Some years ago and on a lark, I sent ten bucks to a California-based church and in ten days received my Doctor of Divinity Degree. It hangs framed, proudly overlooking my study. I may perform weddings, bat mitzvahs, baptisms, communions, voo-doo, last rites.
(This church is pretty flexible.)
I'm told there's even some alchemic formula -- mine for an additional fee -- through which I may deduct part of my rent if I conduct intimate ceremonies in
See: you may have heard of the cozy digs and living arrangements at a former Convent, DC's C Street Center where numbers of evangelical Christian Congressmen and Senators...ah...mingle. Nevada ex-Senator John Ensign frequented the pad prior to his resignation in a philandering and $$ scandal two years back. In fact, you would have had no chance of hearing of the C Street home unless several of its residents hadn't been snatched up in numbers of sex scandals in the past few years, including former South Carolina Governor,
I've no issue with Senators and Congressmen sharing town-homes-away-from-home -- that's common. And if they share the same religious passions (in addition to their more earthy ones), who am I to object?
C Street Center
Yet I do question, and so should you, not their religion, not their living arrangement, and not their choices of women who aren't their wives. For all I care they can have a spirited interest in the Baboon House at the DC Zoo.
But their impious interest in my dough? That's a problem.
For years this C Street Center has enjoyed tax-free status masquerading as a church, receiving the perks a legitimate church gets--that is, it gets my money and your money in the form of a pretty substantial tax break. And a coalition of mainline ministers are so angry, so embarrassed, it has been demanding the fraud end. The mainstream ministers say that, far from being a church, even if there is daily prayer and some wayward congressional soul-searching, the house is far more a club for powerful (if often backsliding) men.
C Street does not teach the public, as a church does, nor does it have the internal structure of a church. There is nothing vaguely like a church leadership there. (There isn't even a choir -- though there may be choir boys.)
It also, because it has IRS church-designation, doesn't have to open its books. Ever.
Its donations and support are secret, whether its tithings (and rents) come from sincere individuals or, say, from corporations or individuals with a sincere interest in, say...legislation.
The mainline ministers who want C Street's tax-free status ended are right. The IRS should pounce on this scam as it does any flim-flam.
Just leave My Sincere Ordination the hell alone.