Jamila Bey gave a speech at the American Atheists national convention in April in which she talked about how black women have a bad habit of tithing away their savings to the church. Well, The Young Turks covered a story about a woman giving a bunch of money to Bishop Eddie Long, "a preacher who recently settled a court case involving gay sex with twenty five million dollars."
The white hosts wonder if she was a plant, but Jayar thinks she was legit. Based on what I heard from Jamila Bey, I agree. This is the scam of the prosperity gospel: Those who devote themselves to Jesus will be blessed with riches, only you are really devoting yourself to the church and the way you show your devotion is through tithing. It's basically one of those email money scams where you are promised millions of dollars, but you have to spend money first. This throws the authority of a deity on top of that scam and has the added benefit of playing on people's confirmation bias. For example, whenever something positive happens in the person's life, it will be credited to their god (and evidence that the gospel works), but negative events will be brushed aside. This is the same thinking that makes people believe that prayer works, only under this system, prayer is partially substituted with money to the church. Frankly, all churches do this to some extent, even if only to the extent of paying their bills and paying the pastor a moderate wage, but some push this idea more than others. It should be obvious to outsiders that this one takes it to an extreme, where one would think the hypocrisy should be obvious to the insiders. And to some it probably is, and they will leave the church, but the problem is that they probably don't do a good job of taking other people with them. And at the other end of it, those who are convinced that it works will try to proselytize and drag new gullible people into the church. It is a sad cycle that can perhaps only be broken by those who recognize the scam. It is really up to the Jayar's of the world to stop this. That, and better public education wouldn't hurt.