- Sep 2020
These three strands collided throughout the twentieth century, as the prosperity gospel came into being. It started — like the “work ethic” Max Weber described — as a way to justify why, during the Gilded Age, some people were rich and others poor. (One early prosperity gospel proponent, Baptist preacher Russell H. Conwell, told his mostly-destitute congregation in 1915: “I say you ought to be rich; you have no right to be poor.”) Instead of blaming structural inequality, Conwell and those like him blamed the perceived failures of the individual.
This philosophy also overlaps some of the resurgence of white nationalism and structural racism in the early 1900's which also tended to disadvantage people of color. ie, we can blame the coloreds because it's not structural inequality, but the failure of the individual (and the race.)