Donald Trump

Donald Trump, Joel Osteen, and the Evangelical "Money Cult"

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"The market is becoming a mystical object of worship," says Chris Lehmann, editor in chief of left-wing "little magazine" The Baffler and the author of the new book The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream. "The market is becoming sanctified." 

Which, he argues, helps to explain the rise of Donald Trump, who has no qualifications to run for president other than his vast (and exaggerated) riches. Evangelical Christians, Lehmann notes, are supporting Trump despite the billionaire's questionable religiosity and lack of charitable donations.

From poor and dispossessed millennialists to wealthy celebrity preachers such as Aimee McPherson and mega-pastor Joel Osteen, The Money Cult charts changes in the American economy and Protestant theology that led to what became known as "the prosperity gospel," or a sense that worldly success was a sign of spiritual salvation.

Lehmann sat down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie to discuss his brilliantly written and wide-ranging work on how American Christianity came to see profit as a sign from God, whether progressives and libertarians can effectively join together on issues such as foreign policy, drug policy, and criminal-justice reform, and how he's working to shake up left-wing orthodoxies at The Baffler.

Approximately 21 minutes. Camera by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain.

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