Tuesday, June 3, 2008

That's Not In The Bible? Really?

Last night our local news interviewed a relative of one of those prosperity gospel preachers that are currently under investigation. This person works for the famous minister, and I think he was attempting to defend his ministry's position on the whole issue. I have no love for the prosperity gospel at all, but I at least try to give people a fair shake at explaining themselves.

That is, if they actually use Biblical sense. You see, so many of these prosperity people like to go with this "having your finances scrutinized by a Senate sub-committee is not in the Bible" routine. I just get so tired of people that justify some modern activity with the reasoning that it is not "in the Bible." "Sending out millions of spam e-mail comments is not prohibited in the Bible, so I don't see what is wrong with it" and other such nonsense. Constitutionally-based democratic governments didn't exist during Biblical times... so of course your aren't going to find senate sub-committees in the Bible. Sheesh.

Here is basic "Following Religious Texts 101" for ya - because this would really apply to any religious text and not just the Bible. If you are going to use the Bible for guidance, you are going to have to apply principles that are taught in the Bible and apply them to modern situations - not look for modern situations by name in the ancient text. What does the Bible have to say about relating to the government - any government? Plenty, actually, but I think Jesus pretty much summed it up with this: "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars." A statement that actually directly deals with your financial records.

I hate to break this to prosperity people - but the IRS is not the only agency that can get financial information from an institution (the Department of Labor anyone?). Senate sub-committees can, by law from what I recall, request financial statements. Render unto Caesar, dudes...

One thing that really makes me sick is all of this "attack my personal religious beliefs" junk. In other words, the chair of the committee has a problem with the "prosperity gospel", and is attacking them because of that. Grow up already. This one is worse than the "race card" in my book. Any time your religious beliefs have anything to do with accepting money or other donations from people, the government has the right to investigate. I fully believe in that - but I also realize there is no perfect way to do that. But we have to try and find a way to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of.

I just don't get how these prosperity gospel people can just skip so many scriptures in the Bible - like go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor and all? Every time Jesus met with a rich person in the Bible, the rich person didn't come away looking too good. You need that private jet to visit 19 countries to spread the Gospel? Really? Too good to actually mingle with real people in coach class? Because it takes a good 100 trips in coach class to even begin to justify the cost of a cheap personal plane.

I do need to point out a mis-step that interviewer took last night - one bad question he had. He asked if people would give money to the ministry thinking it would go towards a lavish personal jet instead of going to feed the poor. The problem is - people do give to these ministries knowing that they are supporting a prosperity gospel half the time, so they know full well it goes to pay for mansions and such. Its the other half that don't know better than I am worried about.