How you spend your money tells who’s first in your life and whom you really worship. Too often God is nowhere to be found. I get asked why God doesn’t answer prayer. Know this. He answers those that are faithful and give to his church. – Pastor Dugar, Summit Church, Phoenix, AZ The Tithe.
As Matt Hawkins writes in the Sunday School section that concludes this first volume collecting issues #1-4 of Image Comics’ The Tithe, the story focuses on bad people preying on well-intentioned Christians. Yes, Hawkins is an atheist, briefly covering his personal history of having grown up a Southern Baptist. But the comic is not an attack on religion insomuch as it is exposing that not all churches, particularly the mega-churches, have your best interests at heart.
Reminds me a little of Ray Stevens’ Would Jesus Wear a Rolex on His Television Show?
The story opens with three people carrying guns and wearing Jesus masks as they break into and rob the Crossroads Church in Irvine, California. Claiming responsibility is Samaritan, a hacker-group that has hit seven churches on a list of ten being investigated for fraud by FBI Agent Jimmy Miller, this being the eighth. They obtain a couple million dollars after the Sunday collection plates have been passed, and expose Pastor Tibbett’s use of their donations for drugs, women, a private jet, and mansion by hacking into the church’s large screen monitor during the service. Miller, an atheist and computer hacker himself, is both frustrated at Samaritan for the way they stay one-step ahead of him in the digital world, and impressed with the evidence Samaritan sends him, helping him bring charges against the mega-churches. To provide further contrast, Miller is partnered with senior agent Dwayne Campbell, a married man with four daughters who, unlike Miller, is a Christian.
Samaritan, as it turns out, is Samantha Copeland, a twenty-something computer genius. It’s unclear as to Samantha’s motivation, other than to make a difference in the world before living a mundane life. Why does she chose to expose churches engaging in fraud as her personal mission? Perhaps that will develop as the series continues. Kyle Araman, Samantha’s long-time friend, his brother Mike, and Mike’s girlfriend, Rachel Marvin, are the foot soldiers in Samantha’s quest.
The four issues collected in this volume complete the first story arc in Samantha’s adventure. Rahsan Ekedal’s artwork is clean and crisp. I look forward to seeing where Hawkins and Ekedal takes Samantha and Jimmy as their lives change at the conclusion of this volume.