I recently finished reading Princeton history professor Kevin M. Kruse’s extremely interesting new book, “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America,” which explains that the Religious Right’s claim that America is a Christian nation founded for Christian purposes was a trope first cooked up by right-wing industrialists and preachers back in the 1930s to fight against President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal policies.
Bankrolled by business interests, a “Spiritual Mobilization” effort was organized in the late 1930s for the purpose of using religion to promote a right-wing, pro-business agenda that was, in many ways, the precursor to today’s Religious Right.
I couldn’t help but think of Kruse’s book and this movement while watching Rabbi Daniel Lapin deliver remarks at Liberty University’s convocation earlier this week, where he dedicated his entire speech to asserting that making money is a sign of God’s approval because “making money means you are delivering value to another one of God’s children. You are caring for another child of God.”
As such, Lapin was outraged by the “slandering of business” that manifests itself in the idea that wealthy people are “giving back to society” when they donate to charity because it implies that when they are making money, they are doing so by ripping people off.
Lapin even went so far as to defend “profiteering,” which is a term generally applied to people who seek to make “an unreasonable profit especially on the sale of essential goods during times of emergency.”
“Profit isn’t plunder,” Lapin argued, “it’s good, it’s evidence that you are pleasing God’s other children. They make up a word like ‘profiteering,’ see ‘profiteer’ sounds like ‘sneer’ or ‘jeer.’ Somehow it’s evil to make a profit. What does it mean? That you’re charging too much? Well, let people go and buy it from somebody who will charge less, you’ll go out of business.”
Such phrases are dangerous, Lapin insisted, because they are part of an anti-capitalist effort to brainwash people into thinking “that it is impossible to make money honorably and in a godly fashion.”