Surely it can't be long now before we haul ourselves out of the soup of superstition and start treating churches as businesses, by which I mean that we make them pay tax. Like any other business they would have to pay tax only on profits.
So if they went around doing good and asking nothing for it and trusting that the lord would provide, and if they abided by their own assertions that the poor are blessed and the rich eternally buggered, as, say, the kind hearts of the Sally Army seem to do, then all would be fine. They'd continue to pay no tax.
The sort which would have to pay tax are outfits such as the Christchurch Celebration Centre Church which is in the news for having just received a government subsidy despite the fact it turned over $4 million last year, got a million dollars in tithes from its adherents.
And it is a trade, a trade as ancient as the oldest profession and infinitely more profitable. In essence it's a protection racket. In exchange for faith it offers the overarching supernatural guardianship of grandpop invisible. Only believe and he will look after you, encircle you in his mighty arms and deliver you from evil 'till kingdom come.
Of course the masterstroke is that the kingdom that comes, the kingdom where the righteous are rewarded and the unrighteous smitten, lies just the other side of a wee barrier you can hop over only the once that goes by the name of death. Thus it's a pitch that can never be disproved, the perfect promise that any politician would kill for.
And indeed the trade goes hand in hand with politics. Together the two form the oldest and most profitable combo in the history of the world - chief and witch doctor, king and pope, church and state, this world and the next, keeping the eyes of the mob on the latter while fleecing them rotten in the former.
Look how the grasping evangelicals and born-agains and grinning television Sunday-morning prosperity gospel parasites flock to the unspeakable Trump, literally crowding around him to pray in the oval office, laying hands on him and on each other, a great pulsing heap of self-interest.
For there is the biggest juju in the world, the nexus of political, military and above all financial power and they want a bit of it, they want a slice, utter hypocrites to a man or woman.
They know exactly who and what Trump is because he and they are in the same game - the selling of nothing, nothing at all except ill-founded hope, ill-founded belief. But hope and belief are such fundamental urges that they generate power and money in prodigious quantities.
If you can cope with the hypocrisy a church is the greatest business to be in, the ultimate shell game, the pyramid scheme that never collapses. You have no outgoings, no manufacturing, no warehousing, no transportation. It's pure profit.
Did you rediscover your inner child during lockdown?
You don't even need qualifications. Anyone can create a start-up. Stick a fancy name on the door and away you go.
A good place to start is in a vulnerable suburb, a downhearted or unlucky one, somewhere short on hope, short on someone even pretending to take an interest in it, somewhere full of unfavoured races and the under-educated.
You'll find it already packed with churches, but that's a good sign. Rather than creating a market from scratch, you'll just be competing for market share.
And don't worry about the people not having enough money for you to siphon off. They'll find it. They'll go without to find it. People don't value what they don't pay for, so they'll practically beg you to fleece them in the name of grandpa invisible.
In fact, and this is too delicious for words, you can tax them. You don't call it tax of course. You call it tithing, but it works on exactly the same principle, and it becomes yours, tax-free, to do what you wish with: cars, real estate, finery, whores if you like, and quite a few do.
I don't think we can make it a crime to tell fairy stories - several societies have tried this but they've always substituted new fairy stories of their own - but I do think it's way past time we treated it as a business like any other and we all had a share in the profits.