The Gospel of Saint Oprah?

Oprah praying.jpgSpeaking of book clubs, Oprah Winfrey has not only inspired a cult-like following–and a book by my religion writing colleague Marcia Nelson, called “The Gospel According to Oprah”–but now she has the sort of Christian critics that real cult leaders attract. According to this RNS story by Adelle Banks…

Some evangelical Christians have voiced alarm that Winfrey is introducing the 46 million viewers who watch her each week to nontraditional spirituality they don’t condone. In May, two dozen Christian newspapers pooled their resources to publish an article titled “Oprah’s `gospel'” that prompted higher readership and more letters to the editor than any story some of the individual papers had ever published.
In a first-of-its-kind venture, the evangelical newspapers hired Colorado writer and editor Steve Rabey to write the story. “For some Christians who have considered themselves part of Oprah’s electronic family, her sins against evangelical orthodoxy have increased in number and seriousness,” Rabey said.
In recent months, Southern Baptist newspaper editors also have written editorials declaring “It’s time for Christians to `just say no’ to the big ‘O'” and calling her a source of “foolish twitter and twaddle.” And Charisma, a prominent charismatic and Pentecostal magazine, ran a story in its July issue with the headline “Oprah’s Strange New Gospel.'”


Is this fair to a woman revered by plenty of good Christian folk, and someone who describes herself as a Baptist from her roots? My colleagues over at Beliefnet’s “Idol Chatter” blog on pop culture have more dirt here
The best insight, for my money, is from Marcia Nelson, who traces the discomfort with Oprah’s popularity and influence back to the late 1980s and the heyday of the conservative Christian movement:

“Back then she got pretty much lambasted the way she is being lambasted now, for telling us what to believe and telling us the wrong thing to believe in, according to conservative Christians,” said Nelson.
But Nelson, who studied a year of Winfrey’s shows, differs with those who call Winfrey’s spiritual ideas “New Age.” She says Winfrey would be more related to the “New Thought” movement, which is more mainstream, focusing on positive thinking as a spiritual tool rather than crystals, for example. “I absolutely regard her as a Christian but … she’s one of those capacious Christians,” Nelson said.

In the end, I suspect this will be about as effective as boycotting Disney Land, or Harry Potter.

Comments read comments(33)
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Charles Cosimano

posted July 17, 2008 at 9:49 pm

I think there are very few people who care about what conservative Christians don’t condone outside of their own numbers.

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Richard Verret

posted July 17, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Lord Help us , I Personally have the Opinon that Oprah Winfrey , Is a Racist , She use’s the white people of our Great Country to make a Fortune and as Mechel Obama stated so Elaquintly that Up Util Her Husband Brack Obama Became the Democratic Nomanie She was Not Proud of our Fine Country ,,,, I Think that Oprah Apparentally has Very Strong Feeling’s For Obama Only Because He Is A BLACK MAN , !!!! and Only because he is a Black man that She is So Emotional about the Campaign She was Never This Excited About , any other Democrat’s that Won in the past Elections , until a Black Man was nominated, I Just Tink She Should be Honest and Say that she is a Racist, that we all know She is

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ed gleason

posted July 17, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Is the above satire like the New Yorker cover?.. I’M slow on that stuff

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posted July 18, 2008 at 11:22 am

Oprah has run her course with me and many others from what I hear and see. Is she a role model? Yesto an extent. Does she inspire hope and bring good information via her show? Yes. BUT…Oprah is not the second coming as she would like some to believe her to be. When she talks over her guests; as she did constantly to Ekhart Toille in the series with him; or talks down to parents on “how to” parent; when she has no children of her own~I find it offensive and irritating.
Oprah is a voice for many women but in this womans opinion she is a stronger voice for black women and children than for the rest of us. Her pious pontifications have become irritating and her attempt to be all things to all people has crashed as she is showing her racism more and more each year.We are all Gods children; black-white-brown and yellow. We all have the same color blood running through our veins.
I used to love Oprah~watch her show constantly and even followed her book club for a while. But when I hear some of her words, her ideas, her assumptions it scares me. She is out of touch with what the “real” people black and white and any other race are expereincing. She tells us to not be wasteful of our money whilst wearing 10 carat diamond earrings, she tells us we can do it all that we just have to “want it”…Ms. Winfrey~if desire was all it took this world would be a much better place.
Come back to reality, come off your throne and see how the rest of the world lives. In neighborhoods all over this planet with multiculturalism surrounding us and dealing daily with the challenges of parenting, marriage, money, self worth and spirituality.

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posted July 18, 2008 at 11:24 am

I think Oprah is fine as she is. Yes, she’s made a lot of money but she’s worked for it. I admire her for the time and money she spends to help people. I admire her for standing up for what she thinks.
The comment was made that she’s racist. I think such a call is purely speculative. Perhaps she does have her own bias, but then again who doesn’t. Wrong or right, everyone has their own personal bias. To play devils advocate, blacks still encounter many bias in our country today, as as do women, gays, etc,. It’s still not right but hopefully, we as the human race, we will grow beyond such trivial thought.

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posted July 19, 2008 at 12:14 am

This whole Eckhart Tolle nonsense made me quit watching her show for good. He doesn’t even have any new insight about life and she’s acting like he’s a god. I haven’t seen her focus on the Christian God she claims to believe in…ummm, ever? She may have billions of dollars, but I don’t think she’s all that bright. Some of the things Dr. Oz says is very obvious and she acts stunned like she’s been living under a rock. Obviously Oprah has always appealed to the middle class housewife non-readers who NEED her in order to find a book to read. When I watch that “Favorite things” show, i want to vomit. The audience acts like we just achieved world peace because they got a camcorder…sickening.

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New Age Cowboy

posted July 20, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Have any of you even read Eckhart Tolle? Do you folks have any idea what New Thought is?
Evangelicals and Catholics have been on perennial witch-hunts. Maybe instead of blaming Oprah, you should educate and respect your parishioners.
If modern Christendom was really working, would Oprah even have an audience?

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posted July 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm

I think Oprah has many interesting topics in many of her programs. Plus she brings favorite and smart guests. She seems to ask questions that we at home would like to ask. She seems to be very compassionate toward the people that have a suffering/difficult situations. I do have one dislike of Oprah’s show. It’s, when she speaks about naming God, she mentions, “the god of light, or space, or whatever people want to called him/her, the universe, etc. etc.” To me it’s very disrespectful how Oprah allowes herself to be such a hippocrit. She should be sincere and be herself when she acknowledges God. The God she truly believes in. She should say HIS name with love and courage. She seems not to want to offend others who have a different name for their god. How about not offending me and many others??? Mainly, how can she continue to offend— GOD—Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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posted July 22, 2008 at 7:54 pm

What’s all the fuss? You either watch her show if you like her, or you don’t watch if you don’t like her. She is who she is…and no threat to anyone. One can presume that the folks who watch are fairly intelligent…and can think for themselves. If what she says makes you think, that’s good. How is she a threat to anyone’s religion or anything else.

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posted July 28, 2008 at 2:38 am


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Mary Abigaba

posted August 6, 2008 at 10:09 am

Although i did not watch the said show, I think Oprah has the right to invite whoever she thinks will be relevant to her audience, those that are put off by her should not watch the show. I do not think anyone is forced to watch.On the other hand i do not know how most people would behave if they had the kind of money that she has. It is so easy to judge people isnt it?

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