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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 • Money & Faith

soundoff (674 Responses)
  1. J Fritzl

    I'm down with helping out your church of choice with donations, especially since they are tax deductable. But what I hate is the idea that the money is not just providing for the physical need of the church...but for the pastor/preacher/etc.

    A religious position should NOT be a paid one. That opens things up to SO much exploitation it's ridiculous. Funds should help keep the church running, but preachers and leaders should be people with actual JOBS that also devote some time to church issues.

    April 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Joe Catholic

      Yeah, that's a brilliant idea. I want a part time Priest who is also an insurance salesman. That idea may work in a non-demonational church, where the pastor does not have to go through 7 years of seminary, be celibate and take a vow of poverty.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  2. Victor

    Hello, Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. http://www.ebiblefellowship.com/may21 http://www.familyradio.com The Bible Guarantees it!

    April 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      After the Rapture there will be peace. The nagging will stop.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Dobro

      Funny how many churches have events scheduled for way after that date...

      April 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Victor
      When the Rapture comes and God bodily transports all of the true, righteous, peaceful, humble, loving Christians straight to Heaven, I'm sure that the world will miss both of them.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Doc Vestibule

      LOL !

      Peace...

      April 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  3. Allison Y.

    I give a full 10 percent to my church, and proud of it!

    That money goes to build church buildings, missionary efforts around the world, church-owned colleges, help the poor, and many other things. I have seen that money used for good purposes first hand.

    In my church the leaders are not paid. They all perform their work for free. I would never give 10 percent or belong to a church where my pastor was living high on the hog out at the beach and driving 100 miles to come and preach to the rest of us in the slums. Plenty of churches like that near me, and that I don't understand.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Steven

    Too often we go to church and pay just to be judged by hippocrites,

    April 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  5. Wboy

    From what I understand, Jesus demands not just 10%, but everything (remember the lady with the 2 copper coins in Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2?)

    April 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • dan

      Good point. After all is the matter of heart and not how mch you put in. The poor women put everything she had.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  6. Bob

    I don't really care for churches, even though I am Christian. I don't believe in being told what to believe in, how to believe in it, and when to judge others. I don't go for it. I do whatever I can for others, however. I donate blood on a regular basis, give money to the Red Cross, and foster animals from the Humane Society. I say to live a good life and be good to others.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dobro

      Finally someone religious who makes some sense, even though I don't get why you need to be religious to think like you. I'm not religious but adhere to similar standards.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • dan

      I thought Christian means "Follower of Christ" Do you have Christ in your formula? Because if you think you are saved by your little good works, you might be surprised at the end. Ephisians 2:8-9. All the blessings

      April 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  7. Anna

    In the new testament Jesus says that He "came not to do away with the law but to fulfill it." Churches today say that the Old Testament doesn't apply anymore, but have no problem asking for money. If the Old Testament doesn't apply anymore, does that mean we don't have to live by the Ten Commandments anymore? The Bible is ONE book, not two separate ones, and the Old Testament isn't just there for a history lesson.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      The bible is a multi-millenia-old book of myths and ignorant superst!tions, nothing more. Get a brain.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • dan

      Luis Wu
      Hopefully you know what you are talking about. Did you read it?

      April 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Anna
      If you live by the rules laid down in Leviticus, I'll gladly eat your hat.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  8. Michael

    Does anyone know how I send money to that Tea Pot that is orbiting the Sun?

    April 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Josh

      Ha!

      April 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  9. Soda Bob Curtis

    God made the world and everything on it in 6 days. What does He need money for, exactly?

    April 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  10. Greg

    I think we should get some tights for those orfans.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • safety girl

      or maybe some really nice "jeggings"

      April 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Eby

    God does not require money, It is not for the minister, but a channel to get it to the needy. One of the teaching of Jesus Christ is to always look after the poor(If the church is doing it or not is debatable) If so called christians cannot be an example of the teaching of Jesus Christ doe snot negate His truth or purpose.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Oh? So the preacher doesn't get any of that money? He works for free? I wouldn't give a preacher the sweat off my nads if he was dieing of thirst.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • @Luis Wu

      Wait a sec. Isn't that "tea-bagging"? What if they were tea-baggers? Would you give them your nad-sweat then?
      signed, Sauna Sam

      April 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  12. dan

    People are just confused with tighting.
    1. A designated building (church, house etc...) it requires maintanance and bills to pay. Don't you think that if you go into a worship place to meet with other people and fellowship /worship the Lord. Get some food for the soul and some free cakes and coffee, it will make sens to put some money into the basket? (Lot's of people don't think so?)
    2. Helping other poor and needy in the community requires money from Tights.
    3. Spreading the Gospel
    4. Orfans and widows etc...

    I believe that I am very blessed because I bless others and put my trust in the Lord. I decided to trust the Lord and honor Him with part of the money that I receive. He gives me wisdom on how to use the rest. Work hard. He give Peace out!
    Proverbs 3:5-10 (many other examples...)
    ...
    9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
    10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

    Psalm 127:2
    It is vain for you to rise up early,
    To retire late,
    To eat the bread of painful labors;
    For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%203:5-10&version=NIV

    April 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      It says in Jibberish 4-23, "..." Here come the Bible quoters. Just quote some text from the Bible and viola, it's true.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Dobro

      Snicker!

      April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • dan

      That is the truth for me. Do you have any guide lines? You and yourself? everything is relative?

      April 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      Everything is relative. Frame of reference is the key to all experience. Even in physics, absolutes came down with the Special Theory of Relativity and the General theory of Relativity.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Joe Catholic

      Hey LeeCMH, FYI, The Bible is the Living Word of God. So Yes, Et Voile and AMEN.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • dan

      LeeCMH – I am sorry for you -poor and confused – with no obsolutes and a guide line for truth.
      Are you sure you are alive or have a ... brain? Really! Or that is relative, too

      April 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      Yes, everything is relative to a frame of reference. Living is relative to dead. Having a brain is relative to not having a brain. All measures in space and time are relative to a frame of reference. Science the avenue to truth.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  13. Gracko

    So I guess Republicans are ok with THESE kinds of taxes.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  14. Dgrat

    The traditional practice in many Jewish groups is to give 10% of their income to charity, but the key difference is each individual is free to pick which charity they want. Part of that 10% is to the house of worship they are members of. Maybe Christian groups should take on the same model- give 10% but do it where you want.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  15. garytucson

    I'm really amazed that godless people seem to read "Belief Blog" at a much higher rate than believers. Isn't there a "Pagan Blog" for y'all to hang out at?

    April 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Josh

      To be in a country that has a high rete of religion, nearly 85%, then we need to be well versed on religion, unfortnatly. Thats why when I actually started to read the bible as a christian and I saw the bible for what it was worth, Fiction!. Now I am an atheist!

      April 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Dobro

      It's comedy for free!

      April 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Spijder

      It may be time to look up the words you use before you use them. Pagans actually tend to have more gods rather than less.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @garytucson

      Hi -gary...

      You Said: "I'm really amazed that godless people seem to read "Belief Blog" at a much higher rate than believers. Isn't there a "Pagan Blog" for y'all to hang out at?"

      So, i'm curious... are you suggesting that 'only' people who are 'believers' should be 'allowed' to state their 'beliefs' here...?

      Only, people that believe in God should be allowed to post their thoughts and opinions here...?

      As I understand it... 'all' are welcome here to state their *opinions* and *beliefs* for discussion.

      After all, this is not the "For Christians Only" -blog, yes...?

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      April 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Rosie

      You are misinformed about Pagans. Pagans DO have beliefs, but not in one god the way traditional organized religions do. And if Pagans are so bad, why did christians steal many of their holidays from and Pagans? You know, Christmas, Easter, Halloween. A person with an open mind reads about many things outside their belief system, without passing judgement. Maybe if more folks studied up on the various beliefs and accepted different ways of believing or not believing, we'd have less folks getting up on their high horses and calling for the damnation of others.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • harleyg

      I believe the non-believers are just following a link, not browsing this site. I came via a headline link on CNN.com.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'And if Pagans are so bad, why did christians steal many of their holidays from and Pagans? You know, Christmas, Easter, Halloween. '
      Actually that one is easy to answer. Once you have invaded and taken over a land, its far easier to try to convince a hesitant population to convert to your religion from their old one if you can tell them they can keep their old festivals....'you have a festival for the winter solstice? wow, what a coincidence, so do we, we call it xmas'

      April 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • MyGODis an AWESOME GOD

      RE: "I'm really amazed that godless people seem to read "Belief Blog" at a much higher rate than believers. Isn't there a "Pagan Blog" for y'all to hang out at?"

      I'm with you on that.. careful nonbelievers... you may start to believe the truth if you read the scriptures.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • safety girl

      @ MyGODis an AWESOME GOD

      "I'm with you on that.. careful nonbelievers... you may start to believe the truth if you read the scriptures."

      Not likely, but thanks for playing...

      April 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  16. crossbow

    When you are tything, in my book you don't give to a church, but you are giving to GOD.
    The Church or faith you give to is the "Store House"

    April 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Camar

      Yes, just read Malachi 3 10-11

      April 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      I think you misspelled that first word. Instead of "St" it should begin with "Wh".

      April 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  17. Rich

    Religion is delusional.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Steve-O

    Four words for the idiots who give 10% of their income to a church: Jim & Tammy Faye Baker!!!

    April 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      Oh Jim and Tammy. PTL Pass the Loot or Pay the Lady. (((all with donations to a "church")))

      April 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  19. Joe Catholic

    JohnR got it right when he said this is the opinion of a subset of Christians. This is an example of "relativism".

    April 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  20. Skeptical Analysis

    And why is it that god needs money?

    April 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      God needs money to buy his vacation home, private plane, and yacht.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Maria

      GOD doesn't need our money, but the church does. Have you ever heard of utilities, copiers, insurance, salaries, supplies, etc?

      April 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Wake Up

      God doesn't need your money, he needs your obedience. Look on the currency "In God We Trust".

      The earth and all theirein already belongs to him, he wants you to trust him.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      The church needs money so they can brainwash more idiots into believing several thousand year old myths and fairytales.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      "In God We Trust" was added to US currency in the 1950s, same time "under God" was added to the Pledge. Had nothing to do with God but anti-Communist feelings. Just a political stunt.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Godless

      "God doesn't need your money, he needs your obedience. Look on the currency "In God We Trust"."

      Study your history – that was added in the mid 20th century amid the Red Scare. It was not always there and was not on our money when the founders were around. Heck, it wasn't on the money when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Godless

      Lee apparently types more quickly than me 🙂

      April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Jason

      His money games, his women, and his guns.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • LoveOneAnother

      Godless – "Study your history..."

      Ouch, I guess you should practice what you preach. In God We Trust was added to currency in 1957 but was first introduced on coinage in 1864.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • dendata

      Pastors / Elders at the Christian Organization of Jehovah Witnesses do not get paid for their work with the congregation or the community. They freely give of their time, resources and energy to study the bible. Also there is never a collection taken up at any of the services performed. all monies received, are given on a 100% voluntary basis and are used exclusively for the purposes of paying utilities. Bibles and other littérateur are offered for free but are not free to produce so some donations cover these cost as well.
      Rather than specifying an amount or a percentage, Paul merely suggested that "on the first day of every week, each one . . . should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." (Italics ours; 1 Corinthians 16:2, NIV) By planning and reserving an amount on a regular basis, the Corinthians would not feel pressured into giving begrudgingly or on emotional impulse when Paul arrived. For each Christian, the decision of how much to give was to be a private matter, one that 'he had resolved in his own heart.'—2 Corinthians 9:5, 7.

      April 7, 2011 at 6:16 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.