the true message of Jesus Christ does not happen to include advocating for greed, bigotry, war, murdering brown skinned children or neglecting the poor which are all not coincidentally some of the traits of the mutant fundamentalist version of Christianity that is pimped by false prophets in three piece suits and a card in Karl Rove's rolodex. Christ seemed to think that it was not necessary to be seen amongst others in order for the worship of the lord to be legitimate, in fact the verse that I referred to above states exactly the opposite. But in America today it is obvious that those goats that brayeth the loudest have replaced the humble sheep in the grazing order, especially when it comes to feeding at the public trough and most specifically in the taxpayer subsidized 'goat barns' that are the huge mega-churches that are popping up along thy fruited plain nearly as rapidly as Wal Mart superstores. Of course in order to get the money for one of these great and shiny temples where concerts and light shows extol the 'virtues' of God, capitalism, militarism and nationalism there as always is a quid pro quo. They must in return disseminate and perpetuate the message of Republican party propagandists in order to keep the flock focused on the true task at hand which is to attack phantom enemies like gays, judges and liberals while acting as a proxy army for corporatism and the agenda of the wealthy. This brings to mind the following dialogue from the movie Pale Rider between Clint Eastwood's 'Preacher' who champions the poor local miners and the corrupt town boss 'LaHood' (obviously a Republican) who is trying to screw them by initially trying to swindle them and then ultimately hiring his thugs to force them to leave their gold rich land so that he could bring in his strip mining operation.
LaHood: "It occurred to me it must be difficult for a man of faith to carry the message on an empty stomach, so to speak I thought why not invite this devout and humble man to preach in town? Why not let the town be his parish? In fact why not build him a brand-new church?"
Preacher: "I can see where a preacher'd be mighty tempted by and offer like that."
LaHood: "Oh, indeed."
Preacher: "Then he'd be thinking about getting himself a batch of new clothes.."
LaHood: "We'd have them tailor made"
Preacher: "Then he'd start thinking about those Sunday collections."
LaHood: "Hell, in a town as rich as this one that preacher'd be a wealthy man."
Preacher: "That's why it wouldn't work, can't serve God and mammon both. Mammon being money"
America's mega-church moguls have no such qualms over taking mammon, in fact the more mammon the more message that the GOP can expect from the grand temples that serve as political halls. Unlike Clint Eastwood's humble preacher the pastors and preachers of the religious right and it's affiliates perform astride stages in venues the size of small arenas to the accompaniment of light and special effects shows that would be the envy of a heavy metal rock band on a world tour. They adorn themselves with the finest in tailored finery and wallow like hogs in pools of taxpayer dollars funneled in by Bush's programs. If more on the right had some consistency in their ideology they might come to call this for what it is: Christian Socialism. This politicizing of the churches ends up driving the smaller houses of worship out of business due to their inability to compete with the extravaganzas presented by their competitors in the well-heeled and not coincidentally much whiter suburbs. The ones that suffer most are the residents of the inner cities and the poor whose lives depend on the organizing power and moral examples of the small churches that truly seek to perform humanitarian deeds in the name of the lord while preaching the real gospels of Christ and don't demand their congregation to make calls or write letters to their congressmen threatening retaliation if they don't discriminate against others or take stances that further contribute to the corrosive corruption and coarsening of our society.
Well, here's a great idea to cut into massive national debt as well as to allow all who benefit from citizenship to have the great feeling of contributing their fair share: start taxing the churches. Not all churches of course but the 'tax cheat' false churches that serve as political organs of the Republican party need to be immediately stripped of their tax exempt status. By using their pulpits as a forum for polemics, making congregation lists available to party operatives, laundering money and waging war on the concept of the separation of church and state, therefore becoming political organizations and they should render unto Caesar that which is his or if we are to believe that we still live in a functional democracy more precisely ours.