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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. parnell

    If I wrote a Bible, my people would also have the land they wanted, so Africa would have to be given to my people or taken in the name of the Lord, according to my Bible, and if you said no, then you would be anti my religion and God and I would be within my rights to take the land from you. Oh yeah, and you would have to believe that my people r the chosen people of God's and have a special place in the world and you would be kind of inferior but not necessarily. My people would help control others by owning media companies, being disproportionately represented on the Supreme Court and ALWAYS run the Federal Reserve. Oh, and if you didnt believe that one of my people died for your sins, you would go to hell. But we dont have to believe that because we know its not true. He would have been someone who just told us we were full of it. Does that sum it up? Reality is, all religions at the purist levels are awesome and beautiful but because humans beings are idiots, they have become the reason we will all die as the Earth becomes more and more uninhabitable and we fight wars to see which God has the biggest "missle".

    April 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  2. Chanselor Jenkins

    The reality is you are not sacrificing anything. The better you live the better you will feel. That is the message.

    April 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  3. Chanselor Jenkins

    The more you give the more you will recieve. However, faith is difficult. We are imperfect humans. True Christians know we are not perfect.

    April 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  4. Dee Ellahr

    Ok. Cut LeeCMH some slack. Even though I lean toward Christianity, that comment about Jibberish 4-23 was pretty funny. I was raised Christian. However, the examples of hatred, manipulation, and exploitation I have seen from various religions makes me wonder. Yes, I believe there is a God. At the same time, others have the right to believe what they want to believe. I have no right to shove my opinions and beliefs down anyone else's throat.

    April 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  5. AGeek

    The old testament also said slavery was ok, as was multiple wives. So, we're now cherry picking? F–k you.

    April 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • James

      The Christians of the New Testament gave more than a tenth. But that would be too unpopular today so...

      April 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  6. Listen

    you atheist kill me.lol everytime man. why go out your way to read anything church religious related just to bash someone elses belief. are you that depressed with life that you want others to feel like you. Im not saying anyone is right or wrong. because atheist mite be right and we all might just die and cease to exist o rwe beleivers might be right. Then what itll be to late by then. there is no punishment for believing if theres no God. but if there is a God the punishment for non believers will be far worst than anything a human can imagine. People dont believe in god because he wont show himself to them. has doesnt proove his existance. but youll believe a guy who wears a lab coat who says sum mysterious gasses just appeared out of nothingness and created everything we see now. the whole life cycle so perfectlly..yeaaaaa buddy. If your God your understand and logic on things would have to be far greater than everything you created. therefore none of us could understand him or his ways. He wont show he exist right....why does he have to? who are you? why would he have to answer to something he created... just a thought

    April 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Rick

      "if there is a God the punishment for non believers will be far worst than anything a human can imagine. "

      What if there is a vengeful god that is not what you envision? You could be in with the non believers.

      Secondly, would you really want to spend eternity with the being that would punish people for eternity for disbelief? Seems like a sick little punk

      April 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Why CNN

    I don't even know why CNN even bothers to post this stuff. I'm sure an extremely low % of their audience believe in God and it seems CNN just want's to create a one sided comment section.

    Be nice commenters!

    April 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  8. Mike

    I feel sorry for a lot you!!! There will come a day when you won't be able to deny God because you will be standing before Him and it will be too late, I pray for people like you!!

    April 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Rationality of Logic

      Have fun praying to thin air. There is no god.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • ZeroFalls

      The most recent deep space imagery have failed to find a moon or planet or comet or solar system or galaxy or nebula or black hole or anything larger that has a penis. Man created God with a penis.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • ZeroFalls

      One more thing, my grandfather one of the wisest men I ever met once told me, " You pray for rain in one hand and I'll pee in the other and we'll see what hand gets wet first" Prayer=Fail

      April 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • EC

      do you have proof?

      April 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Rick

      Mike: You do realize that it is irrational to try to get people to fear retaliation from a being in which they do not believe, don't you?

      April 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  9. AfterImage

    God wants dollars
    God wants cents
    God wants pounds shillings and pence
    God wants guilders
    God wants kroner
    God wants Swiss francs
    God wants French francs
    Oui il veut des francs francais
    God wants escudos
    God wants pesetas
    Don't send lira
    God don't want small potatoes

    April 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • ZeroFalls

      Because it all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, shilling and pence. What God wants, God gets.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  10. Chanselor Jenkins

    I not talking about these groups who claim to be Christian. I am talking about the teachings in the Bible. Read it for yourself. do not take someone elses word for it.

    April 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  11. STLBroker

    "No one talks as much about God as those that claim not to believe in God."

    Sorry, forgot who this quote was from but it is so very true. Every time there is a religous article non believers come out in droves to let everyone know that they don't believe in God and to mock anyone that does. Interesting.

    April 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  12. Skyy

    Megan,
    Touche and in the latter days,when the government is holding on by a thread(maybe now??)a Mormon will lead(Mitt Romney).

    April 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  13. Carl LaFong

    I prefer to do volunteer work for the needy rather than give money to organized religion. I can see the direct results of my work immediately. I would have much more respect for any religious leader that emphasizes works of charity rather than how much money their flock can pony up.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  14. veraroberts

    People should give if they want. It shouldn't be based on what The Bible or a pastor says. If you want to give to the church, give. If you don't, don't. If people should feel inclined to give to the church, they should also have the right to ask where the money is going and how it's being spent. That should go for all charities as well.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • NicaBoo

      U are a very foolish woman......my heart goes out to anyone that has no belief in the Almighty God & his word (the Bible)

      April 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Estevan

      NicaBoo you are a very foolish person......my heart and mind goes out to anyone that has an unjustified belief in a god & his supposed word as written, edited, and promulgated by men.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  15. keeth in cali

    There are more than just evangelicals in this country.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • SurRy

      Right, but to listen to them tell it the white evangelical christians are the most persecuted folks in the country.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  16. Caliban

    Silly super-being overlords. Not one of the devout can tell me why their god is real but Zeus was not.
    Let me fill you in on the true purpose of all religions, "God wants a Porsche, and he wants me to drive it!" Or depending on your overlord, "God wants me to have ten wives and "anoint" them frequently!"
    Is it any wonder why most top gods are of a male gender in a male dominated world? No surprise to me since many men have been oppressing women forever. And the worst part, most children never have a chance to choose their religion, their parents brainwash them from birth. Some escape, most don't though when their parents are devout fanatics.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • EC

      agree 100%

      April 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Another 100% agreement!

      April 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • BM

      Just two replies @Caliban:
      At least for the Christian religion, God does not want everyone to have a Porche and be rich and flaunt it like the Bible Belt seems to proclaim. In fact, the Bible says life is suffering, and a lot of it. This world is unfair and broken and Christians would be wise to remember that God can work in the brokenness. Now that's taking what I've been told on faith, you're right. It cannot be proven, you're right. But logic is not the be-all and end-all in this world. Love isn't logic and it rules most of the world and all it's decisions.
      Secondly, the God of the Christians and Jews is not male. He is genderless. Christ came down and lived as a man, but that does not make his ultimate gender male. Just a thought.
      Also,

      April 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Sean

      Also an agree 100%

      April 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  17. FatherXmas

    It's pretty sad to see all the hatred not on the part of the people who would rather not believe in this book but from the religious posters here. Go f.... die and up yours, what just because someone doesn't believe what you believe in, telling them to go to a different country ??. It's a shame because this just paints a black mark on decent people who go to church who don't spout such obscenities. Where I came from Church's didn't require you to pay anything and maybe that's the best way instead of having one bazillion churches everywhere which operate like a business. If your a true believer surely you don't always need a church, yes it's nice to go and meet people who have the same beliefs as you but is it required, um no and you shouldn't be made to feel bad because you don't. I wonder if there wasn't money to be reaped in opening a church how many of these preachers would doing it and I'm sure a lot of the older better established places wouldn't have the problems getting people and money in order to stay open. Heck when you see the minister driving around in a brand new Jaguar with gold rings all over his fingers you have to wonder what they're really in it for. As far as people shouting hatred at those that don't believe what you believe or look down upon those who are different please remember back 60 years ago, there used to be a European country just like that and look at what happened there. We ourselves need to learn to love each other no matter who you are and that goes for every single person religious or not. If we are to progress we need to break the chain that binds us and that is hatred toward those that are different.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • christopher

      While I haven't read the posts you referenced yet I see this a lot in comment forums on religious articles. I think christians need to handle the disagreement better but at the same time non-believers seem to always be looking for a fight. They generally throw the first punch in these scenarios. I am a christian and I have no problem defending my faith when people seek to understand my side as well as intelligently explain their side but the sucker punches deserve no respect. The very first comment I read here was this, "OK. I throw money in the air, and what God can grab God can keep." As if to say all who believe are idiots and that we believe in a idea and not a real "God." When you purposefully come here to insult all who believe with an idiotic statement don't get mad when the gloves come off. God called us to be as shrood as snakes in those situations and this whole "you should just turn the other cheek" belief is taken way out of context. You can trample on me all you want and I'll take it but when you attack an entire religion and the God that we serve don't expect christians to be bashful about defending their faith.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  18. LeeCMH

    Two preachers were talking about how they divided their offerings. One preacher said he takes half for himself and half he gives to God. The second preacher said, "I go into a room and throw the money in the air. The lord take his and what falls to the floor is mine.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Impishbrat

      old joke. It's a catholic, a protestant and a Jew. the last part is- the third – a rabbi – throws his in the air and what God wants, he catches.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  19. lena

    "A fool says in his heart 'There is no God'"

    April 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Godless

      Did you ever stop to think that this was a line put in the bible to try to minimize those who do not blindly follow the faith? How convenient that the bible says that those who don't believe in god are fools....

      April 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • ms

      I bet L Ron Hubbard wrote somewhere that only an idiot doesn't believe in Scientology and Lord Xenu.

      The writers of the Bible had a financial interest in saying "doubters are morons don't listen to them".

      April 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Kev

      oh, I could swear i heard a version that said: "A fool says in his heart, "There IS a god!"'

      April 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Normon

      "A fool and his money are soon parted." – unknown

      April 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • DAve

      A wise man says out loud, "There is NO god."

      April 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • NicaBoo

      That's right lena!! ONLY a fool would say in his heart that there is no God!!!

      April 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Somer

      Only a fool says there is no God because how can one say there was no maker of the moon and the sun, the stars, the trees and the ocean.... come on get real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • jonjonjon

      Godless, the Bible also says to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."

      April 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Sean

      @Jonjonjon
      It also talks about ho0w to treat your slaves. How women are property. So on and so forth. But hey picking a choosing what we take from the Bible IS the modern Christian way.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Sean

      how*

      /wants edit option.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Estevan

      Somer said: "Only a fool says there is no God because how can one say there was no maker of the moon and the sun, the stars, the trees and the ocean.... come on get real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

      Hahahahahaha! Worth a good laugh! One can say there is no maker when one starts thinking rationally and looking at the ever expanding body of scientific knowledge which allows us to explain what herders 2000 years ago had no way of understanding.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  20. CrazyPDJ

    OK. I throw money in the air, and what God can grab God can keep.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Tax all churches they have too many revenue streams these days.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • NicaBoo

      Now that's foolish to say.......very foolish

      April 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Sean

      @CrazyPDJ and SurelyUjest

      Agreed

      April 8, 2011 at 12:40 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.