HEAVEN — In the first ever move of its kind and the most frightening sign of the struggling economy to date, Heaven announced today that it is raising the recommended weekly tithe from 10 percent to 12.75 percent.

Chief Financial Angel (CFA) Benjamin of Bernankus attributed the tithe increase to the ever-rising costs of ethereal commodities.

“Salvation’s still free. Always has; always will be,” he said. “But the other stuff? Expensive. Crude forgiveness prices just won’t stop rising. And grace futures? Don’t even get me started on those. If my heavenly mansion was carpeted in grace, I wouldn’t be working this job. …I don’t really mean that.”

The choice to raise rates was not hastily made, Benjamin said, and follows a number of accommodations made with the earthbound in mind.

“This was really one of our last resorts,” he said. “We stripped out and sold the golden streets a long time ago; replaced them with asphalt and no one’s really complained. We can’t touch the pearly gates, though. Those are protected historical landmarks. Like, eternal.”

If the tithe increases do not compensate for Heaven’s financial losses, only a few more options remain. Some Bible verses may be changed; a move which has been frowned upon by nearly all of Heaven’s populace.

Under initial plans, Matthew 18:20 would be changed to “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, a gratuity charge will be automatically applied.” and 1 Timothy 6:10 would be changed to read “For the love of money is the root of all evil, but hating it doesn’t necessarily pay the bills, either.”

And if those measures don’t significantly affect Heaven’s income, Benjamin said one action remains.

“We’ll have to audit the tithes,” he said. “And we really don’t want to do that. All the auditors are in That Other Place.”

[Note: Aren’t you glad some things aren’t affected by the economy? Mark 12:41-44]