Members of a church in the UK recently lost their savings after investing in a failed musical production that was supposed to tell the story of Adam and Eve.
Somewhere, a serpent is smiling.
Members of The International Church’s congregation said they were told giving to Heaven on Earth was “giving to God”.
The production, based on the story of Adam and Eve, was weeks from its first performance when it went bust with debts of £2.6m.
One of the directors said they were sorry for everyone who had lost money.
Some of the congregation had reportedly remortgaged homes to help fund it.
It is estimated 30 people in the Nottinghamshire village of Mansfield Woodhouse are owed £500,000 between them.
Of all the ways to help people, these people chose not to invest in providing clean water to poor nations, or distributing supplies after a natural disaster, or purchasing life-saving medical treatment for someone in the church. Instead, they gave money so someone could sing about how it’s not “Adam and Steve.”
The musical kept growing in scale and ended up booked to go on a six-month tour through 2018 at venues across the country, including Wembley Arena and the Motorpoint arenas in Nottingham and Cardiff.
But all the expenditure relied on cash given by the north Nottinghamshire congregation and the independent church’s leadership.
Despite claims God would provide the rest of the huge costs, the show ran out of money in late 2017, just three weeks before curtain call.
Most churches suggest tithing. This one actively pressured members into opening their pocketbooks for they thought could be the next Hamilton. It’s bad enough when someone you know asks to borrow money for an investment; in this case, church leaders used their trust as leverage for a project they had no expertise in.
Paul Fleming, from the actor’s union Equity, said it was unusual for a production to fall apart so suddenly and suggested this indicated a lack of experienced leadership.
“Normally they limp on, normally they have contacts, normally they have a back-up plan,” he said. “And there clearly wasn’t anything here.
“There wasn’t any professional general management behind it as far as we can see or know.”
Not only did the musical not take off, but the church that encouraged the donations has also closed, claiming they never meant to “pressure” anybody.
Because nothing says “no pressure” like “If you don’t do this, you’ll make God angry.”