I have always said, even when I was a xian, that religion was big business. While most pastors, ministers, and priests are looking for a comfortable salary and benefits, some people, like those who head big churches and megachurches, televangelists and the like are always looking for a way to get rich, to gain and hold power.
Here is an article from the website True truths: Helping people find the truth about religion.
1. Find an existing demand and/or create a demand
Bingo! Religion gets an A+ for this one. First of all, many people seem to have an internal need for believing in some sort of supernatural, all knowing, all-powerful being. I don't know if people are born with this need or if it just becomes part of them from their life experiences, but regardless of how the need got there, it's there. That’s the existing demand. But where religion has really succeeded is the corollary – creating a demand. Look what they’ve done. They’ve taken old writings, written some new ones, and have crafted a compilation of “inspired” writings - the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, and many others. In these books people are told how they should act, how they should believe, and what they should do with their money and belongings. In Christianity, they have created a scenario where the demand for the product - forgiveness, eternal salvation, and the love of God - is both an internal demand and an externally created demand.
2. Be one of the major suppliers of a product in demand
Microsoft is a great example of becoming a major - almost the exclusive - supplier of a product in demand. For all practical purposes, Microsoft is the only supplier of operating systems for personal computers. Religion has also done a good job here. A large percentage of people in the world are believers in some faith, and for many their religion is the exclusive supplier for their faith-based demand. To be sure, there are some atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers, but there certainly is a large market of ‘believers’. What religions must do is figure out how to attract a sufficient portion of the ‘believers’ to support their cause. Almost every religion will try to convince its followers and the masses that its religion is the one and only true religion, that only by believing in their god, and practicing their faith, can one be saved. One example in religion is Christianity’s claim that only by accepting Jesus Christ as their savior can people be saved. If in fact this is true, then Christianity is the exclusive supplier for those who want to go to heaven and escape the fiery flames of hell. Other religions make the same claim.
3. Convince people they need your product – something good will happen if they have it
Obviously, religion has done a great job here as well. Many people believe that they need religion, they need to be saved, they need forgiveness, they need the guidance of their religious faith and leaders, and they need eternal salvation. Many are convinced if they get baptized, if they go to church, if they follow the teachings of the Bible, and if they tithe to their church, they will receive forgiveness from God and entry into the gates of heaven where they will enjoy eternal bliss with other believers.
4. Convince people that if they do not have your product that something bad will happen
This is the opposite of number 3. If you do not have the product - in this case Christianity and all that goes with it - you will go to hell and burn for eternity. God also may make you suffer or do bad things to you while you are here on earth. Christianity’s done a great job here - either you believe as they tell you, or you will burn in hell forever - not a pleasant thought.
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5. Insure a healthy profit margin - revenue exceeds expenses
6. Create a product that produces a continuous stream of profits with numerous repeat customers
7. Have a marketing plan to increase sales
8. Employ an effective sales force that is efficient and has responses prepared for anticipated objections
9. Limit overhead costs
The church can limit costs tremendously because they are not taxed on revenues and because many staff volunteer their time and talents to the church. Not many businesses can be run as inexpensively as the church.
10. Build an infrastructure that will continue the business far into the future
11. Have powerful, persuasive, enthusiastic, credible, dynamic leadership
As in business, most, if not all, successful religions and individual churches have great leaders. Whether it is Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Billy Graham, or the local priest or preacher, a dynamic personality is required to build and sustain a successful church. Just as a successful business must have a dynamic CEO, a church must have dynamic leaders.
Your property taxes go up each year because church property is tax-free. Will our national leaders do something about this? No! will believers stop giving money to priests? No! How about revolutionary expropriation? Yes, this is possible but not until sleepy Americans are educated enough to shake off their shackles of superstition.
Church financial power has become an economic colossus at our expense. The only way to destroy this inequity is to attack and expose it.