Just when you though that Virginia Republican Lt. Governor nominee EW Jackson’s bizarre, warped, extremist views couldn’t get any more bizarre, warped, or extremist, along comes How E.W. Jackson’s ‘Prosperity Gospel’ Could Spell Bad News For Low-Income Virginians.
To get a better look at what Jackson’s politicized theology could mean for Virginians, Think Progress looked at a copy of Jackson’s 2008 book Ten Commandments To An Extraordinary Life. In it, Jackson offers an extensive – and often unsettling – peek at his bizarre religious views.Jackson, for instance, suggests in his book that people should prioritize giving to the wealthy, not to the poor:
“One of the common mistakes made by those who have a heart is to assume that the only appropriate giving is downward, i.e. to the poor. While giving to the poor is important, the most powerful giving for wealth building is upward giving.” (page 177)
In fact, Jackson seems to hold up wealth as the ultimate religious ideal, and even indicates that having money makes someone a better person in God’s eyes:
“Money is not evil, nor does it make people evil. Money magnifies the character of an individual. It gives you more opportunity to be who you really are. God is the creator of silver and gold. He has nothing against money, in fact he values it.” (page 172)
As Think Progress explains, these bizarre, Ayn Randian views are “actually a form of American Christianity known as the ‘prosperity gospel,'” which “teaches believers that they can get rich by thinking positive thoughts and by giving large sums of their money to their church and pastor.” Of course, that bizarre philosophy completely contradicts everything Jesus taught:
[Jackson’s] glorification of money and wealth flies in the face of Christian gospel messages such as Matthew 19, where Jesus tells a young rich man “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” What’s more, the idea that giving “upward” (to the wealthy) is somehow morally preferable to giving “downward” (to the poor) is the opposite of Jesus’ repeated instruction to care for the “least of these,” and ignores verses in Proverbs, James, and 1 John that clearly prioritize giving to the less fortunate. Worst of all, Jackson implies that people who are poor simply aren’t believing hard enough, meaning the plight of the underprivileged is somehow the result of their own lack of piety.
Of course, this isn’t just crazy – which it is – but an extremely dangerous, insidious world view, one which provides theological justification to an economic system that helps the rich get richer, while making the poor poorer and squeezing the middle class. Why would anyone vote for someone who advocates this lunacy? I can’t even imagine a rational reason, but who knows the crazy stuff some people believe. Still, any rational, sane person who cares about their self interest, either narrow or enlightened, should utterly reject this insanity. That starts this November in Virginia, when we all need to get to the polls and vote against EW Jackson and his just-as-crazy ticketmates, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain.
P.S. See the video of a Calvinistic Baptist Christian preacher, author and theologian John Stephen Piper denouncing the “prosperity gospel” as “suicidal behavior” and completely contrary to the Gospels (e.g., “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction, for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils…”). Piper also blasts the “abominable” preachers who push the “prosperity gospel.”