Contemporary Tartuffe

Tartuffe is a play by Moliera about greed, deceit, hypocrisy, lust,
truth, and ardor. The main character Tartuffe is a pretentious person
who pretends to be pious so that he can seduce the wife Orogon and his
daughter. His aim is to win over their love so that he can take over
Orogon’s property. The play, however, did not appease the religious
leaders in 1664, who saw it as a form of moral corruption (Pitts, 102).
The priests argued that the play did not promote spiritual purity. Based
on its popularity, French and English languages now use the word
Tartuffe to describe someone who pretends to be religious by faking
religious virtue. In contemporary society, religious leaders can be said
to be the modern day Tartuffe.
Moliera used the play to express his view on abuse of power, religious
hypocrisy, and misuse of authority. In modern day, religious leaders
have been known to fleece the public of money and other properties
through pretenses. The religious leaders use the name of God to hide
their true intention and cheat people into surrendering their money and
property to them. There are pastors in recent history who have used
scripture to cheat their followers into giving out their money. A good
example is Robert Tilton who used scripture to preach prosperity gospel.
Robert especially dwelt on the importance of giving in order to get
blessings. He claimed to have spiritual powers and the ability to heal
and proclaim financial success for the masses. Robert preached what is
commonly known as the prosperity gospel in order to entice people into
giving them money.
However, his ministry was investigated and found to be cheating people.
The investigation revealed that he did not pay attention to the prayer
requests made. Instead, he only took the money that came with the prayer
requests and discarded the requests. Some of the requests also came with
valuables from the viewers and by the time of his investigation his
ministry was earning eighty million dollars a year. It was revealed that
Robert Tilton used scripture to cheat his congregation into sending him
money and gifts.
In addition to this, his popular television show, “Success- N-
Life” was based on the teaching that poverty as a result of sin. He
used this argument to urge people to fake financial vows to his
ministry. He argued that poverty was a result of sin and if one wanted
to get rich, he or she needed to make financial vows to his ministry. He
would teach that these vows would enable him to pray for those who were
poor or desired to be rich, and they would get financial breakthroughs
(Branstetter, 5). To make his message believable, he often used
testimonials to people who had allegedly made financial breakthroughs
after making financial vows to his ministry.
However, both Robert and Tartuffe did preach the gospel. Both used the
scripture and interpreted it to the best of their knowledge. This shows
that they did not fleece people by lying because they used scripture.
Those who believed in them were naïve, and this is what caused them
part with their possessions. Notably too, is that fact that they never
asked for all the wealth, but their listeners offered all their wealth.
However, this does not negate the fact that they both used religion and
pretended to be pious in order to fleece people of their money and
property.
In conclusion, Tartuffe is a classic example of greed and misuse of
religion to cheat people into giving him their wealth. This practice is
still common in contemporary society and continues to flourish under
different circumstances the basic factor is that the pastors who preach
prosperity gospel misuse religious teachings just like Tartuffe, to get
people into giving them money and property. Therefore, the modern use of
the word Tartuffe to mean an individual who play-acts to be virtuous is
still very applicable.
Works Cited
Branstetter, Ziva. HYPERLINK
“http://www.trinityfi.org/press/tulsaworld02.html” “Robert Tilton: From
downfall to windfall: Living on a prayer.” HYPERLINK
“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_World” o “Tulsa World” Tulsa World
. New York: Tulsa World,May 4, 2003. Print.
Pitts, Vincent J. (2000). La Grande Mademoiselle at the Court of France:
1627—1693. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Print.
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