Prosperity Gospel

2/12/19

Sometimes referred to as 'Prosperity Theology', the term is applied to controversial, but popular, protestant Christian evangelists who say that being wealthy is a sign of God's favour. They hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God, and that if believers use whatever money they have (no matter how much they might need it for necessities or healthcare) by donating to God then God will reward them by 'Bestowing blessings upon them multi-fold'. Doing so is the ultimate demonstration of faith; placing complete trust in God that he will deliver on his promise to reward their charity by increasing their own wealth. Of course the corollary would also hold true: if you lack faith it is your fault and your poverty is a sign of God's disfavour. 'To become wealthy', so say the ministers, 'You must donate your money to God, so that He will bestow his many blessing upon you'. Naturally, the minister is the go-between and can accept donations on His behalf.

The theology grew rapidly from the 'tent revivalists' that toured rural America before the 1960's and rapidly took off with the televangelists in the subsequent decades. The Trinity Broadcasting Network soon became the dominant player in Christian TV and promoted men like Creflo Dollar [owns two Rolls-Royces, a private jet, and several very expensive properties]; Kenneth Copeland [his ministry owned five airplanes, one of which is valued at $17.5 million, thanked his audience for donations to help buy it, then asked for another $17m to buy him a hanger to park it in], and Benny Hinn [net worth of $60 million, accused of faking 'healings' of cerebral palsy sufferers]. Other proponents were: Oral Roberts [told a television audience that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would "call him home", luckily for him he raised $9.1 million just in time], and Joyce Meyer [$10 million corporate jet, $2 million home and houses worth another $2 million for her four children. Her HQ was furnished with 5.7 million worth of furniture, artwork & glassware].

The star of the prosperity Gospel show is Joel Olsteen [net worth has been reported to be between $40–60 million]. His huge megachurch in Houston refused to shelter victims in 2017 Tropical Storm Harvey and faced backlash on social media. He refuses his $200k salary from the church he runs and instead relies on sales from books and DVD's with titles like "Next Level Thinking: 10 Powerful Thoughts for a Successful and Abundant Life" and "Living in Favor, Abundance and Joy". Sales are estimated to be around $55m. It seems like these ministers' rallying call of “if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.”, should really be: “if you give your money to God, God will bless ME with more money".

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