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It’s OK to Worship Mammon, Say New Heretics: Lewis Lapham

Ross Douthat
Author Ross Douthat. Douthat's new book, "Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics," takes on the current corruptions of Christianity in America, among them prosperity theology. Photographer: Josh Haner/New York Times via Bloomberg

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- “God wants to increase you financially,” preaches Joel Osteen, author of “Your Best Life Now.”

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

Rich guys aiming for heaven needn’t worry any longer about the camel passing through the needle’s eye conundrum, since God is now united with Mammon.

Ross Douthat’s new book, “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics,” takes on the current corruptions of Christianity in America, among them prosperity theology.

Combining Christianity and entrepreneurial capitalism, the new theme is pray and grow rich. During the financial crisis, Osteen made his message even clearer: “You need a bigger vision: God, I’m asking to be debt-free.”

Even as his followers struggled economically, Osteen’s television ratings rose, his most recent book flew off the shelves and he sold out Yankee Stadium.

I spoke with Douthat on the following topics:

1. Weaker Church

2. Pop Spirituality

3. Prosperity Gospel

4. The God Within

5. Christian Politics

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Greg Evans on movies.

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at lhl@laphamsquarterly.org.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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