Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?

Posted: October 3, 2008 in Commentary, Economy

According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

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Comments
  1. freewillgiver says:

    Excellent post. I am called freewillgiver on certain blogs when I talk about this exact subject. I counsel Christians every week to stop giving because they feel they feel it is a sin not to give 10% of their money to their churches. You have discovered a piece of an amazing Problem in America and the world. I am a former Pentecostal and I am still an evangelical. I believe in Christian giving freely just like the Bible says, but most Christians give out of guilt and bad teaching. False beliefs about tithes are also at the root to this housing crisis. The average pastor preaches stuff that is not in the Bible about Christians obligations to give the local church 10% of their money.

    I would add that most evangelical congregations have plenty of members who are in this housing crisis as a direct result of the teachings Christian forced money tithing. I challenge any Christian to research 10% money tithes and to back it up with the Bible. This blog explains the falsehoods of Christian money tithing. . http://churchtithesandofferings.com/blog/

    Tithes were never money in the Old testament and the poor never were told to tithe. One had to own land or more than nine cattle to be under the tithe. Christians were never told to tithe but they were told to give money to the poor. Today most evangelical pastors preach that 10% of all money belongs to the local church. There is Zero scripture to back this Christian money tithe teaching up. Please do research folks before you give because you think you must.

    Pentecostals take this money tithe teaching one step farther and say that if you give more money one has more faith. The health and wealth Pentecostals say that God wants everyone to be rich and the poor are poor because of a lack of knowledge about how to get rich from God. Churches become holy investment strategies.
    Christian money tithe doctrines are at the root of these problems.

    Please Christians stop tithing and start giving with a free will like Jesus told you to give. Christians can give anywhere, to their families, to pay debts, to the poor and they are not confined to just give to churches. Churches that teach money tithing 10% to the local church hurts Christians and go against the Bible.

    Interracialpower

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