Survey finds most Protestants believe God wants them to prosper financially. But views diverge on whether they must tithe to receive it.
For some Americans, dropping a check into the offering plate at church is a bit like having a Discover Card.
Both offer a cash-back bonus.
About a third of Protestant churchgoers say their congregation teaches that God will bless them if they donate money.
Two-thirds say God wants them to prosper. One in 4 say they have to do something for God to receive material blessings in return.
Those are among the key findings of a new study on “prosperity gospel” beliefs from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which surveyed 1,010 Americans who attend a Protestant or nondenominational church at least once a month.
Researchers found more than a few churchgoers believe giving to God leads to financial rewards, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
“A significant group of churches seem to teach that donations trigger a financial response from God,” said McConnell.
A controversial topic
The belief that God gives financial rewards in exchange for offerings is a central part of the so-called prosperity gospel, which offers a “direct path to the good life,” as Duke professor Kate Bowler puts it.
LifeWay Research found 38 percent of Protestant churchgoers agree with the statement, “My church teaches that if I give more money to my church and charities, God will bless me in return.” Fifty-seven percent disagree, including 40 percent who strongly disagree. Five percent are not sure.
Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churchgoers (53%) are most likely to agree. Churchgoers with evangelical beliefs (41%) are more likely to agree than those without evangelical beliefs (35%).
African-American (51%) and Hispanic churchgoers (43%) are …
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