The Daily Beast recently announced that Paula White, a Florida televangelist, will be praying with Donald Trump at his inauguration.
White was a very vocal supporter of President-elect Trump throughout his campaign, opening for him at rallies and even organizing a gathering of fellow televangelists at Trump Tower to offer him a prayer and hug. In an interview with POLITICO in July of this year, White also took the opportunity to assure voters that Trump “has a relationship with God” and “is a Christian” who “accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior.”
White was first noticed by Trump years ago when he saw her on Christian television and called to tell her that she was “fantastic.” Since then, their friendship has grown, perhaps due to their many similarities.
White and Trump both have histories of divorce and bankruptcy. Additionally, they both have a slew a critics from inside their political and religious groups. In the same way that many prominent conservatives have been hesitant to accept Donald Trump and his campaign promises, White has been criticized by other prominent evangelicals who are perturbed by her particular brand of preaching, which is largely focused on encouraging viewers to send her money, an act she refers to as a “seed offering.”
David Lane, for example, an influential evangelical leader, told POLITICO that he had never heard of White before she joined forces with Trump. Lane said:
‘I don’t know who she is, I don’t have any contact with her, I’ve never met her, never talked to her; the most prominent her name has been is, she’s tied to Trump. She can’t move evangelicals.’
A Southern Baptist leader, Russell Moore, has also made clear his disdain for White. Moore tweeted about White in June of this year, calling her a “charlatan” and a “heretic.”
@jlupf Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 28, 2016
Despite these kinds of accusations and a three-year investigation into her church’s spending conducted by the Senate Finance Committee, White has vehemently denied any wrongdoing on her part.
She told POLITICO, “Do I recognize that I’ve been labeled as a prosperity preacher? I recognize that.” She then added that she is more focused on cultivating “disciples for Christ” than she is on cultivating wealth. “Do I believe that God is a sugar daddy? Not at all.”
Many have reacted to the announcement about White’s participation in the inauguration with derision on Twitter, calling her “shady” and a “grifter” and “con artist.” Just a few reactions can be seen below.
— 👓 Tom Wellborn (@TomWellborn) December 29, 2016
Think of Paula White’s ministry as the church version of Trump University https://t.co/kwusofWm7H
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 29, 2016
— Hardline Stance (@Hardline_Stance) December 29, 2016
— Meirion Jones (@MeirionTweets) December 29, 2016
Jokes aside, though, White’s presence sends an important, albeit troubling message to the country’s far-right Christians. As The Daily Beast put it, White’s “presence at the inauguration is a very strong indicator that Trump’s White House will be a safe space for the Christian right’s most controversial characters.”
Featured image via Facebook.