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Them dang-blasted Christians are at the root of our economic woes

I kid you not:

atlantic_2009-12.jpg
Let the confusion end: The Atlantic has hit the news stands with a breaking revelation: It's the Christians! To wit: Did Christianity Cause the Crash?
... recently, critics have begun to argue that the prosperity gospel, echoed in churches across the country, might have played a part in the economic collapse. In 2008, in the online magazine Religion Dispatches, Jonathan Walton, a professor of religious studies at the University of California at Riverside, warned:

Narratives of how "God blessed me with my first house despite my credit" were common ... Sermons declaring "It's your season of overflow" supplanted messages of economic sobriety and disinterested sacrifice. Yet as folks were testifying about "what God can do," little attention was paid to a predatory subprime-mortgage industry, relaxed credit standards, or the dangers of using one's home equity as an ATM.

In 2004, Walton was researching a book about black televangelists. "I would hear consistent testimonies about how 'once I was renting and now God let me own my own home,' or 'I was afraid of the loan officer, but God directed him to ignore my bad credit and blessed me with my first home,'" he says. "This trope was so common in these churches that I just became immune to it. Only later did I connect it to this disaster."

Whew! That was easy! Who knew? But is it really that simple? What are the facts on which this startling conclusion is based?

...Kate Bowler found that most new prosperity-gospel churches were built along the Sun Belt, particularly in California, Florida, and Arizona--all areas that were hard-hit by the mortgage crisis.

Makes sense: these were rapidly growing areas of the country; with rapid growth and cheap credit, lots of homes were getting sold. And lots of new churches and churchgoers would be expected. So, these Sun Belt areas grew quickly, had a lot of new churches (some of which were the "prosperity" variety) and ended up with a lot of foreclosures. But surely there has to be more evidence than that...

Nationally, the prosperity gospel has spread exponentially among African American and Latino congregations. This is also the other distinct pattern of foreclosures. "Hyper-segregated" urban communities were the worst off, says Halperin. Reliable data on foreclosures by race are not publicly available, but mortgages are tracked by both race and loan type, and subprime loans have tended to correspond to foreclosures. During the boom, roughly 40 percent of all loans going to Latinos nationwide were subprime loans; Latinos and African Americans were 28 percent and 37 percent more likely, respectively, to receive a higher-rate subprime loan than whites.

So, a lot of foreclosures occurred in the Hispanic and black communities -- and the prosperity gospel was increasingly popular among these groups as well. Pretty damning, I'd have to say. Pretty much nails it down, don't ya think?

Or not.

Doctor Bob goes on to skewer the logic used to draw the conclusion and quite effectively I might add... do read the whole thing and see for yourself but what he doesn't cover is the blatant hypocrisy.

In the Atlantic piece, you have the straw man argument that Christianity's prosperity gosepl is to blame for the economic crisis, this despite the fact that the prosperity gospel represents not Christianity nor that the prosperity gospel's proponents even make up a large population of Christendom.

Juxtapose that with the media's ignorance of Islam and its tenets (as documented in the Koran and as practiced by a ton of Muslims) and its refusal to in anyway blame Islam for terrorism.

Its truly a marvel to behold... assuming you find rank hypocrisy and bias marvel-ous.

Crossposted(*).


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Comments (26)

Blame the Christians. It wo... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Blame the Christians. It worked for Nero.

And Rick rightly catches Do... (Below threshold)
Kat Author Profile Page:

And Rick rightly catches Doctor Bob's truthful assertion that "health and wealth" theology is definitely heterodox, although I personally incline more toward thinking it heretical...

Soooo... basically, the tar... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Soooo... basically, the target audience of prosperity gospel preachers, i.e. the poor, got the most subprime loans and defaulted the most? The hell you say.

What's the name for that ar... (Below threshold)

What's the name for that argument when you say 'A happened' and 'B happened', therefore 'A caused B'?

Falze, I think it's "post h... (Below threshold)

Falze, I think it's "post hoc, ergo proptor hoc", or something like that.

And the New Republicans, th... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

And the New Republicans, the party of personal responsibility and accountability, tap dances quickly to avoid personal responsibility again.

In the Atlantic piece, you have the straw man argument that Christianity's prosperity gosepl is to blame for the economic crisis, this despite the fact that the prosperity gospel represents not Christianity nor that the prosperity gospel's proponents even make up a large population of Christendom.

Talk about a strawman argument.

"despite the fact that the prosperity gospel represents not Christianity "

So the actions of Islamist extremists - in the mind of Christian fundamentalists - paints the entire nation of Islam -- but the gospel that is actually preached in many Christian churches in no way is representative of Christianity???

Why? Because he says so, that's why. lol.

"nor that the prosperity gospel's proponents even make up a large population of Christendom."

How large a population would you estimate does follow Christianity's prosperity gospel?

Never mind, the answer is r... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

Never mind, the answer is right there in the first paragraph of the Atlantic article.

America's mainstream religious denominations used to teach the faithful that they would be rewarded in the afterlife. But over the past generation, a different strain of Christian faith has proliferated--one that promises to make believers rich in the here and now. Known as the prosperity gospel, and claiming tens of millions of adherents, it fosters risk-taking and intense material optimism. It pumped air into the housing bubble. And one year into the worst downturn since the Depression, it's still going strong.

The article says it's "a strain" - not everyone - just a faction of Christian churches. But that doesn't stop you from falling down and claiming injury even if you're not part of that strain. What a good little martyr.

And the article claims that the faction numbers into the "tens of millions". Do you have any reason to dispute that?

Any evidence that it isn't true?

You've claimed the article is misleading, but you've shown no evidence of that, only your opinion.

but you've shown no evid... (Below threshold)

but you've shown no evidence of that, only your opinion.

By golly, right here on a BLOG?! What's the world coming to?

"And the article claims tha... (Below threshold)
cirby:

"And the article claims that the faction numbers into the 'tens of millions'. Do you have any reason to dispute that?"

Besides common sense? How many people do you know who act like this? If it isn't more than about ten percent of all of the people you know, then the math probably doesn't fit.

Of course, the thing they left out was that the "prosperity churches" are more of an offspring of 1960s-era philosophies than anything like mainstream Christianity. They're a small (though flashy and obvious) subset of a subset of US Christianity, and share more than a little with the book "The Secret." Scratch a "Prosperity Christian" and you'll find a 1960s-70s EST follower with a Bible in his hand.

Well, Barry is a christia... (Below threshold)
914:

Well, Barry is a christian is'nt He?

Having wasted my time readi... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Having wasted my time reading the Atlantic article, I have to say that cirby makes a very good point. Especially the reference to EST.

Why not blame them Joooozzz... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Why not blame them Joooozzz, or the Muslims, or the Girl Scouts, for that matter?

White Christians (and I ain't a very good one) seem to be the only religious group that the left gives itself permission to profile. [Insert name of favorite deity here] help you if you publish a cartoon about Mohammed, or print a stupid generalization about Jews, but it's open season, all the time, on them redneck NASCAR Baptists from flyover country.

When your only tool is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail.

Oh, pass the smelling salts. These people have to be stopped, and stopped now.

And the article cl... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
And the article claims that the faction numbers into the "tens of millions". Do you have any reason to dispute that?

It's a meaningless number until you can show how many of those people fraudulently applied for and received a subprime mortgage and then defaulted on it. Once you have that number you then need to compare it to the general population to see if it's significantly greater. Only then is there's a point to made.

Even in the height of the sub prime mortgage mess people had to state their income and it had to be sufficient compared to what they owed. If Jonathan Walton had bothered to research the so-called prosperity gospel he would have discovered it's founded on getting right with God as a first step. God doesn't reward willful sinners and purposely misstating your income or what you owe on a legal document is a lie. If someone is preaching a so-called prosperity gospel that endorses sin then it's certainly not Christian based and the result would be more bank robberies, not more mortgages.

As for optimism about the future that's what the Democrats have spent the better part of a trillion dollars attempting to instill in the public. Maybe Obama should start preaching the prosperity gospel.

Being the article is mostly about Blacks doing something bad for the nation liberals would normally be calling the author a racist and digging into his past to find some dirt. However, because it's also anti-Christian, liberals are willing to overlook the racist aspects.

giggle. I love the Sarah Pa... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

giggle. I love the Sarah Palin reference in the article. All bash-Sarah, all the time, in all ways, big and small.

I didn't realize Barney Fra... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

I didn't realize Barney Frank was a proponent of the prosperity gospel. I thought he was a Church of Buggery Disciple.

Gee wiz folk. There is onl... (Below threshold)
Texas Tom:

Gee wiz folk. There is only one Christian Gospel out there and that is that Christ Jesus gave his life on the cross to atone for all the sins of the world, to make peace between the Father and his Children (us).

This is the ultimate "Michael Monsoor" moment for all humanity. The gratitude for what he did is the basis for true Christian action (once you understand the simple truth of what he did you really get a new heart).

Any gospel not the One Gospel is not Christian. It is false and deceptive in it's appeal.

Any questions?

s green "And the artic... (Below threshold)
Marc:

s green "And the article claims that the faction numbers into the "tens of millions". Do you have any reason to dispute that?"

Funny that, and it's doubtful you see why.

But here's a clue, do you have any reason to believe the numbers?

Beside putting another notch in your Troll Belt.

I have my strong doubts tha... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

I have my strong doubts that the Christian faith played any major role in the financial crisis. But at the same time, many American citizens seem open to buying in on false religion such as prosperity gospel preachers. Many believe that religion is some sort of spiritual lottery machine, where if you give Pat Robertson large sums of money, then God will bless you. The problem is that Christians are no less likely to go bankrupt or to have a failed business than anyone else.

A large Christian bookstore near my home closed recently when they could no longer afford the rent. Where was God if he wanted to keep the store open?

Faith in God may good in one's life. But it's no real guarantee of success or failure in business according to most reasonable statistics I've seen.

Many persons who give 10% of their income to churches have also been brought into tax courts for nonpayment of taxes as well, or have faced foreclosures. But still it seems like good karma to be charitable and to donate to faith.

"Many persons who give 10% ... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

"Many persons who give 10% of their income to churches have also been brought into tax courts for nonpayment of taxes as well, or have faced foreclosures"

Really? How many? What's your source?

But at the same ti... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
But at the same time, many American citizens seem open to buying in on false religion such as prosperity gospel preachers.

And the biggest scam is Obama's presidential campaign. All he had to do was preach hope and change and the naive, ignorant, and weak minded flocked to him in droves.

My bird won't let me line i... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

My bird won't let me line it's cage with The Atlantic. Just shows how much taste and intelligence the bird has.

Paul -And it seems... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Paul -

And it seems many of the folks who're supposed to be handling money these days can't bring themselves to pay their taxes.

TaxProf Blog: Senate to Move Forward on Lael Brainard's Nomination Despite Tax Problems

I previously blogged the tax problems of Lael Brainard, President Obama's nominee to be Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. The tax problems are (1) twelve late payments of real estate and personal property taxes, and late payment of unemployment taxes; (2) failure to timely file employment eligibility verification forms for her household help; and (3) failure to substantiate home office deductions. Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus today annnounced that he would support the nomination and that the committee would soon vote on the nomination...
Good thing this isn't a Republican being nominated - the media would be all over her like stink on shit. But she's not - so she's likely a walk-in. Ain't it great to be a Democrat? You're not accountable for ANYTHING!

Reverend Ike died last summ... (Below threshold)
soozer:

Reverend Ike died last summer. (sob)

Funny thing is, Obama himse... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Funny thing is, Obama himself is a 'prosperity preacher.' He simply puts himself and government in the place of God as the great dispenser of wealth. Sounds like a simple case of professional jealousy.

But at the same ti... (Below threshold)
But at the same time, many American citizens seem open to buying in on false religion

Amen. And speaking of being taken in by false religion, how's that whole hope n' change thing working out?

What sells liberal magazine... (Below threshold)

What sells liberal magazines?

anti-Christian hate.




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