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Wednesday, January 23

There's a sucker born every minute

This is an excerpt of an excerpt printed at from Sarah Posner's new book, God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters. There is a lot more at the link. Quite shocking too.

Like Bush's 2000 campaign slogan, Compassionate Conservatism, Word of Faith preachers often give lip service to their church's community service projects yet worship at the altar of hyperindividualism and unregulated capitalism. Many of these televangelists spend millions of dollars of church funds on luxury jets, take huge salaries out of church coffers to build themselves mansions, and treat themselves to other luxuries like clothes, vacations, and high-end dinners. They use the free advertising of their churches and television shows to sell countless books, tapes, and DVDs of their sermons, raking in millions that go into for-profit church-related enterprises that line their own pockets. All of this activity is rationalized as obeying Jesus' command to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Yet it is all possible precisely because there is virtually no oversight of the preachers' activities. Tax-exempt churches do not file tax returns and are under no obligation to divulge their finances to donors or the public. Where profit-driven church meets the cornerstone of conservative economic ideology, televangelists have been enriching themselves in an unregulated marketplace trading on God, the cult of personality, and American dreams of riches and success.

Although some observers of the 2006 election have pronounced the conservative Christian movement dead, Parsley's preaching in the service reveals exactly why the Word of Faith movement will play a big role in keeping it alive through the 2008 elections and beyond. While Parsley's audience is under his spell, the mayhem is suddenly suspended when Parsley yells, "Stop! I just heard the Holy Ghost." The audience falls silent, hoping for a direct line from God. Instead, Parsley delivers a political speech.

While I was optimistically hoping that "christian" "conservatives" were losing ground, it appears that their leaders are still being hosted in the White House. These hucksters are capable of transforming tens or hundreds of thousands of suckers (probably mostly oppressed and undereducated) Americans into supporting their lavish lifestyles as well as supporting the GOP. This is what is so dangerous about evangelicals today. If they want to make charlatans rich, that is nothing new, but now more and more brainwashed masses are doing the bidding of the fascist, cruel-corporatist pigs.

It's time to call for a repeal of the tax exempt status of churches in the United States. The best way to deal with them is to hit them where they hurt. Watch how fast the honest ministries stand up and begin to rip out the weeds.

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