Dave Ramsey in the Catholic Church?


Hello! I wanted to please ask for some feedback.

We might be implementing Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) at my parish this fall.

Ramsey’s FPU is based on - he says - biblical principles but not 100% certain it agrees with Catholic theology.

In his defense, I have used Ramsey’s Baby Steps to Financial Peace to get out of debt, save, etc.

Is FPU a good program to use at Catholic parishes? Why or why not?


I think so. I like Ramsey a lot (have for years). He’s completely an Evangelical, no doubt about it, and he likely has little sympathy for Catholicism. However, I don’t think his anti-debt stance, his commitment to budgeting and investing have any implications for the Catholic/Evangelical divide.


He’s teaching financial responsibility, not theology. I see no problem. 99 percent of what he says is just plain old common sense.


I read TMM for my library’s summer reading program, where I needed to read a self-help book.

I thought it was interesting how he encourages people to continue tithing-- giving a minimum of 10% of their income, either to church or to a charitable organization if you don’t have a church-- even while scrabbling your way out of debt. His theory is, if you can’t live off of 90% of your income, you probably can’t live off of 100%, either. :stuck_out_tongue:

So things like “financially supporting your parish” or “supporting charitable organizations” isn’t part of Baby Step 7-- “Build Wealth and Give”— but it’s right off the bat, from Day 1. And he makes sure to specify, you don’t replace your donations of treasure by donations of time or talent— you give God his share right off the top, and any contributions of time or talent are extra, but not in lieu of.

If more Catholics gave as much financial support to their parish as, say, Evangelicals do to their chuches-- that would be awesome. I want to say about 80% of financial support at a Catholic parish comes from less than 7% of the parishioners?


It would seem common sense, but most everyone falls short on his principles. He also teaches how to become a millionaire (and incredibly generous along the way), that’s the end goal with his teaching. But if you look at a guy like Blessed Fulton Sheen, I think he said the true measure of charity is not what you have but what you have left. And I read in Sheen’s book he quoted the verse “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24). I’d be willing to bet you won’t hear Ramsey preach that verse too much or at all.


Yes, I have heard at least 80% of support comes from 7% of parishioners. There is also data that shows Catholic are the least generous of the Christian denominations. Why? I think a number of reasons, such as lack of financial intelligence and consumer culture lifestyle.


One of my friends who is an economist and a priest says that Catholics don’t donate a lot because the Catholic Church is the church of the poor.


I think part of it is because we’re part of a bigger church-- you’ve got everything under the umbrella of the diocese, and the diocese has its annual giving programs, where they take donations into a large pool, and then redistribute them to help support the poorer, more rural, non-self-sustaining parishes. Whereas if your First Assembly of God can’t afford to pay the pastor, can’t afford to pay the lights, and can’t afford to pay the organist— well, you don’t have a First Assembly of God anymore.

So, Catholics I know who are involved in music ministry run into this. In Catholic churches, the position is either poorly compensated, or totally not compensated, because they expect volunteers, like a volunteer choir, a volunteer organist, a volunteer music minister, a volunteer choir director. But in Protestant churches, they take more care to pay their musicians (especially their key musicians that require a certain degree of education/training) a living wage.


I applaud you for your concern. I have seen way too many instances of parishes/ catholic schools having protestant speakers come in when they shouldn’t. But with Ramsey, I think you are safe. I believe its a good thing to do at any parish.


I’ve thought FPU twice and have seen the man in person so I though I’d make a few comments. Not everyone is in a position to easily implement his program. He’s a very effective motivational speaker. His beliefs are fairly conservative and I’ve observed them be come more so in the 13 or so years I’ve known about him. I think he gives reasonable advice to callers to his show; though it reminds me of a financial version of Delilah’s radio show. After a while you know what is coming and it is soothingly predictable.


Speaking just for me personally, I give what I consider a reasonable amount, but one reason I do not give more is that unless it’s earmarked specifically for “Building Fund” or “Replace Windows” or “Fr. J’s Mission”, I don’t know where the money is going and I don’t trust that it’s not going to create a job for somebody’s buddy or go into somebody’s pocket. (I have personally read in the news about 3 such cases of clergy or staff stealing out of the church collections at churches I’ve attended that happened during the last 5 years.)

The last time I said that on here I got yelled at by somebody who thought I was slandering hard-working parish staff, but for every hard-working parish staff person out there, there seems to be another staff person getting either quietly let go or not so quietly arrested for having their hand in the till. Even if everybody is honest, I don’t know how much of what I contribute is also going off to some diocese to be put in a pool of funds for heaven knows what. It could be supporting some church over on the other side of town for all I know, while the diocese allows my own church’s buildings to decay and then closes it.

You want me to give more money, then I expect to have more transparency and visibility and say into where it’s going.


I have it in the back of my head that 50% of our usual Sunday collection goes to the Diocese and 50% stays local? But I don’t know how accurate that is. I’d have to ask.

My parish is pretty good about posting a statement of income/expenses by the door.

However, about two years ago, the Diocese shut down all the sub-bank-accounts that different churches handled, and required all funds to be in the “official” Diocesan bank account, because there had been problems with clergy/staff using the sub-bank-accounts as personal piggy banks. So, for example, under the new method, the Altar Society isn’t allowed to have its own bank account anymore— it all got transferred into the Diocesan account, and if we want to make a draw (Easter flowers, Christmas poinsettias, Confirmation gifts, senior scholarships), we have to ask to have our funds released to us, rather than writing our own check from our own account. The Altar Society pretty much had kittens over that— because so many of them had been around for 20, 30 years, and they didn’t like relinquishing that element of control to a faceless entity a hundred miles away. Activity plummeted. I’m still the Treasurer, I suppose, because the papers are still taking up space in my house… but in the last year or two, I’ve never had a statement from the parish office for any expenditures we’ve made in the meantime (flowers! scholarships!) or contributions that have increased the sum (money from the candle box), and the effects of such transactions on “our” funds. They’ve certainly never asked my permission to make a draw, for that matter. :frowning:


I agree I used to listen to his show a good bit. But after a while they all kind of sound the same. I think he means well, very impressed with what he has accomplished, and so glad he is a Christian, although I think sometimes he struggles to play the part on the air with some of the callers (can be a grouch, to say lightly) but he has to deal with a lot both with people and responsibility.


I can’t disagree too much with the first couple baby steps…we even managed to be debt free. Some medical issues and unemployment pushed us back a bit, but we are in much better state and fortunately are in a better place to weather things.


Phil Lenahan (formerly a forum moderator here - not sure he’s still around) used to have the Catholic version of Ramsey’s stuff: “7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free” It has the Catechism references and all to go with it. The book is actually on my desk at this moment… If you can find a copy (I believe Phil’s business is closed), you might try to substitute / supplement with that where you legally can.


Once again: Ramsey is not a theologian. His target audience is people like my in-laws who are concerned about their retirement, and other people who are concerned about paying their bills or digging out of an abyss of debt.

You can teach “how to be a millionaire” till you’re blue in the face and probably 0.01 percent of your audience will actually have a shot at being millionaires, and they likely do not need advice from you to do it.

Ramsey is not Fulton Sheen. Sheen gave wonderful life lessons, but he was not trying to coach people on how to be financially secure. And unless you are planning to live a monk’s existence, financial security is important to people, and with good reason as they often have family members who need food, shelter, health care, etc.


Two parishes with which I am familiar … in two widely separated diocese … have stopped reporting their collections in the bulletins.


I think the Church as a whole has a responsibility to teach and train Catholics what Jesus says about how to handle personal finance. It is a Catechism of its own, how to live a life of stewardship. I think it is something that should be offered and encouraged at the parish level, and not necessarily the responsibility of the priest(s). If the Church is going to implement Dave Ramsey’s FPU (Evangelical) at the parishes in USA then a similar program in complete accord with the Catechism should be offered for Catholics. My take.

Catholics are the least generous of any Christian denomination (1.2%), and marital issues and arguments over personal finance is one of the top three (3) causes of divorces in America. That’s awful.

If we are going to be asked to give generously - and we should - we should also know how to manage or own finances responsibly. Our Church has a responsibility to teach us, and it’s not being done. Thoughts?


The Church cannot be responsible for teaching everybody all the basic life skills they need to know. The Church can certainly offer things like Dave Ramsey courses, or anything similar, as an option, so people who need them and can benefit from them can take them. However, spirituality is the Church’s core competency, and I don’t need them to teach me personal finance any more than I need my investment counselor to teach me about Jesus.

So, if a Church wants to offer this course, or point people towards some private financial counselor who may be Catholic or have a Catholic viewpoint, then fine, great, it’s an option. The Church does not have a duty to teach us this stuff though, and a lot of us learn it just fine from our parents or from reading books and articles on our own, talking to our peers, etc.

I would note that if the Church got into the business of educating people about money and one of the things they stressed was the importance of giving to the Church, that could create a lot of problems for the Church, which is a big target, bigger than the televangelists who have been called into question for encouraging some poor granny in the viewing audience to send in money she can’t afford in order to be a good Christian or good supporter or get credit in heaven, etc.



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