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My God is a God who wants me to have things. He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. – Mary J. Blige

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) began an investigation in November 2007 into the spending of American televangelists. Yesterday Grassley released his report, bringing a close to the investigation. The findings showed concern for the “lack of oversight of finances” but contained no penalties, according to the Associated Press.

The investigation looked into the ministries of six televangelists including Joyce Meyer Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changes Church International/Creflo Dollar Ministries, Without Walls International Church/Paula White Ministries, and Bishop Eddie Long/Bishop Eddie Long Ministries. The latter four refused to provide complete information to Grassley.

Why these six televangelists?

The Associated Press notes that all six televangelists preach the “prosperity gospel.”

What is the Prosperity Gospel?

Maybe you had already heard of Joyce Meyer, or maybe you’ve seen Joel Osteen on TV or on a book cover. Meyer and Osteen (and the televangelists probed in the investigation) promote prosperity theology, a belief by some evangelical Christians that God wants to make His people prosper financially.

The idea is a little bit “do this and you’ll get this” or perhaps it’s more passive: Just be Christian and God will give you things. One follower of this belief was quoted in Time magazine as saying, “Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

Such beliefs are often traced back to the covenant God made with His people in the Hebrew Bible. (Learn more about the covenant in this Judaism overview.) If these are God’s people, the thinking goes, and God wants to give them blessings, then surely that includes material goods. Others point to the New Testament of the Bible – ““For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The movement has not been without its fair share of critics, particularly within Christianity. Click here to learn about these criticisms.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2011

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