The prosperity gospel is a doctrine that teaches that God rewards financial donations to churches with material blessings, such as health, wealth, and success. It is a global phenomenon that has millions of followers in different regions, such as Africa, Latin America, and Asia. But in the United States, a new version of the prosperity gospel is spreading among American evangelicals, one that is more antisocial and more hostile toward the poor.
This new version of the prosperity gospel is not only about personal prosperity, but also about national prosperity. It is influenced by American individualism, consumerism, and nationalism, and it aligns with the political agenda of the Republican Party. It views poverty as a sign of God’s disfavor and a result of personal failure. It blames the poor for their own misery and opposes any social programs that would help them. It also demonizes immigrants, refugees, and minorities as threats to the nation’s wealth and security.
The new version of the prosperity gospel is promoted by influential pastors and ministries, such as Robert Jeffress, Kenneth Copeland, and INSP. They use their media platforms to spread their message to millions of viewers and listeners. They also have close ties with former President Donald Trump, who they see as God’s chosen leader to restore America’s greatness. They praise Trump for his policies that favor the rich and powerful, such as tax cuts, deregulation, and military spending. They also support his actions that harm the poor and vulnerable, such as cutting health care, food stamps, and foreign aid.
The new version of the prosperity gospel is not only bad theology; it is also bad economics. It is a zero-sum game that pits the rich against the poor, creating a culture of resentment, entitlement, and greed. It ignores the realities of poverty, injustice, and oppression that affect millions of people in America and around the world. It also contradicts the core values of Christianity and democracy, such as compassion, justice, equality, and human dignity.
The new version of the prosperity gospel is not a harmless aberration. It is a serious distortion of the Christian message that has real-world consequences for both individuals and communities. As one scholar put it: “The prosperity gospel is not a blessing; it’s a curse. It robs people of their dignity, their agency, and their hope. It makes them dependent on false promises, false prophets, and false gods.”
– The Evangelicals Calling for War on Poor People, The New Republic, October 23, 2023
– The Prosperity Gospel and the Poor: A Missiological Analysis of a Global Phenomenon, International Bulletin of Mission Research, October 25, 2023
– How the Prosperity Gospel Is Hurting Africa’s Fight Against Poverty, The Conversation, October 26, 2023
– The Prosperity Gospel and the Politics of Inequality in Brazil, Religion and Society in Latin America, October 27, 2023