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"Prosperity Gospel" Under Fire

Sarah's picture

For about 40 years now there's been a wormwood infestation in evangelical churches: if you give enough, God will enrich you, here on earth. Only, unless you're a preacher of this "Prosperity Gospel," um, well ... not so much.
Worse, this "new" religion flew in the face of the justice Christ Himself taught:
One of the teaching's attractions is that it doesn't dwell on traditional Christian themes of heaven and hell but on answering pressing concerns of the here and now, said Brian McLaren, a liberal evangelical author and pastor.

But the prosperity gospel, McLaren said, not only preys on the hope of the vulnerable, it puts too much emphasis on individual success and happiness.

"We've pretty much ignored what the Bible says about systemic injustice," he said.

I'm old enough to remember when Oral Roberts claimed he needed to raise several million dollars in order to stay alive -- and it had nothing to do with Oral Roberts' personal medical bills.
According to the article cited above, the "gospel of wealth" predates Roberts. Yeah, some; Billy Sol Estes is a name from my childhood, and from time immemorial, probably there've been itinerant preachers making their living -- sometimes not a bad living -- off the cough believers' generosity (or should that be gullibility?).

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

a loooong way, if you count every time a xtian movement has come up to justify why wealth is "holy."

pre-paying for your sins, including murder and torture. buying whole continents in exchange for enforcing one creed over another. killing and stealing from the native peoples because that's the "christian example" of hard work. using slaves to make you rich, and living in a feudal fantasy world denying all the heritage of the enlightenment, because of some passage in the old testament that tells you it's ok. etc.

i don't think there's anything new about teaching the ignorant and hopeless to 1) love the rich and 2) associate goodness and wealth and 3) believe that giving to a religious organization will return wealth to the giver.

grandma, a hard headed old goat, eventually gave into that last idea, as she declined in life and was wallowing in loneliness after grandpa died. she sent the teevee preachers 100$/wk for quite a while, until mom caught her and made her stop. grandma claimed the "prayer cloth" they sent her for her monies helped her in some financial transaction (which would've happened sooner or later). i was shocked, honestly- normally grandma was the most hard headed of businesswomen. but watching the preachers all day on teevee seemed to have got to her.

when people have no hope, they turn to the fantastic and to those who croon soft words of love, relief, and succor. there are lots of sick, old, helpless people out there, and the hucksters know that. the not-so-subtle association of wealth and creed has been going on in this country since before it was founded. today's example is just particularly annoying and crass.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

normally grandma was the most hard headed of businesswomen. but watching the preachers all day on teevee seemed to have got to her.

This is how we explain the need for the Fairness Doctrine -- what TV preachers do to one grandmother at a time, the unrelenting drumbeat of the corporatist media does to all viewers, all the time. This is what Reagan understood -- he was a pitchman for 20-Mule-Team Borax, remember?

Advertising works best when it isn't counteracted.
Persuasion is most effective when the audience is isolated from evidence.

This is why the notion of "embedding" journalists is so ...wicked.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0