Friday, January 1, 2016

Because Airlines Have Demons

These days it seems like every evangelist out there wants a private jet. More to the point, they want their congregations to pay for them. Now many evangelists do travel a lot, and there may be cases where owning a private plane makes sense. But what a lot of commenters, including myself, have noted is that there's really no reason for such an aircraft to be the most expensive, luxurious thing on the market - which seems to be what they all want.

In a recent interview, two "prosperity gospel" evangelists, Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis, explained the real reason that they needed their expensive, top of the line luxury planes. It's because the regular airlines all have demons. Oh, and dope. Seriously. And the whole "luxury" thing didn't even get a mention.

Preachers from the so-called “prosperity gospel” movement, Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis, tried to explain their controversial need for their followers to give up their hard-earned dollars so they can fly in luxury in an interview posted Wednesday.

“Now Oral [Roberts] used to fly airlines,” Copeland explained. “But even back then it got to the place where it was agitating his spirit, people coming up to him, he had become famous, and they wanted him to pray for them and all that. You can’t manage that today, this dope-filled world, and get in a long tube with a bunch of demons.”

Copeland then pointed out he could “scratch my flying itch” by riding around in his single-engine, open-cockpit plane. “But we’re in soul business here,” he said. “We got a dying world around us. We got a dying nation around us. And we can’t even get there on an airline.”

It seems to me, though, that even if you believe air travel will give you a demonic infestation, there's still no reason that your private jet needs to be the most expensive one in the world. Creflo Dollar, whose name really says it all, was widely ridiculed when he tried to raise money for a $65 million Gulfstream G650 when, for example, he could have bought a faster Cessna Citation X for only $22 million. I realize that still sounds pretty damn expensive, but in this context it's one third the cost.

The only reason the G650 is so much more expensive is that its target market is billionaires who want every luxury feature out there. And that's not even considering the used market, where you can find Gulfstreams that are not quite as high-end priced competitively with the Citation X. I seriously doubt that God cares whether his evangelists have an absolute top of the line plane versus, say, last year's model. This is all about showing off, which isn't supposed to be a Christian virtue.

Of course, you could also assemble a pretty compelling argument that prosperity gospel is a very heretical form of Christianity. Jesus taught compassion for the poor and stood against the wealthy rulers of his day. He didn't teach his followers that the wealthy Romans were the chosen of God. The Sermon on the Mount doesn't include anything like "Blessed are the rich." And so on. You can try to cherry-pick Bible quotes all you want, but a Jesus who loves the rich and hates the poor just isn't in there.

The main point of prosperity gospel is that it's more a scam to raise money than any sort of legitimate theology. People donate more if you tell them that God will give them a return on their investment, rather than admitting that you really just want their money to buy yourself a luxury jet. If you don't believe me on that, check out John Oliver's epic takedown in which he tells you exactly what happens when you subscribe to these folks' mailing list. Spoiler alert: the whole thing is obviously a scam.

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