Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Prosperity Gospel and the Great Crash.

1. Read Hanna Rosin's article from last month's Atlantic, "Did Christianity Cause the Chrash?"

2. Catch commentary from the likes of Anthea Butler and Sarah Posner at SSRCs The Immanent Frame. Sarah's is here:

The prosperity gospel is a lot older than derivatives, credit default swaps, and other byzantine Wall Street “products” that leveled the financial markets. Moreover, the fact that humans—not God—dreamed up these contrivances doesn’t poke holes in the prosperity gospel at all, at least from its adherents’ vantage point. If you believe and sow your seed, God will reward you, even as the secular Masters of the Universe greedily orchestrate a global economic collapse.

Surely the prosperity gospel plays a role in persuading its followers to buy into risky financial schemes, including sub-prime mortgages. (You might not be able to afford this thing, but if you have faith and tithe, your mortgage payments will miraculously appear in your checking account.) But to argue that the prosperity gospel, no matter how prevalent it is in America’s mega-churches, brought enough sub-prime borrowers to the table that it “caused the crash” overlooks how our secular institutions can be just as faith-based as prosperity churches.

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In other words: Wall Street titans were banking on little more than a wing and a prayer, too. It’s the American way.

That’s not to say that prosperity hucksters aren’t just as driven by avarice as the bankstas; just because they puff up their claims with Scripture instead of spreadsheets doesn’t make them any less complicit in leading the gullible on a path to financial ruin.

And that’s also not to say that prosperity hucksters would not have found another way to squeeze blood out of the turnip that is many of their followers’ nest eggs, had they not convinced them that God would make sure they could make the balloon payments. The annals of investigative journalism are filled with the sad tales of personal financial crashes because—prosperity hucksters would claim—victims didn’t have enough faith.

The hucksters may not be the sole cause of this crash, but they’re surely responsible for plenty of personal crashes long before sub-prime mortgage brokers began preaching their own kind of prosperity gospel.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christianity published a statement developed by a working group from Africa on the prosperity gospel. It is a good, solid, well-reasoned statement. You can find a link to it on my blog. Good article here.

December 26, 2009 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger L A Neumann said...

Thanks for reading, prolepticlife, and for the source on prosperity gospel. Ann

December 27, 2009 at 5:52 PM  

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