An increasing share of American Protestant churchgoers believe that financial prosperity is part of God’s plan for them and that giving more money to their church and charities will result in blessings from God, according to a recent study by Lifeway Research.

The study, conducted from Sept. 19-29, 2022, and released this week, found that 52% of churchgoers say their church teaches that God will bless them if they donate more, up from 38% in 2017.

Additionally, 76% believe God wants them to prosper financially, an increase from 69% in 2017. The belief that they must do something for God to receive material blessings has also risen to 45% from 26%.

“In the last five years, far more churchgoers are reflecting prosperity gospel teachings, including the heretical belief that material blessings are earned from God,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said, noting that the financial struggles due to inflation and the pandemic might have contributed to this shift in beliefs.

The prosperity gospel, or the “Word of Faith Movement,” teaches that believers can use God for material gain, a belief that contrasts with traditional Christian teachings.

This belief is particularly prevalent among younger and less educated churchgoers, with 81% of those aged 18-34 and 85% of those aged 35-49 saying God wants them to prosper financially.

The online survey included 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers and provided 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. Comparisons were made to a similar survey conducted by Lifeway Research in August 2017.

Different religious settings show variations in these beliefs. Methodist (93%) and Restorationist movement (88%) churchgoers are more likely to believe God wants them to prosper financially. Those with Evangelical beliefs are more likely to agree (80% v. 74%) than those without.

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