I’ve blogged several times already about the colossal, glitzy, ostentatious edifice known as the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. It was originally built by televangelist Robert H. Schuller to show off how pious — and wealthy — he and his congregation are. Since its official opening in 1980, though, it’s proven itself a massive albatross around the necks of the Schuller family and the Garden Grove Community Church which they govern and which meets inside it. The church had to file for bankruptcy in 2010 and has been unable to meet its financial obligations.

The Orange County Register reports that a prayer campaign to bring in $50 million dollars to pay off the Cathedral’s debts, is falling catastrophically short of its goal (WebCite cached article):

The Schuller family is coming up far short in its attempt to prevent the sale of the Crystal Cathedral.

A month after announcing a “miracle faith” campaign [cached] to raise $50 million by Thanksgiving, the congregation had collected $4,737.

That figure, the total raised as of Aug. 31, was buried in a report filed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana. The cathedral will update the report in two to three weeks, attorney Marc Winthrop said.

The Garden Grove landmark owes $50 million to its creditors, who plan to sell it — with or without the founding Schuller family’s consent — on Oct. 31.

The idea that a church could somehow wrack up $50 million in debts that it cannot settle through bankruptcy is staggering. Churches are spared the financial obligation of having to pay taxes and frequently get products and services donated to them or at a discount because they’re presumed to be “non-profit.” All I can say is that the Schullers’ profligacy must have been truly enormous.

At any rate, this sure puts the lie to the common believers’ assertion that “prayer works.” It clearly is not working for the Crystal Cathedral. About the only good part of this is that there are two entities who’ve expressed an interest in the property, and they will be able to pay the $50 million that’s outstanding. So the C.C.’s creditors should be made whole (or nearly so). What remains to be seen is who or what actually pays that immense tab.

Lastly, I challenge any Christian to explain to me how this colossal, shiny monstrosity has even the slightest thing to do with the teachings of their religion’s founder? He taught humility and poverty, not glamor and ostentatiousness. That’s absurdly obvious to anyone who has actually read the gospels. Sheesh!

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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  • A helluva lot of children could have been clothed, fed, and educated into adulthood with the money wasted by Schuller on that glass menagerie of a church. Shame. Shame on him. Is this how Christians behave? When will people finally wake up to the fact that these megachurches and their flamboyant leaders are fleecing them. Sad. Very sad.

    Praise the Lord and pass the donation plate!

    • Yes, this is precisely how Christians behave. The megapastors float in money because they have a lot of wealthy adherents, and that's because either explicitly espouse, or implicitly support, the "prosperity gospel." This decidely un-Christian philosophy amounts to a rationale for why Christians are allowed, if not obligated, to praise wealth and castigate poverty.

      • Too bad I didn't get into this religion gig when I was younger. It sure seems like a profitable endeavor. Oh, wait… I'd have to be immoral and totally without scruples to succeed at that scam. No can do. Mom and Dad raised me to be a decent human being. Darn. Guess that pretty much rules out stock broker, banker, politician, etc. I'm doomed to work an honest day for an honest buck, I s'pose.