Tuesday, May 23, 2017

God's Salesmen

 Five hundred years ago, the Catholic Church allowed sinners to redeem themselves by buying so-called "indulgences." The money was then channeled to the Pope in Rome. 

Pastor Chris is the founder of one of many African churches that celebrate wealth. His "Christ Embassy" is one of the most successful, with two million followers on the social media platform Facebook. Three satellite TV channels broadcast his sermons, miracle cures and exorcisms to Nigeria, South Africa and Great Britain. And the pastor's acolytes are pretty generous. In 2011, Forbes Magazine estimated his wealth to be between 30 and 50 million USD (26 - 44 million euro). Wealthy preachers often live in luxury, as proof of the power of their prayers. But heavenly intervention is not responsible for this kind of success - all of the money comes out of the pockets of the faithful.  

The prosperity theology propagated mostly by Pentecostal churches is not a purely African phenomenon. In Latin and North America, as well as in Asia and Europe, there are self-appointed prophets and apostles who trade salvation for cash. Often this brand of Christianity has elements of spiritualism and shamanism, which attribute supernatural powers to the priests and pastors.These churches and their ministers market themselves as all-purpose weapons against disease, poverty, unemployment and childlessness. Often they are sought out by the poor who are looking for an explanation for their place in the world through the prosperity gospel and hope for a miracle to escape poverty.


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