Extortion in the Church
by Ronald W Robey

Extortion: The obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

Spanning from 1959 to 1963, Robert Stack starred as Federal Agent Eliot Ness in the TV series “The Untouchables”.

Eliot Ness worked hard at cleaning up the streets of Chicago, Illinois after the city was infiltrated by many crime bosses who would extort money from store owners using strongarm tactics, threats, and often gunplay and murder.

Extortion was a serious offense and carried a stiff sentence in the Federal Penitentiary if one was convicted of it. Eliot Ness did not go easy on those who tried to extort money from the citizens of Chicago using scare tactics.

Today, we can glean from the many episodes of “The Untouchables” an important spiritual truth. That truth is, just as crime bosses answered to Eliot Ness for their misdeeds, those who offend God’s children will also one day answer to God.

Many a pastor today stands behind a pulpit and preaches a message that is meant to extort money from their congregation through a sermon that is “under color of official right”

That message is taken from Malachi 3:8-10…. “Will A Man Rob God?”

Many a pastor has his congregation open their Bibles to Malachi 3:8-10 and read the passage that chapter 2 reveals was to the Priest’s of Israel. They then try to bring the letter to Israel out of Israel and into their city or town in their own country.

They preach to their congregation that they are “robbing God” because they are not bringing the tithe of their income to the house of God.

The pastor continues to inform his congregation that if they do not begin to tithe their money, God will attack their finances, their home, their families, their health, their jobs, their vehicles; the list goes on and on.

Friends, that message they are presenting fits the legal system’s definition of extortion. They are trying to instill fear into your mind, fear of disaster, if you don’t get protection.

They then tell you how to get protection… pay 10% of your income to God! Friends, that is extortion through and through. God is portrayed as the crime Boss, and the pastors are acting as His duly elected henchmen.

They preach the message of a 10% tithe “under color of official right,” but if one studies out the specifics of God’s Holy tithe, one will discover that they have no “official right” to collect a monetary tithe from their congregation.

God’s holy tithe was limited to within the boundaries of national Israel and was to be given to the Levites who were living in 48 cities scattered throughout Israel. It was never authorized for the New Testament Church.

God’s tithe was also never money according to Leviticus 27:30-33 and other Biblical passages,… it was agricultural.

Shame on those pastors who are guilty of extorting money from their flocks! They one day will answer to God for handling His Word deceitfully and oppressing His people with fear tactics under the guise of “official right.”

Matthew 7:15 (KJV) 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

The word “ravening” in the above verse is translated from the Greek word “harpax.” It is translated, “1. rapacious, ravenous 2. a extortioner, a robber

A “rapacious” person is one who is always wanting more money, possessions, etc. : wanting more than is needed or deserved.

Again, extortion is “the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.”

Friends, God’s Holy Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that we are to give as we purpose in our own hearts to give. A tithe does not allow one to purpose what they will give. A tithe is a set amount…10%,… Predetermined by a second party. How is one purposing in one’s own heart what to give if he is giving 10% because his pastor tells him that is what he is required to give? The fact is, giving what your pastor determines is nothing more than giving of compulsion… giving because you have to.

Notice 2 Corinthians 9:7…

2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV) Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

The word “purposeth” is translated from the Greek word “proaireomai”, and it means “to choose for oneself”. A pastor has no “official right” to tell his congregation to give 10% of their money to his organization. God’s Word tells the congregation to “choose for oneself” what one wants to give. God did not tell that pastor to preach to his congregation that they must tithe their money. Nor did he tell that pastor that the congregation would be cursed if they didn’t tithe their money. God is not the crime Boss that the deceitful pastor is making Him out to be.

Friends, if it is your desire to give at your place of meeting, then give. They do need money to pay for electricity, sanitation, etc.. If you want the comfort of lights, sanitation, etc., then you should be willing to help meet the needs to acquire that comfort. But give what you choose for yourself to give, not what someone else dictates that you must give. If you are giving a set amount because you have been told by your pastor that God requires you to give that amount or ill-will will befall you, then you are not giving according to God’s will concerning your giving. You are instead giving according to the will of a ravening wolf,… a man who is always wanting more, never being satisfied… an extortioner.