Bil Browning

WWJB: Where Would Jesus Bank? -or- Jesus Doesn't Bank Here Any More

Filed By Bil Browning | October 28, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: bank of Jesus, Businessman Jesus, Minnesota, Riverview Community Bank

While Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple, a Minnesota bank brought the good Lord to commerce. Federal regulators, however, have closed "God's favored financial institution."

jesusclosesdead-thumb-500x387-thumb-350x270.jpgIt attracted national attention for advocating prayer in the workplace. Among the decorations in its Otsego headquarters was this picture of Jesus closing a business deal. You can trust Jesus with your money, right?

One of the bank's founders, Chuck Ripka, once boasted to the Star Tribune that God had actually guaranteed success for investors. "Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I'll take care of the bottom line," he claimed God said.
The moral of the story: You can't trust Jesus after all.

Go ahead and click that picture to embiggen; you know you want to. Back? Okay, because you'll never believe the backstory on this bank and it's after the jump.

The New York Times Magazine did a story about the church bank recently that's a must-read.

The bank opened 18 months ago as a ''Christian financial institution,'' with a Bible buried in the foundation and the words ''In God We Trust'' engraved in the cornerstone. In that time, deposits have jumped from $5 million to more than $75 million. The phone rings; it's a woman from Minneapolis who has $1.5 million in savings and wants to transfer it here. ''I heard about the Christian bank,'' she tells Ripka, ''and I said, 'That's where I want my money.''' Because of people like her, Riverview is one of the fastest growing start-up banks in the state, and if you ask Ripka, who is a vice president, or his boss, the bank president, Duane Kropuenske, whose office wall features a large color print of two businessmen with Christ, or Gloria Oshima, a teller who prays with customers at the drive-up window, all will explain the bank's success in the same way. Jesus Christ has blessed them because they are obedient to his will. Jesus told them to take his word out of the church and bring it to where people interact: the marketplace.

Chuck Ripka says he sometimes slips and says to people, ''Come on over to the church -- I mean the bank.''

I wonder how that Minneapolis woman that transferred $1.5 million is feeling right about now. I'm guessing she's thinking about Judas' 30 pieces of silver since the FDIC only insures up to $250,000.

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This goes against everything I was ever taught in Sunday school and church! It goes against the very teachings of Jesus Christ himself.

....I wouldn't stand too close to that 'bank'. Cause once Jesus hears about this I got a feeling it'll be smitting time.

"Old Testament" style!

The religious kitsch of Middle America at its best.

Though I left religion long ago, I sometimes feel fortunate to have grown up Catholic for no other reason than evangelical Christianity being so utterly devoid of taste. I hate to insult people's faith (no I don't), but American evangelicals have turned tackiness into a fine art. I mean, churches full of people speaking in tongues in storefronts and former gas stations? Enough said.

Yes, Alaric, you labeled it perfectly: kitsch, the highly developed talent of being able to push tackiness to its ultimate extreme.

I looked for -- but couldn't find -- any references to non-Christian customers for this bank.

Or even, Christian customers who wanted to opt out of praying en masse with their bankers.

The whole mess strikes me as bizarre.

Wow. Just wow.

That mural is spectacular in its insanity. You'd think Jesus would at least wear a tie to close that deal...

I don't know about that, Alaric. I remember the first church I went into in France, and they had one of those "smash your penny into a souvenir" machines next to the door, on the inside. Only 2 euro.

I'll give you that, Alex. Though at the same time, a lot of the cathedrals in France are museums now because hardly anyone attends them, right? I'm not against things like that used as fundraisers -- Buddhist temples in China even run gift shops sometimes. I'm talking more about the general tackiness of American evangelicalism -- churches in gas stations, preachers with pompadours and suits that look like camouflage for a swimming pool, a painting of Jesus closing a deal ... There's just something so Route 66 about it all.

That Jesus! What a prankster!
The Sav(ings Bank) of Mankind!
Pure genius.

There's an old saying about this: Jesus saves, Moses invests.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 29, 2009 6:31 AM

This is funny and tragic! What would be funnier is when the bank regulators come in to this...spectacle. This bank is among 100, and counting, banks to close this year.

Assuming they met the appropriate financial scrutiny I would not care if banks had either a "Micky Mouse" or "Pirates" theme. I do not care if they wrap themselves in the flag or serve "moms" home made pies as a symbol of their "goodness." What I cannot abide is that our federal regulators are so far asleep at the switch.

As to the fools that would choose to invest money in a bank with any of the above themes, well, economics 101 would tell you to have accounts in multiple banks up to the federal guarantee amount.

I'm sorry, Robert and all, but I disagree that "our federal regulators are asleep at the switch" --- it is worse than that, they are on the take along with Wall Street and the banks themselves. The reason no one under the Bush administration was willing to clamp down on the orgy of risky lending was not because they didn't know about it, it was because (1) the banks were filling their campaign coffers with money skimmed off the ill-gotten largess, and (2) they are politicians in power, and politicians in power need a "robust" economy --- or an economy that everyone thinks is robust. OTOH, the guy who shuts the party down is always the most hated guy in the room. Dubya was thinking, "Maybe I'll be out of office by the time this pinata dumps its candy" ... but wrong again, Dubya!

And now Obama has exactly the same problem: He can't reel in the banks with new, sorely needed regulations because (a) he needs their support politically and financially, and (b) if he slows them down with regulation, he will also slow down his own economic "recovery" and without economic recovery, there will be no second term for BHO.

In a word: as little common folks, we're screwed. Our economy doesn't work for us any more, and our government doesn't either.

But we need to fix this, and quick, or the decades of America as a world power will come to a close. As soon as China et al decides it's too risky to loan us any more money, the party will really be over.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 31, 2009 11:01 AM

"Boo!" and happy Halloween.

Firstly I am the last person to defend bank and securities regulators. They must now be regulated because there is no longer a choice. Kind of like what I have suggested will need to occur before we obtain our deserved civil rights.

"They were mesmerized by Bernie Madoff" reads an present article in Huffington Post. Evidently five different investigations of Madoff were short circuited. I do not think that *this* bank impressed any bank regulator though. A bank is regulated both by it's state and by the federal government.

To suggest that all is hopeless in regulation because Obama now owes the bankers something overlooks that these same bankers did not support his election. Unless I missed something I don't know of any bank or Wall Street type who is thrilled with the idea of Obama. They are in no position to do anything but cooperate with the federal government at this time.

Regarding the "Asian contagion" I would agree that it is absolute manifest destiny that Asia, led by China, will be the economic powerhouse of the future. Just concluded in Thailand, the Asean summit meeting, where Asian countries are concluding greater cooperation, tourism and exchange of consumer goods between---just them. The less they need the United States as an export market the more we have to worry about.

But then again, if we were no longer a world power the blame for all the world's problems would no longer be ours either. ;) Maybe I shall live to see the pullout of American forces in Japan, Korea etc. Perhaps we will cease to place the cost of defending other countries on the backs of Americans in exchange for oil among other things.

I thought Jesus only banked at "The Bank Of Jesus".