Paula White, prosperity gospel televangelist, millionaire, and former megachurch pastor, is perhaps Donald Trump’s closest and most trusted spiritual advisor. She’s also an official member of the administration, serving as Advisor to the Faith & Opportunity Initiative, an office that coordinates outreach to religious communities. I’d never heard of her before she emerged as part of Donald Trump’s inner circle, and I was curious to learn more about the woman who, according to rumors James Dobson heard, personally led Trump to faith in Christ.
The more I learned, the more she and the President seemed to have in common. They’re both very comfortable in front of crowds and on camera. They’re both very rich. They’re both on their third marriages. Their respective organizations have both been investigated for misuse of funds. Mrs. White was not charged with any tax offenses, though the investigation did find that her church paid $2.755 million to her relatives over the course of four years, and that she and her husband drew a salary of $5 million each year. The President didn’t fare so well in his investigation: in November of 2019 the Donald J. Trump Foundation was ordered to pay $2 million in damages after he illegally used the charity’s funds to buy portraits of himself, help his 2016 campaign, and pay off legal obligations for his businesses. The Trump Foundation was then dissolved, and Mr. Trump will be subject to special supervision if he ever wants to run a charity in the state of New York again.
Mrs. White also seems to have mastered the art of feeding the President’s insatiable ego with a Christianese flavor all her own. “To say no to President Trump would be saying no to God,” she says.
In 2017, on The Jim Bakker Show—
Let’s stop there for a second. The Jim Bakker Show. Jim Bakker has a show. Again. I was stunned to learn this.
For those unfamiliar, Jim Bakker was a well-known televangelist in the 1980s. He is better known, though, for his lavish lifestyle, for using his show’s funds to pay hush money to a church secretary (whom he either had consensual sex with or drugged and raped, depending on which of them you believe), for covering it up, stealing millions of donated dollars, being convicted of 24 felony counts, and spending nearly 5 years in prison. He was released early, partly due to the efforts of his celebrity attorney, Alan Dershowitz—who, as it happens, is currently representing Donald Trump in his impeachment trial.
Now that I think about it, starring in a TV show, paying hush money to cover up adultery while claiming to be a Christian, stealing donors’ money for one’s own benefit, hiring Dershowitz afterward: no wonder The Jim Bakker Show is all in for Trump. They’re practically the same person.
But I digress. Paula White explained on The Jim Bakker show that God raises up kings (rulers) and sets them down (Daniel 2:21), so resisting Trump is “fighting against the hand of God.” On another occasion, while praying for the President, she declared that “any tongue that rises against him will be condemned, according to the Word of God.”
So, according to Mrs. White, saying no to this human man is equivalent to saying no to Almighty God. Resisting him for any reason is resisting the hand of God. And God’s word says that anyone who speaks out against Trump will be condemned.
There’s a word for this kind of “teaching.” Heresy.
But she’s not only heretical. She’s bonkers. In this clip from January 5th of this month, Mrs. White makes some statements that I can’t say necessarily qualify as heresy, but I’ve spent my entire life in church and among believers, and this woman sounds insane to me.
“We come against the marine kingdom. We come against the animal kingdom. Any—the woman that rides upon the waters. We break the power in the name of Jesus.” The marine kingdom? The animal kingdom? I’ve racked my brain, trying to think of any Scripture, any theology I’ve ever heard that might make sense of this, but I’ve got nothing. She goes on to pray against any “strange winds” that might be sent against the President or herself, then shouts “Let pride fall!” four times in a row.
The part that’s really got people up in arms is this at the end: “We command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now. We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs that it’ll miscarry.” Now, I concede (and hope) that she’s probably speaking metaphorically here. But even if she is, this is so bizarre, not to mention hurtful and insensitive to women who have suffered miscarriages.
Dr. Russell Moore, evangelical author and preacher, and president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, had this to say about Mrs. White:
“Why so harsh, Dr. Moore?” some of you may be wondering. I’ll tell you.
On her website right now, there is a page for donations, her “First Fruits” program. Part of the text reads, “…through your first fruits offering, [emphasis hers] He gives you the power to acquire wealth…”
This is neither new nor unusual for Paula White. For her 2019 First Fruits drive, she wrote, “I Prophetically Decree and Declare Deliverance & Prosperity are Yours in 2019. This is the Year YOU Inherit YOUR Promised Land!” (Again with the random capitalization. I am convinced it’s contagious.)
For Passover in 2019, her website used out-of-context verses to promise her followers that if they donate money to her, God will make them rich, heal their sicknesses, grant them long life, assign an angel to them, and go after their enemies.
On Easter Sunday of 2016, she said, “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.” She seems to be promising salvation to the person who donates that sum.
In October 2019, she told viewers that they were “mandated by God” to give thousands of dollars (by far the smallest amount she recommended was $1000) to Jim Bakker to build a new TV studio. Also on The Jim Bakker Show, she said, “You need to send in $3,500. You need to send in $35,000. You need to send in that $100,000 check…If you do not write that P.O. Box, and you do not call that toll-free number, and you do not become a ministry of sustainer, you will never see sustainment in your life. And your dream’ll die. Your call will die.”
She’s a false teacher. She’s a heretic. She’s a swindler and a charlatan. And she has the ear of the most powerful man in the world.
He seems happy with her performance.
“Thank you Paula,” he said. “What a great job you do. The evangelicals. I hear we’re more popular than ever with the evangelicals.”