Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Prosperity Gospel in Economic Gloom

Slate's Faith-Based column discusses the failure of "Name It and Claim It" Prosperity Preachers like T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen to accurately account why, if God wants his followers to prosper, are so many of them not prospering:
Osteen is everywhere these days. You see his coiffed pate smiling on Good Morning America, at the new Yankee Stadium for its first nonbaseball event, on the cover of Texas Monthly's ideas issue—all in one week. Yet he artfully disappears for housing-crisis questions like "Why, if God wants to reward the faithful with material possessions, are so many believers in foreclosure?"

Despite the failed promises of these mega-church salesmen, their message isn't at risk of fading away. When times are hard, people look to leaders who promise better times ahead, even if those very same leaders peddled a message of health and wealth which didn't pan out. What's important is the message, not the results:
But with two centuries of entitlement echoing Prosperity's mantra "What I confess I possess," who can blame people for flocking to Joel Osteen when he reassures them that "God wants to make your life easier"? Recent news that Americans have become less religiously classifiable doesn't mean a wave of Christopher Hitchenses so much as feel-good cafeteria spirituality stripped of tradition and dogma.

Here's another theory why people encouraged by their pastors to take sub-prime loans to buy houses they can't afford are finding themselves in a financial crunch: God does not exist, and those people who speak for him are just saying what you want to hear in order to sell you books and DVDs.

But that's just a theory.


Don in Texas said...

If Joel Osteen's message is a failure as the author claims then his ministry will not last through the economic crisis. We are two years into the economic downturn and Osteen is still drawing capacity crowds throughout the U.S. and Lakewood Church seems as healthy as ever??? If I were a betting man...I'd put my money on Osteen.

IgniteMe said...

Don in Texas = Logic fail

If Osteen makes it through the economic crisis it will be a testament to the stupidity of desperate people - not some supposed truth in his message. That's the very same illogical thinking that spurs these idiots to send him money in the first place!