Remember when church elders said tithing wasn't mandatory; and to just give whatever you can? Well, those days are long gone.
As more and more churches face budget cuts and rising gas prices making it more costly for pastors to drive Cadillacs, church leaders are looking to their flock to foot the bills.
One Florida church demanded a female member pay $1,000 in delinquent tithes or be removed from the church's roll.
Candace Patterson received the letter from Tampa's Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church. The letter reminded the single mom of the church's mandatory "contribution" of $50 a month plus two special assessments.
The letter also demanded children pay $5 a month plus two special assessments.
It isn't unusual for church's to shame members into paying tithes, but some say Patterson's church took it a step too far.
Patterson posted the letter on her Facebook page, where it sparked fiery debates on mandatory tithing and religious extortion.
Patterson wrote: “if I knew a church charged 50.00 a month I would have never joined…especially if I’m a single parent trying to make ends meet…”
But many of her followers saw no problem with a church forcing its members to pay what amounts to private club dues every month.
Others criticized the church for hiding behind its tax exempt status while fleecing its congregation.
Churches used to be sanctuaries where parishioners could go for spiritual guidance and a sense of belonging. But churches have become a business, and churches profit from tithing.
Patterson told ABC News, “It’s like you say to me, if you want to be a member of this church, you need to pay this. If you want to find God, it don’t say anything like that in the Bible.”