I had heard the name, Paula White. I knew she was djt’s “spiritual advisor” of some sort. As it turns out, she is chair of the evangelical advisory board for the regime. She delivered the invocation at his inauguration, becoming the first woman ever to do so.
“In November 2019, Trump appointed her special advisor to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative at the Office of Public Liaison.” I had frankly forgotten about her until her prayer for the outcome of the 2020 election went viral. “Angels are being dispatched from Africa right now,” she said. (Wha?) But who the heck IS she?
From her Wikipedia page, I learned that from “2014 until May 2019, she was senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, in Apopka, Florida, a non-denominational, multicultural megachurch.” Naturally. The thrice-married pastor has had some financial difficulties with her previous church, which you can read about.
God and mammon
John Fea describes her. “White’s life is a classic rags-to-riches story filled with hardship, struggle, and eventual victory (and wealth), stemming from faith in Christ and positive thinking. She often describes herself as a ‘messed-up Mississippi girl’ who God saved from an early life of sexual and psychological abuse, poverty, and single motherhood. She is not shy about sharing negative stories from her past because she believes her biography is a testament to how God can help ordinary people live the American dream.”
Is THAT what God wants? “She hawks dietary supplements, teachers her followers how to lose weight (repent and stop eating sugar), and offers beauty tips… White ‘reinvented her image with extensive plastic surgery, modish hairstyles, perfectly manicured nails, chic silk suits, fitted dresses, and a leaner size 4 figure…'”
Paula White has been a life coach to people such as Michael Jackson, Gary Sheffield, and Darryl Strawberry, and the personal pastor to the latter, “starting in 2003 following his release from prison on charges of cocaine possession.”
“White’s biggest star-caliber fan is Donald Trump. In 2002, Trump, who had apparently seen White on television…” Well, naturally. He “reached out to the popular prosperity preacher and invited her to a meeting at Trump Tower… Following that meeting, they remained friends, and Trump began to take White with him on Atlantic City excursions, where she would conduct Bible studies and prayer meetings with the celebrities who visited the casinos.”
Of course, the prosperity gospel. More on that momentarily.
“At some point in their ongoing relationship, White claimed that Trump had a born-again experience… She said that she was ‘one hundred percent’ sure that he ‘confesses Jesus Christ as Lord.'” She also insists “1,000 percent” that he is “not a racist,” as she told journalists in 2017, at the Religion News Association annual conference in Nashville.”
Now the prosperity gospel “is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.
“Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture.” Contrary to scripture: I’m in THAT camp.
The rap song
And so, I discovered, is a rapper and Christian pastor Shai Linne. He namechecks, among others, Paula White, her spiritual mentor T.D. Jakes, Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen, who I’ve written about, in a 2013 song called “Fal$e Teacher$”. You can hear it here or here or here. Read the lyrics here.
Fal$e Teacher$ quotes four pieces of scripture.
Matthew 7:16 NRSV
You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Wait. What does THAT mean? So, I decided to use translations from The Message by Eugene Peterson, a favorite of my late friend Keith. I accessed it from Bible Gateway .
Matthew 7:15-20 Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.
Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.
Jude 3-4 Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.
What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back!
They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong.
They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won’t, of course, get by with it. They’ll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.
Sounds about right.