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Monday, August 06, 2007

Does Jesus Take Debit Cards?

by Jay Allbritton
As I mentioned Friday, I went to a wedding this weekend. The happy couple have been friends of mine for years. The ceremony was held in a Baptist church in a southern town and went off without a hitch. I did notice one line uttered by the pastor that raised my eyebrows a bit. He asked that we pray for, among other things, the financial well being of the bride and groom.

Don't get me wrong, I love this couple and I hope that all my friends are prosperous, if that's what makes them happy. Believe me, if they found fifty billion buried in their backyard as soon as they get back from their honeymoon, I would high-five every penguin in Antarctica with glee at their good fortune.

But what was this line doing in this Christian ceremony? I was not the only one who noticed what seemed like a dramatic re-alignment of Christian priorities.

This goes back to the 1950s when a number of prominent preachers taught that God rewards faith with wealth and well being. In it's extreme form, preachers ask those with money problems to give what they have to the church, promising that the faith of those giving money will result in a divine reciprocation--basically, the money you donated and more will come around unexpectedly. This teaching became known as the gospel of prosperity. As denominations had to raise more and more money to compete with other churches and a multitude of secular diversions, raising money became a huge priority.

While this one line stuck into an otherwise benign ceremony is no big deal, it reaffirms the connection between faith and fiscal prosperity. The question is, how far does it go?

Well, how about an ATM right there in the church? No kidding.

VIDEO: CNN probes the issue as only CNN can.


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