Baton Rouge, LA -- The final results have not been fully tallied, but the latest Christian Contributions Monitor estimates a 14% drop in evangelical tithes and offerings during 2008 from the 2007 period, representing the first drop over 10% since 2002.
TBNN executive producer, Tom Slawson, recently visited the largest MSA in Louisiana (Baton Rouge) in an attempt to discover why offerings in this locality were estimated to have dropped a staggering 47.61% 2007-2008 year to year.
Because the term "evangelical" is a broad term used to describe a wide variety of denominations, Tom determined that it would be better for him to visit business establishments rather than churches. A common theme emerged. Church contributions are down, and this drop in tithes and offerings can be blamed entirely on the state of the US Economy.
Tom's investigation began at Cracker Barrel for a 9 am breakfast on a Friday morning in mid-January. He attended with his wife and two of his siblings and their spouses who decided to take the day off from work. Because no tables were available, requiring the group to wait approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, Tom had opportunity to ask others waiting, "Why do you believe church contributions were down 47.61% in Baton Rouge in 2008"? He approached a young couple in a double rocking chair and asked them the question. They did not hesitate, "It's the economy. Things are bad," said the young lady. Tom informally asked several others the same question and received the same general response, "the US economy."
After the breakfast, Tom's group went to Best Buy to take a look at the latest electronics and gadgets. Tom especially wanted to visit the new Mac section to check out the MacBook Pros. While waiting his turn in line to test the ultimate computer, he found opportunity to continue his investigation. He asked the two gentlemen in front of him, "Why do you believe church contributions were down 47.61% in Baton Rouge in 2008"? The first gentleman explained that he heard recently on CNN that the Bush presidency had caused the recession. He added that he saw the hour long report on his new 52 inch Samsung LCD HDTV with a contrast ratio of 35,000 to 1.
Later, Tom and his group drove over to the Rave Theatre to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. They arrived about 10 minutes early, but with a group of 6, they were unable to sit together. This gave Tom a chance to ask the group of teenagers next to him the question, "Why do you believe church contributions were down 47.61% in Baton Rouge in 2008"? The immediate response from two young ladies was, "church what... contri what"? One of the older boys suggested that Obama would make things better.
After the movie, Tom's group headed toward the Mall of Louisiana, but after 20 unsuccessful minutes of searching for a parking space they decided to return home. Unfortunately, their timing was off because they were caught in the Friday rush hour traffic. When they turned on the local news radio to see if there were any wrecks that could be avoided, the first station had a call-in program where individuals were discussing how bad the economy was. An expert was discussing how the problem was so much more than the US and was a world-wide crisis. One caller suggested that Obama appoint Bill Clinton to the UN. "If we could make Bill president of the world and go to one currency, then things would get better," said the caller.
Tom's complete report will be posted on TBNN later this week. Preliminary results show that of the 47 people Tom interviewed at Cracker Barrel, Best Buy, and the Rave, 100% blamed the US economy.