Televangelist Paula White joins White House staff as critics protest

Pastor Paula White-Cain speaks on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Two weeks after publicly recalling how God chose her to “shake nations” and disciple President Trump — despite a controversial past many orthodox Christians believe should have disqualified her — televangelist Paula White is now a staff member at the White House.

White will work in the Office of Public Liaison with the Faith and Opportunity Initiative established by President Trump in May 2018. She is expected to serve in an advisory role, a White House official told The New York Times.

The Faith and Opportunity initiative was established by executive order to assist faith-based and other organizations in their efforts to strengthen the institutions of civil society and American families and communities.

“These organizations lift people up, keep families strong, and solve problems at the local level. The executive branch wants faith-based and community organizations, to the fullest opportunity permitted by law, to compete on a level playing field for grants, contracts, programs, and other federal funding opportunities. The efforts of faith-based and community organizations are essential to revitalizing communities, and the federal government welcomes opportunities to partner with such organizations through innovative, measurable, and outcome-driven initiatives,” Trump wrote in part in the order.

White, who says she has been serving as spiritual adviser to Trump for 18 years as an assignment from God, also chairs the president’s evangelical advisory board.

In a recent appearance on the “The Jim Bakker Show” where she was promoting her latest book, Something Greater, she explained that she knows many think she's unqualified, but her elevation is coming from God.

Describing the opportunity to pray at Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 as the first female clergy to pray at such an event, she said history will have to remember her.

“When I got there I stopped. And I just said, ‘God,’ I looked up to Heaven and I said, ‘only you,’” White explained tearing up.

“Stopped everything I had to do, everything I needed, and I was so present with God in that moment, thinking, it’s like my whole life flashed before me. Here’s this former messed up Mississippi girl, lived in a trailer that they call trailer trash. Daddy committed suicide, got pregnant out of wedlock, been married, been divorced, not just once, twice. I mean, all this … everything that people said disqualified me. Everything.

"But God said, ‘I have called you to shake nations.’ And I’m standing there — the most powerful nation in the world — invoking the name of Jesus. And I said, ‘I don’t care what they say about me. History will have to write that it was a woman of God, a female clergy, that history will record the name Paula White-Cain prayed for the first time as a female clergy over this nation,” she said.

Despite White’s longtime relationship with Trump, her support for his presidency reportedly came at a cost. Approximately one year into Trump’s presidency in November 2017, her only child, Bradley Knight, who took over as senior leader at her predominantly black congregation, New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, some five months ago, said her church lost hundreds of members and thousands of dollars in weekly donations due to her relationship with Trump.

"Her relationship with the black community got really frayed because of President Trump," Knight, 32, told The Washington Post. "She got messages from black leaders, saying, 'You betrayed us.'"

Despite Knight’s claim, a previous report by The Christian Post showed the loss of members started as far back as 2011 when White, who was accused of deception in her takeover of the church, assumed the lead pastor role after co-founder Zachery Tims died.

In January 2011, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, also released a report stemming from a three-year investigation targeting six popular televangelists, including White, Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland.

The report raised questions about their personal use of things such as church-owned airplanes, luxury homes, and credit cards. It also expressed concern about the lack of oversight of finances by boards often filled by the televangelists' relatives and friends.

In her interview with Bakker, White said the investigation was really an “inquiry” inspired by the powers of darkness and likened it to the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump.

“Right after the divorce, Grassley comes along and there’s six televangelists that they’re gonna hit. I find out later that basically it’s because one crazy person, we’ll relate this one, we talk about Trump. Them coming with this witch hunt with Mueller and the impeachment because none of us could understand. Because what it was, was one woman who was chief of staff that wanted one of those televangelists … they picked Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, myself and Eddie Long,” White said.

She argued that the powers of darkness didn’t like the way in which powerful televangelists like her were influencing the world toward righteousness and suggested that President Trump is under a similar attack.

“They looked at the ones who moved the needle the most and had the most influence. Because they said we can’t go after one, we got to go after it and then they were like, you aren’t cooperating. We all cooperated. Jay Sekulow was my attorney then … they don’t talk about the millions of dollars you have to spend to defend yourself, never get back. The PR nightmare, all that’s going on. Then the recommendation is this, make yourself accountable to the Billy Graham Association. … I knew we were clean as a whistle,” White said.

She explained that even though she doesn’t consider herself a politician, the investigation informed her political acumen.

“That prepared me. I always said I’ll never do politics. And I don’t consider myself to do politics. I do people. I say yes to God. Eighteen years ago, and I tell it in the story (latest book). The Lord spoke to me and said regarding then Mr. Trump, show him who I am. Not that he already wasn’t a Christian, because he opens up his life to me. His family, his staff and I get to see truly who this family is and they get to know me,” she said.

White urged people not to be deceived by the “fake media that’s just on steroids now.”

“It’s the public perception that is so wrong that buys into this cultural deception doctrine of devils and seducing spirits that want you to believe the worst about people when you don’t even know. That’s why you’ve got to be a person of prayer, be a person who has spiritual ears and spiritual eyes. ... May your eyes be open right now, may your ears be open to hear the spirit of God, because it is a battle of righteousness and wickedness and it did not start with President Trump,” White warned.

“This has been a battle to try to take this nation. If this nation goes down, I’m telling you, if this nation goes down. We are the hope to this nation. This nation was dedicated with little white crosses that are marked along the beaches down by Virginia Beach and Plymouth that were marked to say we dedicate this land to take the Gospel to the nations and once the Gospel has been taken to the nations we usher into the return of the Lord.

“And so yes, they want this light to go dim in America. ... If we do not be the beacon of hope to the world, and if we do not take the Gospel to the world, then there is a darkness. But I believe we’re ushering in a great awakening and we will see the greatest harvest ever. They want to fight President Trump because of what he’s standing for,” she said.

The Orlando Sentinel's editor board vehemently opposes White's appointment, declaring in a Thursday editorial: “We’re particularly appalled — though not surprised — by Paula White. Not because she’s a conservative but because of her naked use of religion as a weapon. She’s trying to frighten believers with apocalyptic consequences if they don’t get in line behind this president.” 

The board was referring to White's comment on Bakker's show that Christians will have to answer to God if they vote against him in 2020.

The board added: “Unfortunately, the national attention on these self-promoting evangelical opportunists risks overshadowing the selfless work of Christian churches and missions that help people who are hungry, poor, sick and homeless. … Evangelical leaders — some of them, anyway — exploit elements of religion not to further the cause of faith but to achieve a political end. It’s not hard to figure out why: Paula White and her kind will never be more visible or relevant in politics than they are with Donald Trump in office. That’s why they go about the cynical work of weaponizing religion, in contrast to the many Christians who quietly go about the hard work of growing their faith and using it to aid the afflicted.”

Left-leaning legal analyst and commentator Monique Pressley also expressed her disappointment with White on Twitter.

“I can’t fully express how painful this is. On one hand, I have experienced God in expanded ways through her voice. Do not doubt her call. Period. On the other, I should not & will not ignore her support of this bigoted, hateful, amoral man,” Pressley wrote.

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