Most from megachurches see wealth as sign of blessing

Church-going Protestants from megachurches are more likely than those from independent churches to view money or wealth as an indication of God's blessing, a survey has found.

About two in three, or 67 per cent, of respondents from megachurches felt that God will bless them with tangible rewards, such as money and material goods, if they give to their church.

That compares with the next highest result of one in five respondents, or 20 per cent, from independent churches saying the same thing.

The study, entitled Church, Class, Attitudes: A Survey Of Church-going Protestants In Singapore, was conducted by two academics from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. It was presented yester- day at a seminar at the institute's campus in Pasir Panjang.

The survey polled 2,663 churchgoers from December 2009 to January last year. A third of the respondents attend service at megachurches.

The rest belong to independent churches and established denominations, such as Methodist or Anglican.

By definition, mega- churches are Protestant churches that draw a weekly attendance of 2,000 or more. They include churches such as City Harvest and New Creation, and are usually non-denominational.

Independent churches are those that do not follow the organisational structure of a denomination. Respondents answered a 14-page questionnaire that was categorised into sections covering topics such as money and finance, politics, and sex and sexuality.

Data collated from the money-and-finance section showed that 85 per cent of those from megachurches agreed that they will be blessed with prosperity if they are faithful Christians. In addition, 71.7 per cent of the same group felt that the financial growth of the church is a sign of God's blessing.

That compares with next-highest results for both questions, 40.8 per cent and 46.1 per cent respect- ively, both from Anglican respondents.

As many as 77.6 per cent of the respondents from megachurches believe that full-time staff, including pastors, should be paid competitive salaries.

Among other conclusions, the survey also found that Protestants from megachurches tend to separate religious values from public views about politics.

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