Recently, I was visiting my mother who has cable TV. Since I rarely get to see any shows on cable, I was clicking though the hundreds of channels when I happened upon a Sunday morning televangelist show. What caught my eye (besides his blindingly dyed black hair and beard) was his impassioned plea for the audience to send in $1,000, ASAP. At first I thought I had heard wrong. He couldn't be blatantly, out-right asking people to send in $1,000 checks - could he? He was. What was so amazing/sad was the fact that he gave every impression that if you wanted something good to happen in your life, you would sacrifice and "send in that check!". The camera panned the nodding audience. To my very cynical mind I could not comprehend that people were really believing this. To put icing on the cake, there was an actual disclaimer on the TV screen stating that sending money would not guarantee and miracle occurring. Yet, I have no doubt there were many people out there (in need of real help) writing out a check for $1,000 hoping that the miracle they desperately need will occur. I don't know how that preacher could ethically stand on that stage and make those claims.
It makes me so sad thinking of all those people who feel that random bad luck is their fault. Lost your job due to downsizing? - you were not giving enough! Horrible illness? - you must have let the collection plate pass you too many times! Obviously, this type of quid-pro-quo has been going on for ages. But, where does that leave the people who have given all that they can give and they still are jobless/sick/lonely, etc.? Empty.
One of the things I love about the UU faith is that every one is welcome. While you are encouraged to give to help keep the church going, it is never a requirement. There is never the thought that your good fortunes are directly related to how much you give - or vice/verso. Church is a place to rely on. A place of community that when you need help, it (and all its people) are there for you. I give what I can. I give because I want to help our church continue all its great programming. I and my community benefit from what it has to offer. I don't give because I expect a miracle to happen.