Donald Trump has invested considerable time and energy into cultivating ties with the religious right movement, and it stands to reason that the president would look for ways to solidify his connections to politically conservative evangelical Christians ahead of his 2020 campaign.
But cozying up to televangelists is one thing; hiring a televangelist to work at the White House is something else.
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.
The New York Times' report on this noted that White 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."
The same article added that many other Christians consider the "prosperity gospel" to be "heresy."
And while I'm inclined to put aside questions related to theological merits, the fact that Paula White will now have a job at the White House suggests it's probably worth taking a look at her record.
As is always the case in instances like these, I took a look at Right Wing Watch's archive, which has quite a few interesting reports related to Paula White, including a recent item in which the televangelist told her viewers that they had to support her ministry, even if they're struggling, or God would kill their dreams.
She didn't appear to be kidding.
That was just two weeks ago. The same week, White told viewers that some states have "already passed" laws declaring the Christian Bible as "hate speech," which is why America needs Trump's judicial nominees to be confirmed. (There are no such state laws.)
The Hill also noted that White delivered an opening prayer before the president's re-election campaign kickoff in Orlando in June, saying “demonic networks” have aligned themselves against Trump and vowing that the president “will overcome every strategy from hell and every strategy from the enemy.”
It's not yet clear exactly what White's title will be at the Office of Public Liaison -- which is described as "the primary line of communication between the White House and the public" -- or whether she intends to accept a taxpayer-funded salary.