IBM Buys Protestant Episcopal Church
The Chairman of IBM announced today
that, in response to Microsoft Corp.'s acquisition
of the Roman Catholic Church, IBM has bid for and
acquired the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United
States of America for $1 billion.
"We are the oldest and most prestigious
computer company in the world," he said, "and we cannot
be seen to be lagging behind in the race for preeminence
in the religious software and hardware markets. We
have tendered an offer to the Most. Rev. Edmund Browning,
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and Pamela
Chinnis, President of the House of Deputies of General
Convention, and they have recommended acceptance to
the shareholders / communicants."
The Episcopal Church is one of the
oldest and most respected denominations in the United
States. Many current and former officeholders, including
many Presidents, have been communicants. Although
its membership was declining in recent years, the
latest figures show a slight increase in membership.
A combination with IBM will probably be beneficial
in terms of putting "fannies in the seats" in Episcopal
Churches across the United States.
There will also be great benefits to
IBM in terms of international connections through
the Episcopal Church. The Church is one of the most
senior members of the international Anglican communion
by way of its separation from the Church of England
after the Revolutionary War and the consecration in
1784 of its first Bishop, Samuel Seabury. IBM hopes
to gain a foothold in the international religious
business through these connections, and perhaps tender
a bid for the entire Anglican Communion by the time
of the next meeting of the world Anglican bishops
in London in 1998 (Lambeth Conference). The Archbishop
of Canterbury, The Most Reverend George Carey, could
not be reached for comment.
IBM and Episcopal Church are "good
IBM has had the distinction of being
the first and, up until several years ago, the most
successful computer company in the world. It was founded
by Herman Hollerith, the inventor of the computer
card, in the late 1800s, and concentrated on business
machines such as adding machines and typewriters until
the invention of the computer in the 1940. They invested
heavily in this new technology, and became rich from
selling and maintaining them in the 1950's through
However, IBM's stodgy corporate culture
prevented it from taking advantage of newer technology.
It almost entirely missed the value of personal computer
technology in the late 1970's, allowing other companies
to use processes it developed to make so-called "clone"
personal computers. It therefore lost out on the billions
of dollars spent on this technology over the past
IBM has recently spun off its typewriter
and printer businesses and concentrated on PC building
and software, and has even resorted to layoffs for
the first time in its history. The slogan, "No one
was ever fired for buying IBM" has become a bitter
joke in the business world.
The Episcopal Church was, for a long
time, considered the most successful of the Protestant
Churches in terms of wealth and power. Many of the
rich and famous swelled its numbers, and its liturgy
was noted for its archaic beauty as much as its treasury
was noted for its gilt-edged bonds.
However, in recent years, with the
dying-off of the elderly rich and the fall in the
birth rate among the bluebloods who remained, the
Episcopal Church has suffered both a decline in numbers
and in influence and wealth. Notwithstanding the slogan,
"The Episcopal Church Welcomes You," numbers have
only recently begun to increase again as the Church
begins to be seen as a place where outcasts can take
part in its life.
Along with IBM, the Episcopal Church
has had to resort to layoffs to balance its budget,
and the merger will allow both organizations to trim
even further their personnel costs. IBM's chairman
said today, "We have been known as the place where
the white-coated mystics take charge of computers
in sealed rooms. As a direct result of this merger,
our white-coated mystic roster will be cut by half
and merged with the ordained ministry of the Episcopal
Church. After all, they also wear white garments when
celebrating their mysteries. The similarities outweigh
the differences, and we think that we can bring their
white-suited mystics up to speed in JCL and C++ within
a few months."
The Presiding Bishop and Ms. Chinnis
issued a joint statement saying: "We welcome this
merger as a meshing of two great but sometimes old-fashioned
institutions. The merger will allow us to cut our
technical staff by half again, and concentrate our
resources on becoming the largest and most successful
Protestant Church in the United States. Our first
IBM mainframe is already being installed in the basement
of 815 Second Avenue, the Episcopal Church Center
in New York."
They continued: "So that we can assure
ourselves that the Apostolic Succession will be continued,
the Bishops of the Episcopal Church will lay hands
on the Board of IBM in a ceremony at the Cathedral
of St. John the Divine in New York City. Then, the
entire House of Bishops will travel up to Armonk,
where they will be instructed in the use of the personal
computer." The business writers of most US newspapers
will join the religion correspondents in recording
this momentous occasion. Both the business and the
religious communities are awaiting the new developments
that this historic merger will make possible.
His Eminence Bill Gates, had no comment.