Elío Masferrer, an anthropologist and religious expert in Mexico City explains that in rural villages like Zongozotla evangelicals also appeal on the economic front. “It’s expensive to be Catholic,” said Masferrer, referring to elaborate baptisms and church weddings that can drain a family’s savings.
“You have to understand that converting also makes economic sense,” said Masferrer.
I’'m curious, is this more of a Mexican thing or is it also true in the US as well? How expensive is it to be Catholic?
And beyond that, how much pressure are Catholic’s put under to financially contribute to the church? Do any Catholics tithe? Just curious.
Baptisms and weddings just by themselves cost next to nothing, so I’m supposing it’s a cultural thing.
Not much pressure at all. We’re obligated to contribute to the needs of the Church in some way as far as we’re able, whether it be through monetary support or time/work put in. There’s no specific amount cited though.
It’s more of a culture thing than being Catholic. The Bride and Groom’s desire to have a grand wedding usually dictates the expenses. Here in the Philippines, even Non-Catholics have grand, expensive weddings.
As to tithing: we are not asked to give a specific percentage. We just give freely what we can.
I was told that in Mexico the Church is a state-run operation and government supported, which is why it’s often difficult to get new arrivals to understand the expectation to put something into the basket. Also, I was told there used to be no other religions in Mexico except a native practices, which is why newly arrived immigrants are so easily wooed in the US by Evangelicals, because they think any church is* the* Church.
I do think it’s a culture thing because over here its probably more expensive to be Protestant. I’ve heard from my protestant friends that you hadhad to pay 10% of your salary as tithe. Which was a totally alien concept to me as catholics don’t tithe.
Mexico has strong cultural traditions for large celebrations around the key sacraments. Especially Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and marriage; non-sacrament celebrations involving the church include Quinceañera (which is usually accompanied by a blessing after Mass), and formal engagement blessings.
I’ve heard from Mexican acquaintances that the evangelical movement within Mexico rejects not only those sacraments (except baptism), but also the celebrations that go with them. Do away with the parental obligations to provide those celebrations, and you avoid lots of expense. Also, even if you hold the celebrations, being no longer Catholic, many family members won’t show.
But you also destroy the Mexican culture when you suppress the celebrations.
Agreed with you on that. In my (otherwise quite different) culture, the actual cost of a sacramental wedding or Baptism is minimal. What truly takes up the funds is the peripherals - the festivities, the clothing, the jewelry, and so on.
The Catholic Church in Mexico is not “state-run.” It’s actually the other way around – the current constitution of Mexican government is traditionally anti-Catholic, although that’s softened a lot since the Cristero War times. (Granted, anything short of executing Catholic priests is more friendly to Catholicism than the Mexican government back then.)
The Catholic Church in Mexico has very few rights to do anything in public, for example. My understanding is that saying Mass outside a church is technically illegal, although it’s been permitted at times and in some places.
I don’t know much about how the Mexican government acts with non-Catholic or non-Christian religions; but most tyrannies like to play off small religions against big ones, lest all the religious people unite and threaten their power. Any time a small religion gains ground, they will persecute it or legislate against it, too.
The Mexican government tried to BAN religion, and it is still technically illegal to practice religion outside of a Church building. The government does NOT run any church, and there are many other denominations besides Catholicism. My husband’s very small village is Catholic. There is only one Church in the town. All roads tgat lead into the town have a large cross as you enter into the town’s border to signify it is a Catholic town. There are Protestants that live in the town, but their churches are in other areas. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Evangelical’s and Pentecostals all have churches in one of the neighboring villages, Mormons, Jews, Baptists and Methodists have temples or churches in the larger town about 15 miles away. Several Protestant groups get together in people’s houses in other towns as well.
As for the weddings, baptisms, first communion, quinceañeras, etc. yes it is cultural. Not all families have big parties (my husband’s family is in that group), but most do. Some hold off on sacraments until they can afford the party but his family has never done that. It’s similar to many families here in the US, people spending $5000 on a dress and $60,000 total on the wedding or buying a $300 baptismal gown and having a party/reception to follow. Other couples spend maybe $1000 total for the wedding or parents reusing a family gown for baptisms realizing it is about the sacrament and not about impressing other people with a big day. Nothing wring with a party, but the sacrament is supposed to take precedent over pride. Also, Mexican Catholics are often easily swayed because in many areas there is no real Cathechism classes. No such thing as faith formation. There is no Sunday school. If someone has no idea what they are supposed to believe, it is easy to convince them you know best.
Everyone hears the stories of the Church is only out for money. Blah Blah Blah
My Diocese (Fargo, ND) ask that you give 10%. A Catholic should give 5% to a charity, 4% to the local parish and 1% to the Diocese. I believe that is beyond fair. My wife and I already give to ASPCA, UnitedWay, Make-a-wish…etc. We also perform Time and Talent which allows you to do things around the parish for free. It saved the parish from having to hire someone to do it.
It really just depends on the parish. Some parishes are more vocal about money while others are simply glad to get something.
This is definitely a cultural thing. We have a decent sized Hispanic population in our parish and I was asking one of the men with a teenage daughter what a quinceañera was and what was involved. His response was “it’s a big pain in the a… that cost me a couple grand, but the family expects it.” My thought was “a couple grand for a celebration that’s not even related to a sacrament???” When my kids were baptized we spend maybe $150 - $200 for refreshments for their baptismal parties and I think 10 or 20 bucks for a gift for father. Certainly isn’t expensive in the US.
Almost none in my area. The parish bulletin includes weekly collections compared to what is budgeted. On average collections are only 85 - 95% of what was budgeted, but we rarely hear anything about financial (maybe once a year). We normally have 2200 - 2600 people attend mass each week. Assuming that we average 4 people per family then last week the average family would have put 30 in the plate. It should be noted that this is an upper middle-class parish with mostly working age families. In other words most of the families spend more on Starbucks than their financial contributions to the Church. In the US I think Catholics tithe something like 1.5% - 2% of their income to the Church. I don’t know how that compares to Mexico.
That is obviously a cultural thing. Depends on how one looks at it, it can be unnecessarily draining to the family financial resources and that can be a bad thing. Where culture becomes burden rather than making
life easier, it can bring dissatisfaction to the individuals in the society that are forced to keep up with it. This is where Evangelicals are quite successful in converting societies with burdensome culture with their form of simplified Christianity to make conversion.
Catholicism is in fact simple and much cheaper but may be sometime confused with the cultural baggage.