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September 19, 2021

Do you tithe a portion of your income to a place of worship?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ties to the Mormon Church have once again focussed attention on the issue of tithing. 

ChurchAs a Mormon, Romney says he abides by the practice of giving 10% of his income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And he can certainly afford it.

Only a small minority of Christians tithe that full 10% it seems. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, most Christians give an average of only 2.4% of their income.

It's not clear just where those numbers come from, however. Nor does it say anything about non-Christians and their donating habits.

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Whatever you may feel about the relative merits of of tithing, it’s certainly clear that most religious institutions are getting better at collecting money than they used to be.

Today, it's all about dealing direct. One big player is a service called ParishPay, which works with churches and synagogues to help sign up worshipers to pay via credit or debit card or automatic payment from their bank accounts, the New York Times reports.

But that's simply too much, argues one critic.

"Tithing is a really bad thing to do if you want to get ahead financially," says Nelson Smith, who blogs at Financial Uproar. "Giving away 10% of your income is a pretty poor way to get rich."

"It doesn’t matter who you give it to, it’s gone. It can’t be invested for long term growth, or used to pay down debt, or even used to buy food. Getting ahead on 100% of your income is hard enough, cutting it down to 90% is just placing an unnecessary weight upon yourself," he maintains.

Since somebody has to pay the rent, how much should churchgoers tithe?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...