Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Modern Money Changers In The Temple

by Jerry Sloancopyright, 1994, Revised July, 1995 - all rights reserved

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple Courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the Temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
. . . . . The Gospel According to Saint John 2:13-16, New International Version
$ Money Makes the World Go Round $
For 70 years radio and TV evangelist have been peddling any thing from water claimed to be from the river Jordan which they brought back with them on their latest trip to the Holy Land, to cheap cloth swatches which could be used as prayer cloths.
Gullible people have taken them up on their offers by the hundreds of thousands. So, is it little wonder many Sacramento churches have book stores right off the Sanctuary?
Such commercial enterprises can be found in the Capital Christian Center, the Arcade Baptist Church, or in the case of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, it used to be out in the church courtyard, (which is actually where the money changers were located) selling books, and audio/video tapes, supposedly to enhance one's spiritual awareness or all kinds of bric-a-brac from praying hands salt and pepper shakers to jewelry which is supposed to enhance one's testimony to the world of unbelievers?
While such items are tangible, they differ little from the intangible indulgences which were sold in the Middle Ages by the Holy Roman Catholic Church for the forgiveness of sins and other lifestyle variances.
During the fall of 1994, Sacramento was treated to four events which were attended by Project Tocsin that dramatically illustrate the reason Jesus became so irate at the practice of commercial business being carried on in the House of God.
$ Harvesting A Green Crop in Sacramento $
The first event was admission free. It was the Harvest Crusade conducted at Arco Arena by Riverside CA, Calvary Chapel megachurch pastor Greg Laurie whom the Sacramento Bee, for some inexplicable reason, puffed up as the next Billy Graham.
The faithful, as they walked up to the entrance of the arena, were greeted by a large booth selling Harvest Crusade T-shirts and other faith-enhancing paraphernalia such as buttons, key chains and fanny packs.
Inside more crusade staff were found hawking books, videos and audio tapes.
A brisk business was done in both sales areas.
$ Even Puritans Need Money $
The second event also was an admission free conference on Reformed Theology at the Covenant Reformed Church which featured the renowned "Father of Christian Reconstructionism" and Chalcedon, Inc., president, the Rev. Dr. R.J. Rushdooney and the Rev. Dr. Charles MacIllheny of San Francisco, author of When the Wicked Cease the City.
The meeting was moderated by Covenant Reform member Wayne Johnson, a Chalcedon board member and well known Republican political campaign consultant.
Also featured was another Covenant Reform member, John Stoos, at the time, Executive Director of the Gun Owners of California and Republican campaign consultant.
It was attended by about 300 people. The church has a small vestibule but one corner was set up with three large tables piled high with books for sale. Many of the books were written by Rushdooney and MacIllheny on theological subjects. Others were about the "theological" subjects of economics and firearms. The book tables did a brisk business.
$ There’s Money In Them Thar’ Fossils $
The third event was a day and a half seminar on Biblical creationism conducted by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) of Santee CA at the Arcade Baptist Church located in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael. The seminar cost $20 for single admission, $ 35 for couples and $ 10 for seniors and students.
About 800 people were in attendance (the auditorium seats 1700). At an average of $15 a head, the door brought in about $12,000. Walking from the parking lot across a large plaza, immediately upon entering the church cashiers demanded the admission fee. There was no registration form to sign. Just put down the money and take a packet which contained information about the work of ICR and the seminar schedule. When I took two packets (I had paid for two senior citizen admissions) I was told that the other person could share with me.
Apparently, the money changer made the heterosexist supposition I was paying for my wife since I had said "she" would arrive later.
Once past the admission table and into the huge church vestibule, one was overwhelmed by a dozen tables, each stacked with two feet or more of books and videos. Many books were in cellophane wrapped packets priced from $50 to $125. A packet of 13 videos was priced $175. A combination of the video packet and two book packets could be obtained for $250.
Again, A very brisk business was conducted as cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard and American Express were deemed to be acceptable mediums of exchange. One of the most popular books sold was authored by featured speaker Herb Titus, Esq., who, until he was fired in 1993, was the founder and Dean of the School of Law at TV evangelist Pat Robertson's Regent University.
Although he denies it, Titus takes a Christian Reconstructionist view of the law which he explained in a new book selling for $ 40 a pop. It sold like hot cakes from a table which at the start of the conference had four stacks over two feet tall containing over 100 copies. When the conference was over there was none.
Project Tocsin estimates the conference grossed as much as $40,000 in merchandise sale which combined with the admission fee, the conference probably grossed in the vicinity of $ 50,000 or $ 60,000. That's a lot of money changing in the Temple!
$ Fleecing the Flock $
The fourth event was a two day, three meeting, admission free crusade with preferential seating provided for "faith partners", conducted by Orlando FL based, controversial TV evangelist, Benny Hinn at Arco Arena where more than a score of tables stacked with merchandise lined the lobby hall. Project Tocsin attended the Friday morning 10:00 A.M. meeting (remember that time) along with about 8000 other people. Also attending were some of Sacramento's most prominent Pentecostal preachers including the Rev. Dr. Glenn Cole of Capital Christian Center, Rev. LeRoy LeBeck of Trinity Church, Rev. Phillip Trudeau of Calvary Christian Center, Concord’s Christian TV Station Channel 43 host Rev. Ron Haus.
Hinn made another pitch for the audio/video tapes, books and other merchandise on sale at each of the four entrances of the arena. When he was through making his verbal pitch for each item, he literally pitched of one each into the audience. Shouts of, "Over here!" came from all corners of the auditorium. He gave some to staff members who then ran down the isles of the floor of the area throwing them into the audience.
All of this took about twenty minutes. Then a few minutes later, Hinn made a thirty minute pitch for people to become monthly "Faith Partners," by telling them all the things his ministry was supposedly doing and all the important people he was supposedly to be meeting, including but not limited to, Asser Arafat, King Hussin of Jordan's brother who was to sponsor a Hinn crusade in Arman, and the President of Zambia. He finally asked audience members to come forward for him to pray over. Hundreds of new "partners" filled the isles and the area in front of the platform. They were given pledge forms, a short prayer and returned to their seats.
A little more music/yak. Then, time to take up the offering. Again, a sustained plea for money which took about twenty minutes. Finally, Hinn preached about a thirty minute message about "The Anointing." As he was about to give the alter call he launched into another thirty minute sermon outlining the book of Acts. He then called people to come forward for him to pray for them that they would receive, "The Anointing."
The crowd pressed forward up on the platform. To those lucky enough to make in on the platform, Hinn waved his hand and shouted "Receive!" at them. Most fell over and "catchers" immediately picked them up to shuffle them off the platform. Some appeared to be disorientated and wobbly. Several times Hinn called certain people back and repeated the process. Three were allowed to lay on the platform, twitching, as he stepped over them.
$ Did His Watch Stop ??? $
Finally, Hinn made one last pitch to ask the faithful to stop at the merchandise tables. The service was officially over at 2:00 p.m. having lasted three hours and forty-five minutes. Well over one third of the time or an hour and fifteen minutes was spent pitching merchandising and taking offerings.
Perhaps the most interesting item offered for sale was a three hour video featuring the late Katherine Kuhlman, with whom Hinn apprenticed, priced at $ 64 each sold by Rev. Ralph Wilkerson, (also on the platform) pastor of Melodyland Church (located across the street from Disneyland) in Anaheim CA.
ARCO Arena has a convenient Automated Teller Machine to dispense needed cash. There was a long steady line of people punching Personal Identification Numbers to get it. This added to the brisk sales being conducted at all of the tables.
And, as the money changers in the Temple courtyard accepted coins from all over the world, the modern money changers in the ARCO Arena accepted all mediums of exchange.
In January, 1993, Project Tocsin attended Rev. D. James Kennedy's Reclaiming America Conference held in the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale FL.
Merchandise of all kinds was for sale all over the church lobbies and halls. One group selling merchandise seemed to have no problem with the fact they were on church property but they didn’t want to handle any money on Sunday because it was the Lord’s Day ... “May we bill you or do you have a credit Card?”
$ HEL - LOOO?? $
What is unclear to even the least sophisticated Bible reader about the anger Jesus exhibited at this abominable practice taking place in God’s House?
What is it these so-called Bible believers fail to understand?
Perhaps that question is best answered with another question posed by the prophet Isaiah who asks, "Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger?" (Isa. 42:19)
$ Awake O Thou That Sleepest!! $
The abominable practice of merchandising money changing in the Temple is but one of many examples of Fundamentalist Christians, who purport to believe the Bible from cover to cover to be the infallible Word of the Living God, arbitrarily picking and choosing the Scriptures they wish to consider, obey and apply to their everyday lives - or worst yet, impose on the lives of others.
Yet, Christian Reconstructionists and groups such as the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America and millions of Fundamentalist Christians who support these groups have undertaken a campaign of mixing religion and the politics of Christian Nationalism in the hope that Americans of all backgrounds and belief systems will someday live in a country governed by Biblical Law regardless of how the individual citizen feels about the Bible or religion.
The American people must wake up and understand the agenda which these purveyors of "traditional values" are perpetrating on us or else these modern money changers in the Temple, and even worse, these deaf and blind servants of the Lord will tear apart our society and our beloved country.

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