MEET THE ONE WOMAN TRUMP CANNOT ABANDON, CHEAT ON, OR TRASH—UNTIL NOV.4
PAULA WHITE, Queen of the “Prosperity Gospel” preachers, heads Trump’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative. She’s at the top of the pecking order of about thirty evangelical preachers that make up the inner core of Trump’s white evangelical base.
She presents wish lists/demands directly to Trump or Jared Kushner. She tells reporters that her agenda is Supreme Court justices, the economy, religious liberty, Israel, lower courts, human trafficking and abortion.
On one visit to Washington she brought with her a list of 130 federal judicial vacancies. Trump “has been quite diligent to fulfill his promises to have originalist, constitutionalist judges,” she told one reporter. “The president knows the judiciary is important to his strongest base.”
Paula White isn’t a lawyer, let alone a legal scholar, but she tosses around words like “originalist.” From the Federalist Society to evangelicals to Trump to McConnell—not necessarily in that order—the court-packing continues apace. It will take years, if ever, to restore a reasonably non-ideological, non-Bible-thumping judicial system, which will be so central to preserving what’s left of our shredded democracy.
White is the one who brought Jesus to Trump Tower, where she owns a condominium and introduced Trump to Him.
HOW PAULA MET THE CHOSEN ONE
This is how she tells the story of her rise from a dirt-poor child in Tupelo, Mississippi, a multiple sexual abuse victim who had a teen-age pregnancy and worked a janitor’s job, and now a megachurch mega-millionaire and spiritual adviser to the president.
She and then-husband Randy White broadcast their message on a regional Christian television network in Florida. It turns out Trump watches Christian TV. If you’re looking to convince evangelicals that you’re one of them, watching how these televangelists speak to their fan base is what you want to do. And watching Paula White do her thing, even speaking in tongues (which Trump does more often these days) was a revelation. Dynamic, pretty, stiletto heels and all, her message went right to Trump’s head and—who knows?—maybe his libido too..
Paula: “God kept opening doors until eventually, 19 years ago, I get a phone call out of the blue, from this man named Donald Trump.”
He had watched her show and asked her to meet with him at Trump Tower. “You’re fantastic,” he gushed. “You have the ‘IT’ factor.”
Paula was too smart to step onto Trump’s turf: never mind that “IT” business. She wasn’t hosting a TV show; she was God’s instrument on earth. “Sir, we call that the anointing.” White said the Lord told her to help Trump know God. “I took on that assignment, never knowing that one day that man that God told me to show him who He was, would become the president of the United States of America.”
She says that in 2011, Trump asked, “Would you bring some people around me to pray? I really want to hear from God.” After the prayer session, Trump and Paula set aside Jesus for a brief political talk: he asked her whether she thought he could run against Obama. “I don’t feel it’s the right timing.”
Think about that earlier encounter. If she’s telling the truth about it—and I believe that much of her story—it meant there would be no winking or nodding with Paula. She had set the terms of their relationship. Trump would have to go through the whole Jesus thing—”I want to hear from God”—right up to and including that upside-down Bible-waving stunt in front of St. John’s Church with the generals and the Secret Service and National Guard, and with the tear gas, rubber bullets, flash grenades, and whatnot.
Ugly even for this administration, his stunt was widely condemned, especially by serious religious leaders, among them the Episcopal bishop of Washington: “The symbolism of him holding a Bible … as a prop and standing in front of our church as a backdrop when everything that he has said is antithetical to the teachings of our traditions and what we stand for as a church — I was horrified.”
You can draw a straight line from that first encounter with Paula White to the 2011 Trump Tower meeting with the evangelical ministers to that bible waving stunt in 2020.
In the intervening years, White says she told Trump, “I don’t want your money, I don’t want your fame, I want your soul.” “Yes, there was an absolute moment that he received Jesus as Lord and Savior,” she says. “I have led many high-profile people to the Lord.”
Trump’s soul? Trump had met his equal. I don’t read the Bible but somewhere I came across this passage: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4
THE CHRISTIAN EVANGELICAL AND THE ORTHODOX JEW.
White has strong relationships with others members of the Trump crime family. But she’s particularly important to Jared Kushner. She connects him with other televangelists who have massive congregations to make sure they’re whipped up for the campaign.
We have limited insight into the political transactions; even less with the business arrangements that Jared handles. As far as we know, Paula had no piece of Jared’s 666 Fifth Avenue deal with Qatar, or with Trump’s Russian money-laundering business, or with Donald and Jared’s business relationships with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Jamal Khashoggi’s murderer. (Sorry, I know that murder is yesterday’s news; still.)
Financial transparency isn’t how this crowd rolls. They are as opaque as they can be. And Paula is as good a bullshitter as he is. Judge for yourself:
Paula White: “I put people in front of” the president. “He’s a good listener, and that’s important. He is a fierce leader. He’s not a quitter. He digests information and makes informed decisions and has the courage and strength to make good leadership decisions.”
HERE’S HOW PAULA MAKES HER MONEY
If Paula’s television fan base, her congregation, donates generously to God through her ministry, and if they buy her books, tapes, DVDs, and all the other paraphernalia she has on offer, all produced by her separately owned companies, God will reward the faithful with fantastic financial blessings. That’s the basic prosperity gospel tenet.
An evangelical rock star, White’s ministry, business and non-profit enterprises rake in nine-figure money year after year. She extracts all that cash from the faithful on God’s behalf, but if the rewards don’t materialize here and now, no worries: they will be reaped in heaven where God keeps a ledger of those who have donated the most money through His messenger—who gives Him an accounting. Paula urges five-or six-figure donations. But smaller offerings are okay, too.
Lest you think this is disrespectful, too snarky, the following is a segment of Paula’s “First Fruits” spiel:
“Because He wants to see you succeed, He has put a principle into place called: ‘First Fruits.’ He literally wants to see YOU succeed and prosper—but He desires it HIS WAY, not ours . . . It is about Him, not us . . . . The Bible references first fruits or first things or devoted things no less than 32 times . . . ‘Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your increase (Proverbs 3:9) . . . ‘When you come into the land which I gave you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.’ (Leviticus 23:9-10) . . . .”
God wants your first paycheck, in other words.
“Give your very best as a first fruits offering and watch God’s unlimited blessings pour into your life and your family. WATCH IT! WATCH WHAT GOD WILL DO! I BELIEVE . . .”
And DONATE! NOW!
The website has the “Donate Here” buttons in all the right places.
As with Trump, it’s hard for us heathens to understand how anyone in their right mind falls for this stuff. Many serious Christians, spiritual seekers whose lives command respect, regard these people as charlatans. And so it’s hard not to write derisively about what is so clearly a con. Even if she’s convinced herself, it’s still a con.
LIKE TRUMP, PAULA KNOWS HOW TO STONEWALL CONGRESS.
In 2007, Republic Senator Chuck Grassley opened an investigation of a group of Prosperity Gospel preachers, including Paula White. Grassley had heard accounts of the millions of dollars pouring in to their tax-exempt bank accounts. He wanted to find out just how big a Paula White fan God was.
White stonewalled. She reminded disaffected insiders from her Paula White Ministries, some of who were willing to come forward to testify, that they had signed lifetime confidentiality agreements.
No subpoenas were issued. Nonetheless, staff investigators uncovered plenty of self-dealing transactions. But in 2010, pressured by various religious and non-profit groups, Grassley closed the investigation. In true Trumpian fashion, White claimed complete exoneration.
By then she had amassed a considerable fortune. She owned a $3.5 million condo in Trump Tower, a private jet, a $2.6 million, 8,072-square-foot home with an $800,000 “housing allowance,” Bentley convertibles, Lear Jet trips to the notorious tax-sheltering Cayman Islands, chartered jets to boxing matches in Vegas at $17,000 worth of tickets, boatloads of personal expenditures paid for by her church, and so forth.
Between 2004 and 2006, revenues grew from $21.6 million to $39.9 million, the bulk of which were from donations. But millions of dollars a year also came in from products sold by church-related entities controlled by Paula and Randy White. Self-dealing red flags were unmistakable. From the congressional report:
Former organization accountant Camillo Gargano resigned his position because “handling of finances by upper management is contrary with my fiduciary responsibility.” He also stated that management didn’t seem bothered by the financial problems, and used “bullying, excessive force and verbal abuse as a management style.”
Paula was living a life style befitting the queen of Prosperity Gospel preachers. That was more than ten years ago. Things are even more prosperous today. And whether Trump remains in power or not, things are likely to be more prosperous tomorrow. She doesn’t need Trump’s money.
IF YOU’RE PREGNANT AND AGAINST TRUMP—WE PRAY YOU MISCARRY!!
In June 2019, White led a reelection prayer meeting: “Let every demonic network who has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus!
“We command any satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now!” she says, before clarifying: “We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs that it will miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”
It may be an oxymoron, but White and Trump are soulmates. They come from very different origins, she a dirt poor, teenage mother from Tupelo, Mississippi. And Donald? We all know his oranges, er, beginnings. Travelling different paths, they’ve arrived at the same place —both are performance artists; they understand one another perfectly.
I’m mindful that this derisive tone plays a role in the hatred that many evangelicals feel for outsiders, especially secular liberals who haven’t accepted Jesus. But even though we can feel bad for the victims who drink the Kool Aid, we can never lose sight of the fact that we’re all victims, and that we’re on the verge of losing our country and even our lives.
The pandemic rages out of control, unemployment skyrockets, a depression seems likely, a recession is already here. And in a few short years, Americans—as opposed to the American government—have lost whatever international respectability we managed to regain with the election of Obama following the invasion of Iraq.
I still hope that someone can make the case to Paula White and her followers that God is angry with Donald and the “faith leaders” who support him. Unlike the Republican politicians and apparatchiks, they can afford to walk away. Even now.