Korean Bank Introduces 'I am a Pastor' Credit Card

One of South Korea's top banks has unveiled a new "I am a Pastor" credit card aimed at giving religious leaders a break.

Distributed by the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea, the card offers Protestant ministers deals on religious purchases such as Bibles and provides a bonus point system that can turn into donations for their churches.

Bank officials are creating the card as almost a gift to clergy, not expecting it to bring in much cash flow to the company.

"Pastors are usually not issued credit cards, because they do not meet credit requirements," explained bank official Kwon Han-sup to Reuters. "We do not expect to make much of a profit out of this."

At certain authorized websites, pastors and other religious leaders can make purchases for religious books and other texts from which the bank will then take off an equivalent amount of money. The card will also offer discounts for clergy on non-religious materials such as gasoline and movie tickets.

Bank officials realized the financial difficulties that ministry personnel go through and wanted to create an aid to help them.

Points that they collect through all of their purchases can also later be turned into donations that they can use for charity.

The bank only offers the "I Am Pastor" card for Protestant preachers, however. They understand that each religion has its own needs, so it was not possible to make a card to cover every circumstance.

Currently, they are creating specific cards to tailor to the needs of Buddhist and Catholic leaders. No date is assigned for their releases.

"We wanted to make one type of card for all of them," added Kwon, "but realized the clergy of these different religions have different needs."

Christianity has grown quickly in South Korea over the past few decades.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, 26.3 percent of South Korea is Christian (19.7 percent Protestant, 6.6 percent Roman Catholic), and the country is ranked second in number of missionaries sent overseas behind the United States.