Wow, and I thought my hometown was bad. Evergreen Park was nicknamed "The City of Churces", or at least that's what my mom told me. I mean, my even my elementary school was in between Mother McAuley and Saint Xavier University (plus at least 3 more religion-based schools within half a mile). In my little quadrant (Evergreen Park is ofter considered to be broken into 4 parts based on the grade schools) there were at least six churches. Although it may be that most of the churches were in my area as I never really paid attention to what was around me outside of my littler corner and what I passed on the way to school.
Not many, but the one I can think of is awesome. The building that use to house the divinity school at the University of Chicago now serves as home for the Economics department. It has to be somebody's idea of a sick joke - takes the phrase "faith-based economics" to a whole new level.
Let's not forget about the quality of churches as well. I remember when churches were just small, old, and outdated and everyone was just fine with that. Now we have these mega churches with tons of wasted space, extra fancy decor and (I'm seeing a lot of this) tall towers with crosses on then either attached or separate. Is that really necessary? These towers costs thousands of dollars they could be giving away to charities. Well, I guess since they are tax exempt it doesn't really matter right?
They built a mega church not far from my parents house a few years back, it fits 5,000 people for their services... It looks like a mall. I went inside one day to look at it... and it was pretty ridicules. The cost of their palm trees in the parking lot and driveway alone had to break $250k.
We have 18 within a 30 minute walk from our home; there may be some that I may have missed. This includes those store front types all the way to mega churches. A few here have indoor swimming pools, restaurants, gyms, game rooms, and at least one has a salon. Supposedly a couple also gives away weddings with all the trimmings. I work from home so cannot give the amount on the way to work.
See a church.
Think of how much it cost to build it.
How many people would that money feed for how long?
See a mega-church.
Think of how much it costs to run the organization.
How much would those proceeds help in the banishment of one disease?
Identify a religion.
Think of how many people actively contribute time and effort to its causes.
Ask yourself how those efforts might directly contribute to the elimination of suffering in the world.