I have no truck with Christian fundamentalism. I find its theology offensive, its social conservatism antiquated, and its arrogant presumption to know the mind of God (and further, to speak for it) galling in the extreme. Having been raised in the midst of evangelical fundamentalists, I know them well, and oppose them on essentially all fronts when it comes to a public agenda.

But there is one thing I will say for the church in which I was raised -- the people in it were sincere and good-hearted. They were generous, and truly (if, in my opinion, benightedly) concerned with the souls of their fellow men. While I may work like the dickens to see them checked at every turn when it comes to the public sphere, as individuals I hold many of them in genuine esteem and affection. They are not, in short, bad people.

In stark, high contrast are the despicable, loathsome parasites who purvey what has come to be known as the "prosperity gospel." I lack the words to adequately convey my contempt, my utter and unalloyed scorn, for the likes of them. From the Times, by way of Political Animal:
Onstage before thousands of believers weighed down by debt and economic insecurity, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and their all-star lineup of “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted the crowd with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God.


Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times.


The Copelands’ broadcast reaches 134 countries, and the ministry’s income is about $100 million annually.
Read the whole article, but not if you've eaten recently. Poison control centers should keep it on hand to induce vomiting.

I have a lot to say about this. Let us dispense, first of all, with the ignorant notion that the message of Jesus Christ has anything, whatsoever, to do with financial prosperity. Quite the opposite, as it happens. Jesus preached on the value of spiritual poverty. He preached on the spiritual perils of being rich. He preached about storing treasure in heaven, instead of earth. He admonished his followers to trust in God for their material well-being, and to carry as little as possible by way of material things. Early Christians sold all their possessions and gave the proceeds to the poor.

Anyone who says that the Gospel is a treatise for personal wealth is either unfamiliar with it, or misrepresenting it. I know into which category I would put the Copelands and their ilk.

But, more (much more) and worse (much, much worse) than their biblical ignorance when they claim to be spiritual leaders is their blatant avarice, and the nauseating spectacle of parading their wealth as a gift from God in front of the very people they bilked for it. It seems not to occur to the myriad credulous people who show up for these despicable events that the reason the Copelands are rich is that people have sent them their hand-earned money.

I do not really believe in a literal vengeful God, and I do not believe at all in a literal hell of eternal torment for the damned. But I hope something or someone, be they Furies or federal agents, takes these awful people down before they part more simple, desperate fools from their money.


  1. The Copelands are hucksters, like the Swaggerts, etc. and I too find their philosophy contrary to the teachings of Christ, but I am not quite as angry as you. Yes, they are taking simple, desperate fools from their money, but the money is given willingly, and more importantly, based on hope a hope not very differently than buying lottery tickets. They are a form of much needed entertainment in otherwise dull and dreary lives. Besides, a preacher who talks of the dignity of poverty and suffering (while living large himself) I don't find much better either.
    That said, I do get angry when the target pensioners over and over, such things are what generally bring these hucksters down.


  2. Dan, amen, brother. I could not have said it better myself.