Visiting Researcher Keith Magee: Prosperity Gospel and the Poor
Keith Magee is a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Practical Theology conducting research on the Prosperity Gospel and the Poor. Keith is a trained economist and religious scholar, and brings this lens to his research, specifically at the intersections of economics and spirituality. His research began with his own interest in religious history considering migrant narratives, ethno-graphic studies, and poverty; more specifically the consideration of interrupting generational poverty where the poor can see and experience life differently. After a friend of his preached on a network broadcast, Keith left the television on as he continued throughout his day when he heard another sermon that indicated those that are poor are poor because they do not have enough faith. Keith was intrigued and alarmed by this sermon and decided to further explore the perspective of this theological lens. Thus leading to his research question, what does the prosperity gospel do and mean for the poor? His research goes further by comparing and contrasting the prosperity gospel with the social gospel. He has identified 57 United States churches that meet the criteria for his research, which includes preaching the prosperity gospel, memberships of at least 3,000, and a minimum of $2 million in annual reported revenue. The next phase of his research will include interviews and surveys with leaders and parishioners. He hopes to host a conference for social and prosperity gospellers, scholars, seminarians, and faith and community leaders this upcoming fall. His ultimate goal, in his words and the heart-beat of Keith Magee, is to “deliver this research into the community in order to empower and equip it.” Social justice through the Civil Right Movement was a call to action for the community, not the individual singularly. His research is motivated by a call to action for the community and bringing the community together to consider, learn and respond.
When asked, what do you want our community to know about your research? Keith began by quoting Saint Augustine in that his research is rooted in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. His research is in no way meant to be combative or pointing fingers, however illuminating both sides: social justice and the Prosperity Gospel. In the hope that this research will create a space for a new narrative through revisiting, renewing, and rewriting the African American narrative with Howard Thurman as a common ground.