This is Part Two of a blog series titled “Donald Trump’s Strangest Bedfellows.”
Click here to read the introduction to the series, Part One.
Alice in Wonderland 1933
It was just before Easter, 2016. The televangelist on an Internet website video was waxing eloquent about a passage in the Bible about “resurrection.” That’s a pretty typical topic for that season of the year. Pastors all over the country could be expected to be addressing the topic in their sermons on Sunday mornings in the period leading up to Easter, so the choice of topic wasn’t unusual.
The particular passage chosen by the televangelist wasn’t one about Jesus’ resurrection. It was the one about how Jesus resurrected his friend Lazarus from the dead, as described in Chapter 11 of the Gospel of John in the Bible. Building a sermon around that passage is not particularly unusual for the time of year either. Christian pastors tend to use the season to remind their congregations that, according to Christian theology, Jesus was resurrected to life after his horrible death…and that those who believe in him for salvation are promised that they, likewise, will be resurrected to life again after their own death. This promise is also a common topic for preachers who are speaking to unbelievers, attempting to persuade them to repent of their sins, turn from their wicked ways, and accept Jesus as savior and lord, so that they too can “live again” in a resurrection.
The televangelist walked the TV audience through the story of Lazarus, explaining how he had died, and how his family and friends would have prepared his body for burial by wrapping it up in strips of cloth. After his body had been in its rock tomb for three days, Jesus arrived, and surprised everyone by shouting to Lazarus, “Come forth Lazarus.” And he did. The climactic scripture of the passage is John 11:44.
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” [NIV Bible]
The average Christian viewer would expect at this point for the speaker to launch into how this was a foretaste of what was promised to happen “spiritually” some day for every believer. After dying and going to the grave, at some time in the future Jesus would bring them back to life to live in a “new body” forever and ever. So at this point in such a talk, it would be accompanied by a closing pitch for the listeners to be sure that they had “given their heart to the Lord” so that they could claim this promise.
But that’s not what happened next on the televangelist’s program. Instead, the speaker switched to a broad analogy between physical death of a person, and some “aspect” of the life of each listener that used to be alive but now is figuratively dead. Maybe a relationship, a job, a financial struggle. And the speaker promised…
I don’t know what is dead. I don’t know what the enemy [meaning The Devil] sent a death to. I don’t know what decision that caused death to come upon whatever the situation you’re facing, but I do know that God has sent me to you to bring resurrection life. To tell you that I believe that as we put our faith together before Easter Sunday on March 27, there’s gonna be resurrection life in your life. The grave clothes are coming off. Whatever residue of death. Whatever residue is holding you back, it is coming off.
And then came the revelation of just how this miraculous “resurrection” was going to come about. Remember the chapter and verse number in the Lazarus story… 11:44? This is the key to how resurrection would come in the life of each viewer…because it was all leading up to a pitch for the viewers to claim their miracle by “sowing a seed” in the televangelist’s ministry, sending money as a donation that would then burst forth the miracle in the life of the giver. How much money?
There’s someone that God is speaking to, to click on that donation button by minimizing the screen. And when you do, to sow $1,144. It’s not often I ask very specifically but God has instructed me and I want you to hear. This isn’t for everyone but this is for someone. When you sow that $1,144 based on John 11:44 I believe for resurrection life.
But what if you didn’t have that much money on hand?
You say… “I just don’t have that.” Then sow $144. “I don’t have that.” Sow $44, but stand on John Chapter 11:44.”
And when you sent your “seed” money, the televangelist would send you back something tangible…a “point of contact” between you and the speaker that would validate what you are owed.
And when you do, there are prayer cloths that we have anointed [put a few drops of oil on] that we have prayed over, that are going to be a point of contact. In Acts 19, the Bible says, Paul prayed over these prayer cloths and they brought forth special miracles, signs and wonders.
That’s a reference to these verses:
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
The televangelist continued…
There have been times that I have taken prayer cloths that have been anointed as a point of contact. I put them in my loved one’s sneakers, I put them under their bed. I put them on parts of my body that I believe God for healing. And it was the most dire, distressed, absolutely devastating circumstance. I would stand in faith that that miracle was gonna come forth and I would watch God do it. God has never failed. I can sit here and say this. There is not anything in my life that I’ve prayed according to the word of God and I’ve not seen God answer.
And with that amazing testimony, the televangelist let you know what you should do without any hesitation…
So click on and minimize that screen and right now, sow your miracle resurrection seed as we stand in faith together, and I believe God for your miracle. [Source]
But wait…what does any of this have to do with Donald Trump?
Simply this…that televangelist wasn’t just any old televangelist.
It was Paula White.
And Paula White… is Donald Trump’s personal “Spiritual Adviser.” And will be giving the Invocation at his upcoming inauguration as President of the United States.
And this is not just a “token” title.
Donald Trump’s son Eric was glowing when he sat down at a Cleveland restaurant next to Orlando pastor Paula White. “Your prayer did it, Paula,” Eric told her. The younger Trump’s teleprompter had broken the night before as he prepared to address the Republican National Convention. “I thought I was going to have to wing 15 minutes to them all,” he said. “You prayed, and the prompter went back on.”
Eric Trump is not the only member of his family who has come to rely on White, 50, a popular televangelist who believes that intercessory prayer can have an immediate impact on shaping events. After she saw Eric, she went to her room in the Trump campaign’s Cleveland hotel, where she spent the next four hours praying for Donald Trump as he prepared for his prime-time convention address. Then at the candidate’s invitation, she met the Republican nominee, his wife Melania and 10-year old son Barron for another circle of prayer in their room.
“I do remember asking God to give him his words and his mind, and to use him—that it would not be his words but God’s words, that he would just really be sensitive to the Holy Spirit,” White recalled in an interview with TIME weeks later. “I probably [interceded] against any plot or plan or weapon of the enemy to interfere with the plan or the will of God.” That evening, White rode in Trump’s car with his family to the arena. [Source]
Paula White is at the center of a collection of religious leaders that I am dubbing in this series Trump’s Strangest Bedfellows. Other presidents have had more “conventional” religious celebrity preachers who have given them advice. Billy Graham in particular hung around the White House for many decades hobnobbing with Presidents all the way from Dwight Eisenhower to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton.
But Paula White is anything but a conventional clergyperson. She is the senior pastor of New Destiny Church, a Florida megachurch in a small city near Orlando…with a predominately African-American congregation.
She has her own TV show, Paula White Today, airing on a number of Cable networks, including the late Jan and Paul Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting…and BET (Black Entertainment Television.)
And then there’s this…
White does not hesitate to employ – or cultivate – her physicality and even sensuality, either in tight-fitting exercise wear on her television show, or in the pulpit.
A Facebook fan described her as a “smokin’ Barbie,” a description she has come to embrace.
(Paula is 50. Lots of online “celebrity plastic surgery” websites feature her photos, documenting with before and after photos the “help” she would have needed to get the “vinyl plastic” smoothness of her current “perfect Barbie Doll head” look…)
“Inside this little blond Barbie package is a pit bull!” she told the New Destiny congregation several months ago. In fact, she tells revivals, “I work my hips and lips.”
On Sunday, she made the same point.
“I don’t apologize for my lips and my heels,” she said from the pulpit. [Source]
Here’s a screen capture from her Resurrection Blessing pitch, described earlier.
Which was just one of her never-ending pitches for money at the end of her Paula Today show. Once viewers got past the Easter season in 2016, they’d have been fast approaching the Passover season. Great.
So they would have another chance to be blessed…if they would just send their best Passover Offering, of any amount, they would receive her teaching DVD about Passover.
For a bigger best Passover Offering, of $50 or more, they would also get a “Special Holy Mezuzah.” (A mezuzah is an object that Jewish people affix to the doorpost of their house, containing a little piece of parchment carefully inscribed in Hebrew with a passage from the Torah. Not sure if Paula’s Special Holy Mezuzah has anything in it or not.) Paula describes it on her show as “beautiful, ornate, ‘vintage.’” Somehow the tacky little piece of wood shown above with an ink-stamped decoration on it (probably crafted in China) doesn’t evoke the aura of either beautiful, ornate, OR ‘vintage.’
And if they could come up with a bigger, bigger best Passover Offering, of $100 or more, they would also get two “Olive Wood Communion Cups.” There is no description of the size…either of the mezuzah, which looks to be as tall as a DVD is around, or of the “cups” which look to be the same. The reality is likely, though, that the cups are truly …communion cups. Like you’d see on Sunday morning at a standard Christian church, which are usually teensy little glass things the size of doll-house dishes. These are wood, but I’ve found what appears to be the same item on “Alibaba.com” (infamous Chinese online wholesale outfit that is more valuable than all but 12 U.S. corporations…)
…for 75 cents or less each (depending on bulk purchase) and they are like an inch or two tall! But because they are “olive wood” and coming from Pastor Paula, that evidently makes them really special.
At that point you’d almost expect THIS guy to come on…
… and tell you that if you send your bigger, bigger, bigger best Passover Offering, of $200 or more… they’ll also add some Ginsu Knives too!
This would all be almost humorous…if it wasn’t so pathetic and disgusting. Because in spite of the absolute con-artist approach of Paula White, people say stuff like THIS in endorsements on her website.
“Paula White is not only a beautiful person both inside and out, she has a significant message to offer anyone who will tune in and pay attention, she has amazing insight and the ability to deliver that message clearly as well as powerfully.”
Yes…you might even be able to overlook endorsements like that one… except THAT ONE was written by Donald Trump, the man who is about to be the 45th President of the USA. And in the past five years, Paula has been single-handedly creating a circle of the very strangest of bedfellows around Donald Trump who eventually were able to play a surprisingly influential part in ensuring his election.
In the next installment of this blog series, we will travel deeper into Wonderland to encounter a number of the most influential of these associates of Paula White.
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Click the link below to go to Part 3 in this series: