The Ponzi Prosperity Gospel [Excerpts]
Today we shriek as we hear of financial scams, corporate greed, and virtually anything money-related that isn’t entirely on the up-and-up. While religion has generally been a help in these economically difficult times, there is one segment of Christianity that is scamming as many as they can. Those who have ears (and debt) let them hear.
The Prosperity Gospel, also known as a facet of the Word of Faith movement (a louder voice in Pentecostalism), has been writing checks with its lips that its theology can’t cash. Last year’s Pew Foundation mega-poll, which surveyed nearly 35,000 people (one of the largest religion polls ever accomplished), revealed a few interesting facts about Christians in the Pentecostal tradition….But the most interesting thing is that they earn the least annual income of any other Christian tradition polled. This is shocking, considering that a main feature in popular Pentecostalism is the Prosperity Gospel, where church members are promised that God will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams if they tithe generously and believe that they will receive the money.
Not only do Pentecostals fail to out-earn the regular “non-spirit filled” Christian, they make less. For me, to read such information is heartbreaking, as I am a teacher in a private school that’s part of a Word of Faith church. The church is doing very well for itself, as most Pentecostal churches are, but the people are suffering.
Say what you want about the corruption of the pulpit, or the decadence of the minister—that’s not my issue. My point is that while the world howls at the scam artists who fail to deliver on big promises, Christianity has its very own Ponzi scheme that’s alive and well. At least when Bernie Madoff promised big returns he actually delivered (if only for a moment); the prosperity gospel doesn’t even do that much. When Joel Osteen, Ken Copeland, Paula White, or Benny Hinn take your money, you’ll never see it again (unless you happen to glimpse one of their private jets leaving a runway for Bermuda).