My interest in learning more about the prosperity gospel began as I wondered why the President and other Republicans–including our own Idaho Congressmen and Senators–are so hell bent on legislating a tax package that will benefit the rich and hurt the poor.
The prosperity gospel explains everything, almost.
With the apparent support of the evangelical-Christian right, our government is now populated with prosperity gospel believers and motivated by its doctrines. These doctrines inform the tax legislation passed by the House and now before the Senate; they explain the purposeful dismantling of the Affordable Care Act; and, they shed light on so much more.
Prosperity pospel doctrine is consistent with the open architecture of capitalism and free markets. Simply stated, wealth accumulated by capitalists through free-market competition is a sign of God’s approval of winners.
Poverty, by contrast, is a sign of lack of motivation and participation, the wages of “sin” and bad choices, evidence of God’s punishment.
This Manichean rich-poor, winner-loser dualism also informs Prosperity Gospel morality. Rich people must be better and more deserving. Poor people, not so much: stereotypical grifters, sponging off an enabling welfare system that has been erected by an unholy, big-government “Establishment.”
This moral framework presupposes (and requires) unregulated “freedom of choice,” which allows aspirants for wealth to reach their divinely appointed destiny. This freedom is also available to the poor, but they, obviously, cannot be depended upon to use it well.
The Executive Branch is now filled with super-rich advisors and cabinet secretaries. In the prosperity gospel light, this has nothing to do with their experience or competence. They, like Trump, were already proven and chosen by God.
If you doubt this, see Stephen Strang’s book God and Donald Trump, with its forward by father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, ex-governor Mike Huckabee. The book explains the miraculous and prophesied incarnation of Donald Trump as President. (Seriously!)
You can see how super-rich believers in the prosperity gospel rationalize their actions and inactions toward the poor, executed directly or indirectly through generous sharing of “God’s abundance” with decision makers in Congress: to promote, for example, tax cuts for the rich, removal of health coverage for the poor, scaling back of safety nets, busting of unions, dismantling of consumer protections (including, most recently, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau), beating back of the minimum wage and avoidance every other thing that could interfere with their freedom to pursue their divinely-appointed, prosperity-gospel destiny.
The getting and keeping of wealth is their doctrinal and moral imperative and privilege. Sharing wealth with those demonstrably less worthy does not fit the paradigm.
If that is gospel, it is certainly not “good news.”
[This post is the first in a series. Up next: “The Roots of the Prosperity Gospel and the Gates of Hell”]