Most US Protestants believe God wants them to be rich, study says

Most American Protestants believe God wants them to prosper financially, according to a new study from LifeWay Research.

The report into the 'prosperity gospel' found a third of Protestants said their church teaches God will bless them if they donate money, while two-thirds say God wants them to prosper.

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One in four say they have to do something for God in order to receive material blessings from him.

LifeWay found 38 per cent 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 per cent disagree, including 40 per cent who strongly disagree.

Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churchgoers (53 per cent) are most likely to agree.

The research also found the more people go to church, the more likely they are to think God wants to bless them financially. Among weekly attenders, 71 per cent hold this view.

LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell said: 'A significant group of churches seem to teach that donations trigger a financial response from God.'

He added that evangelicals appear to be the most eager to believe in the prosperity gospel. 'A number of high-profile evangelical leaders have condemned the prosperity gospel,' he said. 'But more than a few people in the pews have embraced it.'

Among its leading exponents in the US are teachers such as Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen. Orthodox Christian theology is strongly opposed to prosperity preaching. As well as internal Protestant critiques of the doctrine, a Vatican-approved journal last month launched a stinging critique badging it as a fundamentally flawed ideology.