Monday, June 18, 2012

Let's Make A Deal

"Voters need not choose between God and mammon. Instead, they tend to see their money, the market, and the economy as a reflection of their God."
How Your View of God Shapes Your View of the Economy
This should come as a surprise to no-one who has spent a decent amount of time in the company of, or speaking with, people on the conservative end of American Christianity. If you've ever read or heard someone say: "If the nation gets right with God, then God will take care of the economy," then you've encountered that strain of Judeo-Christian/Moslem religiosity that believes that God has control over economic issues (among others), and, in effect, uses the prosperity of the national economy as both carrot and stick.

But the idea of an Authoritative God (a deity that is both engaged and judgmental) is not limited to economics - many a pastor or evangelist has made headlines (and/or earned people's wrath) by claiming that other disasters have been triggered or allowed by a God angry that the United States has embraced the "sinful." And many others have said the same while remaining underneath the radar. Whether it's the idea that expanding feminist ideas caused a ship captain to abandon his passengers during a shipwreck, or that homosexual sexuality "is a spiritual cause of earthquakes," the idea that it our relationship with the divine that drives world events is not rare.

And if you credit the idea that nearly one-third of the population of the United States believes that the path to national wealth and prosperity travels straight through propitiating an activist and critical deity (and one who believes in collective punishments), you can be assured that their views will find their way into policy, even if only as lip service. While it may be possible to believe that no members of Congress share the belief in an Authoritative God, the idea that no one in Congress, especially the House of Representatives, represents a constituency where believers are a force, if not the majority, stretches credulity. There are simply too many votes to leave them on the table.

In the end, patience may turn out to be the only option. Change may have to come on its own. There is precedent for this. Once upon a time "being right with God" meant, for any number of people, shunning the divorced and ensuring that "the races" did not mix. We now consider such beliefs to be on the sketchy side of quaint. So it's not unreasonable to presume that sooner or later, only a handful of Americans will think that they must drive a religiously-driven social agenda at all to be able to live in a prosperous nation.


SunshineGrrrl said...

Hmmm. I don't think I've ever heard that argument actually put forth, even in the heart of religious conservative Oklahoma. Usually there is some sort of logic that connects the prosperity of the rich to the prosperity of the poor and what is good for them is good for everyone else. They usually try to reason it and I've never heard it directly related to God in anyway. Maybe I wasn't looking for it though.

Aaron said...

I've come across it a few times, mainly in writing. But even though the author of the article tends to link the argument to White Evangelicals, I've actually heard Black people make pretty much that exact statement in conversation.