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Survey: Minority of evangelical leaders say Bible requires tithing
April 7th, 2011
12:48 PM ET

Survey: Minority of evangelical leaders say Bible requires tithing

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Thou shalt not be required to financially support your church – but you should anyway.

That’s the upshot of a new informal survey of evangelical leaders finding that less than half believe that the Bible requires church members to tithe, the practice of giving at least 10 percent of one’s income to the church.

The survey, conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) among its 100-member board of directors, found that 42% of evangelical leaders believe the Bible requires tithing, while 58% do not.

“The Old Testament called for multiple tithes, sort of combining government taxes with religious stewardship,” NAE President Leith Anderson said, reacting to the survey.

“Since there is such a strong evangelical tradition of tithing, I was a little surprised that a majority of our evangelical leaders say the tithe system of the Old Testament does not carry over to the New Testament or to us,” Anderson said in a statement.

The National Association of Evangelicals, the nation’s biggest evangelical umbrella organization, would not say how many of its 100 board members responded to the survey, which was conducted in February.

The board includes such influential figures as the heads of the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God - a major Pentecostal denomination - and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

The injunction to tithe comes from the Old Testament, or what Jews call the Hebrew Bible, which tells of Abraham and others giving ten percent of war spoils, a harvest or other goods as offerings to God or religious leaders.

Dan Olson, a Purdue University sociology professor who has studied tithing, says the new survey doesn’t mean Christian leaders think those in the pews shouldn’t give.

“Most of those leaders would probably say, ‘you really ought to tithe, but the term ‘requires’ gets at a theological point,” he said.

“Most Christians would say the laws of the Old Testament are not what save you – you’re supposed to be giving out of a spirit of freedom, not because you’re bound to laws,” he said.

The National Association of Evangelicals’ survey found that 95% of evangelical leaders say they give at least 10% of their salaries to church.

A recent study by group that tracks church giving, called Empty Tomb, Inc., found that evangelicals on a whole give an average of 4% of their income to their church, though Olson suspects the average is much lower, around 1% or 2%.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Evangelical • Faith Now • Money & Faith

soundoff (674 Responses)
  1. Redoy

    April has been a terrible month, and May even worse for us.But Frank brhogut you closer to Seth, so even in his passing, he has helped a friend once again.Live your life next April will be better.Love you,K

    October 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  2. Thierry

    Thanks, Nir, for the mention of Citizen Kane- I've seen that one about as many times (four or five) as Plan 9 and Psycho. Now that I think of it, I'm gnsusieg that I've seen The Third Man and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World about the same number of times as well. Four or five isn't that many, but seeing new movies is usually of more interest to me than seeing a movie (even a favorite) for the Nth time.And one more thing on The Busy Body- I also watched the opening credits over and over and over and over again. I just love the music (by Vic Mizzy, who was possibly best known for the theme music to The Addams Family TV show and Green Acres), and the aural/sonic bridge from the credits to the rest of the film is pretty cool.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  3. Atheists can go to hello

    Retards...all of you.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  4. Joe Redbear

    This is very entertaining...... Like a Holy War....lol. First i would like too say that i mean no harm. Just putting my own opinion out there. First of all, where is all the proof of what is in this book? There is'nt. And second? I know what's next....answer is in the Bible. Wrong...it is not. So many people put so much of therself into this book. It is crazy. I have a hard time with thinking that a few people followed this one person all over the world.. writing down everything he said. That GOD spoke too one man...picked him out of thousands of others to tell him this is my TOP TEN RULES? Come on...are we that gulliable? We all know what is right and what is wrong. We know how to be kind to each other. Just do it.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  5. Christian Adeline

    All Christians can and should give 10% to local churches and 10% to Christian mission agencies.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  6. Q

    @dendata – With all due respect, you have no evidence, no mechanism and no testable hypotheses for ID. That you are not actually familiar with the science is evident in that your only response is still more faith-based claims of the infallibility of your preferred holy book. Your argument boils down to simply, "I choose mythology over replicable, predictable and applicable science (when it serves to protect my vain hope of living forever)".

    April 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  7. Christian Adeline

    @Artist, your unbelief is rather a mischief. Christians hold beliefs in solid foundation – the eternal, living Word of God. Atheists have nothing but only denials of everything good. Science is about discovering what God has created and applying what He has programmed. Nowadays, scientific development is only polluting the planet, making it uninhabitable, because mankind is rebellious against God.

    April 9, 2011 at 3:32 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Christian Adeline

      You said: "Christians hold beliefs in solid foundation – the eternal, living Word of God. "

      A god, that you have no evidence for. A god that is drowning in scientific discovery. LOL

      You said: "Science is about discovering what God has created and applying what He has programmed."

      Science is discovering the mysteries of the material universe. Certainly, it is very unlikely to have been created by all good, all perfect god.

      The universe is full of horrible things. Babies born without brains, good people suffering monstrous tortures such as neurofibromatosis, evil people basking in the sun and enjoying long lives. Volcanoes erupting, earthquakes killing and maiming thousands, hurricanes and tsunamis blindly wiping out human life.

      There is no evidence to support your claim, that a god created the universe.

      Cheers!

      Nowadays, scientific development is only polluting the planet, making it uninhabitable, because mankind is rebellious against God.

      April 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Christian Adeline

      David, all the hossible things are caused by humanity's sin. God made a perfect world but people corrupted it and all the ills came to be. God takes care of innocent victims and will renew the heavens and the earth. But you need to receive Jesus in this life to take part in His redemption and renewal.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Christian Adeline

      I mean "all the horrible things..."

      April 11, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Just keep on living in your fantasy...

      April 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  8. Steve G

    I don't believe Christians must give 10% of their income. People get so technical too. I knew someone who said it had to be 10% before taxes (from your gross). However I do think Christians need to give period. But I can't make you. But I consider a time in my life when I needed help and churches did not have it. Church after church failed to be there. The Bible says God will provide your needs through Christ's riches in glory through Christ Jesus. OK, fine. God can make a miracle and give you money. Typically he doesn't make it from stones. Either you're need will be met by a person, Church, organization, business or the government. And if the church is the body of Christ, then certainly God can provide your need through His riches in glory. Why didn't churches have it in a time of crisis? Why don't they still have it? It's simple. People don't give enough. It's like saving in the bank. People are in debt because we're too consumeristic. And then you're selfish in your spending and can't give. And you also horde money rather than save it in a bank, which drives inflation. And then when the economy crashes, you run to your church to save you when you lose your job and the churches don't have it and say "I'm sorry, we're over run." And on the flip side. The churches rather than steward the money more wisely invest in Dream Cities like in Austin, TX building a large community for Chrisitans with apartments and shopping. Really? People are losing homes while Dream City is built? Something wrong with that. I'm a Christian and give to missions and worthy endeavours. Churches need to keep the building lights on. I understand. But you don't need a rock concert light show and 50 inch plasmas all over the place. The Bible says he who lives like he's poor will be rich. Just be humble. So give, and give as you are lead. Just give. But steward money wisely Christians and churches.

    April 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Why don't you idiots just cut to the chase and start arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    Or maybe how many can dance on your pinheads?

    April 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You asked: "Or maybe how many can dance on your pinheads?"

      Yes, Tom. I have an answer for you. Even as god is a myth, so to, are angels. Myths are part of the B. S. realm. A myth is intangible. It takes up no space and has no mass. So, an infinite number of myths / angels can dance on anything. Even another myth. It is a property of pure B.S. Amen!

      Now I have a question: The Christian God is said to be omnipotent.
      So the question is, " Can god make a stone, that He cannot lift?

      Cheers!

      April 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  10. Artist

    You would think in this age that religion would only be dominant in 3rd world countries? Slow progress but perhaps in the next 100 years, religion will be the minority here. This of course being we havent blown ourselves up with some religious war in the ME.

    April 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Milena

      This is AMAZING! You have NO IDEA! I acquired a tan sgneir 221 a few years ago and have been trying to learn all about the machine and learn to sew with the amazing help of Oliver + S patterns/tutorials. I'm VERY excited to learn from April and her expertise. April, your website has been rightfully bookmarked.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  11. Enoch

    People who soap box their non-religion are as nauseating as those that wear it on their sleeve.

    April 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Rock Perkins

      I'll toast to that one!

      March 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  12. bml

    @Eric G: I acknowledge that definitive proof of the existence or non-existence of god or any diety is not possible prior to death. My post reflects my attempt to provide an accurate interpretation of JC in context with the mosaic law, based on ancient texts and personal experiences/observations. Feel free to question, accept or discard as you see fit. I do not attempt to force fit proofs, rather engage discussion.

    Also, for context, my post was meant to respond to a post above, but it did not tag to the original as I thought it would. New to this site and still figuring out operations and the list of ristrictions

    April 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Bhi

      There is a scene that's as good or even better tarowd the finale of Once Upon a Time in the West where Charles Bronson's having a stand off with Henry Fonda. And after then get into position, Fonda with the sun behind him, etc, there's a flashback indicating who Bronson's character is in relation to Fonda's. It's brilliant, emotional, and Morricone's score is brilliant.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  13. myklds

    Atheists egoes have been swelling like space blob while their brains are shrinking to the size of a quark.

    April 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Estevan

      Whoah! This size of a quark you say? Those same atheists whose level of education is on average higher than the believers? Those same atheists whose IQs are on average higher than believers? Those over 90% of real scientists who are agnostic or atheists? Those same atheists who represent the smallest per capita ratio of inmates?

      Silly little lies believers make up to make themselves feel good and continue justifying their faith in fantasy and myth.

      April 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Or, we can call it not taking or wanting to take responsibility for one's thoughts/beliefs, writings, actions.

      Amen.

      April 9, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  14. bml

    @Eric G: Some context – I was attempting to reply to a post above (PeterVN), but it did not tag to the post as I thought. New to this site, so please excuse that issue.

    Definitive proof regarding existence or non-existence of any diety is not possible prior to our death; I accept and acknowledge this. My post reflects my understanding of god, in relation to ancient texts and my personal observations/experiences. My desire is not to force proofs of belief or unbelief, only offer an informed interpretation of the relationship between christ and the mosaic law. Feel free to disregard, question or accept as you see fit.

    April 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  15. Sean

    That goes for both sides. Or have you only been reading the atheist posts? I didn’t know there was a filter for that.

    April 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  16. turd

    Yes science can tell us all and is always right. That margarine spreadwill kill you!!

    April 8, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  17. justme2011

    WoW! As I am reading the comments left here on this topic I as a Christian am appalled with some of the remarks left by fellow Christian, brothers and sisters! No wonder people shy away from us and church!
    Jesus said in John 13:34-35 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    ♫Love, love, love, its all about LOVE♪

    April 8, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Appiiz

      I'll be really hnseot and say that there is nothing that I am really good at. That isn't false modesty. Just the truth. I am reasonably proficient in one or two things but I don't have a talent'. I even asked my husband and best friend. poor things really tried to think of something! I struggled for years with it but I have come to accept that sometimes, some people, just are people. No extra gifts, just going along in life the best they can.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:05 am |
  18. rh

    Most people treat the Bible like a buffet, they take what they want and leave the rest alone.

    There is no place at all for equality of women, people with different beliefs, rights of children, let alone animals, in the Bible. Any supposed Xian who says they follow the Bible is a liar (but that's okay, because "Thou shalt not lie" is not in the Ten Commandments). Then again, "Thou shalt not lie with someone of the same gender" nor "Thou shalt beat up gays" are not in the Ten Commandments either.

    April 8, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • HeavenSent

      rh, why not admit that you are immature and don't want to take responsibility for your life instead of bashing what you don't know.

      Amen.

      April 9, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  19. AthiestIsTheOnlyWay

    Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.
    No religion=no wars.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • tatersalad8498

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 8, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • CW

      @ Atheist is the only way(NOT)

      Yes science also tells you that you evolved from the apes too. The God of the Bible never "instructed" anyone to do wrong.

      Science = Man's theory's to explain things(best guess's..by the way)

      The God of the Bible = God's truth TELLING you if you will listen about how to live and how we all got here.

      April 8, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Face

      Even though I am an "atheist" <-(doesn't make sense)
      I disagree with your annoying statement... you make "us" look bad and simple minded when you say short comments like that.
      If we didn't have religion, people would not have faith and less reason to fight, and while the wars would be in decline we would still have wars...........over resources and land....

      April 8, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • bml

      nor religion=no wars...not quite. Regardless of your stance on faith, personal security/greed is the root cause. Communist/capitalist ideaologies of the cold war are a prime example. Although the US and USSR never directly fought, they certainly utilized religion to promote their ideologies (i.e., Afghanistan in the late 70's/early 80's). Ultimately personal and societal greed is the root cause of war

      April 8, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Face

      @CW
      Please just stfu, you literally have no idea what you're talking about. Unless you're a troll....
      "Best guess's" rofl
      I imagine you are a biologist, paleontologist, anthropologist, geologist, or some other sort of scientists then and can demonstrate the SPECIFIC "false claims" of evolution?? Were you one of the creatards that was at the "Dover vs Wade" court case of 2005?
      The truth might hurt, but if you are opposed to evo. then you dont know anything about it. NT but you are the FAIL of the day! :P

      April 8, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • brad

      Mr. Atheist, consider the following quotations by Charles Darwin from Origin of Species which I'm certain you've read:

      "I may here premise, that I have nothing to do with the origin of the mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself. " Chapter 8

      "On the ordinary view of the independent creation of each being, we can only say that so it is; that it has pleased the Creator to construct all the animals and plants in each great class on a uniform plan; but this is not a scientific explanation. "
      Chapter 9

      "Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man?" Chapter 6

      April 8, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • brad

      "Blind faith" may produce terrorism. "Blind reason" turns scientific discovery into nuclear weapons. Also, blind reason could allow Darwin's theories to be used to eliminate whole classes of humans (look up eugenics).

      April 8, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Steve (the real one)

      brad

      "Blind faith" may produce terrorism. "Blind reason" turns scientific discovery into nuclear weapons. Also, blind reason could allow Darwin's theories to be used to eliminate whole classes of humans (look up eugenics).
      -------
      Allow me to add to the truth you have spoken! The very foundation of abortion (planned parenthood) is egenics. re: the founder: Margaret Sanger! While she is long gone, her ideals and spirit live on! the majority of "clinics" aar elocate in the neighborhoods of those she saught to eliminate! That is we we now call "choice".

      April 8, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Dr. Know

      Judging by the moronic and idiotic replies to simple post one can conclude evangelists are lemmings and are so easily led they'd make perfect communist china citizens.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • brad

      @ Dr. Know:
      We had "lemmings" in the 60's and 70's. Millions rose up and proclaimed "we can think for ourselves" – with drugged down brains. Then the lemmings' thinking moved from the brain into the pants and a 6ual revolution was started. No thinking required because "everyone's doing it". Now we have a world-wide deadly epidemic.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @CW

      You said: "Yes science also tells you that you evolved from the apes too."

      No. Man evolved from an ancestor that was common to the apes. Consider branches on a tree. A "Y" if you will. One fork being apes, the other man. The trunk or tail of the "Y" would have been the common ancestor. Man did not evolve directly from apes.

      You said: "The God of the Bible never "instructed" anyone to do wrong."

      Hmm... What about these instances: Joshua 6 20:21; Num. 31:15-18; 1 Samuel 15:3 ? In each, God of the Book commands the murder of men, women children (including infants) and even animals.

      In Lev. 25:44-46 God of the Book instructs on the ownership of slaves.

      If God would never command anyone to do wrong, where did He get the determination that some things are wrong / evil?

      You said: "Science = Man's theory's to explain things(best guess's..by the way)"

      Not best guess. Best guess may start the inquiry, but never ends it.

      Science studies the natural world by observation and experimentation. It is concerned with the material universe and its laws.
      Science is evidence driven. Nothing is assumed or taken on faith.
      If new evidence falsifies a part or all of a theory, the theory is corrected.

      You said: "The God of the Bible = God's truth TELLING you if you will listen about how to live and how we all got here."

      Why do you persist in telling people things, as if they are true? You should start each of your statements with: "I think".

      You have no evidence, that there is a god. And if there is a god, how do you know it is the Christian god?
      Since you can't prove there is a god, you don't have any evidence that the bible is god's word. Saying it is, doesn't make it so. It is just your opinion. Opinions are a lot like anuses. Everybody has one.

      Believers want faith and belief, to be equal to evidence used in science. They are not equal. You can have faith, that anything is so. But if you have no evidence, your faith is worthless. If faith were equal to actual evidence, we would be overrun by fanciful creatures. Faith should be reserved for small children. Adults should put away childish things.

      Religion, unlike science, demands that you deny evidence that is contrary to your beliefs. Accepting Evolution, means no Creation. No Creation, then no Adam and Eve. No Adam and Eve, then no Original Sin. No Original Sin, then there was no need of a Redeemer. No Redeemer, then why is there Christianity?

      Yep, I can well see why you don't like science... LOL

      Cheers!

      Fundies do not believe in Christianity because it is true. To them Christianity is true because they believe it.

      April 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @brad

      You said: "blind reason could allow Darwin's theories to be used to eliminate whole classes of humans"

      Golly, brad. If Darwin was wrong and Evolution is a scam – as so many Evangelicals proclaim...Then why worry about anyone trying to manipulate the gene pool?

      A thought on: "Blind reason" turns scientific discovery into nuclear weapons."

      At the time, building atomic weapons was considered vital to the survival of our nation. We were at war. I would rather we constructed them, than to have our enemy construct them, while we pondered the moral dilemma.

      Morals are relative.

      Cheers!

      Cheers!

      April 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Steve (the real one)

      Let's just be happy, that the Dems were able to save Planned Parenthood. As I said, before the November Elections, The Republicans serve 2 masters. The Rich(This includes big business) and The Christian Right. The tax cuts and payouts were for the Rich. The attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood was for the Christian Right.

      If abortion is illegal, women will seek back alley remedies. We, as a society, must take away as many of the reasons women seek abortions as possible.

      We need to make adoption easier and make it financially possible for a woman to keep and care for her baby.
      Obama has a program to do this. More needs to be done, but with the Republicans controlling the House, funds won't be forthcoming.

      Most of all, we need to make birth control available free of charge, to all women. We need to educate the women on these birth control methods. Remember, the best way to prevent an abortion, is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This is another reason for being glad Planned Parenthood survived. They provide birth control and advice on its use.

      Psalm 127:3 – Children are a gift of the LORD

      Hmmm... Well, the bible says it, so I believe it. End of discussion! Children are gifts from god!

      Notice how god doesn't check to see if a woman is capable of raising a child, before he gives a baby to them?

      Women in poor countries bear children, only to have them die, because Mom has no food.

      Women addicted to drugs are given babies, when they are totally incapable of taking care of themselves, much less a child.

      Girls are blessed with a baby they don't want. Why are babies given to women who don't want them?

      If god would be more careful with giving out gifts/children, abortion wouldn't be needed.

      And remember, there are a lot of women, who god refuses His gift. They would be overjoyed with god's gift. No abortions in their homes!

      God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, it's almost as if... Never mind.

      We should start real $ex education in school. Not abstinence only. Real education about the use of birth control.

      We will never totally eradicate abortions. Only a god could do that, and he either does not care, or does not exist.

      Cheers!

      April 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Siyajkak

      That has to be one of the most ignorant statements i've ever read. Human's get in fights. Some humans have power over lots of other humans. This human, when he gets in a fight with a large group of humans, will use his own humans to help him, and we have war. SOME wars are reliously based, but not even most are. WWI and WWII had nothing to do with religion, just expansion, greed, and racisim. I think there is a very, very long list of things one could get rid of that would reduce war far more than religion: racism, greed, ignorance, anger, xenophobia to name a few off the top of my head.

      April 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • ttwp

      @ David Johnson

      It's ridiculous on how you insist on blaming God for everything...as if we have no responsibility?

      April 10, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Converted

      @ David Johnson

      You seem to have logic but I find it flawed. You state: "Accepting Evolution, means no Creation" I don't agree with this statement. I do believe in evolution... It is how God created man... It is a matter of when sprits came into these mortal beings... that would be at the time of Adam.

      You go on about there being no proof of God and spiritualness... the proof is through the holy spirit that will confirm the existence. The truly converted know this, have witnessed the powers.

      I am a believer in science... when God allows us mere mortals to witness his creations through science, we should take note and praise God for his kindness.

      Science has not created anything. It has only witnessed God's creations. All of the scientific laws that have been discovered have been here from the beginning... only by the grace of God have they been revealed.

      God Bless

      May 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  20. Adeline

    Q, American liberals always win in cases they should actually lose. That's why no one trusts the outcomes of monkey trials.

    April 8, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • Q

      @Adeline – You clearly know nothing of this particular case (i.e. Kitzmiller v Dover) and you engage in the classic fail of inferring "judicial activism" whenever the ruling contradicts your preferred outcome.

      April 9, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Q

      @Adeline – I also meant to point out that you conveniently failed to explain the absence of supporting evidence for ID/creationism but skipped straight to some "liberal conspiracy" apparently handed down by a conservative Lutheran Judge appointed by G.W. Bush...

      April 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Christian Adeline

      Q, American courts do not determine truth for or of humanity and many times falsehoods won cases. What do you want? I tend not to read lengthy trash unless you are a news writer writing your own column. You seemed to be an enducated person, therefore make your comment short and make a point. Christianity is the only evidentiual faith on earth. Why are you against it when you cannot refute it intelligently?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.