One of my favorite movies of all time was the 1960 film “Elmer Gantry“. The Oscar-winning film was about a con man and a female evangelist selling religion to small town America. It was adapted from the novel written by Sinclair Lewis, who wrote the book in 1926. Gantry eventually contributes to the downfall, physical injury, and even death of key people around him.
What specifically intrigued me was how easily manipulated the congregation was. Through blind faith, they would follow someone who they think is doing “God’s work”, not knowing what and where they’re being led to. They could be led to a fire, or a cliff, or a batch of kool-aid.
Not saying that all people who are religious are like that. Many actually perform God’s work, like healing the sick, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the naked, helping those who can’t help themselves. But there are people who will take that word and manipulate the masses for their own interests and, in some cases, political gain.
Creflo Dollar is one example of this. (Never liked him! Always seemed creepy and manipulative!) Asking your congregation for a $65 million dollar jet is inexcusable, especially when you’re rich 10 times over. That money should be put to better use, like…helping those who can’t help themselves. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us?
Jesus was born into poverty, and he chose to continue to live in poverty as an adult. He felt a deep sense of belonging among the poor, and he clearly embraced and identified with those who were economically oppressed in his society. Jesus came to Bethlehem on a donkey. Back then, horses were a status symbol of power identified by the Roman Empire. Jesus specified that in Matthew 19:24.
Because he so closely associated with the poor, Jesus witnessed firsthand the tremendous gap between rich and poor. This gap was the consequence of the rich gaining their wealth through oppressing and neglecting the poor. Jesus believed he was ushering in the kingdom of God, and he called all who truly sought the kingdom to give up the possessions that hindered them from entering God’s rule.
His statement about the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom of God implies that Jesus believed the poor were more receptive to the message of God’s present rule. In Jesus’ mind, the rich were too self-sufficient and self-satisfied to heed his message.
It was only after Charlemagne’s take over of Christianity in the year 900 that Jesus’ word began to become corrupted and perverted. He used that to justify slaughtering in the name of God during the Crusades, which harkened the Dark Ages.
Bottom line: No “Christian” should even be asking their brethren for anything other than to help those who are unable to help themselves. Sadly, there are many who will follow Creflo Dollar blindly, figuring it’s the only way they’ll be able to get to heaven.
W.C. Fields was right!
Wanna see a great documentary? Checkout the 1972 Oscar-winning documentary, “Marjoe“.
Marjoe Gortner, today known primarily for his acting roles in B-movies (Earthquake, When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?, Food of the Gods), was at one time a boy faith healer and evangelist. Wildly popular in the American South, he could fill huge tent revival meetings with his promises of eternal salvation and healing. What the people who came to his meetings didn’t know, and what this documentary shows, is that he was a fake who was used by others to make money. Just another example of manipulation of the masses.