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Selling salvation, selling success: Neoliberalism and the US Prosperity Gospel

Wrenn, Mary V.


Mary Wrenn
Senior Lecturer in Economics


Neoliberalism relies on optimism. Without faith in meritocracy-unwavering belief that rewards will eventually and justly come to those who work hard enough-support for the capitalist system and belief in neoliberalism would unravel. How that optimism is perpetuated in the face of persistent income inequality and exploitation within the workplace requires an examination of those cultural institutions which reinforce and reproduce optimism over practical experience. This research focuses on one particular religious institution of the USA-the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel is a modern, neoliberal variation of Pentecostalism that is premised on the belief that a Biblical covenant between the individual believer and God guarantees that believer blessings of health and wealth, provided she demonstrates adequate faith. Accordingly, for those who are less adept at navigating the business world, financial success is still available for those believers who can dedicate themselves with the same frenzied ambition to the spiritual world. The Prosperity Gospel thus supports and sustains neoliberalism; the Prosperity Gospel is an institution which provides refuge to individuals from the exigencies of the market as well as a social practice which reinforces individual responsibility and fault. The Prosperity Gospel is the spiritual articulation of neoliberalism as well as a reinforcing institution.


Wrenn, M. V., & Wrenn, M. (2021). Selling salvation, selling success: Neoliberalism and the US Prosperity Gospel. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 45(2), 295-311.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2020
Publication Date Mar 1, 2021
Deposit Date May 5, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2022
Journal Cambridge Journal of Economics
Print ISSN 0309-166X
Electronic ISSN 1464-3545
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 2
Pages 295-311
Public URL


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