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American evangelicals are becoming a wealthy lot. This has created opportunities for the wider evangelical world. Rich evangelicals have deployed their financial resources to establish new ministries, expand opportunities for young leaders, and develop initiatives around the world.

But didn't Jesus talk about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God? The rich young ruler went away sorrowful in the Gospel of Luke. Money, in and of itself, was not the problem. It was the love of money that tripped him up. He may have been generous, but he wasn't willing to sell everything. I can hardly blame him.

But as the nation's economy continues to spiral downward, we have to consider how the greed of an individual or a group of people affects the structure of our economy. Americans are growing angry over the "golden parachutes" that protect business executives even if their companies fail. After serving eighteen days as the chief executive of Washington Mutual before the bank collapsed on September 26, Alan Fishman stands to receive a $19 million severance package. That is the equivalent of $1.12 million for each day he led the company—a company that subsequently imploded, no less. Analysts tell us that curbing excessive compensation packages for executives will not dramatically change the current financial outlook for the United States. Perhaps that is so, but the nation needs business leaders they can trust. The engine of the free market is not so much capital as it is trust.

The dark side of wealth

Evangelical executives frame their business life as a moral activity. But what happens when they enjoy lavish compensation packages even as workers are called upon ...

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October 2008

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