Friday, August 17, 2007

Render Unto Caesar, Render Unto God

Borrowing on your credit card is like having free money, provided that you pay your balance in full and never incur credit charges. For the banks that loan the money that covers your purchases, they would prefer that you not pay so promptly because they make money off of your interest payments.

But it's not all such a free ride. Those who accept your credit card in lieu of cash must fork over a percentage of the take to the issuer of said credit card, and in the end, you're paying for the privilege of credit. Buy a two hundred dollar pair of shoes and the vendor sends two dollars to Visa or MasterCard. Or the Vatican.

The time is now, all you good and loyal Catholics. Forget the Gold Card and the American Express Platinum because you can flash some holy plastic. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, that august group that holds out its empty palm once a year from pulpits world-wide, is issuing credit cards. After all these years, the Vatican has figured out another way to make money and you have to wonder what took so long.

The Society's crucifix logo will be emblazoned on the top of the card, along with the impressive "World Missions" in large letters across the top. Make your purchases as you always have, and 1% of the price will help spread the good news of Jesus Christ around the world. You're a good Catholic, aren't you? You're a consumer, aren't you? Here you go, then, combine the two and feel so much better about picking up that glittering jewel that you don't need at all but it's lovely and it matches the shoes ah sure it's brilliant.

Charge your groceries and you'll send a few dollars to the orphans in Kenya and the AIDS patients in Africa. Buy a few new books and Catholic children in Sudan will get some new clothes. Entertain a business client, whip out your World Missions Visa and explain the deal to them, and you'd make the sale right then and there.

No annual fee, a variable rate of 31.99% with a 25 day grace period if you're paid in full every month, and that's in line with all the other non-Catholic credit cards. Washington Mutual will run the program, which requires the card holder to keep current for six months or your accumulated donation won't be submitted. And if things don't work out for them, they'll cancel the program and your pastor will have to pound on the pulpit again to wring blood out of his flock of turnips.

You can selfishly accumulate airline miles and cash rewards, or you can let the Society for the Propagation of the Faith have the bonus. But can you write it off as a charitable donation on your income tax? Caesar's fond of being rendered to, even if you're trying to render unto God.

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