This movement is, if anything, durable. Neither incredulity of its methods nor bad publicity, like the cadre of TBN televangelists under Senate investigation for their Robin Leach-voice-over-worthy lifestyles, affects its salability. After all, Osteen's sunny view is that his message has "increased relevancy in a time of economic uncertainty." His church Lakewood generated $76 million last year, the most in the United States. He says attendance is up since the economy tanked. Hard-on-their-luck audiences are more likely to buy in to the message's fire-insurance appeal--the very "too big to fail" clout that attracted traders to AIG or Lehman Bros. until they failed them, too. For evangelicals, the culture wars trump self-policing; attempts to intellectually defrock Prosperity preachers come episodically from jailbird Jim Bakker, too-nice Rick Warren, or little-known leaders like Frederick Price of the National Baptist Convention, who compared Prosperity boosters to pimps. The signs do not point to a denouement.
These preachers are pimps of false hope and salvation by materialism. It is a cruel irony -- and a testimony to human gullibility -- that they continue to prosper amid hard times.