Black Spirituality Religion : Prosperity Preaching or Fleecing the Flock?

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Amun-Ra, Nov 14, 2001.

  1. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Prosperity preaching’s basic premise is that God wants us to be successful, which includes material wealth and all that it associated with it. Prosperity preachers are not new phenomena in the black community. In the early 1900’s colorful preachers like Daddy Grace and Father Divine drew large congregations and became wealthy because of their charisma and their preaching of a personal prosperity doctrine.

    Money and religion have been intimately tied together since Christianity rose to power during the decline of the Roman Empire. Over the centuries, Rome-based Christianity collected vast fortunes in gold, art and property and individuals leaders of the church and their families became extraordinarily wealthy.

    The material corruption of the early Christian church eventually led to the Reformation and a bloody time in Europe, but money and religion remained inextricably intertwined as the church still wielded considerable influence because of its money and possessions. Today money and religion remain unyieldingly interconnected and not always to the benefit of the followers. It is no different with the black church.

    “Rev. Ike” is considered the modern day model for prosperity gospel preaching spawning a whole school of prosperity preachers including Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn who have become fabulously wealthy preaching the Gospel. Recently, Rev. Ike’s career received a boost with his connection to the BET.

    With its blend of music, entertainment, news and religion, Black Entertainment Television (BET) is one of the most watched television networks in the black community and it regularly features a host of television evangelists. The once black-owned network was bought out by entertainment giant Viacom for $3 billion, but now the nation's largest African American television network is being criticized for allowing evangelists who have been discredited for financial improprieties, ethical lapses and even fraud have access to its airways.

    Among those televangelists causing concern are revealed fraud Peter Popoff, the much investigated Robert Tilton and prosperity preachers Reverend Ike and Benny Hinn. In an article published in the September issue of Salon Online Magazine, University of Virginia professor Virginia, Jeffrey Haddon, said that "A network that pats itself on the back by saying it serves the black community ought to stop selling time to people who take advantage of them."

    Texas Attorney General Dan Morales said that Tilton is "raping the most vulnerable segments of our society—the poor, the infirm, the ignorant ... who believe his garbage." According to a recent piece in Liberty Magazine, at the height of his evangelical stardom the Robert Tilton Ministries was taking in an estimated $80 million per year, giving Tilton a salary of $400,000.

    Rev. "Ike" (Frederick Eikerenkoetter) is the founding father of the modern "prosperity gospel" movement on the airwaves, and has been promising believers that in exchange for their cash, Jesus will shower them with material reward. "The lack of money is the root all evil," says Rev. Ike. Eikerenkoetter who regularly wears $1,000 suits, has a fleet of Rolls-Royces, as well as, several luxury homes on both coasts.

    Creflo A. Dollar is a more recent "prosperity gospel" salesman, who heads a 35,000 member "megachurch" congregation in Atlanta, Georgia, the World Changer Church. Like Rev. Ike, Dollar promises the faithful that they will be blessed with a shower of wealth and prosperity courtesy of Jesus Christ. It's worked for him; according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Dollar drives a Rolls-Royce, flies around the world in his private jet, and has a $1 million house in a gated upscale Atlanta neighborhood."

    Fund raising for these “televangelists” range from religious self-help books, videos and tapes to prayer clothes that have been personally anointed and sell for as much $20 to prayer tunnels and even corn meal that has been blessed and sent to the donator for a special blessing.

    Religious charms, holy hankies, "prayer tunnels" and other ruses for extracting money from followers is often perfectly legal under the First Amendment. Promises of wealth and prosperity, though, can be dangerous vehicles in taking money—and hope—from those who can least afford it.

    Despite how many people may be hurt by this holy hucksterism, usually it is only financial taxing and extremely embarrassing. Obviously, this is not the case when savings accounts are wiped out or people are put under financial stress because of money hungry dream hustlers.


    ;)
     
  2. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Ooohhhhhh Amun-Ra !!!! :eeek:

    I have seen and heard the Rev. Creflo A. Dollar on my own television set! He is a young, handsome, articulate, well-dressed, family man and makes no secret about his wealth (I wonder if his name was always "Dollar"?). I've watched him a few times and during one of the shows he talked about his plane and the fact that he was considering buying another (for some humongous amount) but the Lord led him to do otherwise (or something like that). During his television programs, he always has a full congregation of folk worshipping with him. To look at them, they all seem to be fine, upstanding and for the most part, well-to-do citizens. They look like professional people, not the poor, infirm or ignorant you speak of. Rev. Dollar's sermon seemed to be scripture-based and "on point," spiritually encouraging even. If I were a Minister, I'd want to grow up and be just like him!

    I don't know much about Rev. Ike, though his name is familiar. I wasn't aware that he was still preaching. Guess I need to check out BET and see him for myself.

    I think in general, a church congregation usually feels that their pastor is an extension of them. That may be why they are so willing to make sure he and his family are financially secure. This reminds me of when I was growing up, it was considered an honor if the pastor came to your house for Sunday dinner. The very best meal was always prepared, and done with a glad heart.

    It's a thin line to the believer, where money and corruption meet, when it comes to their salvation. How does one know if they are being taken advantage of or if the minister is truly petitioning God on their behalf? It's probably easier to simply believe that God will make it all okay, rather than to question the messenger of God's word. As a matter of fact, questioning the messenger isn't looked at nicely. There is not much you are allowed to question and if you do, your own soul's salvation is put into question. One has to be clearly on one side or the other. Either you believe in the person that is guiding you, or you don't.

    This is a great article and you are probably going to upset a lot of folk. Some may wonder, so I will ask, Amun-Ra why are you so concerned about this? Do you wish they were sending you their money, instead of these men? What skin is it off your back that folk send their own money to these men? Have you sent some money and not received your blessing yet?

    :)
     
  3. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    That's fair--I'll try to reply

    Have you ever showed up at church without any money? If you want to feel bad, just watch as the collection plate passes you and you don't put anything in as you feel the eyes raking the back of your neck.

    Of course, you know that I was hoping to stir the nest with this, or I wouldn't have written it. No, I don't want their money, although I wouldn't mind having some money, but that is not the way I'd do it. Interestingly, years ago I actually thought about becoming a preacher for that very reason. Of course, it is the wrong reason, but it seemed like an easy way to make money as no one could really ever question my word until after they were dead. However, as loose as I might be, I do have some standards and taking people's hard earned money under false pretenses lost its appeal to me--I just couldn't make myself do it.

    Although years have passed and I am far from that place now, I am still concerned because of the people who are inadvertently hurt through these pious charades. As much as I am not a fan of religion, I have to say that these guys are the ones who will eventually kill it. It would seem that the mainline ministry would be up in arms about it, but as of yet, I haven't heard much and especially from the black community.


    “For lack of intelligent guidance, then, the Negro church often fulfills a mission to the contrary of that for which it was established. Because the Negro church is such a free field . . . it seems to that practically all the incompetents and undesirables who have been barred from other walks of life by race prejudice and economic difficulties have rushed into the ministry for the exploitation of the people. . . Almost anybody of the lowest type may get into the Negro Ministry.”-- Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro

    Stealing in the name of the lord is probably the worst type of thievery because it is hiding behind something that brings some good into the world to gain material wealth. However, the main reason that I don't care for it is that there is enough exploitation in the black community without the new age money changers helping to keep a foot on the collective neck of black Americans, especially those who can least afford it.

    Most pastors are not rich. For the most part pastors do not receive extravagant salaries with compensation averaging around $39,000 annually across the United States. For many, being a pastor often requires a second job to make ends meet. Generally, it is not a lucrative business.

    This is why it bothers me, because there are many hard working clergy out there who give it their all and are always under-financed and under the gun. These pulpit peacocks give the local ministry a black eye.

    Is that enough? Still stirring and stirring, and stirring and . . .

    Ra



    ;)
     
  4. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Pulpit Confessions: Exposing The Black Church...

    A couple of years ago there was a book that caused quite a stir in African-American congregations across America, especially among its preachers. N. Moore's, Pulpit Confessions: Exposing The Black Church (1999), questions the moral character of the African-American church and its pastors.
    "The tables have been turned," writes Moore. "The spotlight is not on the unrighteous sinners outside the church, but the self-righteous transgressors inside it."

    Moore, a former preacher and pastor, speaks candidly about his and other ministers' odysseys from sincere well-intentioned prodigies to cynical, sinful, showmen. He describes in detail the often profane process whereby one obtains credentials to minister in the Black church.

    Moore offers insight into what he considers rampant emotionalism during the African-American worship experience. "Simply because the preacher sounds good and can make you feel good does not always mean that he is operating under an anointing from the Holy Ghost."

    The author also challenges many preachers' sermonic integrity by detailing what he considers blatant showmanship and plagiarism.

    Moore also reveals the thoughts and motivations of both ministers and congregations whose power struggles often turn violent. "Older members who have been there since the first brick was laid will not surrender power without a fight," he writes. "And fight they will...sometimes to the death."

    The African-American church has recently been rocked by scandal at its highest levels. Moore describes how ministers struggle with their public and private selves, which often leads to career-ending embarrassment. According to Moore, though, the preachers should not always bear all of the blame. "Many women in the church make it extremely difficult for ministers to live righteous lives," he writes.

    The author contends that the Black church is not Y2K compliant. He challenges it to get its house in order. "Reverend, what kind of church are you going to present to Jesus," he asks. "Will he even want it? Would you?"



    Pulpit Confessions: Exposing The Black Church (1999)
    ISBN: 0-9658299-2-8
     
  5. amirah

    amirah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    All those in favor of 'prosperity' open ya wallets...

    I agree we have more than enough slick preachers hawkin' The Word (and added personal addendums) like it's the latest gear, but common sense tells us that everyone isn't good, regardless. We DON'T really KNOW, other than those who have been investigated and caught in the act who's REALLY who..However, my opinion is that prosperity preaching in an of itself is not bad. As I stated a while back in your opinion poll, I want to be prosperous- spiritually and financially. --no shame in my game. I also believe that while a spiritual leader may be 'called', that is his/her job and, like any job, they shoud be compensated. I willingly give, when and how much I chose and the prosperity message does not bother me. I grew up going to churches and revivals with my grandma and aunties and heard (too many times)the message about the meek and humble and it always had the implication (to me) that meek & humble =poor (not spiritually, but "broke"..no $$). I've never believed that to be my destiny, period. Then they'd add something like, "Money is the devil's gold." What should have said is that greed, evil, coveting, etc. were the evils.....That's what bothered me.

    I have a friend who attends a large service in the city. The congregants were asked to contribute a lil something extra because some felt the minister should have a new Mercedes for the anniversary. My friend thought this was ridiculous! Not only did she not give, but she never returned. The minister did, in fact , get that new car, thanks to his congregation! And, yes, he does a bit of prosperity preaching, but what about the congregants? Many of those giving are not poor, uneducated or misled. Bottom line: I don't drive a Benz and I'm not buying anybody else one...

    So....Where is the problem..really? Is it the message, the messenger or the flock? I think it's more than the preaching.. We're fl(uck)ing ourselves!:confused:
     
  6. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    An Interesting Read!

    In doing my research for Black and Not Baptist, I quoted from Pulpit Confessions. It was a pretty good read especially considering that it is definitely a subject that surely was not popular coming from a preacher.

    Still, much of what he talked abut wa right on target. I especially enjoyed his section "whooping". Now that was right out of the Negro preaching 101 teaching manual. It was hard to read without laughing especially after he told how they almost had contest. One interesting thing that I noticed is that I had no idea how lucrative it is to be a guest preacher. I'm not talking about well-known prechers but local preachers. That part shocked me because it caught me off guard.

    I guess it is wise to be very careful when selecting a minister. When there is too much emphasis on money, it's time to get to stepping. Now, they ven accept credit cards and ATM cards. Some churches actually ask for a financial statement. That is too much!


    Amun-Ra

    ;)
     
  7. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hey Ra,

    now you know i will be back on this one but i am having a busy day. As for Creflo...Well i have heard him before and for a while he was teaching how to be financially fit but somewhere along the line he changed to teaching prosperity. Just a tidbit.

    I will go further later...

    Good and i mean good topic...
     
  8. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    D--hurry!

    I knew it would bring you out--you know where I stand on religion--but there are some things that I think even a strong religionist should stand up say "wait a minute!" There are so many hard working pastors around the country who truly help in the true sense of the word--yes, we must try to become financially fit, but somehow or another when I look at the "prosperity preachers", I only see them getting fit.

    Ra

    :cool:
     
  9. Amun-Ra

    Amun-Ra Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    amirah--you got a point

    and that is pretty much my point--I'm wondering who's fleecing whom? I have researched this subject to some degree and it is interesting that when these preachers are caught fleecing the flock, the flock believes they didn't do it, that some one set them up, that the devil was working against them rather than admitting that these pulpit pimps were nothing but dcam artists and got caught dipping into the till.

    Now, there are certain professions where I expect the leader to have a little prosperity. I don't want to go to a doctor who doesn't look like he's paid off his medical school loan, on the other hand neither do I want to go to a doctor who looks like he owns the golf course. I expect bylawyer to have some prosperity. I expect the businessmen in my community to have some prosperity, as well as, many others--but my preacher?

    I don't think a precher should be poor by any means and should be compensated for what they do because it is tough work. But, should they be millionaires? I don' think so, especially when they get their money directly from the people. Of course, I am biased on this subject. When my preacher lives in a better neighborhood than his flock, when a preacher builds a multimillion dollar church and television complex and can't build a few homes for the poor or when a preacher drives a car that members of the congregation could never hope to have--its time to call those preachers what they are--Pimps! And, I mean pimps in the worst since of exploitation.

    When they start asking for money--that's when it is time to get to stepping. I'd rather giove it directly to a black foundation or another charity than to put it into the hands of a single person--that's asking for trouble.

    Just for fun, I thought I'd post a piece about some of these pilfering preachers.

    Amun-Ra


    ;)
     
  10. dnommo

    dnommo Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Sunday Morning Sermon

    Preaching Prosperity was taboo for many years. Anyone who attempted to preach about the blessings of God in your lives was considered a Huckster or a swindler.

    Prosperity preachers of today: Creflo Dollar, Dr. Leroy Thompson, Jerry Falwell (to an extent)...

    Fleecing the Flock: Rev. Ike, Daddy Rich, and many many more.

    For the record. Benny Hinn has a healing ministry, not a prosperity ministry. He teaches on the miracles of God not financially fit ministry, but that's another topic.

    Ra, i like this topic for it addresses something that many honest, hard working preachers fear the most. They fear of being compared to Prosperity Preachers. Yes there is such a thing but they are seperate.Why? Because all they teach is Prosperity and it seems that the only ones who are prospering is the pastor. In some very closed door conversations, i have heard many of the honest preachers say that it is hard to convince the congregation that they can have the best if the preacher looks like he's homeless and hungry. While they don't ask for money, if the congregation seeks to bless the man of God they cannot and should not stop them.

    The reality is that in preaching prosperity the preacher must be careful not to give the impression that they are seeking a pot of gold. They must teach how to reclaim and sustain good credit, not "If you give to me you will be blessed."

    Oral Roberts had one of the greatest healing ministries of the last century. He also wrote a book on seed faith, where you plant a seed and expect a harvest. Is this prosperity preaching? Yes, but it is teaching of such. Did he tell folks to give him their checks and they will be blessed? No. But many during that time did.

    First, let's look at how these folks came about. They have been around since biblical days. Paul warned in his letters to be careful of false teachers. Even today, the scandal of the PTL and everything after that, has evolved into "wolves in sheeps clothing" preying (not praying) on the innocent and hurt. It is wrong. Rev. IKe is a well known Prosperuty Preacher and still he makes his money. There was one is this area they called Daddy Rich and he would walk around with enough jewelry on that he looked like Mr. T ( it was around that time that he was alive.) But these are the most extreme...

    Why should we preach prosperity? Simple. Because being poor finanacially in not a good testament of God's blessings. God wants us to be good stewards and being broke is not good stewardship. Being poor in spirit is biblical, not poor in finances. Ra, i know you have heard many say that Jesus was poor because he was born in a manager and not the inn. Those speaking prosperity were initally attempting to dispel such assumptions. It came a time to let the people of God know that being a Christian didn't mean to be broke andf homeless. But somewhere along the line the honest became dishonest when they realized how much money could be made in convincing the poor in spirit to give up their checks for them. This is wrong and it is a sad commentary.

    Those that teach hos to be financially fit are the best prosperity preachers. Those that use themselves as a testimony of it working is also a good prosperity preacher, but those who telllt eh flock to give them all their money? You know me Ra, they should be placed in a commune in the middle of Idaho...

    Human kind is a gullable group. Because they are seeking so much from God and religion that they tend to forget God and look at the person. My thinking is this: if these swindlers want a sure thing, then why not create a toll free number for these people to call in like Cleo.

    Ra, there is a need for prosperity preaching simply because it teaches good stewardship. But there is a thin line that should not be crossed. The preachers who have prospered, like Creflo should show their flock how to do the same thing. If not then they are doing an injustice and just being greedy. Prosper without being extravagant. That's my feeling. There is no reason for the preacher to prosper to the point that they must move out of the neighborhood they live in and build a private secured mansion. When i watch how The Potter's House ministry is building a community and a church ion Florida finances a strip mall of shops and services for the community i realize that the money is not going into the pocket of one man.

    Hey Ra, i honestly like those who have prospered without dipping into the plate.

    to be continued after more thought...
     
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