THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: RACE, CLASS, GIVING, AND VOTING

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THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY:
RACE, CLASS, GIVING, AND VOTING
Bradley A. Koch
Submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree
Doctor of Philosophy
in the Department of Sociology,
Indiana University
July 2009
ii
Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Doctoral Committee
_________________________________
Robert V. Robinson, Ph.D. (chair)
_________________________________
William Corsaro, Ph.D.
_________________________________
Constance M. Furey, Ph.D.
_________________________________
Brian Steensland, Ph.D.
July 20, 2009
iii
©2009
Bradley A. Koch
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thanks to the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana
University, and Rich Klopp in particular, for the funding that allowed me to write this
dissertation and to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion for the travel funds to
present an early version of the second chapter of this work at their annual meeting.
Thanks to my committee members, Rob Robinson, Bill Corsaro, Connie Furey, and Brian
Steensland, for their support and advice. Thanks to my parents, David and Victoria
Koch, and to my wife, Lauren Koch, for their love.
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ABSTRACT
Bradley A. Koch
THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY:
RACE, CLASS, GIVING, AND VOTING
The Prosperity Gospel is the doctrine that God wants people to be prosperous, especially financially.
Adherents to the Prosperity Gospel believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and the poor are poor
because of a lack of faith. In this dissertation, I conduct a study of the Prosperity Gospel through logit
analysis of data collected through telephone survey (N=1003) by SRBI for Time magazine. I report findings
in four main areas: (1) there are multiple Gospels of Prosperity, and the Prosperity Gospel is
transdenominational; (2) while income has no effect on adherence to the Prosperity Gospel, blacks, the
“born-again” or “evangelical,” and those who are less educated are more likely to seek out Prosperity
messages; (3) Prosperity adherence does not affect how much people give financially to either their
churches and other religious causes or to nonreligious causes; (4) Prosperity adherents vote in about the
same proportions as the rest of the population, and those with a Prosperity orientation tend to have voted
for Bush in the year 2004 and identify as Republican. This project is an example of how future research in
the sociology of religion should acknowledge and take seriously the two dominant theoretical perspectives
(i.e. neo-Marxianism and Weberianism) on which the subfield stands. Overall, the Prosperity Gospel is a
fairly flexible theology that is well-suited to be adapted to varying social locations, particularly in a society
like the United States that is radically individualistic.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………1
Chapter 2 Race and Class and Prosperity Gospel Adherence……………………………………..34
Chapter 3 Penny-Pinching for Prosperity?………………………………………………………………52
Chapter 4 Voting for Prosperity……………………………………………………………………………..68
Chapter 5 Conclusions………………………………………………………………………………………….81
Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………….87
Tables……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….115
Figures………………………………………………………………………………………………………………138
Vita
1
CHAPTER 1
Introduction
BACKGROUND
The Prosperity Gospel1 is the seemingly-transdenominational doctrine that God
wants people to be prosperous, especially financially. Adherents to the Prosperity Gospel
believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and is compensation for prayer and for
giving beyond the minimum tithe to one’s church, televangelists, or other religious
causes. The logical extension of the Prosperity Gospel—sometimes explicit, sometimes
not, depending on the preacher—is that the poor are poor because of a lack of faith—that
poverty is the fault of the poor themselves (Brouwer, Gifford, and Rose 1996; Fee 1985;
Gifford 1990; McConnell 1988). Adherents also tend to interpret the New Testament as
portraying Jesus as a relatively rich figure who used his wealth to feed the masses on
several occasions and to finance what they argue to have been a fairly costly itinerate
ministry. As such, Prosperity adherents argue that we should model our lives after Jesus’
by living lavishly, in stark contrast to orthodox interpretations of the Gospels that regard
poverty as a Christian ideal modeled after a poor messiah. In this sense, adherents
believe God to be very interested in their financial status. Poverty, far from being a
blessing, is a sign of God’s disfavor; thus, Christians have a duty to deal only with the
apparent lack of faith among the poor and not their poverty itself. Given these tenets, we

1 What I am terming the “Prosperity Gospel” has gone by several names, including “The Health and Wealth
Gospel,” “Prosperity Theology,” and the “Law of Reciprocity.” Detractors have called it “Prosperity Lite”
and “The Gospel of Greed” (van Biema and Chu 2006). I use the label “Prosperity Gospel” because it is
the most often used among those who are part of the movement.
2
would expect there to be some relationship between Prosperity adherence and class, race,
and charitable giving.
A BRIEF HISTORY
McCloud (2007) identifies four recurring theologies of class in American
religious history. He labels these “divine hierarchies,” “economic Arminianism,” “social
harmony,” and “the class-conscious Christ.” McCloud defines them in the following
way:
The first, which I call ‘divine hierarchies,’ is closely tied to Calvinist predestination and suggests
that socioeconomic differences are divinely ordained. The second, ‘economic Arminianism,’
emerges amidst nineteenth-century Evangelicalism, Republicanism, and the development of
industrial class relations. Asserting that all human beings have the free will to progress in both
religious and financial endeavors, economic Arminianism is the most dominant class theology
today and can be seen in movements as variant as the prosperity gospel and New Age channeling.
The third recurring theology, ‘social harmony,’ was represented in many Protestant Social Gospel
writings as well as a Roman Catholic statement on labor and capital, Pop Leo XIII’s Rerum
Novarum. With roots in antebellum notions of the ideal society as a ‘harmony of interest’ among
differentiated unequals, proponents of this class theology argued that laborers and capitalist
owners in the emerging industrial economy shared mutual, rather than opposing, interests and
goals. While some criticized the Gilded Age robber barons for their exploitative practices,
adherents to this view consistently upheld capitalism, private property, and profits as biblically
sanctioned. The fourth theology, ‘the class-conscious Christ,’ took a rather different view.
Espoused by some Gilded Age supporters of the working class, this theology envisioned Jesus as
champion of laborers and enemy of capitalism. Rather than a harmony of interests, proponents of
the class-conscious Christ viewed labor and capital relations as inherently conflictual. At times,
they even envisioned such conflict as a literal battle between good and evil (105-6).
3
The Gospel of Wealth falls under the first theology, divine hierarchies. This line
of thinking was perhaps best summarized by Andrew Carnegie in his essay “Wealth”
(1889):
…[T]he man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing
to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better
than they would or could do for themselves….It were better for mankind that the millions of the
rich were thrown into the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy
(662).
The Gospel of Wealth offered a conservative Protestant argument against unmitigated
charitable giving. To the industrialists of the Gilded Age, like Carnegie, the poor were
incapable of managing wealth on their own and required the assistance of an elite class of
administrators who could best help those of lower classes by eliciting functionalistic
behavior through calculated social investment. This sentiment is perhaps best captured in
the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish
and you feed him for a lifetime.” Marsden (1972) argues that the Gospel of Wealth and
Weber’s Spirit of Capitalism are, in fact, one in the same in that both espouse an
economic individualism that requires a particular work ethic. The Gospel of Wealth is
the first modern apology for the mass accumulation of capital, unsurprisingly coming out
of the second wave of the Industrial Revolution and being espoused by the American
robber-barons of the late-nineteenth century.
Through the Social Gospel, part of the social harmony theology, progressive
Protestants argued that Christians had a moral obligation to improve the lot of the poor
spiritually and materially. Three major successes of the movement included the mission
of the Salvation Army (Davis and Robinson 1999), the election of Franklin Delano
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Roosevelt, and the subsequent implementation of his New Deal, and the success of the
YMCA, established as a place for immigrants to acclimate themselves to a new culture.
Unlike the Gospel of Wealth and the Social Gospel which were deterministic, topdown,
and only marginally religious treatments of poverty, the contemporaneous origins
of what would be called the Prosperity Gospel, economic Arminianism par excellence,
offered a much more agential, bottom-up, and magico-religious solution for the poor.
The roots of the Prosperity Gospel lie ultimately, as does all of Evangelical
Protestantism, in the “Great Awakenings” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
(Robbins 2004). Evangelical Protestantism refers to those denominations and
independent congregations that have historically placed emphasis on proselytization,
“born-again” experiences, and biblical authority. The Holiness movement emerged near
the end of the third wave of these awakenings, around 1900. Holiness was largely an
extension of Methodism and argued that there was more to the early-Christian message
than salvation. Preachers like Charles Fox Parham taught that, in addition to forgiveness,
individuals were in need of “entire sanctification” initiated by the Holy Spirit (Harrell
1975:12). William Seymour, the son of former slaves and a student of Parham’s, moved
to Los Angeles in 1906, opening a ministry in an abandoned African Methodist Episcopal
Church on Azusa Street. While there were several similar ministries in other parts of the
U.S. at the time, many in academia (e.g. Cox 1993; Freston 1995; Robbins 2004) and in
the movement itself mark the Azusa Street revival as the birth of the modern Pentecostal
movement. Pentecostalism included those denominations and independent congregations
that extended the Holiness claim to sanctification even further, arguing that individuals
are in need of a “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” As evidence of this spiritual baptism,
5
adherents looked for signs, including the gifts of prophecy, healing, and, most notably,
tongues. By the 1920s, numerous sects were congealing around the doctrine of baptism
by the Holy Spirit and the resulting glossolalia into the more familiar Pentecostal
denominations (e.g. Assemblies of God, Church of God in Christ, Church of God
[Cleveland]).
The 1940s and 1950s witnessed a movement of itinerant Pentecostal preachers,
most of whom emphasized the gift of healing. The relationship, however, between the
Pentecostal denominations and these ministries was tenuous at best (Harrell 1975).
Denominations like the Assemblies of God were struggling to gain acceptance among
mainstream American society, having been largely ridiculed since their inception as
being overly-emotional, low-brow, and even farcical. While the Pentecostal
denominations did not necessarily disagree with the healing preachers on a theologicallevel,
they felt the need to distance themselves from the controversy and scandal that
followed all of the tent revivals. As many Americans sought increasing sophistication in
their religious expression in the years following the Second World War (cf. Wuthnow
1988), these healing ministries began to falter, and all but a few disappeared.
By the 1960s, what came to be known as the Charismatic (or neo-Pentecostal)
Movement emerged from these fledgling denominations (Harrell 1975). Charismatics,
like Pentecostals, emphasized spiritual baptism and glossolalia. In 1960, the Episcopal
priest Dennis Bennett announced to his congregation that he had been baptized in the
Spirit. The following years saw similar infiltration into other Mainline and Evangelical
denominations. In 1967, a group of students at Duquesne University received the gift of
tongues, marking the spread of the movement into Roman Catholicism. By the early-
6
1970s, there were virtually no religious institutions untouched by the Charismatic
Movement (Harrell 1975), and it was well on its way to becoming a global movement
(Coleman 1993; 2000; Eves 2003; Jenkins 2002; Poewe 1994).
During this time of Charismatic revival, a new breed of semi-independent
preachers with loose or recently-severed affiliation with the Pentecostal denominations
gained popularity. Unlike their predecessors, who focused almost exclusively on the gift
of healing, most moderated the extremism of the healing message and expanded their
ministry to include new themes such as prosperity. The first formulation of divine
prosperity came from Oral Roberts. As early as 1954, he was telling followers to expect
a sevenfold return on their contributions to his ministry as a reward from God (Harrell
1975). It is out of this “new breed” of Charismatic preachers that the Faith Movement,
with its gospel of prosperity, took form.
The Faith Movement is comprised of the largely independent ministries of those
who teach the centrality of positive confession and the doctrines of healing and
prosperity. What I am terming the “Faith Movement” has gone by several names,
including “Word,” “Word of Faith,” “Word-Faith,” “Name It and Claim It,” and “Health
and Wealth.” I choose “Faith Movement” because, like the term Prosperity Gospel, it is
both the most often used among those who are part of the movement and the least
pejorative of the alternatives. The father of this movement was Kenneth Hagin, whose
ministry was thriving by the 1970s. The early Faith Movement was comprised of several
teachers who tended to agree on the central importance of three basic doctrines: positive
confession, healing, and prosperity (Barron 1987; Bruce 1990b; Hollinger 1991).
Positive confession requires that adherents not merely hope that they receive the gifts that
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God promises but have absolute confidence that they have already received them. Much
of this doctrine relies on specific “magic” formulations that include “loosing” things like
wealth or healing or “binding” evil that would block such blessings (Hunt 1998).
Positive confession can be used to invoke the second and third doctrines—healing and
prosperity.
The Faith Movement and its Prosperity Gospel is alive and well today. Kenneth
Hagin, Jr. has taken over his father’s ministry and has proclaimed Kenneth Copeland and
John Osteen—late father to the best-selling prosperity author, megachurch pastor, and
televangelist Joel Osteen—as students of his father (Barron 1987). Copeland’s message
is unapologetically prosperity-centered, and his publications are almost all devoted to this
topic (e.g. Copeland 1974). While Joel Osteen claims, “I’m not a prosperity preacher”
(King 2006), and “I don’t think I’ve ever preached a sermon about money” (van Biema
and Chu 2006:53), he writes in his book Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your
Full Potential, “God wants to increase you financially…” (5) and “the only place in the
Bible [Malachi 3:10-12] where God tells us to prove him—which means to test Him, or
check Him out—is in the area of our finances” (his emphasis) (257). He also writes:
If you will dare to take a step of faith and start honoring God in your finances [by tithing], He’ll
start increasing your supply in supernatural ways. God will take that 90 percent you have left
over, and He’ll cause it to go further than the 100 percent with which you started. The Scripture
says that when we tithe, God not only opens up the windows of heaven, but He will rebuke the
devourer for your sake. That means He’ll keep the enemy off your money, off your crop, off your
children, and away from your home. He’ll make sure you get promoted. He’ll cause you to get
the best deals in life. Sometimes, He’ll keep you from sickness, accidents, and harm that might
cause other unnecessary expenses. All kinds of blessings come your way when you honor God in
the area of your finances (256).
8
Joel Osteen is, however, the most mainstream and moderate voice in the movement
today, even to the extent of being listed as one of “The 10 Most Fascinating People of
2006” by ABC News (Walters 2006). He rarely, if ever, speaks about sin and death and
chooses not to address such contentious issues as homosexuality and abortion. In fact,
his teachings, along with those of similar preachers such as Joyce Meyer, are often
referred to as “Christianity Lite” since they avoid the tough but traditional teachings of
orthodox Christianity and are closely associated with the secular self-help movement.2
The Faith Movement was the source and incubator for the Prosperity Gospel,
which originated in the movement, and is at the core of its theology, serving as one of its
three central doctrines. These three main teachings of the Faith Movement are divine
healing, prosperity, and positive confession (Barron 1987). Physical healing and
financial prosperity are seen as biblical promises from God to the faithful. In order for a
believer to reap these benefits, one need only “positively confesses” his or her faith in
that contract of health and wealth through the spoken word. Estimated to have over 16
million adherents in the U.S. alone, the Prosperity Gospel seems to have reached beyond
its denominational boundaries, much as the Charismatic Movement did earlier. In fact, it
is likely that the Prosperity Gospel owes its success to the broad, transdenominational
appeal of the Charismatic Movement (Barron 1987; Coleman 2000; Harrell 1975). While
Osteen and Copeland have direct ties to the independent Faith Movement, there are other
somewhat surprising advocates. For example, Kirbyjon Caldwell preaches the Prosperity
Gospel at Windsor Village United Methodist Church to the largest United Methodist
congregation in the country, with 15,000 members (van Biema and Chu 2006). Even

2 In fact, Prosperity proponents universally admit that the principles they set forth work for Christians and
non-Christians alike (see Copeland 1974).
9
though the United Methodist Church has been called the “church of the large standard
deviation” because it encompasses such a diversity of beliefs (Green and Guth 1998:78),
it is surprising to find such heterodox teaching in a solidly Mainline Protestant
denomination.
Such evidence of unbounded expansion could possibly be explained by
Wuthnow’s (1988) declining denominationalism thesis which posits that, given the
widespread institutional changes that followed WWII, religious denominations
underwent similar changes as well. The cautious optimism of the post-War years, along
with the accompanying economic upswing so unimaginable in the preceding twenty
years, set the stage for broad changes in the religious landscape. These changes can be
seen, according to Wuthnow, in two specific places. First, denominational divisions are
no longer as significant as they were before the War. A convergence in the levels of
education between denominations is the hypothesized driving force of this phenomenon.
Second, while denominational differences are declining, transdenominational specialpurpose
groups, including those that tout the Prosperity Gospel, are proliferating. These
groups are increasingly polarized along theo-political lines: highly-educated liberals vs.
less well-educated evangelically-inclined conservatives. This discussion is situated in an
ongoing debate about the culture war (see Ammerman 1990; Davis and Robinson 1996;
Hunter 1991). This trend was motivated mostly by the federal government’s growing
influence on what were previously local and private issues as well as the resultant
emergence of a strong national identity. Contradictory evidence, suggesting that the
Prosperity Gospel has been largely confined to Evangelical and Black Protestant circles,
10
would suggest a more rigid social structure in which both class and ideological
differences parallel denominational divisions, as predicted by Niebuhr (1957).
Many scholars of religion (Cox 2001; Elinson 1965; Gifford 1990; Harrell 1975;
Hollinger 1991) argue that the Prosperity Gospel resonates only with those of the lower
class by offering them the “opiate” of upward mobility. Others make the reverse
argument that the Prosperity Gospel actually rationalizes the wealth of those who have
been upwardly mobile by saying that this is spiritually derived and deserved (Bruce
1990b; Fee 1981; Gifford 1998). Heelas (1993) argues that New Age conceptions of
prosperity (see Brown 1999), which many (Barron 1987; Crenshaw 1994; Fee 1985;
Hollinger 1991; McConnell 1988) see as having influenced the Prosperity Gospel, are an
accommodation to modernity in that they equate “success in the marketplace” with
“spiritual progress” (Heelas 1993:107) and are “aligned with the mainstream goals and
values” of modernity (108). Hunt, Hamilton, and Walter (1997) note “a tendency for
neo-Pentecostalism to endorse certain modern trends,” with the Faith Movement in
particular being motivated by “instrumental rationalism” (9). Walker (1997) writes:
At the very least Pentecostalism throughout the world has not only provided meaning and succor
to its adherents but it has also equipped many of them with the values of ascetic Protestantism so
useful to the modern enterprise, and so essential for social mobility in a capitalist economy (36).
These assumptions are speculative and, until now, have largely gone untested. Others
have gone still further, suggesting that Pentecostal beliefs, including those in prosperity,
could even facilitate upward mobility. Martin (1990) argues that the sense of
individualism imparted by Pentecostalism equips both individuals and cultures for
capitalistic development. Annis (1987) argues that Guatemalan Protestant missionaries,
particularly Pentecostals, attack an indigenous culture that they see as reinforcing
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structural inequalities by equipping converts with a new set of values and behaviors more
conducive to upward mobility (e.g. investing in service-oriented business over
agricultural). Similarly, Woodberry (2006) suggests that “Pentecostalism may facilitate
movement of poor people into the middle class” (35). My dissertation research will test
the conjectures about the class location, race, and giving habits of Prosperity adherents in
the U.S.
THEORY
The Dialectics and Causality of Class
To understand the relationship between the Prosperity Gospel and social class, we
must situate this question within the broader debate about religion and economy within
sociology. Sociological investigation of the relationship between religion and class can
generally be divided into two historical-theoretical camps: those treating religion
primarily as a dependent variable and those treating it mainly as an independent variable.
The roots of this theoretical divide can be traced back to two of the three founding
parents of sociology itself: Marx treated religion as a dependent variable while Weber
treated it primarily as an independent variable. The two schools of thought draw their
causal arrows in opposite directions. At the risk of oversimplifying two complex
perspectives, it can be said that Marxians tend to see economics as affecting religion,
while Weberians tend to see religion as affecting economics.
Marx’s theory of class conflict is rooted in philosophical materialism. That is to
say that Marx (1978 [1844]) believed that material existence, especially one’s economic
situation, was the independent variable of utmost importance in predicting any dependent
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variable. Religion was no exception. While Marx’s theory was underdeveloped with
regard to religion, largely because religion itself was ill-defined in his theory (Saxton
2006), he did leave us with some memorable words on the subject (Marx 1978 [1844]):
Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real
suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and
the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people (54).
Marx thought that religion was something that could be explained in terms of suffering
and oppression, two attributes he linked to a specific social class: the proletariat (Marx
and Engels 1992 [1888]). While Marx left religion rather undeveloped in his theory,
others took up the study of religion in Marxian fashion. Writing about the sources of
denominationalism or schism in religion, Niebuhr (1957) observed:
One phase of denominationalism is largely explicable by means of a modified economic
interpretation of religious history; for the divisions of the church have been occasioned more
frequently by the direct and indirect operation of economic factors than by the influence of any
other major interest of man (26).
While Niebuhr was not dismissive of the divisive nature of theological differences, it is
clear that he thought that it was primarily economic conditions that predisposed a
religious community to these. For other examples of research that treats religion
primarily as a dependent variable, see Bourdieu (1991), Boyer and Nissenbaum (1974),
Engels (2000 [1870]), Schoenfeld (1992), and Wuthnow (1980; 1988).
Weber’s thesis, unlike Marx’s, is rooted in idealism. That is to say that Weber
believed that ideas—not matter—were the a priori stuff on which all else depended.
Weber (1946 [1915]) tells us, “…[V]ery frequently the ‘world images’ that have been
created by ‘ideas’ have, like switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has
been pushed by the dynamic of interest” (280). While Weber acknowledges that religion
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can also be a dependent variable, he devotes most of his attention to religion as an
independent variable. In short, the flux of ideas, especially theology, was the independent
variable of utmost importance in predicting a given dependent variable. In The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber (1992 [1920]) attempts to show that
Calvinism led to the development of modern capitalism, or at least to its driving “spirit.”
Calvinism tells us that only some are going to Heaven; God already knows who those
people are; accumulating wealth is a sign that one is going to Heaven; by working hard,
one has the chance of accumulating wealth; however, one should never carelessly spend
this wealth since this would increase pride which is a sin against God; when one begins
saving, one can begin to invest; and, finally, investment of capital is essentially
capitalism. In short, Calvinism, particularly the teachings of predestination and worldlyasceticism,
created capitalism as we know it, according to Weber. Weber clearly thought
that religion was something that could explain the emergence of a specific social class of
investors: the bourgeoisie. There are, of course, more contemporary examples of
Weberian research within sociology. Gerhard Lenski (1961) analyzed his 1958 survey of
Detroit-area residents by first asking whether religion affected their secular lives. He
found Marxian claims “untenable” (132) and that, indeed, religion does affect the secular
in terms of attitudes and practices economically, politically, in the family, and in
education and science, supporting Weber. In doing so, he assumed that religion is best
used as an independent variable. For other examples of sociological research that use
religion as an independent variable, see Barro and McCleary (2003), Davis and Robinson
(1996; 1999; 2006), Erikson (2005), Hart (1996), Marx (1967), Meyer and Rowan
(1977), Nelson (1993), Noll (2002), Regnerus, Smith, and Sikkink (1998), Sherkat and
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Blocker (1994), Sherkat and Ellison (1997), Smith (1991), and Wuthnow (1994).
It is important not to exaggerate the polarization of these two schools of thought.
Peter Berger (1990) attempts to draw a middle ground between Marxian materialism and
Weberian idealism, namely, dialecticism. By describing the relationship between
religion and class as dialectical, Berger attempts to replace the either/or relationship
between these two camps with a both/and understanding:
The dialectical relationship between religion and society thus precludes the doctrinaire approaches
of either “idealism” or “materialism.”…Only a dialectical understanding of these relationships
avoids the distortions of the one-sidedly “idealist” and “materialist” interpretations (128).
The divergent arrows of causality are more accurately, according to Berger, two sides of
a reciprocal relationship.
In my dissertation, I will conduct a study of the case of the Prosperity Gospel and
how religion and class are related among its adherents. The Prosperity Gospel is wellsuited
to investigating linkages between religion and class/economics: the key tenets of
this gospel include beliefs about wealth, poverty, God’s rewarding or punishing people
with financial success or impoverishment, the obligations of believers to give financially
to their church, and the responsibility (or lack thereof) of the broader society to
ameliorate poverty. Scholars of religion have argued that the Prosperity Gospel may
appeal to the poor because it offers hope for upward mobility (Cox 2001; Elinson 1965;
Gifford 1990; Harrell 1975; Hollinger 1991) or to the rich because it provides divine
justification for their elevated status (Bruce 1990b; Fee 1981; Gifford 1998) or cognitive
resonance with the components of modernity (Heelas 1993; Walker 1997), thus treating
adherence to the gospel as dependent on class. Alternatively, other scholars have argued
that adherence to the Prosperity Gospel may foster changes in people’s lives (working
15
harder, investing more) that result in upward mobility (Annis 1987; Martin 1990;
Woodberry 2006). Conversely, it is conceivable that the changes induced by adhering to
the Prosperity Gospel (waiting for God to make them prosperous rather than working
toward this themselves) make moving up less likely. Both treat adherence as an
independent variable with respect to class. Sorting out the relationship between class and
religion among adherents of the Prosperity Gospel can thus contribute to a debate within
sociology that goes back to Marx and Weber.
There are several possible outcomes regarding religion and class that can be tested
in this study. A negative association among Christians between class and adherence to
the Prosperity Gospel is assumed in much of the literature regarding Pentecostals,
Charismatics, the Faith Movement, and the Prosperity Gospel. However, virtually no
definitive evidence of this relationship has been previously published.
H1A1: The less income a Christian earns the more likely he or she is to adhere to
the Prosperity Gospel.
This hypothesis is in line with the assumed, but untested, claims of much of the literature.
A neo-Marxian interpretation of this hypothesis would say that Christians at the lower
end of the socioeconomic scale are more likely than Christians who are better off to
adhere to the Prosperity Gospel because it promises the opportunity for upward mobility.
Harrison (2005) claims that the Prosperity message “…might be seen (at least in part) as
a type of ‘poor people’s movement’” (148). Such understandings argue that religion is an
opiate and a cathartic for the poor that helps to maintain the status quo for the
advantaged/bourgeoisie by discouraging the disadvantaged/proletariat from rebelling
against inherent structural inequalities. A Weberian interpretation of this hypothesis
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would say that adherents to the Prosperity Gospel are more likely than other Christians to
be at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale because the teachings of the Prosperity
Gospel result in a decreased likelihood of upward mobility. Such understandings argue
that since adherents expect God alone to give them a prosperous life, they are less likely
to be motivated to take actions themselves that would increase their likelihood of
becoming wealthy.
H1A2: The more income a Christian earns the more likely he or she is to adhere
to the Prosperity Gospel.
A neo-Marxian interpretation of this hypothesis would say that Christians at the upper
end of the socioeconomic scale are more likely than Christians who are worse off to
adhere to the Prosperity Gospel because it offers an apology for their wealth. A belief
system that assures the rich that they do indeed deserve their affluent lifestyles would be
more appealing to them than to less well-to-do people. A Weberian interpretation of this
hypothesis would say that adherents to the Prosperity Gospel are more likely to be at the
upper end of the socioeconomic scale because the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel
result in an increased likelihood of upward mobility. Much like The Protestant Ethic,
this particular Weberian interpretation, which differs from that above, would suggest that
those who are poor will feel this is a sign of God’s displeasure and will work hard, save,
etc. to put themselves in God’s good graces.
H1Aø: Among Christians, income is unrelated to adherence to the Prosperity
Gospel.
This is the null hypothesis and would challenge a Weberian interpretation of the results.
However, a null outcome cannot fully negate a neo-Marxian interpretation since
17
Christians at the lower end of the income scale could adhere to the Prosperity Gospel
because it promises the opportunity for upward mobility while Christians at the upper end
of the income scale simultaneously adhere to the Prosperity Gospel because it offers an
apology for their wealth; both could potentially be happening at the same time.
Beyond a measure of income, I would expect this religion/class relationship to be
reflected in a measure of education.
H1B1: The less education a Christian has the more likely he or she is to adhere to
the Prosperity Gospel.
Prosperity preachers generally don’t receive formal training, either from seminaries or
colleges. In the Holiness and Pentecostal tradition, a preacher’s “calling” is seen as
divine and his charisma as inspired and sufficient. As their leaders don’t emphasize
education, it shouldn’t be surprising that their laity are less educated. Adherents to the
Prosperity Gospel, given their historic ties to Pentecostalism and its propensity toward
anti-intellectualism (Woodberry 2006), should be less likely to have higher levels of
education. Wuthnow (1988) acknowledges a demographic cause of cultural-religious
realignment. He claims that the significance of denominational divisions has been
declining since the Second World War and that transdenominational special-purpose
groups have been proliferating and largely taking the place of denominationalism. While
Wuthnow (1988) agrees with Hunter that race, region, and class are increasingly less
significant in predicting attitudinal beliefs, he differs with Hunter in that he finds that a
convergence in the levels of education between denominations has meant for an increase
in the socio-cultural homogeneity between denominations. Instead, transdenominational
groups are increasingly polarized along theo-political lines: highly-educated liberals vs.
18
evangelically-inclined conservatives. Both a study of the battle for control of the
Southern Baptist convention that cites education as a major factor in
moderate/fundamentalist alignment (Ammerman 1990) and recent data that show that
Evangelicals have largely caught up to Mainline, Liberal, and Catholic adherents in terms
of education (Smith, Emerson, Gallagher, Kennedy, and Sikkink 1998) seem to largely
agree with Wuthnow. Thus, regardless of race, region, and income, religious differences
should remain between levels of education, with Prosperity adherents being less
educated.
Race and Mobility Opportunities
As noted above, the Prosperity Gospel is rooted in the Evangelical tradition. To
be sure, this is not to say that all Evangelicals are Prosperity adherents. While Prosperity
ideas have permeated many—if not the majority of—Evangelical camps, some of the
most vocal opponents of the Prosperity message are themselves Evangelicals. The
Prosperity Gospel does not appear to be an Evangelical Protestant movement.3
Neither is
it a Black Protestant movement. Black Protestant churches do resemble white
Evangelical denominations in their social organization and “religious-meaning system”
(Steensland, Park, Regnerus, Robinson, Wilcox, and Woodberry 2000:294) but differ in
their specific social histories. Nonetheless, we will test the hypothesis that PG has been
unable to break free.

3 To be sure, the Prosperity Gospel is an evangelical belief system. I differentiate between evangelical
Christians (with a miniscule e) and Evangelical Protestants (with a majuscule E). The former are a
nebulous group with the common goal of universal proselytization that is independent of denominational or
congregational membership. The latter, a subset of the former, is a religious tradition comprised of a
history and tradition that includes but goes significantly beyond proselytization. While many Catholics and
Mainline Protestants are evangelicals, by definition none are Evangelical Protestants. My data include a
measure of being evangelical but not Evangelical.
19
H2A1: Evangelical and Black Protestants are more likely than all other
Christians to adhere to the Prosperity Gospel.
This hypothesis assumes that the Prosperity Gospel has been unable to break away from
its Evangelical roots and is thus tied to such denominations. A closer association of
Mainline Protestants and Catholics with the Prosperity Gospel is highly unlikely given
the orthodox teachings of both traditions, but this does not preclude the possibility that
there are significant numbers of Mainline Protestant or Catholic adherents of the
Prosperity Gospel.
American religion can be viewed as unique because of America’s unique makeup.
Americans are exceptional in terms of their immigrant composition; moreover, according
to Herberg (1983 [1955]), religion is an expression of one’s ethnic identity. One way in
which to “be American” was to be religious, so immigrant populations were able to
simultaneously act out a new American identity while acting out an older ethnic identity.
African Americans have not been an immigrant community in this traditional sense, but
given their simultaneous status as both insider and outsider, blacks in the U.S. have
experienced what Du Bois (1989 [1903]) called “double-consciousness”:
…[T]he negro is…born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,–a world
which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation
of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always
looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world
that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,–an American, a Negro;
two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose
dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. (2)
Niebuhr (1957) called this racial division within the Church nothing short of a “caste”
system (259). Even as “…beliefs and practices…unite into one single moral community
20
called a Church, all those who adhere to them” (Durkheim 1995 [1912]:44), “11:00 on
Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west,” as Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. said, “we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation” (2005 [1963]).
Compared to virtually all other religions in the U.S., the Prosperity movement is
amazingly multicultural and ethnically diverse; however, it is not a black religious
movement (Harrison 2005). Even though Prosperity-oriented churches cannot be
conceptualized as Black churches per se or as being part of the Black Protestant tradition
historically, the predominance of black members in this movement can likely be
explained in part through an understanding of the historic social functions of the Black
Church. The Black Church, first, afforded a milieu for the organization of the Civil
Rights Movement (Morris 1984). Unlike any other institution, black churches were
places that were outside of the control and supervision of mainstream, white America and
were ideal incubators for communal change. Moreover, the idiosyncrasies of black
religious practice predispose its adherents to socio-political activism (Secret, Johnson, &
Forrest 1990; Pattillo-McCoy 1998). The Black Church, however, also served more
individualistic ambitions. Lincoln and Mamiya (1990) write:
…[I]t is clearly evident that black churches had a major role in establishing the black self-help
tradition during a time when there were no social welfare agencies and private philanthropy was
reserved for other groups. The Black Church assumed the task of helping black people internalize
the ethic of economic rationality that would lead to economic mobility. Black church leaders were
well aware of the role of racism in retarding this mobility, and they knew from experience that
they and their children would have to put forth maximum efforts for minimal achievements. To
reduce the trauma of these realities as much as possible, the black churches took on economic
roles and functions and created institutional vehicles they might otherwise have left to other
entities. (244)
21
H2B1: Blacks are more likely than other racial/ethnic categories to adhere to the
Prosperity Gospel.
If, in fact, blacks are overrepresented among Prosperity adherents and are more
likely to espouse Prosperity-oriented ideas, it may be because of the social structural
limitations on their access to traditional trajectories of upward mobility.4
In particular,
the church offers a location for African Americans to seek alternative social networks and
financial opportunity as well as a supernatural roadmap to affluence absent the “natural”
means to such wealth.
Penny-Pinching for Prosperity
Americans as a whole are not very generous in terms of charitable giving, and
American Christians are only marginally more generous than the average American
(Smith, Emerson, & Snell 2008; Stark 2008; Wuthnow 1994). Even though, as Smith et
al. claim, contemporary Americans have an unprecedented capacity to give to their
churches, they are not doing so very liberally, and very few Christians tithe in the literal
sense. There are very good reasons to why this is the case. Smith, Emerson, & Snell
(2008) tell us that:
…[E]very Christian impulse to generously give money away inevitably runs up against potent
counter-impulses driven by mass consumerism to instead perpetually spend, borrow, acquire,
consume, discard, and then spend more on oneself and family. Such forces are not merely matters
of personal “values” but are structured into deep-rooted institutions….[T]he dominance of mass
consumerism works powerfully and in many ways against American Christians freely and
liberally giving away significant proportions of their income… (176).

4 I do not argue that the lack of upward mobility itself affects the likelihood of adherence but that the
availability of the traditional means to mobility does.
22
Wuthnow (1994) comes to a very similar conclusion:
…[R]eligious giving is part of a much larger cluster of beliefs and cultural assumptions and, for
this reason, cannot be separated from how people think about their work, money, and materialism,
any more than it can be cut off from beliefs about God, spirituality, and stewardship. This is
because religious giving has important symbolic qualities. It dramatizes commitment and
withdrawal, expenditure and sacrifice, what it means to be a spiritual person, and what a good
religious organization should be (249).
Thus the altruistic intentions of Christians today may be thwarted by overarching social
structure and cultural mandates.
One way in which to envisage the competition between cultural mandates is in
what I will term “cosmological theories,” about which there are several conceptions in
the sociology of religion. James Davidson Hunter (1991), who first introduced the idea
of the culture war, positions the conflict between what he terms the culturally “orthodox”
and the culturally “progressive.” The former share a commitment to “an external,
definable, and transcendent authority” (44) while the latter share a belief in the rational,
subjective, process-oriented realization of truth. It is the open hostility—both political
and social—between these opposing understanding of “moral authorities” that best
characterizes what Hunter means by the culture war. Most importantly, Hunter writes,
“The divisions of political consequence today are not theological and ecclesiastical in
character but the result of differing worldviews” (42).5
Previously salient social
divisions, most notably religious denominations, are made irrelevant. The culture war, in

5 Hunter warns that his use of the terms “orthodox” and “progressive” differ from that of the mainstream.
First, these are not theological terms per se. One, for instance, can be theologically orthodox in the Roman
Catholic sense but still “progressive” in the culture war sense. Second, these are not political terms per se.
Political labels such as conservative and liberal, while often analogous to “orthodox” and “progressive,”
respectively, are dependent on preexisting moral commitments. One does not begin with a political
alignment and create a worldview that corresponds to it. For this reason, it is imperative to avoid such
political labels.
23
fact, cuts across traditional denominational lines, pitting Protestant against Protestant,
Catholic against Catholic, and Jew against Jew. Moreover, many of these historical
antagonists are made into strange bedfellows in the more pressing battle over the moral
direction of the United States. Neither are the roots of the culture war, according to
Hunter, in education, class, race, or gender differences. Instead, they are solely in
ideologies and moralities disconnected from other demographic disparities.
Davis and Robinson (1996), while agreeing with Wuthnow and Hunter that the
orthodox are particularly invested in specific defenses of traditional gender roles and
family types, disagree with their claim that the same relationship exists between the
orthodox and conservative defenses of racial and economic inequality. They, in fact, find
“…that the orthodox are no more conservative than moral progressives on issues
concerning racial inequality and are more liberal on issues of economic inequality” (780-
1). Because of this, Davis and Robinson (1999) propose replacing the
orthodox/progressive dichotomy with an orthodox/modernist continuum. Instead of
drawing the line between those who recognize an objective authority and those who
recognize a subjective authority, Davis and Robinson suggest that a continuum be
recognized with those who hold traditionally communitarian moralities—whom they
similarly term “orthodox”— at one pole and those with modern individualist moralities—
whom they term “modernists” at the other (1996; 1999; 2006). They argue that since
modernists are theological individualists they will likely be economic individualists as
well. In fact, they find support for this theory in Europe (1999), the Middle East (2006),
and the United States (1996, Starks and Robinson 2005). Davis and Robinson (1996)
also show that Hunter exaggerates the extent to which Americans are polarized into a
24
culture war: “…[W]e found that most Americans occupy a middle ground between the
extremes of religious orthodoxy and moral progressivism” (780).
Hunter (1991) and Davis and Robinson (1996; 1999; 2006) explain location on
the battlefield one-dimensionally. Hart (1996) presents a much more complex, fivedimensional
scheme of Christian teaching. These five “building blocks” with which
Christians “construct” (43) their worldview are voluntarism, universalism, love,
thisworldliness, and otherworldliness. Respectively, these tendencies involve individual
autonomy, the social limitlessness of salvation, the un-conditionality of love, (the
downplaying of) a responsibility to God’s material creation, and a rejection of earthly
standards. Because of the complexity of this scheme:
…[T]he values undergirding liberal or conservative economic views are not constant; even if
people are at the same place on the liberal/conservative dimension, they may not have the same
reasons for being there, and may have values that differ in fundamental ways….[W]ays of
connecting faith to economic issues exhibit great variety. (84)
Hart claims that one’s location on the five dimensions of theology does not necessarily
link up with a simple politically liberal/conservative location or with related economic
attitudes. While the utility of such a scale might be questionable, it does inform our
understanding of the complexity of contemporary worldviews that are sometimes
reductionistic.
These cosmological theories point toward different expectations for Prosperity
adherents in terms of their beliefs about charitable and religious giving. Hunter (1991)
would seem to suggest that Prosperity adherents are more religiously orthodox (i.e.
absolutist) than progressive (i.e. relativistic) and, thus, would give generously to their
churches but give little to charities. Davis and Robinson (1996; 1999; 2006) would seem
25
to suggest that, as biblical literalists, Prosperity adherents are more religiously orthodox
(i.e. communitarian) than modernist (i.e. individualistic) and, thus, would give more
generously than modernists to both their churches and charities. Hart (1996) suggests
that Prosperity adherents heavily emphasize the voluntaristic dimension (i.e. selfdeterministic)
of Christian teaching and, thus, would give generously to their churches
but give little to charities.
Because of the idiosyncrasies of the Prosperity movement, I would make the
following prediction.
H3A1: Prosperity adherents are more likely to give generously to their churches
and other religious causes.
The Prosperity Gospel makes tithing a rigid, base requirement in a way that most other
Christian traditions do not. Moreover, the Prosperity Gospel promises material rewards
for religious giving (Harrison 2005). Because of this, Prosperity adherents have much
stronger motivations and incentives to give to their churches and pastors than the average
American Christian. Given this alone, we would expect that their religious giving would
eclipse that of all others. Prosperity adherents are unlike other Christians in that their
theology is much more in line with—and, as argued above, perhaps even a creation of—
contemporary consumer-driven capitalism. According to Smith et al. (2008), “…[I]t is
money and individual autonomy that are sacred, perhaps even more sacred than even
God, church, the gospel, and the Bible, for some American Christians. By virtue of being
sacred in American culture, it is nearly impossible to question, to infringe upon money
and individual autonomy” (194) so, whereas the typical Christian’s impulse to give is
thwarted by more secular concerns, the Prosperity Gospel uniquely reconciles these
26
conflicting values by subsuming the would-be secular beliefs into a religious framework.
In other words, avarice is sacralized. Religious giving for Prosperity adherents, then, is
not something that is done in spite of larger cultural expectations but, instead, is done
because of them.
H3B1: Prosperity adherents are less likely to give to nonreligious charitable
causes.
Since the Prosperity Gospel ultimately blames the poor for their own plight, ignoring
social constraints, nonreligious charitable giving is largely discouraged as, at best,
wasteful. Kenneth Copeland (1974) writes:
You can feed a thief all day long, but al you will have is a thief full of food. The food won’t
change him, but the Word of God will transform him on the inside. If you give to the poor in the
proper way, then you can witness to them and introduce them to the power of God. I never give to
the poor without telling them about Jesus. If they are to get my material goods, they will first have
to listen to what I have to say about Jesus (83).
Giving to the poor is something that the Prosperity Gospel encourages but only in a
specific manner and for a particular purpose. A moment of giving can be a moment to
witness. Altruism, however, is ultimately not other-centered but self-centered. Giving to
the poor is a financial investment with a guaranteed return. “When you give to the poor,
you can expect back what you gave” (81). This is largely in line with Wuthnow’s (1991)
understanding of American individualism in which altruism, when enacted at all, is reconceptualized
in self-serving terms that reward the volunteer (and arguably the giver) as
the primary purpose. For Prosperity adherents, the rewards are material and not just the
sentimental feelings of self-satisfaction. This all, however, must be contextualized in the
fact that all kinds of giving are done through the church for Prosperity adherents so that
27
even if giving is done with motives that may be interpreted as nonreligious to outsiders,
adherents will likely funnel it through their churches.
Voting for Prosperity
While religion has largely been ignored or interpreted away by voting scholars
(Leege and Kellstedt 1993b), it has been found to be one of the best predictors of voting
behavior, second only to race in magnitude (Brooks and Manza 1997). In the United
States, voting is strongly influenced by socio-religious cleavages based on
denominational affiliation, the frequency of religious service attendance, doctrinal belief,
denominational group membership, and congregational membership (Manza and Wright
1997). Party alignments are also related to religious tradition, with Catholics and
Mainline Protestants as centrists, Black Protestants as Democrats, and Evangelical
Protestants as Republicans. Denominational preference matters politically in that it is the
most common form of voluntary association in the U.S. (Kellstedt and Green 1993).
These cleavages, however, should not be overestimated, as has often been the case in the
past (Davis and Robinson 1996). Doctrinal beliefs, particularly beliefs about the nature
of the Bible, are better predictors of a host of political beliefs and behaviors (Kellstedt
and Smidt 1993).
In his book Religion at the Polls, Menendez (1977) recounts cases in which
religion has affected American Presidential elections. He reaches several conclusions
relevant to this study. First, people who are affiliated with religious groups that perceive
themselves as insecure or politically excluded—such as Evangelicals—are more likely to
vote for those who belong to their same religious group. Second, religious conservatives,
28
because of their insistence on the individualistic accountability to God, reject the role of
social influences on behavior and, thus, the responsibility of the state to intervene,
aligning them strongly with political conservatives. Third, the “New Evangelicals,”
however, are too heterogeneous and savvy to be as politically dogmatic as many fear, and
finally, it is unlikely that religious affiliation will directly determine the outcome of a
Presidential election in the future.
In God’s Warriors, Wilcox (1992) shows that evangelicals tend to be conservative
on economic issues, even though they also tend to have lower levels of education,
income, and occupational prestige. He argues that this is in large part the result of
Christian Right supporters feeling that their lifestyle is threatened by a hostile mainstream
culture. In particular, they see this threat as being directed at their children via the
education system. In this sense, according to Wilcox, “support for the Christian Right
can be understood from a rational-choice perspective” (40) in that “citizens are
supporting groups that espouse their values and beliefs” (224). The Christian Right, even
though drawing most of its support from white evangelicals, has seen would-be largescale
success thwarted by the religious particularism that separates evangelical,
fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and charismatic Christians who are often seen by outsiders
as being much more doctrinally homogenous than is the case.
Evangelical Protestants have always been less likely to be politically active
(Kellstedt and Noll 1990). This is partly explained by the particularly low interest of
Pentecostals. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, evangelicals slowly realigned from
overwhelming Democratic support to Republican. According to Kellstedt and Noll, this
shift is partially explained by the improving socioeconomic status (SES) of evangelicals
29
and the emergence of social issues in the 1970s. (It is unclear whether the Evangelical
realignment will still hold when controlling for SES.) In specific regard to voter turnout,
Conservative Protestants have the worst voter record6
(Manza and Brooks 1997). When
they do vote, however, conservative/Evangelical Christians are likely to vote for
Republicans, having at times looked to the Christian Right for voting information perhaps
because they are structurally threatened, culturally embattled, and religiously tooled
(Smith, Emerson, Gallagher, Kennedy, and Sikkink 1998; Regnerus, Sikkink, and Smith
1999).
The 2004 elections, in particular, were defined by moral issues to which the
Republican victors are indebted; moreover, Bush, in large part, owes his reelection to
religious conservatives, the core of which were evangelicals (Rozell and Gupta 2006).
As its first new issue since the early 1990s, the same-sex marriage debate galvanized the
Christian Right and evangelicals for the 2004 elections (Wilcox, Merolla, and Beer 2006;
Campbell and Monson 2007). In fact, same-sex marriage is just the latest in a series of
hot-button issues flamed by social change that has largely defined religious conservative
movements since the 1970s (Green, Rozell, and Wilcox 2006):
From its inception the Christian Right has been motivated by a desire to restore traditional
morality to public policy. In this regard, many of the movement’s activities have been reactions to
policy changes….the level and intensity of Christian Right activities are explained in large
measure by policy shifts away from traditional morality…This change provided a powerful
motivation for movement activities (4).
Thus, the Christian Right and similar religio-political movements are the result of the
perceived loss of social status.

6 BLM coefficient = .19; standard error = .14
30
In 2004, traditionalist evangelicals served as the “backbone of a coalition”
(Green, Kellstedt, Smidt, and Guth 2007:33) for both the Republican Party and President
Bush, while black Protestants and seculars bolstered the Democratic Party and Senator
Kerry. Contrary to the predictions of many a pundit, blacks remained firmly in support
of the Democrats (McDaniel 2007). There is no evidence, however, that evangelicals
increased their voter turnout any more than other groups in 2004 (Keeter 2007). What
did change was an increase in political solidarity among evangelicals to the Republican
Party to the extent that they have approached the level of monolithic support of blacks
enjoyed by the Democratic Party. The 2004 successes of Bush and Republicans in
general had more to do with the public policy concerns—including economic policy—of
less committed evangelicals than with moral issues that concerned more committed
evangelicals (Lyman and Hussey 2007).
In Religion in American Public Life, Reichly (1985) elaborates a scheme of value
systems that affects political behavior in the United States and can help to frame the
current project. These systems are based on a combination of influences (or the lack
thereof) from three sources: the individual self, the social group, and a greater sense of
transcendent purpose. These sources result in seven possible value systems:
–egoism, based on the individual self alone.
–authoritarianism, based on society alone.
–monism, based on transcendence alone.
–idealism, based on transcendence and society in combination.
–personalism, based on transcendence and society in combination.
–civil humanism, based on the self and society in combination.
–theist-humanism, based on all three sources: transcendence, the self, and society (10-11).
31
Personalism, as the pursuit of transcendence (read God) through individual experience
(read being born-again), is of particular interest as it contains evangelicalism. Reichly
writes that “In its purest form personalism would seem to require no necessary political
or even social content. If all that really matters in human life is the individual’s
experience of personal salvation…the concerns of civil government…may be regarded as
essentially irrelevant (39). Because of this, evangelicals in the U.S. were largely
apolitical through the 1960s. By the 1970s, however, a prevailing sense of moral decay
among evangelicals (spurred in no small part by Supreme Court rulings for abortion
rights and against prayer in public schools) was motivating increasing numbers within the
movement to become politically engaged. This reengagement among evangelicals led
directly to the elections of both Carter and Regan (the former of which evangelicals
almost immediately regretted after his taking office). Overall, evangelicals’ rejuvenated
political interest is best explained, according to Reichly, as part of “‘status politics,’ the
struggle of a declining social group to recapture some of its lost prestige and power”
(329).
Prosperity Gospel adherents, while clearly religious personalists, are unique
among evangelicals in that otherworldly salvation, while important, is subordinated to the
perceived promises of this-worldly material rewards. How does this play out politically?
Do the temporal concerns of Prosperity adherents motivate them to increased political
activity? While research into the relationship between religion and political behavior has
been progressing, this particular area—namely the Prosperity Gospel—has been
neglected. This research proposes to fill that gap and answer the question, What, if any,
are the politics of Prosperity adherents?
32
The Prosperity Gospel is an evangelically-minded, conservative movement. It
stresses financially conservative or economically individualistic goals, and it argues
against social consciousness. Like other conservative Christians, Prosperity adherents
should not be as politically active as adherents of other faith traditions. I test this
assumption by looking at voting in the 2004 presidential election:
H4A1: Prosperity adherents were less likely to vote in 2004 presidential election.
Given their individualistic worldview and his evangelical rhetoric and identity, those
Prosperity adherents who did vote should have supported George W. Bush in 2004.
H4B1: Prosperity adherents were more likely to have voted for Bush than Kerry
in the 2004 presidential election.
Moreover, they should be likely to support the GOP consistently.
H4C1: Prosperity adherents are more likely to identify as Republican.
I expect all of these hypotheses to hold even as I control for being born-again/evangelical
and for affiliation as Protestant, Catholic, or other Christian, among other variables.
One major problem with much of the previous research is that it deals indiscriminately
with “Conservative Protestants,” “conservative Christians,” “evangelicals,” the “new
religious right,” the “Moral Majority,” etc. The preferred operationalization of religious
affiliation within the sociology of religion is to differentiate between religious traditions,
including Evangelical Protestants (Steensland, Park, Regnerus, Robinson, Wilcox, and
Woodberry 2000). While Evangelical Protestants are not precisely the same as the
groups listed above, they do tend to be highly correlated, and I am forced to treat them as
analogs here, albeit reluctantly, since these data only have a measure for “bornagain/evangelical.”
Being “born-again,” however, is not so simple a matter. First, it is
33
unclear how respondents interpret such questions, as a statement of identity or of an
experience; second, there are differences between religious traditions on its interpretation
as well, particularly between Catholics and Evangelicals (Jelen, Smidt, and Wilcox
1993). By itself and without clarification, born-again has not been a great predictor of
political beliefs. Since the question in this data specifically links born-again to
evangelical, some of this confusion is possibly eliminated. These data also do not contain
a specific question on denominational affiliation. While this is unfortunate, it is not
damning as political partisanship is today less about denominational belonging and more
about devotional behavior (Campbell 2007b).
34
CHAPTER 2
Race and Class and Prosperity Gospel Adherence
INTRODUCTION
As I noted in the previous chapter, prior research on the relationship between
religion and class can generally be divided between that which treats religion primarily as
a dependent variable and that which treats it mainly as an independent variable. The
roots of this theoretical divide can be traced back to Marx and Weber. Marxians tend to
see economics as affecting religion, while Weberians tend to see religion as affecting
economics. While much of the literature regarding Pentecostals, Charismatics, the Faith
Movement, and the Prosperity Gospel has assumed that Prosperity adherents are poor,
this relationship has yet to be empirically tested.
It may be that the poor are more likely to be Prosperity adherents. If so, it could
be because either the Prosperity Gospel promises the opportunity for upward mobility
and acts as an opiate for the poor (neo-Marxian) or that the teachings of the Prosperity
Gospel result in a decreased likelihood of upward mobility since adherents expect God
alone to give them a prosperous life and are less likely to be motivated to take actions
themselves that would increase their likelihood of becoming wealthy (Weberian).
H1A1: The less income a Christian earns the more likely he or she is to adhere to
the Prosperity Gospel.
Alternatively, while going against conventional wisdom, it might be that the
relatively wealthy are more likely to be Prosperity adherents. If so, either the Prosperity
35
Gospel offers an apology for wealth, assuring the rich that they do indeed deserve their
affluent lifestyles (neo-Marxian), or the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel result in an
actual increase in the likelihood of upward mobility because those who are poor will feel
this is a sign of God’s displeasure and will work hard, save, etc. to put themselves in
God’s good graces (Weberian).
H1A2: The more income a Christian earns the more likely he or she is to adhere
to the Prosperity Gospel.
There is also the possibility that there is no difference between the wealthy and
the poor. This would challenge a Weberian interpretation of the results. However, a null
outcome cannot fully contradict a neo-Marxian interpretation since Christians at the
lower end of the income scale could adhere to the Prosperity Gospel because it promises
the opportunity for upward mobility while Christians at the upper end of the income scale
simultaneously adhere to the Prosperity Gospel because it offers an apology for their
wealth; both could potentially be happening at the same time, cancelling each other out,
and causing no relationship between income and adherence to PG. Thus, the null
hypothesis:
H1Aø: One’s income is unrelated to adherence to the Prosperity Gospel.
Regardless of how income is related to adherence to the Prosperity Gospel, I
expect Prosperity adherents to be less likely to have higher levels of education given their
historic ties to Pentecostalism and its propensity toward anti-intellectualism (Woodberry
2006). The decline of denominational divisions since the Second World War and the
36
proliferation of transdenominational special-purpose groups would also presuppose such
an outcome (Wuthnow 1988). Thus, controlling for other variables, differences in
adherence to the Prosperity Gospel should remain between levels of education, with
Prosperity adherents being less educated.
H1B1: The less education a Christian has the more likely he or she is to adhere to
the Prosperity Gospel.
Because the Prosperity Gospel emerged historically (in part) from the Evangelical
tradition, I expect that Evangelical Protestantism, including Black Protestantism which is
primarily in the Evangelical tradition (Steensland et al. 2000) will still be the primary
“home” of adherents of the Prosperity Gospel. Put another way, Prosperity ideas and
adherence should be less common in the Catholic or Mainline Protestant traditions, the
former being the most unlikely of locations given Catholic social teaching and the
historic mission of the Catholic Church among the impoverished. To find Prosperity
ideas among Catholics especially would indicate a surprising proliferation and appeal for
this movement.
H2A1: Evangelical and Black Protestants are more likely than all other
Christians to adhere to the Prosperity Gospel.
African Americans have experienced a unique history in the United States. First,
as a non-immigrant ethnic community, blacks have been treated as outsiders. America
was historically exceptional in that religious expression was seen as simultaneously
capable of defining both a newer American identity while doing so in an ethnically
37
distinct manner (Herberg 1983 [1955]). While this kind of religious expression
eventually meant that immigrant groups like Italians and Irish were granted full, nonethnic
inclusion into the mainstream culture, acceptance of blacks has failed to achieve
this level of integration, a unique experience Du Bois (1989 [1903]) called “doubleconsciousness.”
Inasmuch as blacks have not become fully enfranchised economically
and otherwise, the Black Church has fulfilled the functions of the political and financial
institutions whose services were not available to its congregants (Lincoln and Mamiya
1990). While the Prosperity Gospel is not historically part of this Black Protestant
tradition, contemporary churches that emphasize Prosperity teachings fill a similar role
and thus may be popular with African Americans for the same reasons.
H2B1: Blacks are more likely than other racial groups to adhere to the
Prosperity Gospel.
DATA AND METHODS
I test the hypotheses with data collected by telephone interviews between June
27th and 29th 2006 with a national random sample of 1003 U.S. adults, age 18 and older,
770 of whom self-reported as Christians. These data were collected by Schulman, Ronca,
& Bucuvalas, Inc. (2006) for a Time magazine cover story “Does God Want You to Be
Rich? (van Biema and Chu 2006) in which only basic descriptive statistics were reported.
The full national cross-section sample data have been weighted to reflect the
demographic composition of adult Americans by targeting U.S. Census numbers. The
margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 4 percentage points. These data
will be used in testing all of the hypotheses.
38
The dependent variables of interest are membership in the Prosperity Movement,
agreeing that God wants people to be financially prosperous, agreeing that wealth is a
sign of God’s blessing, agreeing that poverty is a sign God is unhappy, and an index of
Prosperity Orientation,
7 constructed from the following questions:
1. Material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing (+)
2. If you give away your money to God, God will bless you with more money (+)
3. Poverty is a sign that God is unhappy with something in your life (+)
4. God is not interested in how rich or poor you are (-)
5. Jesus was not rich and we should follow his example (-)
6. If you earn a lot of money you should give most of it away and live modestly (-)
7. If you pray enough, God will give you what money you ask for (+)
8. Giving away 10% of your income is the minimum God expects (+)
9. Christians in America don’t do enough for the poor (-)
10. Poverty can be a blessing from God (-)
Factor analysis supports these questions as together getting at an underlying, latent
variable that we might call Prosperity adherence.8
As noted with a + or -, half of these
questions are positively correlated with adherence while half are negatively correlated.
The equal numbers of positively and negatively worded items reduces the likelihood of
acquiescence bias. I transform these questions into an index ranging from 1 to 10, ten
being the most Prosperity-oriented, one the least.
I control for several independent variables. Race is included as a dichotomous
variable, black (=1) or non-black. While respondents could volunteer the answers
Hispanic or Asian, very few did so. Hispanic or Asian variables when included were

7
This study is limited to Christians in the U.S. by the data since the questions that make up the dependent
variables were only asked of those who self-identified as Christians. I discuss this further in chapter 5. 8 Eigenvalue = 1.29; average loading value = .33 (SD = .15); Cronbach’s α = 0.74
39
automatically dropped from regressions because of their small numbers. Born-again or
evangelical, which was a single question in which people were asked, “Do you consider
yourself an evangelical or born-again Christian?” is include. Years of education is
included as a continuous variable, transformed to approximate the number of years
needed for each level of education, originally included in the data a categorical variable.
Age, too, is included as a continuous variable, having been transformed from a
categorical variable using the median age of the original cohorts. Place of residence as
urban, rural (reference), or suburban are included as separate categorical variables.
Church attendance is dichotomized to those who attend a religious service once a week or
more (=1) or less than once a week. Income is included as a continuous variable,
transformed from a categorical variable using the median dollar amounts divided by
1000. Gender is included, with females coded 1 and males 0. Religious affiliation as
Protestant (reference), Catholic, or other Christian is included. Unfortunately, the data
did not include a measure of denominational affiliation. Region of the country is also
included. All cases with missing data are dropped from the sample. The descriptive
statistics for all variables are shown in table 2.1.
[insert Table 2.1 about here]
RESULTS
For each of these dependent variables, model 1 is the full model which includes
all the independent variables. Income is not significant for any of the dependent
variables. Race has the largest effect of all of the independent variables for each of the
dependent variables. Model 2 omits the race variable, and with few exceptions, offers no
40
change in the effects and significance of the remaining variables for any of the dependent
variables. Model 3 reduces the independent variables to just those independent variables
that were significant in the full models. Finally, where necessary, model 4 is reduced to
include only those independent variables that were significant in model 3. Several other
models were run for each dependent variable, the results of which are not presented here.
BIC’ provides very strong support for most9
of the final models over all other conceivable
models. This same approach is repeated in the following chapters as well.
Tables 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5 show the BLM models for the dependent variables
“believes that God wants people to be financially prosperous,” “membership in a
Prosperity movement,” “agrees material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing,” and “agrees
poverty is a sign God is unhappy with something in your life” respectively. Table 2.6
shows the OLM models for the Prosperity Index dependent variable, and table 2.7 shows
the preferred models for each of the dependent variables.
[insert Table 2.2 about here]
[insert Table 2.3 about here]
[insert Table 2.4 about here]
[insert Table 2.5 about here]
[insert Table 2.6 about here]
[insert Table 2.7 about here]
I present the results here as predicted probabilities for ideal types, as they are a
quick and simple way to present the otherwise complicated outcomes of nonlinear models
(Long 1997). Predicted probabilities are the chances that a given outcome will happen

9 These are the exceptions: for the DV being members of a Prosperity movement, BIC’ provides only
positive support for model 4 over model 3, and for the DV “agreeing that material wealth is a sign of God’s
blessing,” BIC’ provides only strong support for model 4 over model 3.
41
based on certain independent variations. These chances are presented here as
percentages. Unless otherwise noted, it should be assumed that all predicted probabilities
hold all other variables at their means.
Blacks have the highest chances of being members of a Prosperity movement
(16%), believing that God wants people to be financially prosperous (83%), agreeing that
material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing (34%), and agreeing that poverty is a sign of
that God is unhappy (16%) as seen in table 2.8. Born-again/evangelicals have the second
highest chances of being members of a Prosperity movement (10%), believing that God
wants people to be financially prosperous (69%), and agreeing that material wealth is a
sign of God’s blessing (24%); being born-again/evangelical, however, is not significant
for agreeing that poverty is a sign of that God is unhappy. Increasing levels of education
have an indirect relationship with agreeing that material wealth is a sign of God’s
blessing and agreeing that poverty is a sign of that God is unhappy. The average person
has a 19% chance of having a Prosperity Index scores above 5. Blacks have a 58%
chance of having Prosperity Index scores above 5, compared to just a 17% chance for
non-blacks. Those in the 65 or older age cohort have a 25% chance of having a
Prosperity Index scores above 5, compared to just a 12% chance for the 18-24 cohort.
[insert Table 2.8 about here]
Population
The chances of the average American being a Prosperity adherent are largely
dependent on how we operationalize Prosperity adherence, as shown in figure 2.1.
Holding all variables at their mean, the chances of being a member of a Prosperity
42
movement (5%), agreeing material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing (19%), and agreeing
poverty is a sign that God is unhappy (2%) are all fairly small. As shown in figure 2.2,
the chances of having a score on the Prosperity Index higher than 5 (19%) are also fairly
small. The chances of believing that God wants people to be financially prosperous,
however, is high (61%) for the average person. While all of these questions are
conceptually related, individuals approach them differently. How we think about the
Prosperity Gospel matters.
[insert Figure 2.1 about here]
[insert Figure 2.2 about here]
Within-Movement Diversity
Two-thirds (66%) of American Christians answer affirmatively to at least one of
the four Prosperity related questions, but these people are inconsistent in their answers to
these questions. Take those who say they are formal members of a Prosperity movement:
about 14% do not believe that God wants people to be financially prosperous, nearly 60%
do not believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, and nearly 75% do not believe that
poverty is a sign that God is unhappy. These beliefs directly contradict the teachings of
the Prosperity Gospel. This kind of inconsistency is not, however, unprecedented. Take
American Catholics for example. It has long been known that most lay Roman Catholics
in the U.S. do not agree with Vatican teachings on many central tenets, including birth
control, abortion, and homosexuality, and yet still maintain a solidly Catholic identity
(Dillon 1999).
43
While somewhat less surprising than those of formal Prosperity movement
members, these kinds of inconsistencies also exist among the more casual Prosperity
adherents: 70% of those who agree that God wants people to be financially prosperous do
not believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, and nearly 40% of those who believe
that poverty is a sign that God is unhappy do not believe that wealth is a sign of God’s
blessing. We tend to think of the Prosperity movement as being homogenous, internally
consistent, and having a systematic theology; however, most people’s understandings of
the Prosperity Gospel are not so rigorous. The fact that 90% of those who believe that
God wants people to be financially prosperous are not formal members of a Prosperity
movement alone points to there being at least two strands of Prosperity that have been
diverging over the last several decades. The first is the formal, strict, institutionalized
Prosperity Movement that may encompass Word of Faith members, Rhema affiliates, and
preachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. The second is informal and may
include more casual readers and viewers of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, and the
like.
Class
I hypothesized three possible relationships between income and Prosperity
adherence. First, the less income a Christian earns the more likely he or she might be to
adhere to the Prosperity Gospel (H1A1); second, the more income a Christian earns the
more likely he or she might be to adhere to the Prosperity Gospel (H1A2); or third,
income might be unrelated to adherence to the Prosperity Gospel (H1Aø). In fact, as we
can see in table 2.7, income is not a significant predictor of any of the measures of
44
Prosperity adherence. This is support for the null hypothesis (H1Aø). This finding holds
in the zero-order as well; even without controls, income is unrelated to any of the
measures of Prosperity adherence. The lack of a relationship between income and
adherence to the Prosperity Gospel means that I can dismiss a Weberian interpretation of
the results. It is unthinkable that Prosperity ideas would simultaneously motivate
individuals to both take actions that would increase their income and reduce their income.
In other words, it is extremely unlikely that believing that God wants you to be wealthy
encourages some to work toward higher pay and others to dismiss such efforts and
ambition. The Prosperity message is too specific to have such ambiguous outcomes.
To be sure, though, the Prosperity Gospel is not a type of poor people’s
movement, as Harrison (2005), in part, claims. The poor (i.e. those with lower levels of
income) are no more or less likely than the relatively wealthy (i.e. those with higher
levels of income) to be members of the movement or to adhere to the movement’s
specific teachings.
A neo-Marxian understanding of simultaneous and divergent justifications,
however, cannot be dismissed. That is, the poor could use the Prosperity Gospel as a
supernatural promise of upward mobility while the rich could use the same Gospel as an
explanation for their preexisting wealth. The Prosperity message is specific enough to
allow for both grounded understandings. Were it not for qualitative evidence suggesting
that both such understandings are occurring among adherents of the Prosperity Gospel,
the logical conclusion would be that income has no effect on adherence. However, my
quantitative findings here are supported by the ethnographic work of Harrison (2005) in a
Word of Faith congregation in Sacramento, California, who writes:
45
For those who have not yet been upwardly mobile, the doctrine supplies explanations (such as
their being “between blessings”). But for those who have become more prosperous or are in the
process of being so, this belief system is an important conceptual vehicle supporting their efforts
(159-60).
Qualitative research, like Harrison’s, is methodologically unable to determine whether
Prosperity ideas are motivating adherents to behave differently in their financial lives.
My research, being quantitative, can call this motivational aspect into question while
being informed by the grounded, dual-interpretation of Prosperity ideas. People at the
bottom and the top of the class hierarchy may be able to use the Prosperity Gospel to
explain their locations, but they are not appreciably changing their financial behavior.
Education
Consistent with H1B1, I find that the less education a Christian has the more likely
he or she is to adhere to the Prosperity Gospel. As shown in figure 2.3, those with less
education are more likely to agree that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, and as
shown in figure 2.4, those with less education are more likely to agree that poverty is a
sign that God is unhappy (although the effect of education diminishes as it increases).
Education, however, is not a significant predictor of either being a member of a
Prosperity movement or of agreeing that God wants people to be financially prosperous.
Thus, while education does affect acceptance of the core teachings of the Prosperity
Gospel, it does not affect membership itself, either formally or informally. Inasmuch as
the Prosperity movements—or at least Prosperity ideas—are a transdenominational
special-purpose group, according to Wuthnow (1988), we would expect the line between
adherence and non-adherence to be drawn along theo-political lines: highly-educated
46
liberals vs. evangelically-inclined conservatives, and indeed, we see that education and
evangelicalism (discussed below) are predictive of adherence to the Prosperity Gospel.
[insert Figure 2.3 about here]
[insert Figure 2.4 about here]
Income, perhaps the most widely-used proxy for class in sociological studies,
does not predict adherence to the Prosperity Gospel. However, education, which also can
serve as a proxy for class, does predict adherence. Specifically, those with more
education are less likely to agree with Prosperity tenets. The relationship between
education and class has been well-documented. Education is a very strong source of
social mobility. For those who, for whatever reason, have not had access to the structural
mobility afforded by education, the Prosperity Gospel offers a supplementary and
supernatural promise of the mobility that is otherwise lacking. In other words, those who
are highly educated have the human, social, and cultural capital to more or less ensure
their upward mobility while those with little education and the resulting capital must seek
out other means to that mobility.
Transdenominationalism
Prosperity adherence is not limited to Evangelical and Black Protestantism as we
might expect given the movements’ history and as predicted by H2A1. While those who
are born-again/evangelical10 are disproportionately likely to be members of Prosperity
movements, to agree that God wants people to be financially prosperous, and to agree
that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, as shown in figure 2.5, there is no

10 This is a single questions that asks, “Do you consider yourself an evangelical or born-again Christian?”
and is distinct from the question about religious preference.
47
difference between Protestants, Catholics, and other Christians in their likelihood of
Prosperity adherence, as shown above in table 2.7. This means that there are significant
numbers of Prosperity adherents (no matter how this is measured) within Catholicism,
which is the last place we would expect to find such beliefs given the historic and
contemporary teachings of the Vatican. This alone suggests that the Prosperity Gospel is
transdenominational, which, while unexpected, could be explained given its close ties to
the transdenominational Charismatic/neo-Pentecostal movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
As the erstwhile Pentecostal practices made their way into Catholic and Mainline
services, they likely brought with them other related concepts, or at least paved the way
for the integration of such ideas.
[insert Figure 2.5 about here]
Race
A surprising finding involves the critical importance of race in all models
explaining adherence to the Prosperity Gospel. As shown in figures 2.6 and 2.7, blacks
are far more likely to adhere to Prosperity messages (H2B1).11 This is not due to the
greater likelihood of blacks having less education and lower incomes than other racial
categories because these variables are controlled. For every measure of Prosperity
adherence, race is the single-most important factor. Blacks are disproportionately likely
to be Prosperity adherents no matter how adherence is measured. Blacks may be more
likely to seek out Prosperity messages because of the social structural limitations on their
access to traditional trajectories of upward mobility. I do not argue here that the lack of

11 Models run for whites alone, which are not presented here, yielded very similar results to those models
that include blacks and non-blacks. Because of this and the lack of change in each Model 2, I can be sure
that the universally high effect and significance of the race variable is not obfuscating other effects.
48
upward mobility per se affects the likelihood of adherence, as this would likely be
captured by the measure of income. I argue, instead, that the availability of the usual
means to mobility, and specifically its variation between groups, affects adherence.
These limitations have primarily existed in regard to access to social, cultural, and human
capitals and have historically been overcome within the Black Church and today within
Prosperity-oriented black churches.
[insert Figure 2.6 about here]
[insert Figure 2.7 about here]
As noted above, those with more education are exponentially less likely to agree
that poverty is a sign that God is unhappy, but education and race have an interactive
effect, as shown in figure 2.8, in which blacks are exceptionally less likely to agree that
poverty is a sign that God is unhappy as their education increases, to the point that
highly-educated blacks are virtually indistinguishable from their highly-educated
counterparts of other races. In other words, education has a greater effect in lessening
support for the Prosperity Gospel among blacks than it does among other racial groups.
[insert Figure 2.8 about here]
Gender
Given previous research, I would expect women to be more likely to adhere to the
Prosperity Gospel. Miller and Hoffman (1995) have argued that women are more
religious than men on a number of different measures because men are more likely to
engage in risky behavior while women are more likely to avoid risk. Because of
differential socialization, boys are encouraged to take risk, and girls are encouraged to be
49
more genteel. According to Pascal’s wager, as discussed by Miller and Hoffman, the
potential risks of disbelief far outweigh the potential gains of belief. In other words,
behaving as if there were a heaven makes a lot more sense than behaving as if there were
no hell. In this way, religiosity becomes feminine: belief is safe and, thus, for women
while disbelief is dangerous and, thus, for men.
If this same risk-aversion argument were to be used to understand Prosperity
adherence, one would expect woman to be more likely to adhere. Those who follow the
specific teachings of the Prosperity Gospel at least have the chance to prosper; those who
don’t, won’t. In this way, it’s like Lotto: you have to be in it to win it! However, men
and women are equally likely to be Prosperity adherents. If Prosperity adherence can be
conceptualized as a form of financial risk aversion, why aren’t women more likely to
believe it? Ironically, the otherwise conservative Prosperity movement is a relatively
progressive force in terms of gender roles. Indeed, several prominent Prosperity
preachers are women (e.g. Joyce Meyer). Because the Prosperity Gospel is a reflection
of a radicalized individualism that demands personal accountability, the movement
unintentionally empowers women and rejects traditional gender roles. In this way,
perhaps women and men are symmetrically socialized and end up behaving similarly.
Other Variables
While Harrison (2005) claims that Faith ministries are overwhelmingly located in
the South, Prosperity participation at the individual level is much more evenly spread
regionally. Those who live in the Midwest are slightly (7%) more likely to agree than
those in other regions of the country that poverty is a sign that God is unhappy while
50
those in the Northeast have almost no chance (0%) of agreeing, as shown in figure 2.9.
Overall, however, the Prosperity Gospel has similar support across the country. Those
who live outside of urban areas (22%) are more likely than those who live in urban areas
(13%) to agree that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, as shown in figure 2.10.
Overall, though, the Prosperity Gospel seems to be equally appealing in urban, rural, and
suburban settings. While those who are older are more likely to agree that material
wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, as shown in figure 2.11, and to have higher Prosperity
Index scores, as shown in figure 2.12, they are no more likely to be members of a
Prosperity movement or to agree with the other related teachings.
[insert Figure 2.9 about here]
[insert Figure 2.10 about here]
[insert Figure 2.11 about here]
[insert Figure 2.12 about here]
CONCLUSIONS
There are multiple Gospels of Prosperity, and the Prosperity Gospel is
transdenominational. Income, surprisingly, is not a significant predictor of any of the
measures of Prosperity adherence, suggesting that Prosperity adherents are not
appreciably changing their financial behaviors. Blacks may be more likely to seek out
Prosperity messages because of the social structural limitations on their access to
traditional trajectories of upward mobility and with increasing levels of education, are
exceedingly less likely to agree that poverty is a sign that God is unhappy to the point
that they are virtually indistinguishable from their highly educated counterparts. Men
51
and women may be equally likely to be Prosperity adherents because the Prosperity
Gospel is a reflection of a radicalized individualism that demands personal
accountability, regardless of gender. The Prosperity Gospel has similar levels of
adherence in all kinds of urban and regional settings.
Overall, the Prosperity Gospel is a fairly flexible theology that is well-suited to be
adapted to varying social locations, particularly in a society like the United States that is
radically individualistic. It is similarly appealing across income levels, between men and
women, among those who attend church frequently and infrequently, and (with a couple
exceptions) across the country and in varying urban settings. It is more popular among
blacks, the less educated, those who are older, and those who are born-again or
evangelical. Given anecdotal evidence that the movement has grown considerably in the
last twenty years, one might expect that, given its multivocality, it will become even
more popular. I estimate from these data that in 2006 there were over 16 million people
in the U.S. who were members of a Prosperity movement—three times the number of
Jews in the U.S.12 It seems that, in part, rising levels of education are counteracting this
growth. Since the U.S. has a relatively well-educated population, and perhaps
increasingly so, it is unlikely that the movement will be able to sustain its recent growth.
In fact, it is likely the movement may shrink domestically as the average level of
education continues to rise.

12 Calculated from Pew (2008).
52
CHAPTER 3
Penny-Pinching for Prosperity?
INTRODUCTION
Americans as a whole are not very generous in terms of charitable giving, and
American Christians are only marginally more generous than the average American
(Smith, Emerson, & Snell 2008; Stark 2008; Wuthnow 1994). Contemporary Americans
are not giving to their churches very liberally, and very few Christians tithe in the literal
sense. Perhaps the altruistic intentions of Christians today are thwarted by a hostile
overarching social structure and culture, which includes such values as individualism,
materialism, and mass consumerism (Wuthnow 1991; 1994; Smith, Emerson, & Snell
2008).
Competing cosmological theories point toward competing expectations for
charitable and religious giving. Using Hunter’s (1991) scheme, one would expect the
orthodox to give generously to religious causes and progressives to give generously to
nonreligious causes. Using Davis and Robinson’s (1996; 1999; 2006) scheme and
assuming that Prosperity Gospel adherents are orthodox, one would expect the orthodox
to give generously to both religious and nonreligious causes and modernists to give little
to either. Using Hart’s (1996) scheme, one would expect those who prioritize
voluntarism and otherworldliness to give generously to religious causes while those who
stress universalism, love, and “thisworldliness” to give generously to nonreligious causes.
These cosmological theories point toward different expectations for Prosperity
adherents in terms of their beliefs about charitable and religious giving. Hunter (1991)
53
would seem to suggest that Prosperity adherents are more religiously orthodox (i.e.
absolutist) than progressive (i.e. relativistic) and, thus, should give generously to their
churches but give little to charities. Davis and Robinson (1996; 1999; 2006), however,
would seem to suggest that, as biblical literalists, Prosperity adherents are more
religiously orthodox (i.e. communitarian) than modernist (i.e. individualistic) and, thus,
should give generously to both their churches and charities. Hart’s (1996) analysis would
seem to suggest that since Prosperity adherents heavily emphasize the voluntaristic
dimension (i.e. self-deterministic) of Christian teaching, they should give generously to
their churches but give little to charities.
Because of the idiosyncrasies of the Prosperity movement, I expect that since the
Prosperity Gospel makes tithing a rigid, base requirement in a way that other Christian
traditions do not and promises material rewards for religious giving, Prosperity adherents
have much stronger motivations and incentives to give to their churches and pastors than
the average American Christian. I expect that their religious giving should eclipse that of
all others. Avarice is sacralized for Prosperity adherents. Religious giving, then, is not
something that is done in spite of larger cultural expectations but, instead, is done
because of them.
H3A1: Prosperity adherents are more likely to give generously to their churches
and other religious causes.
Previous research has pointed to the importance of religion for nonreligious
giving. Regnerus, Smith, and Sikkink (1998) found that those who are religious and
those who attend religious services frequently tend to give more to charitable
54
organizations. Surprisingly, though, they also found that conservative Christians report
“pro-poor” giving habits, that others (i.e. Mormons) are the most “pro-poor,” and that
liberal Protestants and practicing Catholics aren’t nearly as “pro-poor” in their giving as
conventional wisdom might suggest.
Since the Prosperity Gospel ultimately blames the poor for their own plight,
ignoring social constraints, nonreligious charitable giving is largely discouraged as, at
best, wasteful. Giving to the poor, when it is encouraged, is only done so because it can
be used as an opportunity to proselytize. Altruism, when it is rarely enacted, is ultimately
not other-centered but self-centered. Giving to the poor is a financial investment with a
guaranteed monetary return. This kind of giving is almost always funneled through one’s
church, further limiting nonreligious giving.
H3B1: Prosperity adherents are less likely to give to nonreligious charitable
causes.
DATA AND METHODS
I use the same SRBI data as described in chapter 2. I use two dependent variables
in my analyses of giving. First, I use the question that asks, “What percentage of your
after-tax income would you say you gave away in the past 12 months to other
nonreligious charitable causes?” This is a six-category variable, ranging from “none” to
“more than 20% of your after-tax income.” Second, I use the question that asks, “What
percentage…would you say you gave away…to your church or any other religious
causes?” This, too, is a six-category variable. For the analysis of both dependent
variables, I use multinomial logit (MNL) models. The independent variables of primary
55
interest for both dependent variables are the three measures of Prosperity adherence,
which are formal membership in a Prosperity movement, belief that God wants people to
be financially prosperous, and the Prosperity Index score. Along with those variables
listed above, I also control for the reciprocal measure of giving for both dependent
variables (e.g. nonreligious giving for religious giving). I use the same iterative process
to reduce the models to the most significant and parsimonious number of independent
variables for both dependent variables as used in chapter 2. The descriptive statistics for
all variables are shown in table 3.1.
[insert Table 3.1 about here]
RESULTS
Nonreligious Giving
According to estimates from these data weighted to U.S. Census figures, 77% of
those in the U.S. who self-identify as Christian gave to nonreligious charitable causes in
the past 12 months. There appear to be modest differences in nonreligious giving based
on Prosperity adherence. Of the 8% of those in the U.S. who are members of a Christian
movement that emphasizes God’s gift of personal prosperity to his followers, 74% gave
to nonreligious charitable causes. Of the 62% of those in the U.S. who believe that God
wants people to be financially prosperous, 79% gave to nonreligious charitable causes.
The median Prosperity Index score for those in the U.S. who self-identify as Christian is
approximately 4.5 out of 10. Of the 1% of those in the U.S. with a Prosperity Index score
of 10, the most Prosperity oriented, an estimated 59% gave to nonreligious charitable
causes. Of the 1% of those in the U.S. with a Prosperity Index score of 1, the least
Prosperity oriented, 68% gave to nonreligious charitable causes.
56
The MNL coefficients are presented in table 3.2. BIC’ provides very strong
support for model 2 over both models 1, 3, and 4. The Wald test results for model 2 are
shown in table 3.3. Unexpectedly, none of the three measures of Prosperity adherence
are significant predictors of nonreligious charitable giving. Unlike in previous chapters,
race is also an insignificant predictor. Gender, too, is not a significant predictor of
nonreligious giving. As might be expected, neither the frequency of church attendance
nor being evangelical/born-again is a significant predictor of charitable giving unrelated
to religious organizations; however, religion itself (i.e. Protestant/Catholic/other) is a
significant predictor of nonreligious charitable giving.
[insert Table 3.2 about here]
[insert Table 3.3 about here]
In general, there is virtually no chance for anyone to give more than 20% of his or
her income to nonreligious charitable causes. Of his or her income, shown in table 3.4,
the average Christian has an 18% chance of giving nothing, a 22% chance of giving less
than 1%, a 49% chance of giving 1% to 5%, a 10% chance of giving more than 5% but
less than 10%, and a 1% chance of giving 10% to 20%.
[insert Table 3.4 about here]
The predicted probabilities for giving nothing to nonreligious charitable causes
decrease as income increases. That is, the more money one makes, the more likely he or
she is to give something to nonreligious charitable causes. The more money one makes,
the more likely he or she is to give 1% to 5% of one’s income to nonreligious charitable
causes. The chances of giving less than 1% and more than 5% change little with
57
variations in income. Overall, those who make more money do tend to give slightly more
to nonreligious causes.
The predicted probabilities for giving nothing to nonreligious charitable causes
decrease as one’s level of education increases. That is, the more education one has, the
more likely he or she is to give something to nonreligious charitable causes. The chances
of giving less than 1% or 10% to 20% of one’s income to nonreligious charitable causes
decreases as one’s level of education increases. The chances of giving 1% to 5% or 5%
but less than 10%, however, increases as one’s level of education increases. Overall,
those who are more highly educated tend to give more moderately to nonreligious causes.
The predicted probability for giving nothing to nonreligious charitable causes
decreases as one’s age increases. In other words, those who are older are more likely to
give something to nonreligious charitable causes. The chances of giving 1% to 5% or
more than 5% but less than 10% of one’s income to nonreligious charitable causes
increases as one’s age increases. Overall, those who are older tend to give more
moderately to nonreligious causes.
There is very little difference between the nonreligious giving habits of
Protestants and Catholics. The predicted probability for giving nothing to nonreligious
charitable causes is much higher for other Christians (36%) than for Protestants (16%)
and Catholics (16%). The predicted probabilities for each category of giving to
nonreligious charitable causes is lower for other Christians than for Protestants and
Catholics, except for the “none” category. Overall, other Christians are much less likely
to give to nonreligious causes. Other Christians (i.e. Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, and
Orthodox), however, only make up an estimated 4% of U.S. Christians.
58
Holding all variables at their mean, the chances of giving to a nonreligious cause
are actually fairly high, as seen in figure 3.1. The average Christian has more than an
80%13 chance of giving something, and a near majority (x percent) of Christians give 1%
to 5% of their income to nonreligious causes.
[insert Figure 3.1 about here]
Contrary to Regnerus, Smith, and Sikkink (1998), I find that those who attend
religious services infrequently give no less to charitable organizations than those who
attend more frequently.
It makes sense that those who are able to give more do so, and in fact, those who
make more money tend to give more to nonreligious causes, as shown in figure 3.2.
[insert Figure 3.2 about here]
While one might expect those who are more highly educated to be motivated to
give more generously because of their cultural knowledge of charitable need, they in fact
give less to nonreligious causes, as shown in figure 3.3.
[insert Figure 3.3 about here]
I would expect that those who are older are less able to give generously, and
indeed, those who are older do tend to give less to nonreligious causes, as shown in figure
3.4. Older American Christians seem to feel less social responsibility than their younger
counterparts.
[insert Figure 3.4 about here]

13 All of the figures presented here should be interpreted with some skepticism as it is well-established that
socially desirable behaviors, such as voting, giving, and church attendance, are regularly overreported.
59
In direct opposition to the claims of Regnerus, Smith, and Sikkink (1998), I find
that other Christians (who are mostly Mormons in my data) tend to give less—not
more—to nonreligious causes than Protestants and Catholics, who tend to give very
similarly, as shown in figure 3.5. Other Christians, however, represent a very small
portion of the population and, thus, account for very little charitable giving in absolute
terms. As with Regnerus et al.’s data, it is very difficult to draw conclusions about this
group given their small numbers.
[insert Figure 3.5 about here]
Religious Giving
According to estimates from these data weighted to U.S. Census figures, 80% of
those in the U.S. who self-identify as Christian gave to their church or other religious
causes in the past 12 months. 23% gave 10% or more of their after-tax income to their
church or other religious causes, the traditional tithe. There appear to be differences in
religious giving based on Prosperity adherence. Of the 8% of those in the U.S. who are
members of a Christian movement that emphasizes God’s gift of personal prosperity to
his followers, 90% gave to their church or other religious causes and 40% tithed. Of the
62% of those in the U.S. who believe that God wants people to be financially prosperous,
82% gave to their church or other religious causes and 27% tithed. As noted above, the
median Prosperity Index score for those in the U.S. who self-identify as Christian is
approximately 4.5 out of 10. Of the 1% of those in the U.S. with a Prosperity Index score
of 10, 100% gave to their church or other religious causes and 59% tithed. Of the 1% of
those in the U.S. with a Prosperity Index score of 1, 51% gave to religious causes but
none tithed.
60
The MNL coefficients are presented in table 3.5. BIC’ provides very strong
support for Model 2 over both Models 1 and 3. The Wald test results for model 2 are
shown in table 3.6. Again unexpectedly, none of the three measures of Prosperity
adherence are significant predictors of religious giving. As with nonreligious giving,
neither race nor gender are significant predictors of religious giving. Unlike with
nonreligious giving, both the frequency of church attendance and being evangelical/bornagain
are significant while income is not a significant predictor of religious giving.
[insert Table 3.5 about here]
[insert Table 3.6 about here]
In general, there is virtually no chance for anyone to give more than 20% of his or
her income to his or her church or other religious causes. Of his or her income, the
average Christian has a 10% chance of giving nothing, a 14% chance of giving less than
1%, a 39% chance of giving 1% to 5%, a 17% chance of giving more than 5% but less
than 10%, and a 21% chance of giving 10% to 20% as seen in table 3.7.
[insert Table 3.7 about here]
The predicted probability for giving nothing to one’s church or other religious
causes decreases as one’s level of education increases. That is, the more education one
has, the more likely he or she is to give something to one’s church or other religious
causes. The chances of giving less than 1% or 10% to 20% of one’s income to one’s
church or other religious causes decreases as one’s level of education increases. The
chances of giving 1% to 5% or more than 5% but less than 10% increases as one’s level
of education increases. Overall, those who are more highly educated tend to give
moderately to religious causes.
61
The predicted probability for giving nothing to one’s church or other religious
causes decreases as one’s age increases. That is, the older one is, the more likely he or
she is to give something to one’s church or other religious causes. The chances of giving
less than 1% of one’s income to one’s church or other religious causes decreases as one’s
age increases. The chances of giving more than 5% but less than 10% or 10% to 20%
increases as one’s age increases. Overall, those who are older tend to give relatively
generously to religious causes.
The predicted probabilities for giving nothing to one’s church or other religious
causes is drastically lower for those who attend church at least once a week (1%) than for
those who attend less frequently (33%). The predicted probabilities for each category of
giving to one’s church or other religious causes is higher for those who attend church at
least once a week compared to those who attend less frequently, except for the “none”
and “less than 1%” categories. Overall, while there is good reason to believe that the
rates of attendance in these data are significantly inflated (Hadaway, Marler, & Chaves
1993; 1998; Hadaway & Marler 2005; Hout & Greeley 1998; Woodberry 1998), those
who attend more often are more generous to religious causes.
The predicted probabilities for giving nothing to one’s church or other religious
causes is lower for those who are evangelical/born-again (7%) than for those who are not
(13%). The chances of giving less than 1% or 1% to 5% of one’s income to one’s church
or other religious causes are higher for those who are not evangelical/born-again.
However, the chances of giving more than 5% but less than 10% or 10% to 20% are
higher for those who are evangelical/born-again. Overall, those who are
evangelical/born-again give more generously to their churches and other religious causes.
62
There is little difference between the religious giving habits of Protestants and
Catholics. The predicted probabilities for giving anything less than 10% of one’s income
to one’s church or other religious causes is lower for other Christians than for Protestants
and Catholics, except for the “none” category. However, other Christians have an
exceedingly higher chance (59%) at giving 10% to 20% of their income to their churches
or other religious causes than Protestants (21%) and Catholics (18%). Overall, while
Protestants and Catholics are more likely to give moderately, other Christians are
exceedingly more likely to give generously to religious causes.
As we can see in tables 3.2 and 3.5, Prosperity adherents do not give any
differently than other Americans, either to religious (H3A1) or nonreligious causes
(H3B1).14 The Prosperity Gospel explicitly demands that adherents tithe to their churches
as the absolute, bare minimum; moreover, it promises exponential returns to those who
give beyond this. I expected that this emphasis on religious giving would result in
increased religious giving from adherents (H3A1), but my findings refute that hypothesis.
(This finding holds at the zero-order.) Even though the Prosperity Gospel places unique
demands on its adherents, its adherents do not necessarily meet them. Also, since the
Prosperity Gospel ultimately blames the poor for their own plight, ignoring social
constraints, nonreligious charitable giving is largely discouraged as, at best, wasteful. I
expected that this dissuasion would result in decreased nonreligious giving (H3B1) of
Prosperity adherents versus other Americans, but my findings refute this hypothesis as
well. Prosperity adherence, no matter how it is conceived, does not affect giving.

14 The following discussion of giving ignores the potential impact of tax incentives. The finding of no
difference for religious giving in particular may indicate that the poor are willing to give to their churches
even without a tax incentive but that it works against non-religious giving. For a more complete discussion
of such implications, see Ott (2001).
63
Holding all variables at their mean, the chances of giving to one’s church or other
religious cause are actually fairly high, as seen in figure 3.6. The average Christian has a
90% chance of giving something. Unlike Smith et al. (2008) who claim that fully 20% of
American Christians give nothing at all to their church or other religious causes, the
average Christian in this sample only has a 10% chance of giving nothing. There is only
a 21% chance, however, of the average Christian tithing. A majority of Christians give
less than 5% of their income to religious causes.
[insert Figure 3.6 about here]
Contrary to the claims of Smith et al. (2008) and Stark (2008), I find no evidence
that those with lower levels of income give any differently to their churches than do those
with higher levels of income. Income is, simply stated, not a significant predictor of
religious giving, although, as we saw above, it is a significant factor in non-religious
giving.
Contrary, again, to the claims of Stark (2008), I find circumstantial evidence to
suggest that Black Protestants do not give a higher percentage of their income to their
churches or other religious causes. While I am unable to construct a Black Protestant
ideal type since respondents were not ask about their denominational affiliation, black
Christians give no more or less than those of other races. Since most black Christians are
members of the Black Protestant tradition, it is exceedingly unlikely that Black
Protestants give any differently than Mainline or Evangelical Protestants. Race does not
matter in terms of religious giving.
While I expected that those who are more highly educated would be more
inclined to give generously in view of their cultural knowledge of ecclesiastical need,
64
they actually tend to give less to their church or another religious cause, as shown in
figure 3.7.
[insert Figure 3.7 about here]
In line with the claims of Stark (2008), those who are older tend to give relatively
generously to religious causes, as shown in figure 3.8. Older people tend to give less to
nonreligious causes, as we saw above.
[insert Figure 3.8 about here]
Those who attend church once a week or more tend to give relatively generously
to religious causes as shown in figure 3.9. While Stark (2008) claims that “Those who
attend church several times a week come very close to contributing an average of 10
percent [of their income]” (98), I find that only a third of those who attend church once a
week or more tithe.
[insert Figure 3.9 about here]
In line with the claims of Stark (2008) that “conservative Protestants” are more
generous to religious causes, those who are born-again/evangelical tend to give relatively
generously, as shown in figure 3.10. Admittedly, conservative Protestant and bornagain/evangelical
are not entirely equivalent categories, but those with evangelicallyinclined
beliefs tend to comprise the largest block of conservative Protestants.
[insert Figure 3.10 about here]
Given that the different Christian denominational families have different
teachings about the importance of regular religious contribution, I would expect that there
would be differences between these groups. Protestants and Catholics do tend to give
less while other Christians are exceedingly more likely to give generously to religious
65
causes, as shown in figure 3.11. Again, however, other Christians (who are mostly
Mormons) represent a very small portion of the population and, thus, account for very
little religious giving in absolute terms; although, unlike with nonreligious giving, giving
to one’s church necessarily means that their money is being accumulated in the same
respective organizations which could help to explain the relative financial wellbeing of
other Christian churches. In the case of the LDS Church, which has similar teachings
about tithing to Evangelical Protestants, all donations are funneled directly back to their
denominational headquarters (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 2008).
[insert Figure 3.11 about here]

CONCLUSIONS
In summary, American Christians do not give very generously (although, they do
give more generously than others have claimed), and Prosperity adherence does not affect
how much they give. This outcome has particular implications for the competing
cosmological theories discussed above. Hunter’s (1991) orthodox/progressive dichotomy
simply cannot explain why Prosperity adherents, who are inarguably orthodox by his
reckoning, do not give any differently. While Davis and Robinson’s (1996; 1999; 2006)
orthodox/modernist continuum might not seem to explain the Prosperity adherents’ lack
of differential giving, the Prosperity Gospel might be more complex than initially
appreciated. That the Prosperity Gospel is rigorously literalist in its approach to the
Bible15 is undeniable; however, the movement is also radically individualistic in that it

15 One major criticism of the Prosperity Gospel is that relies on “proof-texting,” the use of biblical passages
removed from context—both historical and textual—to come to universal, absolutist conclusions (Barron
1987). Many would argue theologically that this kind of approach to the Bible is incorrect; however, it
66
insists that each believer is responsible for his/her own status as either in-blessing or
between-blessings based on his/her mental state or attitude. In this way, any
communitarian impulses to give that Davis and Robinson’s analyses assume may be
counteracted by the individualistic insistence on others’ personal accountability. In
effect, Prosperity Gospel adherents’ unique dual status as both orthodox and modernist
renders them altruistically inert. Similarly, my initial expectation that the selfdeterministic
impulses of the voluntaristic dimension of Hart’s (1996) scheme would be
overwhelming failed to consider the radical “thisworldliness” of the Prosperity Gospel
that stresses the importance of material reward in this life.
The possibly contradictory location of Prosperity adherents as simultaneously
modernist and orthodox, voluntaristic and this-worldly is unique among religious groups.
While this status might seem like it could be fatal for such a movement, two factors make
it otherwise. The Prosperity Gospel is primarily a practical and not a contemplative
religious system (Harrison 2005). In line with its Pentecostal roots, the Prosperity Gospel
is experiential and anti-intellectual. It has more in common with self-help movements
than do most religious traditions. Adherents have sought out a message that, even with
some internal inconsistencies, is adept at sense-making in a postmodern world that seems
to make little sense. The Prosperity Gospel offers the security that comes from a simple
but profound spiritualization of the mainstream individualistic, materialistic and
consumption-oriented values of late-capitalistic culture.
Generally, almost no Americans give more than 20% of their income to any
cause, religious or nonreligious. While the pattern of giving for the average person in

remains an absolutist approach to the interpretation of the Bible which makes it biblically literalist in the
sociological sense.
67
terms of both religious and nonreligious giving is otherwise parallel, an American
Christian is far more likely to give 10% to 20% of his or her income to a religious cause
(21%) than to a nonreligious cause (1%). Those who are more highly educated tend to
give less to both religious and nonreligious causes. While those who are older tend to
give relatively generously to religious causes, they give less to nonreligious causes.
Protestants and Catholics tend to give less to nonreligious causes than to religious causes.
While one might assume that religious affiliation would affect religious giving, the fact
that it affects nonreligious giving as well is somewhat unexpected, especially since other
measures of religion, namely being born-again/evangelical and frequency of church
attendance, do not affect nonreligious giving. Other Christians are exceedingly more
likely to give generously to religious causes. Since we know that this group is dominated
by Mormons, we can assume that it is they who are driving this trend, and this is in line
with the findings of previous research (Stark 2008). Religious belonging, but not
religious behavior or beliefs, affects nonreligious giving.
While those with more money tend to give more to nonreligious causes, they are
only just as likely as those who make less to give to religious causes. Notably, this
contradicts previous research (Smith et al. 2008; Stark 2008) that claimed the poor give
larger portions of their income to religious causes. Instead, it may be that religious
concerns trump economic concerns for the poor when giving to their churches;
nonreligious causes perhaps do not elicit the same kind of overriding compulsion.
68
CHAPTER 4
Voting for Prosperity
INTRODUCTION
As I noted in the previous chapter, religion is one of the best predictors of voting
behavior, second only to race in magnitude (Brooks and Manza 1997). In the United
States, voting is strongly influenced by socio-religious cleavages based on
denominational affiliation, the frequency of religious service attendance, doctrinal belief,
denominational group membership, and congregational membership (Manza and Wright
1997). Party alignments are also related to religious tradition, with Catholics and
Mainline Protestants as centrists, Black Protestants as Democrats, and Evangelical
Protestants as Republicans. While these cleavages should not be overestimated (Davis
and Robinson 1996), denominational preference matters politically in that it is the most
common form of voluntary association in the U.S., but doctrinal beliefs are better
predictors of a host of political beliefs and behaviors (Kellstedt and Smidt 1993).
People who are affiliated with religious groups that perceive themselves as
insecure or politically excluded—such as Evangelicals—are more likely to vote for those
who belong to their same religious group and to reject the responsibility of the state to
intervene socially, aligning them strongly with political conservatives; however, they are
not so heterogeneous and savvy to be as politically dogmatic as many have feared
(Menendez 1977). The Christian Right, most of whom are white evangelicals, have not,
however, enjoyed large-scale success so far. Evangelical Protestants and Conservative
Protestants have always been less likely to be politically active but have been slowly
69
realigning from the Democratic column to Republican (Kellstedt and Noll 1990; Manza
and Brooks 1997), feeling threatened and embattled (Wilcox 1992; Smith, Emerson,
Gallagher, Kennedy, and Sikkink 1998; Regnerus, Sikkink, and Smith 1999; Green,
Rozell, and Wilcox 2006). President Bush, in large part, owed his reelection to religious
conservatives, the core of whom were evangelicals (Rozell and Gupta 2006), especially
those traditionalist evangelicals who served as the “backbone of a coalition” (Green,
Kellstedt, Smidt, and Guth 2007:33) for both the Republican Party and President Bush.
Prosperity Gospel adherents, while clearly religious personalists pursuing
transcendence through individual experience (Reichly 1985), are unique among
evangelicals in that otherworldly salvation, while important, is subordinated to the
perceived promises of this-worldly material rewards. How does this play out politically?
Do the temporal concerns of Prosperity adherents motivate them to increased political
activity? While research into the relationship between religion and political behavior has
been progressing, this particular area—namely the Prosperity Gospel—has been
neglected. This research proposes to fill that gap and answer the question, What, if any,
are the politics of Prosperity adherents?
The Prosperity Gospel is an evangelically-minded, conservative movement. It
stresses financially conservative or economically individualistic goals, and it argues
against social consciousness. Like other conservative Christians, Prosperity adherents
should not be as politically active as adherents of other faith traditions. I test this
assumption by looking at voting in the 2004 presidential election:
H4A1: Prosperity adherents were less likely to vote in 2004 presidential election.
70
Given their individualistic worldview and his evangelical rhetoric and identity, those
Prosperity adherents who did vote should have supported George W. Bush in 2004.
H4B1: Prosperity adherents were more likely to have voted for Bush than Kerry
in the 2004 presidential election.
Moreover, they should be likely to support the GOP consistently.
H4C1: Prosperity adherents are more likely to identify as Republican.
I expect all of these hypotheses to hold even as I control for being born-again/evangelical
and for affiliation as Protestant, Catholic, or other Christian, among other variables.
DATA AND METHODS
I use the SRBI data as described in chapter 2. I use three dependent variables in
my analyses of political behavior. First, I use the question that asks, “Do you recall
voting in the 2004 Presidential election, between George W. Bush and John Kerry?” I
drop those cases did not answer or know the answer to that question as well as those who
were too young to have voted or were not registered at that time. Second, I use the
question that asks, “Did you vote for George Bush or John Kerry?” For the analysis of
these two dependent variables, I use binary logit (BNL) models. Finally, I use the
question that asks, “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican,
a Democrat, an Independent, or something else?” For the analysis of this dependent
variable, I use multinomial logit (MNL) models. The independent variables of primary
interest for all dependent variables are the three measures of Prosperity adherence:
membership in the Prosperity Movement, agreeing that God wants people to be
financially prosperous, and the Prosperity Index. I use the same iterative process to
71
reduce the models to the most significant and parsimonious number of independent
variables for both dependent variables as in chapter 2. The descriptive statistics for all
variables are shown in table 4.1.
[insert Table 4.1 about here]
RESULTS
Table 4.2 shows the BLM models for the dependent variable “voting in the 2004
presidential election.” None of the Prosperity measures is significant. Years of
education has the largest effect of all of the independent variables, followed by age.
Race, income, region, urban/rural/suburban, church attendance, born-again/evangelical,
and Protestant/Catholic/other Christian are all also insignificant. The BIC’ provides very
strong support for model 5 over models 1, 3 and 4 and positive support for model 4 over
model 2.16
[insert Table 4.2 about here]
The predicted probabilities for several ideal types can be seen in table 4.3. While
the average person from this sample had a 95% chance of claiming to have voted in the
2004 presidential election, only 60.7% of the voting age public voted (Jones and Carroll
2005). This suggests that, due to social desirability, the number of people who claim to
have voted in these data is vastly exaggerated. Those who are highly educated (99% for
those with postgraduate experience) and those who are older (98% for those 65 or older)
have the highest chances of reporting that they voted while those with an 8th grade
education or less (50%) have the lowest.

16 Several other models were run, the results of which are not presented here. Model 5 was supported over
all other conceivable models.
72
[insert Table 4.3 about here]
Table 4.4 shows the BLM models for the dependent variable “voted for Bush”
over Kerry.17 Membership in a Prosperity movement and agreeing that God wants
people to be financially prosperous are not significant. Race has the largest effect of all
of the independent variables, followed by Protestant/Catholic/other Christian, bornagain/evangelical,
church attendance, Prosperity Index, and income. Education, gender,
region, and urban/rural/suburban are all insignificant. The BIC’ provides very strong
support for model 2 over model 1.18
[insert Table 4.4 about here]
The predicted probabilities for several ideal types can be seen in table 4.5. Other
Christians (91%) and those with high Prosperity Index scores (84% for those with a score
of 10) had the highest chances of voting for Bush while blacks (5%) had the lowest
chances.
[insert Table 4.5 about here]
Table 4.6 shows the MNL models for the dependent variable political party
identification. Membership in a Prosperity movement and agreeing that God wants
people to be financially prosperous are not significant. Church attendance, race, and the
Prosperity Index are all significant predictors. Income, education, gender, age, region,
urban/rural/suburban, born-again/evangelical, and Protestant/Catholic/other Christian are

17 In terms of absolute numbers, 332 (58%) respondents reported voting for Bush, and 236 (42%) reported
voting for Gore. I drop those respondents who voted for other candidates from the analysis.
18 Several other models were run, including ones that did not include race as an independent variable, the
results of which are not presented here. Model 2 was supported over all other conceivable models. Models
run without the race variable did result in the loss of significance for the Prosperity Index variable and
gained significance of the Prosperity membership variable, likely attributable to the close correlation
between being black and being a member of this movement. These results are not presented here.
73
all insignificant. The Wald test results for model 3 in table 4.7. The BIC’ provides very
strong support for model 3 over models 1 and 2.19
[insert Table 4.6 about here]
[insert Table 4.7 about here]
The predicted probabilities for several ideal types can be seen in table 4.8. Those
with high Prosperity Index scores (71% for a score of 10) have a higher chance of being
Republican while blacks (74%) have a greater chance of being Democratic.
[insert Table 4.8 about here]
Voter Turnout
Unexpectedly, Prosperity adherents, no matter how defined, were as likely to turn
out to vote in the 2004 presidential election as other Christians who eschew the
Prosperity Gospel. This refutes H4A1. Something about the Prosperity teachings is
trumping the impetus for civic disengagement that otherwise characterizes conservative
Christian groups. It may be that the radical individualism endemic to the Prosperity
Gospel provides motivation for its adherents to become politically active in defense of
individual freedoms. The specific teachings about the accumulation of material wealth
and the conspicuous consumption of that wealth should encourage Prosperity adherents
to head to the polls to support issues such as lowered taxes, decreased governmental
regulation of the market, and decreased government economic intervention in general.
This motivation, however, is only enough to overcome the lack of motivation that comes
with conservative Christianity, thus making Prosperity adherents resemble non-adherents

19 Several other models were run, the results of which are not presented here. Model 4 was supported over
all other conceivable models. Models run without the race variable did not result in gained significance for
the other Prosperity measures.
74
statistically. In short, while Prosperity adherents are not motivated toward political
participation any more than non-adherents, as conservative Christians, something is
counteracting what otherwise would be a lack of motivation.
Christians with more education were more likely than those with less education to
turn out to vote as shown in figure 4.1. While those with an 8th grade education or less
had only a 50% of showing up to vote, those with graduate degrees were virtually
guaranteed to vote (99%). This increase in the chances of voting diminishes with
increases in education. Inasmuch as education can be seen as a form of civic
engagement, it is not surprising that those who are more engaged in education, especially
noncompulsory higher education, would be more engaged in other kinds of civic
engagement, like political participation. The connection between education and political
participation has been established (Putnam 2000), and these data offer further support for
that relationship.
[insert Figure 4.1 about here]
Older Christians were also more likely than younger ones to turn out to vote, as
shown in figure 4.2, which is not at all surprising. Those who are older, as part of a
previous generation, are generally more civically engaged because of particular
subcultural values that place a premium on such behavior, specifically what Putnam
(2000) calls the “civic generation,” those born between 1910 and 1940 who are unlike
those who came before and after in terms of their high levels of civic engagement,
including political participation. In 2006 when the SRBI data were collected, the
youngest of the civic generation would be 66 years old, putting them in the 65 and older
cohort, and in fact, this group has the highest chance (98%) of having voted in 2004.
75
While I am unable to distinguish between age, period, and cohort effects in my analyses
due to limitations of the data, it is probable that these kinds of generational differences
explain this variation in voting.
[insert Figure 4.2 about here]
Interestingly, born-again/evangelicals in this survey were equally as likely as
those who are not born-again/evangelical to have voted in 2004. This is seems to
contradict the claims of others (Menendez 1977; Kellstedt and Noll 1990; Manza and
Brooks 1997) who have argued that evangelical and conservative Protestants have been
less likely to be politically active. If evangelicalism, as a Personalistic worldview,
discourages socio-political involvement (Reichly 1985), other factors, such as those listed
above, seem to be overriding this predisposition.
Bush vs. Kerry
Neither being a member of a Prosperity movement nor believing that God wants
people to be financially prosperous made a difference in choosing to vote for Bush or
Kerry in 2004. Christians with higher Prosperity Index scores, however, had a higher
chance of voting for Bush as shown in figure 4.3, which offers modest support for H4B1.
The underlying tenets of the Prosperity Gospel, which include believing that material
wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and that poverty is a sign that God is unhappy with
something in your life, point toward an individualistic worldview, one that was shared by
President George W. Bush. While Prosperity membership itself does not affect for whom
one votes, the ideas that spring from the Prosperity Gospel do.
[insert Figure 4.3 about here]
76
Black Christians had an exceedingly small chance of voting for Bush (5%)
compared to Christians who are not black (65%) as shown in figure 4.4. This is fully in
line with the previous findings of Brooks and Manza (1997) and reflects the historically
robust alignment of blacks with Democratic candidates since the New Deal policies of
the 1930s. Interestingly, however, the effects of Prosperity Index scores on voting choice
vary by race as shown in figure 4.5.20 While the relationships between Prosperity Index
score for the average person and for non-blacks are more or less linear, the relationship
for blacks is curvilinear, with increases in scores offering increased chances of having
voted for Bush; the absolute chances for having done so, however, are still very low.
Nonetheless, there is an interaction effect between race and Prosperity Index score.
[insert Figure 4.4 about here]
[insert Figure 4.5 about here]
Christians with higher levels of income had a slightly higher chance of voting for
Bush as shown in figure 4.6. Again, this is likely explained by Bush’s fiscally
conservative policies that have arguably favored those with higher incomes.
[insert Figure 4.6 about here]
Unlike with voter turnout, neither education nor age affects voting choice.
Christians who attend church once a week or more (65%) had a higher chance of voting
for Bush over those who attend church less frequent (53%) as shown in figure 4.4. Other
Christians (91%) had a much higher chance of voting for Bush than did Protestants (59%)
and Catholics (53%).
Christians who are born-again/evangelical (67%) had a higher chance of voting
for Bush over non-evangelicals (50%). This is support for those (Rozell and Gupta 2006;

20 A Wald test indicates joint significance for these two variables (χ
2 = 40.78; df = 2; p < 0.001). 77 Green, Kellstedt, Smidt, and Guth 2007) who have argued that Bush, in large part, owes his reelection to religious conservatives, the core of who were evangelicals. It flies in the face, however of the Menendez (1977) who wrongly predicted that it was unlikely that religious affiliation would determine the outcome of a Presidential election in the future. Menendez was right, though, that because evangelicals are a group that perceives themselves as insecure and politically excluded, they are more likely to vote for other evangelicals. Party Identification As with voting choice, neither being a member of a Prosperity movement nor believing that God wants people to be financially prosperous made a difference in party affiliation. Christians with higher Prosperity Index scores, however, had a much higher chance than those with lower scores of identifying as Republican as shown in figure 4.7, which again offers only modest support for H4C1. As with having voted for Bush, supporting the Republican Party is likely a function of the GOP’s individualist platforms, notions it shares with Prosperity teachings. [insert Figure 4.7 about here] Black Christians had a much higher chance of identifying as Democratic (74%) than Republican (5%) as shown in figure 4.8. However, the effect of Prosperity Index scores on identifying as a Republican, as shown in figure 4.9, and on identifying as a Democrat, as shown in figure 4.10, differs between blacks and non-blacks, with blacks being far more likely to identify as a Democrat.21 Similar to the race/Prosperity Index interaction for having voted for Bush, even though the absolute chances are still very low, 21 A Wald test indicates joint significance for these variables (χ 2 = 66.25; df = 6; p < 0.001). 78 the relationship between the Prosperity Index score on one’s chances for identifying as Republican for blacks is curvilinear, while the same relationships for the average person and for non-blacks are more or less linear. Surprisingly, while one might expect blacks with low Prosperity Index scores to have the highest chances of identifying as Democrats, blacks with moderate scores (5=75%) have the highest chances while those at the extremes (1=67%; 10=69%) had the lowest chances. The effects of the Prosperity Index are not the same for blacks and non-blacks on predicting voting outcomes and party affiliation. [insert Figure 4.8 about here] [insert Figure 4.9 about here] [insert Figure 4.10 about here] Christians who attend church once a week or more (45%) had a better chance of identifying as Republican than those who attend less frequently (31%) as shown in figure 4.11. This is in line with previous research as noted above. [insert Figure 4.11 about here] As with voter turnout, born-again/evangelicals in this survey were no more or less likely as those who are not born-again/evangelical to have identified with any political party in 2004. While the same religious conservative rejection of the responsibility of the state to intervene that arguably kept evangelicals from political activity has strongly aligned them with political conservatives in the past (Menendez 1977) and while Christian Right supporters feel that their lifestyle is threatened by a hostile mainstream culture (Wilcox 1992; Smith, Emerson, Gallagher, Kennedy, and Sikkink 1998; Regnerus, Sikkink, and Smith 1999), I do not find evidence for this having affected party 79 identification in 2004. Where others (Reichly 1985; Green, Kellstedt, Smidt, and Guth 2007) had found that evangelicals supported the Republican Party, I do not.22 CONCLUSIONS Prosperity adherents, no matter how they are defined, behave just like nonadherents politically in that they vote in about the same proportions. For a group with such a unique and inflexible set of beliefs, this is very surprising. The Prosperity Gospel is a conservative Christian movement so I expected that, as previous research had found that conservative Christians were less likely to vote and that I am unable to control specifically for this effect, Prosperity adherents would be less likely to vote as well, but this is not the case. The Prosperity Gospel teaches radical individual spiritual accountability for one’s financial circumstances so I expected that those who are members of a Prosperity movement and that those who agree that God wants people to be financially prosperous23 would have voted overwhelmingly for Bush in 2004 and would have self-identified as Republican since both Bush’s and the Republican platforms stress individual accountability and fiscally conservative positions that would benefit those who, like Prosperity adherents, are expecting financial windfalls, but again, this is not the case. If we consider Prosperity adherence in a more nuanced way, which the Prosperity Index reflects in that it places respondents on a continuum of Prosperity-orientation, Prosperity folks still do not turn out to vote in any different proportions than the rest of 22 It is also worth noting that while Kellstedt and Noll (1990) claim that evangelicals support Republicans because of their improving socioeconomic status, my data contradicts this as neither income nor bornagain/evangelical are significant. 23 I argued on pages 37 and 38 that these groups represent formal/institutionalized and informal/casual Prosperity Gospel members, respectively. 80 the population, but they do tend to report supporting Bush in 2004 and to identify as Republican. In fact, higher Prosperity Index scores consistently predict conservatism. This is further evidence that the Prosperity Gospel is more socially diffuse than has previously been assumed. While the specific tenets of the Prosperity Gospel are indeed influencing political behavior, considering oneself to be a member of this movement is not. In the case of Prosperity adherents, it seems that doctrinal beliefs indeed are better predictors of a host of political beliefs and behaviors than formal affiliation.24 24 Cf. Kellstedt and Smidt (1993) 81 CHAPTER 5 Conclusions Pragmatically, the Prosperity Gospel does not live up to its claims: that by avowing the biblical promise of wealth, one will be wealthy. If it did, we would expect that those who are members of a Prosperity movement and those who believe Prosperity teaching would be overrepresented among those with higher incomes. According to these data, one’s level of income has no bearing on Prosperity adherence. While one could make the argument that many of those questioned for this survey are simply “between blessings,” an outside observer would still have to question the efficacy of this new religious movement since its overt claims are not met. Of course, this study was not intended to be a direct theological test of the Prosperity Gospel’s supernatural claims. The overarching question that this project has sought to answer is, Who are these Prosperity Gospel folks? Are they rich or poor? more or less educated? black or white? young or old? mostly men or women? Protestant, Catholic, or other? frequent or infrequent church goers? Where are they from? Where do they live? Do they consider themselves born-again or evangelical? Do they have higher or lower incomes and educations? How do they give? Do they vote? If so, how do they vote? The answers, which until now could not be definitively given, depend somewhat on how we conceptualize being part of the Prosperity Gospel. If we think of it as membership in a specific movement or simply believing that God wants people to be financially prosperous, the answer is that they tend to be black and to attend church at least once a week. If we think of it as agreeing with a set of central beliefs, the answer is slightly 82 more complicated, but in general, they tend to be older, less educated, and black. Of particular interest, in view of theory linking income and religion, they are generally representative of the larger population in terms of income. That is, people are equally likely to be Prosperity adherents, irrespective of how much money they make. Because the Prosperity Gospel makes unambiguous, explicit claims about financial concerns, this final finding is surprising. Prosperity adherents also tend to give no differently than nonadherents, either to their churches or to nonreligious causes. This is perhaps due to a unique worldview that simultaneously stresses communal values and individualistic, thisworldly rewards. Prosperity adherents are just as likely to vote as non-adherents; however, those with higher Prosperity Index scores are more likely than those with lower scores to self-identify as Republican and to have voted for Bush in 2004. In this way, they show little difference between themselves and other evangelicals. Theoretically, this project has highlighted the often overlooked perspectives that researchers bring to their projects in the form of the questions that they pose. How are religious beliefs influenced—or even directly caused—by economic conditions at the macro level and by class location at the micro level? What effects do religious beliefs have on financial or economic outcomes? Are both of these happening at the same time, and if so, how? This dissertation took seriously the possibility, as the third question above implies, that causality is not a one-way street. In the case of the Prosperity Gospel, however, I have found strong evidence that this belief system has not affected individuals’ financial circumstances, at least as measured by their level of income. Here, neo-Marxian explanations of behavior win out over Weberian explanations because I have been able to show that while adherents are able to use the Prosperity Gospel to 83 justify their SES, Prosperity ideas are not motivating them to change their financial behavior. To be sure, this study hardly can sound the death knell for Weber’s Protestant Ethic thesis and similar approaches to the study of religion. In fairness to Weber, it would have been helpful had there been attitudinal questions in the survey regarding work ethic and saving/investing habits since the Protestant Ethic thesis does not directly predict upward mobility outcomes, only the attitudes that predispose individuals to such outcomes. Moreover, Weber does at times in his work conceptualize religion as an outcome and not only an independent variable. (The same, however, cannot be said for Marx.) It was never the intention of this project to adjudicate between the Marxian and Weberian metanarratives. Such intent would have been fundamentally misguided, as simplistic, reductionistic renderings of such a “discussion” would largely be a fabrication. The role of religion specifically and the understanding of causality broadly are far too complex to be misconstrued as unidirectional. What this study can be, though, is an example of how future research in the sociology of religion should acknowledge and take seriously the two dominant theoretical perspectives on which our subfield stands without necessarily assaying either’s larger legitimacy. Berger (1990) was right to call their relationship dialectical. In this one, particular case, however, a Marxian understanding simply works better. The current project has several limitations. First, I am limited to quantitative data and statistical analysis due to difficulties with recruitment for a planned qualitative segment of this project. Coincidentally, one of my quantitative findings, that Prosperity adherents tend to be less educated, places them at odds with researchers like myself and 84 perhaps explains their reluctance to be interviewed by a person whom they necessarily know comes from a suspicious social institution. Moreover, the timing of my project, coming in the wake of a congressional investigation into several prominent Prosperity preachers’ financial practices (Lohr 2007), certainly did not help. While the lack of qualitative data has significantly limited the extent to which I can investigate causality, it has not fully restricted such investigation. Harrison’s (2005) qualitative research—while unable to determine whether Prosperity ideas are motivating adherents to behave differently in their financial lives—suggests that poor Prosperity adherents are able use the Prosperity Gospel as a supernatural promise of upward mobility while rich adherents are able use the same Gospel as an explanation for their preexisting wealth. My research, being quantitative, can call this motivational aspect into question while being informed by the grounded, dual-interpretation of Prosperity ideas. People at the bottom and the top of the class hierarchy may be able to use the Prosperity Gospel to explain their locations, but they are not appreciably changing their financial behavior. Second, while the secondary data are currently the only survey that specifically has asked respondents about Prosperity ideas, the survey did not ask other important questions. Specifically, those surveyed were not asked about their denominational affiliation, which has meant that I was unable to generate proper measures of religious tradition which would have been helpful. Those surveyed were also not asked questions about their net worth, occupation, or social mobility, all of which would have been helpful in thinking about class in a way beyond that of income alone. Third, this study is limited to Christians in the U.S. by the data. Had the questions about Prosperity beliefs been asked of those who were Jewish, Muslim, secular, etc., I 85 would have been better able to understand Prosperity adherents in their larger context. While anthropologists have gathered rich data on Prosperity adherents in the global South, this survey (to my knowledge) represents the only quantitative data on this group within the U.S. Given the increasing popularity of the Prosperity Gospel in Latin America and Africa, it would be helpful to have data that would allow for cross-national comparison. Finally, this study has relied on a relatively small N (as low as 568 for one dependent variable). Larger samples in future surveys or the inclusion of Prosperity questions in existing surveys (e.g. GSS religion module) would be beneficial. While Harrison’s (2005) ethnographic research is an invaluable exploratory work on a group of people whom sociology has thus far ignored, there is still a need for more qualitative data. As a continuation of this project, I intend to gather between 20 and 30 in-depth interviews with lay Prosperity adherents in the future, which will allow me to resolve some questions in my quantitative results. These include how people are finding or being recruited into the Prosperity Gospel, why people are not altering their work and financial behaviors, and what specifically it is about the Prosperity message that is more attractive to black Christians. In sum, the Prosperity Gospel offers its adherence a sense of belonging and a set of beliefs that largely do not affect behavior. Instead, the Prosperity Gospel offers psychic comfort and rationalization to those from a number of different situations, backgrounds, and experiences. Virtually all religions offer otherworldly rewards for those lacking in this-worldly comfort. What makes the Prosperity Gospel unique among 86 religions is its overt promise of temporal, material rewards. 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Actual Estimated Standard
Variable Mean Mean Deviation Minimum Maximum
Dependant Variables:
member of a Prosperity movement 0.07 0.08 0.25 0 1
believes God wants people to be financially prosperous 0.60 0.62 0.49 0 1
agrees that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing 0.21 0.22 0.40 0 1
agrees that poverty is a sign that God is unhappy 0.06 0.07 0.23 0 1
Prosperity Index 4.43 4.46 1.45 1 10
Do you agree or disagree with each of the following:
Material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing (+) 0.21 0.22 0.40 0 1
If you give away your money to God, God will bless you with more money (+) 0.29 0.31 0.45 0 1
Poverty is a sign that God is unhappy with something in your life (+) 0.06 0.07 0.23 0 1
God is not interested in how rich or poor you are (-) 0.86 0.87 0.35 0 1
Jesus was not rich and we should follow his example (-) 0.48 0.49 0.50 0 1
If you earn a lot of money you should give most of it away and live modestly (-) 0.31 0.32 0.46 0 1
If you pray enough, God will give you what money you ask for (+) 0.12 0.13 0.32 0 1
Giving away 10% of your income is the minimum God expects (+) 0.38 0.40 0.49 0 1
Christians in America don’t do enough for the poor (-) 0.53 0.52 0.50 0 1
Poverty can be a blessing from God (-) 0.44 0.46 0.50 0 1
Independent Variables:
race (black=1) 0.08 0.12 0.28 0 1
born-again 0.50 0.52 0.50 0 1
years of education 14.26 14.20 2.22 8 18
years old 52.99 48.23 15.59 21 73
urban 0.28 0.28 0.45 0 1
rural 0.52 0.51 0.50 0 1
suburban 0.20 0.21 0.40 0 1
attend (1+/wk=1) 0.46 0.44 0.50 0 1
income/1000 65.46 65.10 50.16 12 200
gender (female=1) 0.53 0.53 0.50 0 1
Protestant (reference) 0.70 0.69 0.46 0 1
Catholic 0.26 0.26 0.44 0 1
other Christian 0.04 0.04 0.20 0 1
Northeast 0.17 0.18 0.38 0 1
Midwest 0.24 0.23 0.43 0 1
West 0.22 0.21 0.41 0 1
South (reference) 0.37 0.38 0.48 0 1
Table 2.1: Descriptive Statistics Chapter 2 (N=665)
115
race (black=1) 1.60 *** 1.53 *** 1.43 ***
(0.46) (0.38) (0.38)
income/1000 -0.01 -0.01
(0.00) (0.00)
years of education -0.09 -0.11
(0.08) (0.08)
gender (female=1) -0.53 -0.44
(0.34) (0.33)
years old -0.01 -0.02 *
(0.01) (0.01)
Northeast -0.09 -0.24
(0.56) (0.55)
Midwest 0.14 -0.12
(0.43) (0.41)
West (ref: South) 0.24 -0.08
(0.48) (0.46)
suburban -0.17 -0.27
(0.42) (0.42)
urban (ref: rural) -0.70 -0.26
(0.44) (0.40)
attend (1+/wk=1) 0.76 * 0.70 * 0.63
(0.35) (0.34) (0.34)
born-again 1.08 * 1.16 * 1.33 *** 1.45 ***
(0.46) (0.46) (0.41) (0.40)
Catholic -0.15 -0.29
(0.52) (0.51)
other Christian (Ref: Prot.) -0.70 -0.52
(1.11) (1.09)
constant -1.21 -0.19 -4.08 -3.81
BIC’ 41.90 47.19 -18.13 -20.98
standard errors in parentheses
*** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 † preferred model Table 2.2: Binary Logit Coefficients for Member of a Prosperity Movement Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4† 116 race (black=1) 1.44 *** 1.30 *** (0.41) (0.40) income/1000 0.00 0.00 (0.00) (0.00) years of education 0.02 0.01 (0.04) (0.04) gender (female=1) 0.02 0.03 (0.17) (0.17) years old 0.00 0.00 (0.01) (0.01) Northeast -0.19 -0.21 (0.25) (0.25) Midwest -0.06 -0.14 (0.22) (0.22) West (ref: South) -0.10 -0.23 (0.23) (0.23) suburban 0.40 0.36 (0.23) (0.23) urban (ref: rural) -0.17 -0.02 (0.20) (0.19) attend (1+/wk=1) 0.09 0.07 (0.17) (0.17) born-again 0.62 *** 0.66 *** 0.70 *** (0.19) (0.19) (0.16) Catholic -0.12 -0.20 (0.21) (0.20) other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 0.39 0.46 (0.46) (0.45) constant -0.39 0.08 -0.03 BIC' 43.94 52.50 -24.20 *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 † preferred model People to Be Financially Prosperous Table 2.3: Binary Logit Coefficients for Believes God Wants Model 1 Model 2 Model 3† standard errors in parentheses 117 race (black=1) 0.96 ** 0.88 ** 0.87 ** (0.35) (0.34) (0.34) income/1000 0.00 0.00 (0.00) (0.00) years of education -0.13 -0.14 ** -0.10 * -0.10 * (0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05) gender (female=1) -0.31 -0.29 (0.20) (0.20) years old 0.02 ** 0.02 * 0.02 ** 0.02 ** (0.01) (0.01) (0.01) (0.01) Northeast -0.24 -0.27 (0.31) (0.31) Midwest 0.00 -0.08 (0.26) (0.26) West (ref: South) -0.33 -0.44 (0.30) (0.30) suburban 0.11 0.07 0.13 (0.26) (0.25) (0.25) urban (ref: rural) -0.53 * -0.36 -0.54 * -0.58 * (0.27) (0.25) (0.26) (0.25) attend (1+/wk=1) 0.33 0.31 (0.21) (0.21) born-again 0.68 ** 0.71 ** 0.64 ** 0.65 ** (0.25) (0.24) (0.21) (0.21) Catholic 0.29 0.23 (0.27) (0.27) other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 0.70 0.75 (0.51) (0.51) constant -1.08 -0.61 -1.17 -1.13 BIC' 41.32 41.92 0.07 -6.16 *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 † preferred model Model 4† Table 2.4: Binary Logit Coefficients for Agrees Material Wealth Is a Sign of God's Blessing Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 standard errors in parentheses 118 race (black=1) 2.48 *** 2.18 *** (0.52) (0.43) income/1000 -0.01 -0.02 (0.01) (0.01) years of education -0.31 ** -0.31 *** -0.40 *** (0.10) (0.10) (0.09) gender (female=1) -0.50 -0.47 (0.39) (0.36) years old 0.01 0.00 (0.01) (0.01) Northeast -1.73 -1.82 -1.55 (1.09) (1.07) (1.06) Midwest 1.30 ** 0.82 * 1.25 ** (0.46) (0.41) (0.44) West (ref: South) 0.45 -0.07 0.47 (0.60) (0.55) (0.56) suburban 0.06 -0.11 (0.48) (0.46) urban (ref: rural) -0.84 -0.17 (0.50) (0.43) attend (1+/wk=1) -0.04 -0.12 (0.39) (0.37) born-again 0.46 0.64 (0.46) (0.43) Catholic 0.86 0.59 (0.51) (0.48) other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 0.68 1.06 (0.87) (0.76) constant 0.63 1.80 1.70 BIC' 13.13 29.81 -33.30 standard errors in parentheses *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 † preferred model Table 2.5: Binary Logit Coefficients for Agrees Poverty Is a Sign God Is Unhappy Model 1 Model 2 Model 3† 119 race (black=1) 2.09 *** 1.94 *** (0.28) (0.27) income/1000 0.00 0.00 (0.00) (0.00) years of education 0.02 -0.01 (0.04) (0.04) gender (female=1) 0.08 0.10 (0.14) (0.14) years old 0.02 *** 0.01 ** 0.02 *** (0.00) (0.00) (0.00) Northeast 0.15 0.15 (0.21) (0.21) Midwest 0.01 -0.12 (0.19) (0.19) West (ref: South) 0.21 0.01 (0.20) (0.20) suburban 0.16 0.08 (0.19) (0.19) urban (ref: rural) -0.28 -0.04 (0.17) (0.17) attend (1+/wk=1) 0.22 0.15 (0.15) (0.15) born-again 0.19 0.28 (0.16) (0.16) Catholic -0.22 -0.34 (0.18) (0.18) other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 0.53 0.66 (0.36) (0.35) BIC' 8.57 56.84 -48.98 *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 † preferred model Table 2.6: Binary Logit Coefficients for Prosperity Index Model 1 Model 2 Model 3† standard errors in parentheses 120 member of a God wants people to material wealth is a poverty is a sign Prosperity Prosperity movement be financially prosperous sign of God's blessing that God is unhappy Index race (black=1) 1.43 *** 1.30 *** 0.87 ** 2.18 *** 1.94 *** (0.38) (0.40) (0.34) (0.43) (0.27) income/1000 years of education -0.10 * -0.40 *** (0.05) (0.09) gender (female=1) years old 0.02 ** 0.02 *** (0.01) (0.00) Northeast -1.55 (1.06) Midwest 1.25 ** (0.44) West (ref: South) 0.47 (0.56) suburban urban (ref: rural) -0.58 * (0.25) attend (1+/wk=1) born-again 1.45 *** 0.70 *** 0.65 ** (0.40) (0.16) (0.21) Catholic other Christian (Ref: Prot.) constant -3.81 -0.03 -1.13 1.70 BIC' -20.98 -24.20 -6.16 -33.30 -48.98 *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 standard errors in parentheses Table 2.7: Combined Binary Logit Coefficients for Preferred Models Dependent Variables 121 member of a God wants people to material wealth is a poverty is a sign ideal type Prosperity movement be financially prosperous sign of God's blessing that God is unhappy average person 0.05 0.61 0.19 0.02 black 0.16 0.83 0.34 0.16 non-black 0.04 0.58 0.18 0.02 born-again 0.10 0.69 0.24 not born-again 0.02 0.52 0.14 urban 0.13 rural & suburban 0.22 8th grade or less 0.31 0.24 Some high school 0.27 0.12 High school graduate 0.23 0.06 Some college 0.19 0.03 College graduate 0.16 0.01 Postgraduate study 0.14 0.01 18-24 0.12 25-29 0.13 30-34 0.14 35-39 0.15 40-44 0.16 45-54 0.18 55-54 0.21 65 or older 0.25 South 0.02 Northeast 0.00 Midwest 0.07 West 0.03 Table 2.8: Combined Predicted Probabilities 122 Actual Estimated Standard Variable Mean Mean Deviation Minimum Maximum Dependent Variables: percentage of income given to church or other religious causes 655.00 3.08 1.42 1 6 percentage of income given to other nonreligious charitable causes 2.64 2.57 1.15 1 6 Independent Variables: member of a Prosperity movement 0.07 0.08 0.26 0 1 believes God wants people to be financially prosperous 0.60 0.62 0.49 0 1 Prosperity Index 4.44 4.46 1.46 1 10 percentage of income given to church or other religious causes: none (reference) 0.19 0.20 0.39 0 1 <1% 0.12 0.14 0.33 0 1 1% to 5% 0.29 0.28 0.45 0 1 >5%, <10% 0.16 0.15 0.37 0 1 10% to 20% 0.22 0.22 0.42 0 1 >20% 0.01 0.01 0.11 0 1
percentage of income given to other nonreligious charitable causes:
none (reference) 0.21 0.23 0.41 0 1
<1% 0.19 0.20 0.39 0 1 1% to 5% 0.44 0.42 0.50 0 1 >5%, <10% 0.10 0.08 0.29 0 1 10% to 20% 0.06 0.05 0.23 0 1 >20% 0.01 0.01 0.11 0 1
race (black=1) 0.08 0.12 0.27 0 1
born-again 0.50 0.51 0.50 0 1
years of education 14.35 14.29 2.20 8 18
years old 52.35 47.74 15.31 21 73
urban 0.28 0.28 0.45 0 1
rural (reference) 0.52 0.51 0.50 0 1
suburban 0.20 0.21 0.40 0 1
attend (1+/wk=1) 0.45 0.43 0.50 0 1
income/1000 67.07 66.58 50.17 12 200
gender (female=1) 0.52 0.53 0.50 0 1
Protestant (reference) 0.70 0.69 0.46 0 1
Catholic 0.26 0.27 0.44 0 1
other Christian 0.04 0.04 0.20 0 1
Northeast 0.17 0.17 0.38 0 1
Midwest 0.25 0.24 0.43 0 1
West 0.22 0.21 0.41 0 1
South (reference) 0.36 0.38 0.48 0 1
Table 3.1: Descriptive Statistics for Chapter 3 (N=615)
123
none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% <1% 21.09 21.92 22.10 20.57 21.02 21.21 22.02 22.20 20.67 21.13 percentage of income 1% to 5% 0.38 0.62 1.90 0.73 0.25 0.28 0.60 1.89 0.74 0.22 given to church >5%, <10% 0.68 0.16 2.15 1.37 0.89 0.46 0.10 2.10 1.36 0.81 or other religious causes 10% to 20% 1.40 0.39 2.47 1.76 2.74 1.26 0.36 2.44 1.77 2.69 >20% -17.33 22.48 23.45 -17.22 26.33 -16.25 22.49 23.47 -16.11 26.35
Prosperity movement -1.59 -1.58 -1.10 -1.70 -0.51
financially prosperous -0.06 0.26 0.50 0.00 0.44
Prosperity Index 0.31 0.24 0.31 0.52 0.13
race (black=1) -0.38 -0.08 -0.44 -1.83 1.05
income/1000 -0.02 0.00 0.00 -0.01 0.00 -0.02 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -0.02 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
years of education 0.01 0.10 0.27 0.33 -0.03 -0.01 0.10 0.25 0.34 -0.04 0.00 0.09 0.24 0.34 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.25 0.35 0.01
gender (female=1) -0.36 -0.34 -0.25 -0.48 0.31
years old -0.04 -0.03 -0.02 -0.02 -0.01 -0.03 -0.02 -0.01 0.00 -0.01 -0.03 -0.01 -0.01 -0.01 -0.02
Northeast -0.39 -0.03 -0.38 -0.39 -1.27
Midwest -0.42 -0.06 -0.06 0.31 -0.52
West (ref: South) 0.45 0.69 0.42 0.92 -0.15
suburban 21.33 20.62 20.88 21.05 20.47 21.63 20.91 21.24 21.45 20.67 21.21 20.47 20.91 21.13 20.18 21.17 20.51 20.95 21.18 20.19
urban (ref: rural) -0.02 -0.57 -0.28 0.03 0.49 -0.03 -0.52 -0.33 0.05 0.56 0.08 -0.45 -0.11 0.25 0.89 0.04 -0.46 -0.12 0.25 0.86
attend (1+/wk=1) 0.81 0.68 1.14 0.94 0.46
born-again 0.49 0.09 0.21 -0.10 -0.17
Catholic 20.44 20.29 20.42 20.00 20.95 20.43 20.46 20.41 20.24 20.71 20.14 20.10 20.12 19.98 20.86 20.21 20.15 20.18 20.04 20.91
other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 22.73 21.45 21.55 20.91 -10.08 21.87 20.77 20.93 20.68 -22.92 21.43 20.68 20.41 20.10 -11.28 21.65 20.81 20.57 20.28 -10.10
constant 3.69 1.29 -1.62 -4.17 0.69 4.72 2.01 -0.02 -2.97 1.83 4.02 1.23 -1.43 -3.79 -0.05 2.20 0.35 -2.28 -4.37 -1.14
BIC’ 358.30 91.35 148.81 126.59
Base Category: >20%
* = preferred model
Model 4 Model 3 Model 2* Model 1
Table 3.2: Multinomial Logit Coefficients for Percentage of Income Given to Other Nonreligious Charitable Causes
124
χ
2
income/1000 21.69 ***
(5)
education 29.46 ***
(5)
age 13.15 *
(5)
suburban 1073.42 ***
(4)
urban 8.21
(5)
suburban, urban (i.e. rural) 1228.65 ***
(9)
Catholic 2874.89 ***
(4)
other Christian 747.52 ***
(3)
Catholic, other Christian (i.e. Protestant) 3625.76 ***
(7)
degrees-of-freedom in parentheses
*** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 Table 3.3: MNL Wald Tests for Nonreligious Giving 125 ideal type none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% >20%
average person 0.18 0.22 0.49 0.10 0.01 0.00
Less than $20,000 0.32 0.18 0.39 0.10 0.01 0.00
$20,000 to just under $35,000 0.28 0.20 0.42 0.10 0.01 0.00
$35,000 to just under $50,000 0.23 0.21 0.45 0.10 0.01 0.00
$50,000 to just under $75,000 0.19 0.22 0.49 0.10 0.01 0.00
$75,000 to just under $100,000 0.14 0.23 0.53 0.10 0.01 0.00
$100,000 to just under $200,000 0.06 0.24 0.60 0.09 0.01 0.00
$200,000 or more 0.03 0.24 0.64 0.08 0.02 0.00
8th grade or less 0.43 0.27 0.24 0.03 0.03 0.00
Some high school 0.34 0.27 0.32 0.05 0.02 0.00
High school graduate 0.26 0.25 0.40 0.07 0.01 0.00
Some college 0.19 0.22 0.48 0.10 0.01 0.00
College graduate 0.13 0.19 0.55 0.13 0.01 0.00
Postgraduate study 0.08 0.15 0.59 0.17 0.00 0.00
18-24 0.30 0.24 0.39 0.07 0.01 0.00
25-29 0.27 0.24 0.41 0.08 0.01 0.00
30-34 0.25 0.23 0.43 0.08 0.01 0.00
35-39 0.23 0.23 0.44 0.09 0.01 0.00
40-44 0.21 0.23 0.46 0.09 0.01 0.00
45-54 0.18 0.22 0.49 0.10 0.01 0.00
55-54 0.15 0.21 0.52 0.11 0.01 0.00
65 or older 0.12 0.20 0.55 0.13 0.01 0.00
rural 0.15 0.25 0.50 0.09 0.01 0.00
suburban 0.22 0.18 0.49 0.11 0.00 0.00
urban 0.19 0.19 0.47 0.12 0.02 0.00
Protestant 0.16 0.21 0.48 0.10 0.05 0.00
Catholic 0.16 0.22 0.47 0.09 0.07 0.00
other Christian 0.36 0.16 0.41 0.07 0.00 0.00
Table 3.4: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Nonreligious Giving
126
none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% <1% -17.42 -16.68 -17.13 -17.82 -18.27 percentage of income 1% to 5% -18.81 -17.74 -16.98 -16.97 -17.37 given to other nonreligious >5%, <10% 1.20 0.71 1.77 2.44 2.12 charitable causes 10% to 20% -21.63 -21.66 -21.46 -20.73 -19.49 >20% 3.70 -26.99 3.47 3.64 2.98
Prosperity movement -1.09 -0.47 -0.14 -0.88 -0.57
financially prosperous -1.54 -1.27 -1.55 -1.20 -1.13
Prosperity Index 0.46 0.38 0.31 0.42 0.45
race (black=1) -2.99 -2.33 -2.05 -2.34 -1.45
income/1000 -0.01 -0.01 0.00 -0.01 0.00
years of education -0.09 0.04 0.06 0.23 0.00 -0.15 -0.03 0.07 0.20 -0.03 -0.05 0.03 0.09 0.21 0.03
gender (female=1) -0.70 -0.25 -0.45 0.18 0.06
years old -0.03 -0.03 0.00 0.01 0.00 -0.01 -0.01 0.01 0.03 0.02 -0.01 -0.01 0.01 0.03 0.02
Northeast 18.51 18.98 18.53 18.12 17.91 19.13 19.59 19.17 18.87 18.55 19.17 19.57 19.20 18.94 18.62
Midwest 0.06 -0.17 -0.13 -0.13 -0.33 0.53 0.29 0.26 0.24 -0.01 0.01 -0.30 -0.34 -0.41 -0.58
West (ref: South) 0.69 0.65 0.29 0.04 -0.10 1.23 1.11 0.74 0.46 0.24 0.95 0.85 0.44 0.15 -0.01
suburban -0.05 0.07 -0.33 -0.78 -0.25
urban (ref: rural) 1.32 0.92 1.00 0.62 0.82
attend (1+/wk=1) -3.44 -1.31 -0.19 1.01 1.01 -3.29 -1.17 -0.12 1.05 1.00 -4.27 -2.18 -1.04 0.20 0.22
born-again 0.02 0.29 0.29 1.22 1.64 -0.13 0.21 0.14 1.02 1.55 -0.50 -0.06 -0.07 0.84 1.43
Catholic 18.68 18.74 18.87 19.28 18.89 19.25 19.17 19.39 19.66 19.23 20.53 20.46 20.73 20.96 20.41
other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 20.27 19.08 19.74 19.98 21.43 21.03 19.93 20.39 20.60 22.19 18.99 18.15 18.81 19.04 20.64
constant 6.04 3.40 2.46 -2.94 0.16 5.05 2.73 0.91 -3.49 0.20 22.92 20.41 18.85 14.64 17.76
BIC’ 172.15 -32.70 23.63
Base Category: >20%
* = preferred model
Model 1 Model 2* Model 3
Table 3.5: Multinomial Logit Coefficients for Percentage of Income Given to Church or Other Religious Causes
127
χ
2
education 24.61 ***
(5)
age 15.35 **
(5)
Northeast 2792.46 ***
(4)
Midwest 2.01
(5)
West 6.93
(5)
Northeast Midwest West (i.e. South) 3702.66 ***
(14)
attend 95.94 ***
(5)
born-again 28.65 ***
(5)
Catholic 3659.02 ***
(4)
other Christian 408.13 ***
(4)
Catholic other Christian (i.e. Protestant) 4530.92 ***
(8)
degrees-of-freedom in parentheses
*** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 Table 3.6: MNL Wald Tests for Religious Giving 128 ideal type none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% >20%
average person 0.10 0.14 0.39 0.17 0.21 0.00
8th grade or less 0.26 0.17 0.26 0.05 0.26 0.00
Some high school 0.20 0.17 0.31 0.08 0.25 0.00
High school graduate 0.15 0.16 0.35 0.11 0.24 0.00
Some college 0.10 0.14 0.38 0.16 0.21 0.00
College graduate 0.07 0.12 0.40 0.22 0.19 0.00
Postgraduate study 0.05 0.10 0.41 0.29 0.16 0.00
18-24 0.16 0.24 0.36 0.10 0.14 0.00
25-29 0.15 0.22 0.37 0.11 0.16 0.00
30-34 0.14 0.20 0.37 0.12 0.17 0.00
35-39 0.13 0.18 0.38 0.13 0.18 0.00
40-44 0.12 0.17 0.38 0.14 0.19 0.00
45-54 0.10 0.15 0.39 0.16 0.20 0.00
55-54 0.09 0.12 0.38 0.19 0.22 0.00
65 or older 0.06 0.09 0.37 0.23 0.25 0.00
South 0.08 0.11 0.37 0.18 0.26 0.00
Northeast 0.09 0.19 0.41 0.15 0.16 0.00
Midwest 0.11 0.12 0.38 0.18 0.21 0.00
West 0.13 0.17 0.38 0.14 0.17 0.00
attends 1/wk+ 0.01 0.07 0.32 0.27 0.33 0.00
attends <1/wk 0.33 0.18 0.31 0.08 0.10 0.00 born-again 0.07 0.11 0.30 0.20 0.33 0.00 not born-again 0.13 0.16 0.46 0.13 0.12 0.00 Protestant 0.10 0.15 0.39 0.16 0.21 0.00 Catholic 0.09 0.12 0.40 0.21 0.18 0.00 other Christian 0.09 0.04 0.18 0.09 0.59 0.00 Table 3.7: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving 129 Actual Estimated Standard Variable N Mean Mean Deviation Minimum Maximum Dependant Variables: voted in the 2004 Presidential election 655 0.91 0.89 0.28 0 1 voted for George Bush (over John Kerry) 568 0.58 0.55 0.49 0 1 political party affiliation* 650 2.00 2.01 0.96 1 4 Independent Variables: member of a Prosperity movement 665 0.07 0.08 0.25 0 1 believes God wants people to be financially prosperous 665 0.60 0.62 0.49 0 1 Prosperity Index 665 4.43 4.46 1.45 1 10 race (black=1) 665 0.08 0.12 0.28 0 1 born-again 665 0.50 0.52 0.50 0 1 years of education 665 14.26 14.20 2.22 8 18 years old 665 52.99 48.23 15.59 21 73 urban 665 0.28 0.28 0.45 0 1 rural 665 0.52 0.51 0.50 0 1 suburban 665 0.20 0.21 0.40 0 1 attend (1+/wk=1) 665 0.46 0.44 0.50 0 1 income/1000 665 65.46 65.10 50.16 12 200 gender (female=1) 665 0.53 0.53 0.50 0 1 Protestant (reference) 665 0.70 0.69 0.46 0 1 Catholic 665 0.26 0.26 0.44 0 1 other Christian 665 0.04 0.04 0.20 0 1 Northeast 665 0.17 0.18 0.38 0 1 Midwest 665 0.24 0.23 0.43 0 1 West 665 0.22 0.21 0.41 0 1 South (reference) 665 0.37 0.48 0.41 0 1 Table 4.1: Descriptive Statistics Chapters 3 * - 1 = Republican; 2 = Democrat; 3 = Independent; 4 = something else 130 Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Prosperity movement 0.49 0.88 (0.69) (0.65) financially prosperous 0.03 0.18 (0.34) (0.31) Prosperity Index -0.04 0.05 (0.11) (0.10) race (black=1) 0.97 (0.62) income/1000 0.01 (0.00) years of education 0.49 *** 0.49 *** 0.48 *** 0.48 *** 0.48 *** (0.09) (0.08) (0.08) (0.08) (0.08) gender (female=1) -0.30 (0.33) years old 0.06 *** 0.05 *** 0.05 *** 0.05 *** 0.05 *** (0.01) (0.01) (0.01) (0.01) (0.01) Northeast 0.01 (0.45) Midwest 0.62 (0.42) West (ref: South) 0.56 (0.49) suburban 0.43 (0.44) urban (ref: rural) -0.08 (0.38) attend (1+/wk=1) 0.35 (0.33) born-again 0.26 (0.37) Catholic -0.17 (0.41) other Christian (Ref: Prot.) -1.20 (0.69) constant -7.54 -6.87 -6.75 -6.83 -6.58 BIC' 24.22 -52.70 -50.85 -50.81 -57.01 Table 4.2: Binary Logit Coefficients for Voting in 2004 Presidental Election N = 655 standard errors in parentheses *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 131 average person 0.95 years of education: 8th grade or less 0.50 Some high school 0.72 High school graduate 0.87 Some college 0.95 College graduate 0.98 Postgraduate study 0.99 age: 18-24 0.79 25-29 0.84 30-34 0.87 35-39 0.90 40-44 0.92 45-54 0.94 55-54 0.96 65 or older 0.98 for Voting in 2004 Table 4.3: Predicted Probabilities 132 Model 1 Model 2 Prosperity movement -0.37 (0.44) financially prosperous 0.37 (0.20) Prosperity Index 0.22 ** 0.24 *** (0.07) (0.07) race (black=1) -3.56 *** -3.55 *** (0.60) (0.58) income/1000 0.00 * 0.00 ** (0.00) (0.00) years of education -0.03 (0.05) gender (female=1) -0.24 (0.19) years old 0.00 (0.01) Northeast -0.12 (0.29) Midwest -0.26 (0.25) West (ref: South) -0.06 (0.27) suburban -0.25 (0.25) urban (ref: rural) -0.07 (0.23) attend (1+/wk=1) 0.54 ** 0.51 ** (0.20) (0.19) born-again 0.66 ** 0.71 *** (0.23) (0.21) Catholic -0.26 -0.23 (0.23) (0.22) other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 1.92 * 1.98 ** (0.84) (0.82) constant -0.91 -1.38 BIC' -10.393 -66.037 Table 4.4: Binary Logit Coefficients N = 568 standard errors in parentheses *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 for Voting for Bush (over Kerry) in 2004 133 average person 0.59 1 0.38 2 0.44 3 0.50 Prosperity 4 0.56 Index 5 0.62 Score 6 0.67 7 0.72 8 0.77 9 0.81 10 0.84 black 0.05 non-black 0.65 Less than $20,000 0.52 $20,000 to just under $35,000 0.54 $35,000 to just under $50,000 0.56 $50,000 to just under $75,000 0.58 $75,000 to just under $100,000 0.61 $100,000 to just under $200,000 0.68 $200,000 or more 0.73 attends 1/wk+ 0.65 attends <1/wk 0.53 born-again 0.67 not born-again 0.50 Protestant 0.59 Catholic 0.53 other Christian 0.91 Table 4.5: Predicted Probabilities for Voting for Bush (over Kerry) in 2004 134 Democrat Independent other Democrat Independent other Democrat Independent other Prosperity movement 1.19 0.86 0.35 financially prosperous 0.36 0.37 -1.03 Prosperity Index -0.19 -0.29 -0.37 0.94 1.52 -1.15 0.85 1.55 -1.06 race (black=1) -0.25 -0.39 -0.03 -0.24 -0.41 -0.08 -0.24 -0.42 -0.07 income/1000 3.17 1.75 1.02 years of education 0.00 0.00 0.00 gender (female=1) -0.04 0.02 -0.13 years old 0.50 0.03 -0.18 Northeast 0.01 0.01 0.00 Midwest -0.52 0.34 0.37 West (ref: South) -0.48 0.12 -0.22 suburban -0.59 -0.12 0.06 urban (ref: rural) 0.14 -0.44 0.06 attend (1+/wk=1) 0.22 -0.16 0.02 3.26 1.85 1.07 3.17 1.86 1.13 born-again -0.50 -0.71 -0.79 -0.45 -0.61 -0.77 Catholic -0.38 0.40 0.58 other Christian (Ref: Prot.) 0.46 0.67 0.75 constant -1.70 0.53 0.86 -0.28 0.04 0.25 -0.50 -0.60 -0.73 BIC' 166.88 -24.37 -40.32 Table 4.6: Multinomial Logit Coefficients for Political Party Affiliation Base Category: Republican * = preferred model N = 650 Model 1 Model 2 Model 3* 135 χ 2 Prosperity Index 28.08 *** race (black=1) 40.22 *** attend (1+/wk=1) 11.81 ** Table 4.7: MNL Wald Tests for Political Party Affiliation df = 3 *** p < 0.001; ** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05 136 Republican Democrat Independent other average person 0.37 0.31 0.25 0.07 1 0.17 0.32 0.47 0.04 2 0.22 0.33 0.40 0.05 3 0.28 0.33 0.33 0.06 Prosperity 4 0.34 0.31 0.27 0.07 Index 5 0.41 0.29 0.22 0.08 Score 6 0.48 0.27 0.17 0.09 7 0.55 0.24 0.12 0.09 8 0.61 0.21 0.09 0.09 9 0.66 0.18 0.07 0.09 10 0.71 0.15 0.05 0.09 black 0.05 0.74 0.18 0.03 non-black 0.42 0.27 0.24 0.08 attends 1/wk+ 0.45 0.28 0.21 0.06 attends <1/wk 0.31 0.33 0.27 0.09 Table 4.8: Predicted Probabilities for Political Party Affiliation 137 0.05 0.61 0.19 0.02 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 member of a Prosperity movement God wants people to be financially prosperous material wealth is a sign of God's blessing poverty is a sign that God is unhappy Figure 2.1: Predicted Probabilities for the Average Person by Dependent Variable 138 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 2.2: Predicted Probabilities for Prosperity Index Scores for the Average Person 139 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 8th grade or less Some high school High school graduate Some college College graduate Postgraduate study Figure 2.3: Predicted Probabilities for Agreeing That Material Wealth Is a Sign of God's Blessing by Education 140 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 8th grade or less Some high school High school graduate Some college College graduate Postgraduate study Figure 2.4: Predicted Probabilities for Agreeing That Poverty Is a Sign That God Is Unhappy by Education 141 0.10 0.69 0.24 0.02 0.52 0.14 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 member of a Prosperity movement God wants people to be financially prosperous material wealth is a sign of God's blessing Figure 2.5: Predicted Probabilities for Born-Again/Evangelical Ideal Types by Dependent Variable born-again/evangelical not born-again/evangelical 142 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 2.6: Predicted Probabilities for Prosperity Index Scores by Race black non-black 143 0.16 0.83 0.34 0.16 0.04 0.58 0.18 0.02 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 member of a Prosperity movement God wants people to be financially prosperous material wealth is a sign of God's blessing poverty is a sign that God is unhappy Figure 2.7: Predicted Probabilities for Racial Ideal Types by Dependent Variable black non-black 144 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 8th grade or less Some high school High school graduate Some college College graduate Postgraduate study Figure 2.8: Predicted Probabilities for Agreeing That Poverty Is a Sign That God Is Unhappy by Race and Education non-black black 145 0.02 0.16 0.02 0.02 0.00 0.07 0.03 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 average person black non-black South Northeast Midwest West Figure 2.9: Predicted Probabilities for Agreeing That Poverty Is a Sign That God Is Unhappy 146 0.19 0.34 0.18 0.13 0.22 0.24 0.14 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 average person black non-black urban rural & suburban born-again not born-again Figure 2.10: Predicted Probabilities for Agreeing That Material Wealth Is a Sign of God's Blessing 147 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 18-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-54 55-54 65 or older Figure 2.11: Predicted Probabilities for Agreeing That Material Wealth Is a Sign of God's Blessing by Age 148 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 2.12: Predicted Probabilities for Prosperity Index Scores by Age 18-24 45-54 65 or older 149 0.18 0.22 0.49 0.10 0.01 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% Figure 3.1: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Nonreligious Giving for the Average Person 150 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Less than $20,000 $20,000 to just under $35,000 $35,000 to just under $50,000 $50,000 to just under $75,000 $75,000 to just under $100,000 $100,000 to just under $200,000 $200,000 or more Figure 3.2: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Nonreligious Giving by Income none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 151 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 8th grade or less Some high school High school graduate Some college College graduate Postgraduate study Figure 3.3: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Nonreligious Giving by Level of Education none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 152 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 18-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-54 55-54 65 or older Figure 3.4: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Nonreligious Giving by Age none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 153 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Protestant Catholic other Christian Figure 3.5: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Nonreligious Giving by Religion none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 154 0.10 0.14 0.39 0.17 0.21 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% Figure 3.6: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving for the Average Person 155 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 8th grade or less Some high school High school graduate Some college College graduate Postgraduate study Figure 3.7: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving by Level of Education none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 156 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 18-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-54 55-54 65 or older Figure 3.8: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving by Age none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 157 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 attends 1/wk+ attends <1/wk Figure 3.9: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving by Church Attendance none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 158 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 born-again not born-again Figure 3.10: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving by Born-Again none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 159 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Protestant Catholic other Christian Figure 3.11: Predicted Probabilities for Percentage of Income to Religious Giving by Religion none <1% 1% to 5% >5%, <10% 10% to 20% 160 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 8th grade or less Some high school High school graduate Some college College graduate Postgraduate study Figure 4.1: Predicted Probabilities for Voting in 2004 by Education 161 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 18-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-54 55-54 65 or older Figure 4.2: Predicted Probabilities for Voting in 2004 by Age 162 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 4.3: Predicted Probabilities for Voting for Bush (over Kerry) in 2004 by Prosperity Index Score 163 0.59 0.05 0.65 0.65 0.53 0.67 0.50 0.59 0.53 0.91 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 average person black non-black attends 1/wk+ attends <1/wk born-again not bornagain Protestant Catholic other Christian Figure 4.4: Predicted Probabilities for Voting for Bush (over Kerry) in 2004 164 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 4.5: Predicted Probabilities for Voting for Bush (over Kerry) in 2004 by Prosperity Index Score for Race average race black non-black 165 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Less than $20,000 $20,000 to just under $35,000 $35,000 to just under $50,000 $50,000 to just under $75,000 $75,000 to just under $100,000 $100,000 to just under $200,000 $200,000 or more Figure 4.6: Predicted Probabilities for Voting for Bush (over Kerry) in 2004 by Income 166 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 4.7: Predicted Probabilities for Political Party Affiliation by Prosperity Index Score Republican Democrat Independent other 167 0.05 0.74 0.18 0.03 0.42 0.27 0.24 0.08 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Republican Democrat Independent other Figure 4.8: Predicted Probabilities for Political Party Affiliation by Race black non-black 168 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 4.9: Predicted Probabilities for Affiliating as Republican by Prosperity Index Score for Race average race blacks nonblacks 169 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Figure 4.10: Predicted Probabilities for Affiliating as Democrat by Prosperity Index Score for Race average race blacks nonblacks 170 0.45 0.28 0.21 0.06 0.31 0.33 0.27 0.09 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Republican Democrat Independent other Figure 4.11: Predicted Probabilities for Political Party Affiliation by Church Attendance attends 1/wk+ attends <1/wk 171 I BRADLEY A. KOCH OFFICE Department of Sociology Indiana University Ballantine Hall 744 1020 East Kirkwood Avenue Bloomington, IN 47405-7103 Phone: (812) 855-2924 Fax: (812) 855-0781 HOME 346 North Arsenal Ave Indianapolis, IN 46201-3078 Mobile: (812) 345-0405 Email: brkoch@indiana.edu EDUCATION expected July 2009 Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, Indiana University The Prosperity Gospel and Economic Prosperity Committee: Robert Robinson (chair), William Corsaro, Constance Furey, and Brian Steensland Minor: Religious Studies 2005 Master of Arts in Sociology, Indiana University “Religious Affiliates vs. Non-Affiliates: The Varying Effects of Family on Attitudes about Homosexuality” Co-chairs: Brian Powell and Melissa Wilde 2002 Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Belmont University cum laude “The Don of the Box-Office: American Anti-Immigrant Sentiment and the Popularity of Mafia Movies” Advisor: Neal King AREAS OF INTEREST Research Sociology of Religion Social Stratification Teaching and Learning Sexuality & Gender Sociology of Culture Teaching Sociology of Religion Introduction to Sociology Social Psychology Sociology of Music Methods and Statistics Social Theory Social Problems II HONORS AND AWARDS 2008-2009 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship ($22,000) Lake Institute on Faith & Giving Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University-Purdue University— Indianapolis 2008 SSSR Student Travel Grant ($100) Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky 2007 Henry Institute Travel Grant ($400) Seminar on Survey Research and American Religion Calvin College 2005-2006 PFF Travel Grant ($400) Preparing Future Faculty Indiana University 2006 Hanover College Teaching Fellow Faculty mentor Prof. Keith Roberts Indiana University-Hanover College Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Program 2002-2004 Graduate Fellowship ($8,000) Indiana University 2002 Graduate Student Scholarship ($1000) Vasa Order of America 2002 Sociology Scholar Award Belmont University TEACHING EXPERIENCE 2004-2008 Associate Instructor Department of Sociology, Indiana University S230: Society and the Individual* (2008, 1 section; 80 students) S313: Religion & Society* (2005-2008, 8 sections; 47/67/51/47/58/15/43/16 students) S313: Religion & Society by independent study (2006-2007; 6 sections; 76 students) S100: Introduction to Sociology* (2004-2005, 3 sections; 70/70/27 students) ( * - Sole responsibility for designing the course, preparing lectures, and grading assignments.) III 2002-2004 Teaching Assistant Department of Sociology, Indiana University S100: Introduction to Sociology (2 sections) S101: Envisioning the City S210: The Economy, Organizations, and Work PEDAGOGICAL TRAINING 2006 Future Faculty Certification North Central Sociological Association 2005-2006 Teaching Fellow Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Hanover College 2004 S506: The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology Taken as part of the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Program Department of Sociology, Indiana University PRESENTATIONS Koch, Bradley A. 2008. “The Prosperity Gospel and Economic Prosperity.” Louisville, KY: Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Harger, Brent and Bradley A. Koch. 2008. “A Head Start at Meeting Expectations: Parental Attitudes and Needs in a College Town.” Boston: Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Koch, Bradley A. 2006. “Denomination and Class: Disentangling the Effects of Education.” Montreal: Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Koch, Bradley A. 2005. “Religion, Family Structure, and Attitudes about Homosexuality.” Charlotte, NC: Annual Meeting of the Southern Sociological Society. PAPERS IN PROGRESS “Holy and Homogeneous? Disentangling Education and Stratification” “Religious Affiliates vs. Non-Affiliates: The Varying Effects of Family on Attitudes about Homosexuality” BOOK REVIEW Koch, Bradley A. 2007. Review of God, Sex, and Politics: Homosexuality and Everyday Theologies, by Dawne Moon. Sociology of Religion 68:114-5. IV RESEARCH EXPERIENCE/TRAINING 2007 Workshop Participant Seminar on Survey Research and American Religion The Henry Institute at Calvin College (Prof. Corwin Smidt) 2003 Research Assistant “Erotic Curriculum”: Elizabeth Armstrong, Principal Investigator 2003 Research Assistant “The American Family”: Brian Powell, Principal Investigator Sociological Research Practicum SERVICE Departmental 2005-2006 Advisory Board Karl F. Schuessler Institute for Social Research Indiana University 2002-present Graduate Student Association Department of Sociology Indiana University o Graduate Employee Union Representative (2004-2005) o Social Committee Member (2003-2004) 2003-present Graduate Employee Organization Indiana University o Steering Committee Member (2003-2005) o Fees Committee Member (2003-2004) Professional Memberships American Sociological Association ASA Section on Sociology of Religion Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Association for the Sociology of Religion American Academy of Religion North Central Sociological Association Southern Sociological Society V REFERENCES Robert V. Robinson Chancellor’s Professor Department of Sociology Indiana University Ballantine Hall 744 1020 East Kirkwood Ave. Bloomington, IN 47405-7103 Phone: (812) 855-2569 Email: robinsor@indiana.edu William Corsaro Robert H. Shaffer Professor Department of Sociology Indiana University Ballantine Hall 744 1020 East Kirkwood Ave. Bloomington, IN 47405-7103 Phone: (812) 855-3988 Email: corsaro@indiana.edu Constance Furey Associate Professor Department of Religious Studies Indiana University Sycamore Hall 230 1020 East Kirkwood Ave. Bloomington, IN 47405-7005 Phone: (812) 855-6678 Email: cfurey@indiana.edu Brian Steensland Assistant Professor Department of Sociology Indiana University Ballantine Hall 744 1020 East Kirkwood Ave. Bloomington, IN 47405-7103 Phone: (812) 855-1547 Email: bsteens@indiana.edu

14 Comments

  • Troy Day
    Reply October 6, 2019

    Troy Day

    Michael Ellis Carter Jr. the NAR problem in theology really comes down to THIS Nelson Banuchi Jim Price

    • Nelson Banuchi
      Reply October 6, 2019

      Nelson Banuchi

      It’s a shame… this prosperity thing (won’t even give it the benefit of attaching the term “gospel” to it) is is insidious.

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 6, 2019

      Troy Day

      Nelson Banuchi its ALL connected to this NAR post-mil dominion theology Angel Ruiz

  • Jim Price
    Reply October 7, 2019

    Jim Price

    There are so many, well taken, points in this dissertation but for now I will only comment on one. ” Adherents to the Prosperity Gospel believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing ” Even in my youth being one of the poorest families in the community, my dad deep inside seemed to feel that God’s blessing had fallen on the well to do farmers in the valley. Not once did I remember him complaining that the well to do were not treating the poor fairly. At the same time none of the well to do went to church. Looking back I can see that the well to do were without vision or compassion for the poor. The poor thought that if God meant for some to have wealth then He must also meant for them to be poor. This is very bad theology but it is common.

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 8, 2019

      Troy Day

      well Jim Price where do we start with this?

  • RichardAnna Boyce
    Reply October 8, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    has anyone noticed Creflo Dollar is no longer prosperity gospel but Gospel of Grace and Truth?

    • Nelson Banuchi
      Reply October 8, 2019

      Nelson Banuchi

      Do you have a website to show it?

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 8, 2019

      Troy Day

      YES Dollar is FREE grace but not FREE dollars

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply October 8, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      Nelson Banuchi https://www.creflodollarministries.org
      Welcome to Creflo Dollar Ministries America. Here you will find grace-based teachings.

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply October 8, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      Troy Day he seems to be a manager of God’s Kingdom money for helping the poor, and doesnt ask for money to buy property now.

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 8, 2019

      Troy Day

      RichardAnna Boyce do you have anything on the actual article from OP?

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply October 9, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      Troy Day it is a major event for the Pentecostal Gospel, that a black Pentecostal prosperity preacher like Creflo Dollar gets a revelation of Free Grace and preaches it boldly on international TV for the last 7 years.

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 9, 2019

      Troy Day

      RichardAnna Boyce I dont think so There is much more prominent preachers who influence the evangelical vote during elections BUT again how do you relate it to OP – did you even read the dissertation posted in question?

  • Reply October 12, 2019

    Alex Petzinger

    The only charismatic leaders that I really learned from were Derek Prince and Bob Mumford. The new generation of “leaders” pushing the prosperity gospel (which is actually no gospel but a lie) are a black mark on the Pentecostal movement. The fact is that most of their theology is quite shallow and man-centered. If you want real meat then read from Tozer and R.C Sproul. You don’t believe me? Show me where there is an actual move of God here in the United States this year in 2019? Where has there been a significant revival?

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