From a theological perspective the problem with the prosperity gospel is not so much that it assumes that one's actions have miraculous or "supernatural" repercussions, even actions related to monetary exchange. The problem is, rather, the way in which it inverts a more "orthodox" logic.
John Oliver, proved his mettle with his remarkable expose of the -- ahem -- "seedy" side of faith: televangelists who are purveyors of the so-called Prosperity Gospel, reaping rich rewards by preying on the poor and the weak who are often literally seeking a lifeline in the church.
Early media guru Marshall McLuhan famously declared TV a "cool" medium for its essentially dispassionate, detached, diluted means of engaging people. But both Fulton Sheen and Fred Rogers proved that it is not the essence of the medium that controls the effect.
From Ted Haggard to Eddie Long, American church empires are no strangers to corruption. But while sex scandals are splashed across the headlines, tax code infringements and financial scandals more frequently fly under the radar.
I urge the donating public to take it slowly and deliberately. Better to carefully sort through relief agencies' descriptions of what they plan to do over the next month to two years in Japan to help it recover.
Substantial research shows churches, synagogues and mosques can promote exercise, healthier diets and improved self-images. But cultural stigma appears to be keeping some overweight people from entering the doors of houses of worship.
The point is not that Televangelists are scoundrels, or that many Christian pastors are hypocrites, but that these grand ministry failures represent examples of what many mainstream churches have, in desperation, come to believe is relevant.
What began as a humorous look at a troubling phenomenon took a serious turn when the U.S. economy tanked in 2008. Prosperity preaching wasn't just something to report on; it was a personal attack on Zacharias' faith.
While everyone is focused on the crowd sizes or Glenn Beck's tall tale about holding in his bare hands George Washington's inaugural address at the National Archives, the more important questions ought to be about the money.
If religious zealots blur the line between what happens in the pulpit and what happens in Congress, it's that much easier for Congress to tax and regulate what happens in the pulpit. Be careful what you wish for, Beck and Palin.