When I was a kid there used to be a cute saying: Jesus Saves, Moses Earns.
Well, perhaps it is true because Paul Krugman reports in his New York Times column today that a Christian bank, “Praying for Profits” has gone belly-up. The “Bank of Jesus” was even featured once in Time Magazine:
A 1991 Promise Keepers stadium revival inspired him to begin Bible-study groups at the bank he ran in Minnesota. When the bank was sold in 1998, Skow decided to open a Christian bank. He and his wife researched 122 high-growth markets and came down to Las Vegas and Alpharetta, Ga. They chose Georgia. “I didn’t want to go to Sin City, but it’s too bad now when I think of it,” says Skow. “It probably would have been a good choice to convert a lot of people.” He raised $10 million in capital and opened in November 2000.
Skow begins every business day praying with the top officers at his Integrity Bank. At the main branch in Alpharetta, a wood carving of the Prayer of Jabez hangs over the entryway, and Bibles are stacked up in the boardroom. But to attract customers, Integrity doesn’t rely on prayer alone; it offers higher-than-average interest rates on CDs and checking accounts and reimburses atm fees charged by other banks. Some 10% of the bank’s real estate loans are to churches–which don’t get a special deal. Integrity, with $590 million in assets under management, went public in August 2004, its stock shooting up 108% to $24 in late July. “We’ve been blessed with fast growth and profitability,” says Skow, who earned $215,000 last year. “It’s not me–it’s the people and God’s will that have made this thing successful.”
It seems that home loans – not homosexuals – may be responsible for the bank’s demise. But, if it is any comfort, the bank’s downfall must have been God’s will. (Maybe He was mad because He got a bad sub prime mortgage?)