Drag the Waters: Prosperity Monsters

"But in the back of his mind, he well knows what he'd find if he looked a little deeper in you - in you drag the waters some more like never before"[1]

The  Prosperity Ministry Movement

"God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us." - Joel Osteen[2]

There have been a lot of fads in the Christian world in the last 2,000 or so years. We've seen everything from mass celibacy to apocalypticism. In the 1970's, men like Kenneth Copeland and Oral Roberts introduced the world to " prosperity theology," and the idea really took hold. The premise is simple - god wants Christians to be rich. If you're a "good Christian" then god is gonna take care of you financially. But in the fifty years this idea has been around, the only people who seem to be getting rich are the "holy men" who tell their "flock" that god requires them to give their hard earned money to the "holy man" and his church and they'll be rewarded. It's honestly one of the oldest cons in the book.

In my study of the history of religion, I've found that there is always a man who sees a profit to be had in convincing others to take care of him. Every priest and holy man has seen that people will bow down to the idea of a god and that the man who claims to talk to god has all the control over the believers. They will bring their best crops and animals to the altar and all to feed the priest. They will give 10% or more of all they have to appease the angry and vengeful god. In this day and age few men realize that giving that 10% is an offering of blood. It is the offering of your own blood and sacrifice that you made in order to earn it. You may not sweat and bleed in a field to earn it, but you most certainly have to sacrifice for it, even if the sacrifice is only giving your time, it is a true sacrifice.

Prosperity Monsters

Although this movement started with men such as Roberts and Copeland, there are some other big names in this movement I want to talk about.

Creflo Dollar -  Dollar lives an opulent and lavish lifestyle. He drives a Rolls Royce. Has a $5mil private jet. And has a net worth of around $25mil.[3] All of this has been earned either through speaking engagements, book sales, and income from his ministry, which has received an F rating by MinistryWatch.com for a lack of financial transparency. His television show recently incurred financial trouble to the tune of $2.2mil, which Dollar of course set out to extort from his followers in the name of Jesus. Why Jesus needs such PR is a real mystery to me seeing how prolific the presence of Christianity is around the world.

Kenneth Copeland - Copeland is one of the biggest names in the prosperity gospel movement. His net worth is currently unknown, due to the fact that he's not submitted up-to-date salary information in years. But from 2007-2011 Copeland was among many pastors looked into for financial misconduct by Sen. Charles Grassley.[4] Apparently he's good at hiding his misdeeds, as are many of these liars for Jesus.

Joel Osteen - Osteen is another big name in this market. With a net worth of over $40mil[4], he's not only one of the top prosperity ministers but also one of the richest ministers in the US. His brand of televangelism and megachurch's have brought in a great deal of wealth, as have his religious books. He's a personal favorite con man of many members of my wife's family and because of this, his nonsense is often in my face.

The Divine Pyramid Scheme

A pyramid scheme is defined as: "A form of investment (illegal in the US and elsewhere) in which each paying participant recruits two further participants, with returns being given to early participants using money contributed by later ones." [5]

Now, it is rare that these prosperity ministers trickle down the wealth they receive from their followers. Apparently that is god's job and it is up to the individual followers to give enough to the holy man before god will pay it back to them. And while these individuals trudge through a tedious life just trying to get by, these holy men live in luxury. They live in mansions and drive the best cars money can buy and all off the backs of others. They earn great wealth from the naivety of others, selling a dream with no substance. They ask for investment in an enterprise that offers no real returns.

I am not "hating" on these men for their wealth. By all rights, it's their money. I begrudge these men for the way they made this money. They have tricked a great many into passive self-imposed slavery. They earn millions on the backs of others. Every day we decry corporations for these same acts of greed and opulence, but these men walk around acting pious and righteous and are admired by many. There is nothing admirable in their actions. They are not merely another parasite feeding off of the labor of others - they're a parasite feeding off of others hope as well as their sweat. It is the duplicity and dishonesty which angers me. Or maybe, it's just the ignorance and naivety of the sheep in the flock getting fleeced that puts me on edge.



[1] from the song Drag The Waters by Pantera
[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/opinions/outlook/worst-idea...
[3] http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/creflo-dollar-net-w...
[4] http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/joel-osteen-net-worth/
[5] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/pyramid...

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