Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Always Pay Me First

I have to say, as much as I try not to make fun of other folks' religious beliefs, I never get tired of mocking Paula White. Donald Trump's "spiritual advisor" is a Prosperity Gospel preacher who is considered extreme even by other Prosperity Gospel preachers. Although I don't necessarily have a problem with Christianity, I have no problem whatsoever pointing out the obvious - Prosperity Gospel is basically a scam. The idea that God will reward you for sending these preachers money with a lot more money is more like a pyramid scheme than a system of spirituality, and just like a pyramid scheme, the person getting rich is the one at the top. Here's yet another example of White's ridiculousness.

Prosperity gospel minister Paula White is apparently encouraging her followers to live in the dark if necessary to keep the lights on at her church. According to a report by Mother Jones, White, who serves as Trump’s “spiritual adviser,” told followers at her Supernatural Ministry School in Miami that they could earn God’s appreciation by sending her church as much money as possible — even if that meant they weren’t able to pay their electric bills.

White specifically told her followers that if they pay their Florida Power and Light (FPL) electric bill every month in lieu of giving it to her church, then they are treating the electric company better than they are God. “Instead of writing that check to the house of God as I’m instructed to, then what I’m saying spiritually is, ‘FPL, I have now established a spiritual law that put you first,” White told her congregants. “So FPL, save my family, FPL, deliver my drug-addicted son, FPL, kill this cancer that doctors say is in my body.”

The funny thing is, this is absolutely not what people who pay their electric bill before donating to Paula White's church are doing. They are treating their electric company better than they are treating Paula White. Obviously, this heresy cannot stand. More seriously, though, this attitude is the same reason that faith healing is dangerous.

If someone is severely ill and receiving proper medical care, there's nothing wrong with praying for their recovery. When my friends are in the hospital I do healing spells for them too. But if I were to tell them that seeking medical care shows a "lack of faith" that will prevent whatever deity I follow from healing them, I'm committing magical malpractice. Magical and/or spiritual healing should complement conventional medical care, not replace it. The deal is that as with anything else, you take all the non-magical actions you can to make your recovery as likely as possible. Then you use a spell to close the probability gap and "seal the deal."

In the Paula White example, having electricity means that you can heat and cool your home, and do what you need to do to get ready for work where you earn money. Those things are important. You have to make money to be able to donate money. But Prosperity Gospel preachers invert that whole relationship solely to enrich themselves at the expense of their less fortunate followers - who are remain less fortunate than they otherwise might be because they are donating all their money hoping for a payoff that probably will never come.

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