Faith & Religion

Big Preachin’, Spending G’s: How Pastors and the Church Help Keep You in Poverty

By: Camille H – 

In an earlier article, titled, “Big Pimpin’, Spendin’ Cheese: How Rappers Like Jay-Z Help Keep You in Poverty.” The articles discussed rappers’ influence on economic spending and how many mainstream artists rap about living lavish lifestyles, influencing listeners to spend their money on luxury items they cannot afford. In the article, I explain how these mainstream artists contribute to a psychology that keeps people in poverty. 

But the truth of the matter is, even though rappers play a role in this problem, they are not the only ones who help keep people in poverty. Many different people and forces are to blame for preaching capitalistic agendas that help keep people in poverty. In addition to rappers, religious figures have begun preaching the consumer psychology that keeps people chained to debt and spending. In many ways, preachers have become the mainstream, grandiose rappers of religion.  

For a very long time, individuals have gone to church for guidance, spiritual healing, community and wisdom.  But what kind of guidance and wisdom is offered in the church these days? In many cases, church leaders are guiding their congregation into brokeness and low self-esteem.  But remember, a capitalistic, consumerist agenda that suggests spending money and buying nice things, means Jesus loves you.

In many churches, it is now common to hear a preacher make references to biblical text that supposedly promises faithful believers money and economic prosperity. Congregations are told “God doesn’t want us to live in poverty” and “God promises to bless you economically if you honor Him” and “Paying tithes will come back to you in blessings and financial success.” Church goers are convinced they should seek material, financial and economic prosperity on Earth, because ballin’ outta control in Jesus’ name is the righteous thing to do.  Basically, people are taught to believe “If I love the Lord, praise Him and I am faithful, God wants me to have more money and live comfortably with nice things.”

But why do some people believe this? In large part, because this is the message pastors not only preach, but this is also the lifestyle pastors live. This money driven, materialistic lifestyle is then reflected onto the congregation.

The problem is that the congregation members often don’t have nearly as much money as the preachers. So how do pastors continue to get people with enormous credit card debt, impending home foreclosure, huge outstanding medical bills and potential bankruptcy to still give, give give, even if it’s their last dollar? Joel Osteen, a notoriously wealthy Evangelical pastor who reportedly earned $13 million for his latest book advance alone, and whose church brings in $75 million in annual revenue, often gives the same response when asked how he feels about how much money he makes, considering many of his congregation members are poor and face ongoing financial crises.

Osteen will tell you his success is a result of God’s favor, his message is God’s message, and all he has achieved is a blessing from God. Yes, Osteen is an outlier and most pastors, even the successful ones, aren’t even on the same financial planet, but, still, they preach the same message. When a pastor drives a Mercedes or a Bentley or any other high-end car, and so does his wife, and so does the deacon, while many of the congregation members are struggling – that’s a problem. But preaching the idea that God wants you to spend money is an even bigger problem.

If a preacher says anything that sounds like, “I’m rich and have nice things because I’m faithful to God and he rewards me for it,” to the congregation, that translates to, “if you’re broke, can’t afford nice things, and you are not financially prosperous, it’s because you are not as good of a Christian as I am, or you’re not faithful enough, so God is not rewarding you as much as he rewards me.” What kind of self-esteem is this promoting? Further, this spreads the message that, if you DO have the money, in order to show how faithful you are and how much God rewards you, you should buy a bunch of flashy material goods in order to show everyone God’s favor and grace. Just like the pastor.

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The MinorityEye is a news aggregator that shares digital content from websites and other online resources that focus on minority culture, people and issues relevant to people of color. TME curates the voices, thoughts and perspectives of minority writers, bloggers, authors, reporters, columnists, pundits, consultants and thought leaders as well as those who write about minorities and issues that impact communities of color.

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The MinorityEye

The MinorityEye is a news and information aggregator that curates the voices, thoughts and perspectives of minority writers, bloggers, authors, reporters, columnists, pundits, consultants and thought leaders as well as those who write about minorities and issues that impact people and communities of color.

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