Donald Trump was praised by religious leaders of many faiths during the traditional National Day of Prayer today, but only one declared the White House “holy ground” and staved off demons.
Paula White-Cain, the controversial Florida mega-church preacher who has been called “Trump’s personal pastor” gave an emphatic address at the end of a sunny midday press conference, after asking the crowd in the Rose Garden to join hands.
She first declared the White House “to be Holy Ground,” and appeared to equate Trump with Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophet who answered a call from God and spent the remainder of his life preaching through Israel.
“Now we lift up our president,” White-Cain said. “You declared in Jeremiah Chapter 1:5 that before he was ever formed in his mother’s womb, that you had set him apart and you had ordained him,” she said.
The reference is to a Biblical verse in the book of Jeremiah, allegedly written by the prophet, that describes God’s words to him as he answers the call:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations
Referencing a psalm about the prophet, but appearing to also refer to Trump, White-Cain went on, “You ordained all of his days before one of them ever came into being, so not one day takes you by surprise.”
“We are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities, wickedness and darkness, so we declare every demonic network to be scattered right now,” White-Cain said. “We declare right now that there is a hedge of protection over our president, first lady, every assignment, the purpose they carry and the mantle.”
Let Trump “fulfill all the will of the Lord and do the assignment God has carried him to do for Your great name, Your great nation and for all Your people in the world,” she closed, adding “And everybody say ‘Amen!'” to applause.
The president is the subject of multiple ongoing investigations by Congress and attorneys general around the country, including for an alleged campaign finance violation in the form of a payment to an adult film star. Even as a Baptist choir sang before White-Cain spoke, reporters’ phones pinged with the news that House speaker Nancy Pelosi had just accused his attorney general, William Barr, of lying to Congress.
But his support remains strong among some religious groups, particularly Evangelical Christians, at nearly 70% as of January 2019, according to Pew Research.
Some evangelical leaders, including mega-church leader Franklin Graham, believe Trump is implementing “God’s plan” for the second coming of Christ through foreign policy moves, including shifting the US embassy to Jerusalem.
White-Cain, who delivered the invocation at Trump’s inauguration address, became the president’s spiritual advisor in the early 2000s, after he saw her televised sermons, according to the Guardian. Trump called her unexpectedly, repeated several of her sermons “verbatim,” White-Cain said, and told her she had the “it factor.”
Like Trump, she is on her third marriage, hers to Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain. Cain was on the White House’s public list of attendees at today’s event, along with the rest of the religious leaders who spoke, but White-Cain was not listed. She did, however, note her appearance on Instagram.
White-Cain’s “prosperity gospel” movement is controversial within the Evangelical factions of the Christian church, because she asks followers for hefty donations, with the promise they will be amply and monetarily rewarded. She and her second husband owned a $3.5 million Trump Tower condo in New York, private jets, and luxury vehicles before their divorce in 2007, Orlando Magazine reported.
Trump’s administration has moved to erase some separations between church and state in the US federal government, and has repeatedly tried to gut the Johnson Amendment, which prevents tax-exempt entities like religious congregations from endorsing political candidates. Today, it rolled out new rules that would allow health care providers to refuse to perform services that their personal religion opposed, which could include filling prescriptions for contraception.
In his remarks at today’s event, Trump spoke against anti-Semitism and religious intolerance in general after a spate of attacks on synagogues, churches, and mosques worldwide.
“We will fight with all our strength and everything that we have in our bodies to defeat anti-Semitism, to end the attacks on the Jewish people, and to conquer all forms of persecution, intolerance and hate,” he said. “Every citizen has the absolute right to live according to the teachings of their faith and the convictions of their heart. This is the bedrock of American life.”