Peter Berger offers “two cheers for the prosperity gospel” in the current issue of Books and Culture.

People generally know what is good for them, better than the well-meaning outsider. So do buyers in the marketplace, especially if they are poor. Thus the “consumers” of the prosperity gospel generally know what they are “buying.” Specifically, they know that the betterment being promised them is not an illusion, and they know and don’t care that their preacher has a swimming pool and drives a Mercedes. If they put money in the collection plate, they generally believe that they are getting good value in return. Thus it is not only patronizing to see them as dupes and victims; it is empirically misleading.

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