Ok Toritto. Who the hell is Paula White?
We all know there are fanatics and crazies out there. Especially religious ones. We tend to shake our heads at the likes of the Taliban and Salafists – those who think the Islamic “golden age” occurred 1,200 years ago – and aught to be re-established in the modern world. Those who believe in slavery, stoning and the cutting off of hands.
We shake our heads and wonder what is wrong with those folks. We rarely however, turn our attention to fanatical and downright crazy Christians walking among us.
Back in 2016 I put up a post questioning whether or not some fundamentalists were mentally ill.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned. And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Mark 16; 15 – 18
The post explored the world of snake handlers – those who literally believe the above passage from the Gospel of Mark and whether or not the “true blievers” suffered from an underlying mental illness.
Now classifying fanatical believers as mentally ill has a real sordid history exemplified by the oppressive use of the label by Soviet psychiatrists. Believers who wouldn’t stop proselytizing were labeled as delusional; those who were simply anti-Soviet suffered from “sluggish schizophrenia.” They just couldn’t see the paradise they were living in as others clearly did and this manifested itself in “anti-social behavior.”
Even when religious fanatics begin killing people because they don’t have the same delusions as the killer we don’t call them mentally ill. They are simply terrorists.
We never mention the underlying cause.
Now suppose these folks have ready access to the President of the United States? Suppose one of their leaders is considered a “religious advisor?”
Paula White is a religious televangelist here in Florida and “advisor” on religious matters to Donald Trump is just one of those folks.
At a nearly 3-hour-long service at the City of Destiny church in Apopka, Florida, on Jan. 5 White was videotaped talking about fighting witchcraft and demonic manipulation.
She called for any “strange winds that have been sent to hurt the church, sent against this nation, sent against our president, sent against myself” to be broken.
“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now,” White said. “We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs, that it’ll miscarry. It will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”
As of Monday, the video had been watched more than 8 million times. Many commenters interpreted White’s comments as a theatrical, politically motivated attack calling for literal miscarriage for those who are either anti-Trump or deemed to be evil.
White said in a tweet that the video was taken out of context and that she was referring to a specific Bible passage, Ephesians 6:12. “I was praying Eph 6:12 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” she said. “Anything that has been conceived by demonic plans, for it to be canceled and not prevail in your life.”
“Let’s be clear what is really going on,” White said in another tweet. “This is a disingenuous attempt to use words out of context for political gain. I will just keep praying!”
The Rev. Rob Schenck, an ordained evangelical minister for 37 years who has advised many Republican politicians in Washington, said White’s words were “typical” of a small, insular slice of American evangelicalism that uses provocative, emotionally charged rhetoric in speeches and sermons.
He said he had never heard a connection between “satanic pregnancies” and the passage White cited to explain the clip. He said many evangelicals would find her words “repugnant.”
Of course the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
André Gagné, a theological studies professor at Concordia University in Montreal, who researches the Christian right, said that White’s language reflected the worldview that she is engaged in a spiritual struggle against evil. The “satanic pregnancies” reflect Satan’s influence on people.
“You can’t read this is as someone that’s pregnant and they’re pregnant with a satanic baby,” he said.
“People that are in the know of this language and understand and embrace this worldview, they would understand what she means.”
Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at Right Wing Watch, which is a project of People for the American Way, a left-leaning organization based in Washington, said the clip of White was “emblematic of the way that she demonizes Trump’s opponents as agents of Satan.”
Trump has called White his friend and personal pastor for years. They met in 2002, she said, after he watched White on television and called her to tell her she was “fantastic,” repeating several sermons back to her.
Trump invited White to the set of his reality show “The Apprentice,” where she prayed with the cast and crew before taping the first season’s finale.
White has been associated with the so-called prosperity gospel, the belief that followers should seek personal health, wealth and eternal salvation. She has said her teachings cannot be narrowed to such a theology.
Trump sought White’s help to rally evangelical support in the 2016 presidential election, and invited her to deliver an invocation at his inauguration. She has said that Trump has “a heart for God, a hunger for God.”
Last year, White officially joined Trump’s administration in the Office of Public Liaison to advise on the Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which seeks to provide religious groups a greater voice in government programs related to issues such as defending religious liberty.
On Jan. 3, White introduced Trump and prayed with him and others at a Miami church event to shore up support among evangelical Christian supporters.
About ten years ago White and other televangelists were the subject of an inclusive investigation by the Senate Finance Committee which could have affected their tax exempt status. She of course, refused to cooperate with the investigation. She fits right in.
Southern Baptist theologian and ethicist Russell D. Moore said that “Paula White is recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian of whatever tribe.
Michael Horton, a professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in California wrote early in 2017 that White represented a heretical movement and that her upcoming address at President Trumps inauguration was helping to introduce heresy into mainstream public life. Horton addressed White’s denial of the Trinity and the prosperity gospel’s position that Christ died on the cross not tor the forgiveness of human kind but to rescue people from financial hardship!
She has been credibly accused of encouraging her flock not only to make “gifts” of cash but also of valuable jewelry and then rifling the collection plats for pieces she wants to keep.
Now I don’t believe for a New York minute that White is mentally ill; I simply think she’s a thieving con artist. I can’t say as much about her “followers;” it is they who have serious mental issues.
What is most frightening however is that this woman has ready access to the White House – while you and I don’t.
She and Trump are perfect for eachother.