A recent study has detected a rise in the number of American churches that teach Prosperity Gospel - the idea that increased financial contributions to their churches and charitable causes will result in greater blessings from God.
Carried out by Lifeway Research, the poll showed 52 per cent of American protestant churchgoers say their church teaches such a belief. This represents a significant rise from the 38 per cent who expressed similar sentiments in a study carried out in 2017.
Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, commented: “In the last five years, far more churchgoers are reflecting prosperity gospel teachings, including the heretical belief that material blessings are earned from God.”
“It is possible the financial hits people have taken from inflation and the pandemic have triggered feelings of guilt for not serving God more. But Scripture does not teach that kind of direct connection.”
The increase is particularly notable among the younger congregants and those with less formal education. For instance, 81 per cent of churchgoers aged 18-34, as well as 85 per cent of those aged 35-49, subscribe to this idea.
Similarly, individuals with high school or partial college education (81 per cent) are more inclined toward this belief compared to those with a bachelor's (67 per cent) or postgraduate (65 per cent) degree.
McConnell continued: “This research does not rule out the possibility that biblical teachings were poorly heard by more young adults, but they definitely have experienced a lack of clear biblical teaching on the reason for generosity.”
The study also found that three in four churchgoers (76 per cent) believe God wants them to prosper financially, including 43 per cent who strongly agree. Fewer (45 per cent) believe they have to do something for Him in order to receive material blessings from God, with 21 per cent strongly agreeing.
Denominationally, Methodist (85 per cent) and Restorationist movement (71 per cent) churchgoers are among the most likely to agree that their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money.