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02 December 2016

Me Talk Pretty to Reporter about Prosperity Gospel

I was quoted in a recent Washington Post article, "Why Electing Donald Trump Was a Triumph for the Prosperity Gospel." Here are the passages, with commentary, relevant to my research:
Perhaps because it has no single denominational structure, no clear leadership, and a stronger presence among less-educated Americans and people of color, the prosperity movement has often been treated as marginal.
I'm not directly cited here, but this is my dissertation in "keep it extremely short because someone farted on the elevator" speech format.
Bradley Koch, a sociologist at Georgia College who has studied the demographics of prosperity gospel traditions, explained that “there is a dearth of data” about the movement, in part because of scholars "historically just not taking the prosperity movement seriously."
The bigger issue is funding for survey research in general, but sure....
Still, the movement’s influence is significant. Surveys can be unreliable tools for gauging religious beliefs, but, according to Koch, about 5 percent of Americans seem to identify explicitly with the prosperity movement. Far more Americans, though — perhaps close to two-thirds — identify with at least some prosperity gospel teachings, such as the idea that God wants people to succeed financially.
It's almost certainly fewer than 5%, but it's still a lot.
"They might not identify with the prosperity gospel, in the same way people don’t identify as Presbyterian, but they may identify with ideas that are central to these teachings," Koch said.
The context of this quote was me trying to explain that institutional religion was in decline (i.e. "...but I'm not religious") even as religious ideas are still in currency (i.e. "I'm spiritual...").

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