It is ironic that when the economy gets bad people turn to religion.
The major religion in America today, but you will not see it listed as a major religion or denomination in the Pew Research Polls, is consumerism. The God of consumerism is Mammon. President Bush is consumerism's main prophet when he encourages people to engage in the sacred practice of shopping.
Joel Osteen and books such as The Secret promote an economics of spirituality promising people that if they have enough faith and get right with their God material and financial benefits will flow. With a paradoxical theology the proponents of economic spirituality promise that the more money you give to them, the more money the universe will send back to you.
As people have come to believe the economics of spirituality, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer and the middle class has shrunk.
People have not caught on that the economics of spirituality is a scam, a con, worthy of P.T. Barnum and the snake oil salesman of old.
People are not stupid but they are anxious and scared. Scared people will latch on to any hair-brained ideas hoping that by whistling in the dark and being distracted by engaging entertainment and hopeful ideas, no mater how false, will help them feel better and make things better.
None of the great religious leaders preached consumerism, not Jesus, not Buddha, not Krishna, not Mohamed. In fact, they preached the opposite. Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven."
It's not that money and material things are bad, it's that they have there place and there are plenty of things more important like loving your neighbor and caring for our planet and mother, Mother Earth.
As J. Paul Getty said, "The meek shall inherit the earth but not the mineral rights." and as Jesus said, it is hard, if not impossible for the rich to get into heaven, but the prosperity preachers who encourage an economics of spirituality create a hell on earth in the long run. As one wag said when asked his definition of Irish Diplomacy, "Irish diplomacy is telling a person to go to hell in such a way that they enjoy the trip." President Bush must be part Irish when he told Americans that the antidote to their worries is to go shopping. By all means shop til you drop, and let the plutocrats and preachers run the world.