Praise the Lord (As Long As He’s Paying)
Several high profile advocates of the ‘Prosperity Gospel‘, a largely Pentecostal sect which believes that tithing and other works for God will make you economically
prosperous, have come under investigation by the U.S. Government – most noteably Chuck Grassley, a Senator from Iowa, who opened a probe in order to make sure that these ministries complied with non-profit laws. Of course, Grassley doesn’t give a shit about the financial ethics or legal soundness of these ministries, what he is after is political capital. Political capital with the Democrat-Progressives for busting these crazy televangelists, political capital with the Republican-Progressives for going after ‘exploitive’ pseudo-Fundamentalist sects and with the bureaucracy of the Federal Government for finding a way to nail these people for millions on tax evasion.
Outside of their legal difficulties, advocates of the Prosperity Gospel face criticism from other Christian sects who feel that these televangelist and megachurch millionaires are exploiting their flock in order to get rich by offering a garbled, nonsensical pseudo-Christianity and outrageous un-Biblical promises. Of course given that the Bible is self-contradictory and Christianity is garbled mystical nonsense, I hardly see any barb to their accusations. These televangelists are giving people what they want, and the dying breed of more classical Christianity is just complaining because it can’t compete. The Prosperity Gospel, whether or not it has any basis in Biblical texts, is probably the sanest and most productive Christian ministry I’ve ever seen. Various Christian websites and ministers sling stones at folks like Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch for their obviously incredible wealth, palatial mansions and jet-setting lifestyle. Reports of minor infidelities or marriage troubles are blown up to be massive issues; even though these folks have usually managed to remain married longer than the majority of their flock ever have – probably partly due to the vast amount of money at their disposal; making it possible for Daddy to work in Bermuda and Mommy to vacation in San Diego when things get rocky.
The anti-capitalists at the gates will have none of this, however, wealth to them is an offense in and of itself (unless it is possessed by a non-Christian entertainer without half the business sense of Joel Osteen). The Progressives target the Christian Capitalists more so because they are capitalist, and the fact that they represent a sort of liberal Christianity (which idiot Progressives, unable to distinguish between Nazis and Republicans, often conflate with Fundamentalism) is just an additional goad.
Frankly, as far as I can tell, all these Prosperity Gospel evangelicals are making money without resorting to any more deception than is involved in the Catholic Church or Harvard Universities, they don’t rely on political connections, monopoly grants or inflationary credit to expand their Jeweled Jesus Empires and most of their money comes in without any contractual agreement whatsoever to provide anything in particular. Which makes them better than most of the companies in Fortune Magazine.
At the core of what the Prosperity Gospel teaches seems to be that prosperity is good, conspicuous wealth is a sign of ability and will and doing well for yourself is more important than theological sectarianism*. Amen.
*Paul Crouch once said that if he didn’t shoot the heresy hunters, God would.