The Piety Police: The GOP’s Obsession With The Prosperity Gospel

prosperity gospel

Those of us who live in Indiana are well aware of Mike Pence’s hostility to the rights of LGBTQ citizens, but the national press is still learning about “Pastor” Pence’s fundamentalist religious views on women and gays. Just a few days ago, a Newslo reporter dug up an old Pence speech:

Digging up Mike Pence’s past political work has become a sport in the brief time since he was named Donald Trump’s running mate. The most recent finding is that Pence penned strong anti-LGBT letters in the 1990s during his time as head of the Indiana Policy Review. In 1993, he attacked gay leadership in the military, claiming: “Homosexuals are not as a group able bodied. They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity, which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”

Given his long history of calling to violence against members of the LGBT population, it’s no surprise that Pence can’t go long without going back to his hateful ways. In a recent interview with Fox News, following the results of the presidential election in which his running mate Donald Trump triumphed over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Pence issued a call to homosexuals throughout the United States to “voluntarily quit any jobs they might have with God-fearing employers” for the purposes of “avoiding laws that reject gay people from working in such jobs.”

The “God fearing” Republican party of Mike Pence is a far cry from the party of Barry Goldwater, who famously said of gays in the military “You don’t have to be straight; you just have to shoot straight.” In fact, today’s GOP is a far cry from the party of Ronald Reagan, whose “legacy” is piously invoked and routinely misrepresented.

Today’s GOP is a radical cult–much more like a religion than a conventional political party. And that religion’s basic doctrine is becoming clearer every day: it’s the prosperity gospel on steroids. Prosperity gospel, as you probably know, is the belief that financial and physical well-being are evidence of the will of God. If you are poor and sick, well, that’s God’s will, and government has no business interfering.

You only have to look at the GOP’s so-called “health care” bill to see this doctrinal belief in action.   Why eviscerate Medicaid? Well,if God wanted us to keep grandma alive in a nursing home, He would have seen to it that she could afford it.

In fact, there’s a lot that the Republican God doesn’t want. He (their God is definitely a He) also doesn’t want us bothering to combat climate change. Just ask Senator Inhofe, who insists that only God can change the climate, and says the idea that manmade pollution could affect the seasons is “arrogance.”

The theology of today’s GOP may forbid interfering with God’s will by providing government-subsidized health care or a hand up to the poor, but when it comes to issues of gender, the Prosperity Gospel defaults to garden-variety Christian fundamentalism, a la Pence, which teaches that God wants government to ensure that women aren’t allowed to control their own reproduction. God also wants government to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing poor women with breast exams and/or pap smears. (Why an omnipotent God can’t manage this on His own is one of the mysteries of Christian doctrine…)

Bottom line: Today’s GOP is a thoroughly unholy amalgam of prosperity gospel (whose adherents overlooked Donald Trump’s unfitness for office because, hey–he’s rich! God must love him)–and anti-woman, anti-gay Christian fundamentalism. Its members are antagonistic to science, dismissive of evidence, uninterested in policy and the nitty-gritty of governing, and unmoved by the real-world, human consequences of their actions.

They’re only interested in doing the will of the God they’ve created in their own image.

 

[Originally published at SheilaKennedy.net on June 29, 2017]

Sheila Kennedy is a former high school English teacher, former lawyer, former Republican, former Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU, former columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and former young person. She is currently an (increasingly cranky) old person, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Director of IUPUI’s Center for Civic Literacy. She writes for the Indianapolis Business Journal, PA Times, and the Indiana Word, and blogs at www.sheilakennedy.net. For those who are interested in more detail, links to an abbreviated CV and academic publications can be found on her blog, along with links to her books..

Comments

Loading Disqus Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...