Note from Dan: This is by regular Ron May, and it’s a real good read that draws from this article on ThinkProgress.org. Looks like he’s discovered yet another ‘Prosperity Gospel’ charlatan — who’s running for public office here in Virginia!
“The GOPTea Party in Virginia has selected E. W. Jackson as its candidate for Lt. Governor in this year’s election. You really need to dig into what the man believes prior to voting for him.
To get a better look at what Jackson’s politicized theology could mean for Virginians, dig into Jackson’s 2008 book Ten Commandments To An Extraordinary Life. In it, Jackson offers an extensive – and often unsettling – peek at his bizarre religious views.
Jackson, for instance, suggests in his book that people should prioritize giving to the wealthy, not to the poor:
“One of the common mistakes made by those who have a heart is to assume that the only appropriate giving is downward, i.e. to the poor. While giving to the poor is important, the most powerful giving for wealth building is upward giving.” (page 177)
In fact, Jackson seems to hold up wealth as the ultimate religious ideal, and even indicates that having money makes someone a better person in God’s eyes:
“Money is not evil, nor does it make people evil. Money magnifies the character of an individual. It gives you more opportunity to be who you really are. God is the creator of silver and gold. He has nothing against money, in fact he values it.” (page 172)
Finally, Jackson provides a framework for how the simple act of positive thinking can force God to provide believers with personal wealth:
“God says He will prosper you. Believe it in the face of overwhelming financial hardship, and your poverty will become prosperity. God says he has healed you. Believe it when every fiber screams sickness, and your sickness will become health.” (page 18)
These unorthodox religious claims may appear inscrutable, but Jackson’s theology is actually a form of American Christianity known as the “prosperity gospel.” The controversial — but growing — movement teaches believers that they can get rich by thinking positive thoughts and by giving large sums of their money to their church and pastor. Not surprisingly, prosperity gospel preachers have been fiercely criticized by a wide array of religious leaders, including conservative evangelical leaders such as Rick Warren and Jerry Falwell, who decry its rabid focus on accruing personal wealth as heretical.
In fact, the lavish lifestyles and questionable financial practices of several prosperity gospel preachers led to a federal probe by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in 2007. Grassley attempted to evaluate the records of six prosperity gospel televangelism ministries to see if they violated federal regulations, but the probe ended in 2011 after most of organizations refused to cooperate with investigators.
Jackson’s theology, like most articulations of the prosperity gospel, is wildly problematic and spiritually exploitative. His glorification of money and wealth flies in the face of Christian gospel messages such as Matthew 19, where Jesus tells a young rich man “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
What’s more, the idea that giving “upward” (to the wealthy) is somehow morally preferable to giving “downward” (to the poor) is the opposite of Jesus’ repeated instruction to care for the “least of these,” and ignores verses in Proverbs, James, and 1 John that clearly prioritize giving to the less fortunate. Worst of all, Jackson implies that people who are poor simply aren’t believing hard enough, meaning the plight of the underprivileged is somehow the result of their own lack of piety.”