The get-rich-quick scheme for people of modest means used to be a lottery ticket. Now it’s the Prosperity Gospel, which has a simple message. The more money you give to the church, the more will come back to you. Scrape out the last penny you might use for food or rent or medicine, and God will reward you with a fortune.
We have the Prosperity Gospel here in the U.S.; Joel Osteen is a big proponent. But in Brazil, long a predominately Catholic country, the Prosperity Gospel is going great guns, recruiting converts to Pentacostal churches.
“Speaking from a stage encircled by 12 large wooden crosses, Gabriel Camargo held up wads of fake Brazilian money, showing his flock what could be theirs.
“God will bless you if you give a lot more to the church,” said Camargo, a Pentecostal pastor with the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
Then he extended an arm and pointed a black pouch toward his parishioners in the working-class neighborhood of Osasco.
Pick up your wallets and purses, he said, instructing his flock to look for Brazilian reais. About a dozen people hurried forward to dump bills and coins into the bag.
Those without cash didn’t have to worry: An usher held out a credit card machine. “You’ll have so much money” after giving generously to the church, the pastor boomed, that “smoke is going to come out of the machine.”
According to the article, Catholicism is likely to become a minority religion in Brazil by 2030, giving way to Pentacostals preaching the Prosperity Gospel.
You have to wonder if these preachers feel no shame. The simple answer is “apparently not”. And what of the people who rush forward to give away what little money they have? “A sucker born every minute” is a shopworn but apparently still relevant phrase.