Paula White is the televangelist and megachurch pastor who claims to have led Donald Trump through his supposed born again experience. Evangelical theologians and leaders have said the prosperity gospel that she preaches is heretical. We have covered White extensively here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:
Here is some of what I wrote about White in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:
White’s life is a classic rags-to-riches story filled with hardship, struggle, and eventual victory (and wealth0 stemming from faith in Christ and positive thinking. She often describes herself as a “messed-up Mississippi girl” who God saved from an early life of sexual and psychological abuse, poverty, and single motherhood. She is not shy about sharing negative stories from her past because she believes her biography is a testament to how God can help ordinary people live the American dream. As religion scholars Shayne Lee and Phillip Sinitiere note, White preaches a gospel of “redemption and second chances.” After a neighbor in her trailer park led her to Christ, Paula married Pentecostal preacher Randy White. The newlyweds scraped together enough resources to start a church in Tampa, Florida, that would eventually become Without Walls International Church. Well before the 2016 presidential election, White was preaching that individuals could make America great again through a combination of faith in God and self-esteem. During one appearance on the Trinity Broadcast Network in 2007, White told her viewers that “anyone who tells you to deny yourself is from Satan.”
Lee and Sinitiere call White the “‘Oprah’ of the evangelical world.” In 2001, she began Paula White Today, a television show that would soon appear on nine different television networks. Her show and self-help books are filled with helpful advice for overcoming everyday problems. She hawks dietary supplements, teachers her followers how to lose weight (repent and stop eating sugar), and offers beauty tips. According to Lee and Sinitiere, White “reinvented her image with extensive plastic surgery, modish hairstyles, perfectly manicured nails, chic silk suits, fitted dresses, and a leaner size 4 figure.” White knows how to market her message and get her followers to send her money. For example, during the 2016 Lenten season, White preached a sermon from John 11:44–the passage in the Fourth Gospel in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. White told her viewers that just as Jesus raised Lazarus, they too could overcome’s life difficulties if they would only “sow the seed of faith” in the form of a $1,144 donation to her ministry. White assured her listeners that she does not usually request such specific amounts of money, but this was different. God had specifically instructed her to ask for this $1,144 to correspond with the Scripture passage he told her to preach. Those who donated would receive an anointed “prayer cloth” that would bring “signs and wonders” to their lives. White herself owns a $2.1 million waterfront mansion and a $3.5 million condominium in Trump Tower in New York City.
Over the years several celebrities have become followers of White. When pop icon Michael Jackson was arrested on child molestation charges in 2003, he asked White to come to his ranch and provide him with spiritual counsel. Former New York Mets baseball star Darryl Strawberry sought White’s spiritual assistance amid his several stints in prison for drug-related offenses. But White’s biggest start-caliber fan is Donald Trump. In 2002, Trump, who had apparently seen White on television, reached out to the popular prosperity preacher and invited her to a meeting at Trump Tower. White and her message must have impressed Trump. Following that meeting they remained friends, and Trump began to take White with him on Atlantic City excursions, where she would conduct Bible studies and prayer meetings with the celebrities who visited the casinos. At some point in their ongoing relationship, White claimed that Trump had a born-again experience. When Religion News Service asked White about Trump’s conversion, she said that she was “one hundred percent” sure that he “confesses Jesus Christ as Lord,” adding that she “shared the Gospel with Mr. Trump,” using the “Roman Road map” (a popular took used by evangelicals to share their faith with others)…..
Now it appears that Paula White is working for the White House. Here is a taste of the New York Times reporting:
Paula White, a televangelist based in Florida and personal pastor to President Trump whom he has known since 2002, has joined the Trump administration in an official capacity, according to a White House official.
Ms. White will work in the Office of Public Liaison, the official said, which is the division of the White House overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of the president’s base. Her role will be to advise the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which Mr. Trump established last year by executive order and which aims to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs devoted to issues like defending religious liberty and fighting poverty.
As Mr. Trump campaigns for a second term, he cannot afford to lose support from the religious conservatives who voted for him in 2016 in significant numbers. Without their backing, his path to re-election would be significantly narrower.
He has taken repeated steps to ensure they turn out for him again — by issuing executive orders, making cabinet appointments and nominating federal judges that pass muster with the religious right. On a range of issues from abortion rights to tax exemptions for churches, Mr. Trump has tried to grant Christian conservatives their policy wish lists whenever legally and politically feasible.
But Ms. White cannot be easily categorized as either a political asset or a liability. She has a large following among Christians who believe in the “prosperity gospel,” which teaches that God blesses people he deems to be of strong faith with wealth, good health and other gifts.
Read the entire piece here.