God for sale – Cheap!

Since the local progressive radio station has gone off the air, I've been listening to downloaded progressive podcasts digitally in my car. Still, I like local news too and have used my radio to search it out.

About a week ago I came across the Christian station KCIV in Fresno, part of the Bott Radio Network. I've listened to this station from time to time in the past – I've called it the “All preaching, all the time” network before. And I've mentioned this network before on my blog. (Link1, link2) I never stuck around on this frequency because the preachers are exceptionally, vapidly, stupid, and I would usually end up yelling at the radio. I have a low tolerance for willful stupidity.

But for some reason last week I stuck around and kept listening. Perhaps I've developed something of a stupidity immunity, or perhaps I'm just taking the broadcast as a radio comedy show. I find it amusing that religious people who would say that I take Bible quotes out of context are the same people who stitch together unrelated passages from the Pentateuch, from Matthew and from Revelations in order to drive home their own specific form of ideology. And on the Bott Radio Network the ideology is the “Prosperity Gospel”. If you have enough faith, and give enough, you'll be rewarded by God – even in this life.

And to really drive this message home, the preachers on the Bott Network practice what they preach. Every sermon comes with offers for CDs, pamphlets, books, and a multitude of other products – made by and advertised by each show's host. People joke about Dr. Phil touting his own books during his television program, but poor Dr. Phil can't hold a candle to the salesmen / preachers who peddle their own line of Bible-study products, daily prayer planners, self-help books, tapes and CDs, and various other items - this on top of requests for tithing and donations.

Isn't this embarrassing to the Christian community? Hasn't anyone realized that the Bott Network has become a, “Den of Thieves”? (Luke 19:45-46)

Christians are much too worried about Secular Humanists like me eroding or attacking their religion– from what I hear on the radio airwaves, you guys are doing just fine on your own.


Anonymous said...

Peddler's of the gospel inflame me like no tomorrow. For the record - I do not listen to Christian radio very often and if it has preaching on it - I don't listen at all. I wish I could get cable without TBC - The Bad Christian channel.

Anonymous said...

I think this is an abuse of guilt and trust - a Christian trusts his Bible, and if he agrees with a preacher's interpretation of the Bible then he may hold that preacher to be worthy of trust and believe that he is truly speaking "God's Word." Once the so called preacher earns trust he can hit the "mark". He doesn't need much from any one mark, especially if he's broadcasting to millions. The Christian so marked will feel guilt in not responding to the preacher's seeming "genuine" efforts to "help."

I think this is also related to the economics of belonging to "in groups" that I've spoken of before.

Christians who see themselves as part of a beleaguered in-group that is under attack from outside forces will automatically grant trust to those they perceive to also be part of that in-group.

A predatory preacher could really take advantage of that, and more than a few have.

Unknown said...

Granted, there are a number of charlotans that claim to be preaching the gospel of Christ. There are crooks in every walk of life. But, that should not lead you or me to broadbrush anyone who quote a Bible verse. You are woefully incorrect regarding "all the preachers" being "prosperity gospel" preachers. That term is incorrectly applied by you....especially quoting the non-academically recognized or respected Wikapedia. That source is useless. Offering resources of materials to help people and asking for financial help to pay for airtime is not illegal or immoral. The abuses of the Bakker gang, etc.... were terrible, but that does not mean that ministries who want to simply cover their costs of airtime and material development and distribution are not crooks. There are many different flavors (takes) on various theological points from different people who interpret the Bible. That does not make them hipocrits or demons, as you suggest. I would only hope that you would listen long enough and honestly enough to preachers like Adrian Rogers (as an example of integrity) on Bott's stations to discover your need for a savior, the Love God has for you, and His desire to want a personal relationship. For persons with your perspective, I would hope you might take the time to read C.S.Lewis and his "Mere Christianity." Again, you don't have to agree, you don't have to listen, you don't have to do anything you don't want to....but the anger and hatred for others is surely not a tenet of your Secular Humanism...... is it? John 3:16 (not taken out of context)

Anonymous said...

Larry, I think you're reading more into my words than I have actually said.

I haven't said that all preachers are prosperity gospel preachers, I will say that all of the ones that I have heard on Bott Network over the last week have spent a lot of their time hawking their products. Is this illegal? Of course not. The morality of that action is debatable. Should Christianity be involved in something that has a shaky moral stance?

As for Wiki being useless, I've found it very helpful in mathematics, physics, biology and quite a few other disciplines. I use Wiki as a starting point, because it quotes its sources, which can be traced to other sources. I think of Wiki as the lecturer, and the sources quoted as the minimum required reading.

If you don't like something that is in Wiki, you are free to edit it.

I quite enjoy C.S. Lewis and have a well-worn copy of The Screwtape Letters. But then I do enjoy good fantasy. I also like to read philosophy, and have a copy of "Mere Christianity" next to my copies of works from Kant, Aristotle, and Danial Dennett.

Thanks for helping to perpetuate the meme of the "Angry Atheist", it's a self-fulfilling prophesy isn't it? After a few dozen people tell me that "every knee will bend" and "I'm only telling you that you're going to Hell so you will be saved" it is no wonder that I get annoyed. And telling me not to get angry during all of this, over and over again, is a good way to MAKE me angry.

It's very annoying - I'm sure you'd agree?

And as long as we're quoting the Bible, I'd like to trot out my favorite verse, Matt 5:31-32. I love watching Christians tap dance around that one.

Anonymous said...

I pastor a church in Lakeland, Florida and read your blog almost daily. I agree whole-heartedly with this post and thank you for having the stones to post it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Chris!

Perhaps I can post this because I'm outside of it all - as an Atheist and former Christian who still reads and studies the Bible for the fun of it, perhaps I can actually point out when the Emperor is feeling a bit chilly.

Just don't read an awful lot into my Bible reading hobby - I also read the Quran and the Hadith for the fun of it.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Mark: Scott here. I think it's only fair to remark that mainline Protestant and Catholic theologians reject 'the prosperity gospel' of evangelicals in pretty strong terms. The megachurches and mass media ministries that employ it are pretty much ignoring large chunks of the Bible. They are the moneychangers in the temple that Jesus objected to.

On a personal note, Richard and I missed you last time and we both hope all is well...SH

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott! Sorry for missing the meeting - I've been very busy of late and just flat ran out of time.

Yes, I know that a large portion of Christians reject the Prosperity Gospel, I can recall the pastor of my old church back in Houston pointing out that it was not supported by scripture.

Jesus drove the moneychangers out - when will I see Christians do the same?