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Paula White, Trump’s spiritual advisor, preaches prosperity gospel



President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White wasn’t afraid to speak her mind as the president kicked off his 2020 reelection bid.

“Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be born down in the name of Jesus,” she told supporters in a packed Florida stadium during an opening prayer at the president’s Tuesday night rally.

“I declare that President Trump will overcome every strategy from hell and every strategy from the enemy, every strategy. And he will fulfill his calling and his destiny,” she said. “Let the secret council of wickedness be turned to foolishness right now in the name of Jesus.”

White, a televangelist and one of six religious leaders selected to partake in Trump’s 2017 swearing-in ceremony, has a longstanding relationship with the president. She is an ardent supporter of his hardline immigration policies and previously compared Jesus’ migration through Egypt to the controversial child separation policy. “I think so many people have taken biblical scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee,’ ” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2018. “And yes, he did live in Egypt for three and a half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broke the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”

Her close-knit relationship with Trump has rallied up support among evangelicals — which could prove critical as the president enters 2020 — while taking shots at his suspected foes (she didn’t specify which demonic networks she was referring to in her speech).

From Mississippi to the White House

White wasn’t always a close confidante of Trump. Born in Mississippi, she witnessed the death of her father to suicide at the age of five and, from the age of six to 13, says she was molested by caregivers, relatives, and neighbors, according to a 2017 profile of White published in the Washington Post. She later moved to Maryland, where she graduated high school in 1984, became a born-again Christian and, after getting pregnant, married her son’s father in 1985.

Her first interaction with Trump came around late 2001 or early 2002, she told the Post, when he reached out and said he watched her sermons on Christian television. He told her she had the “It factor.”

Paula White leads an opening prayer at President Trump’s June 18 Florida rally.

At that point, White had attracted a sizeable following in the Christian community. She started a congregation, Without Walls International Church, with her second husband in 1991 and later gained fame broadcasting her messaging on regional networks. By the early 2000s, her church had around 20,000 members, she told The Guardian.

Trump often called on White to pray over him before “most major events,” like the season finale of “The Apprentice,” she told the New York Times in 2017. He appeared on her show, Paula White Today, in 2006, according to the Post, and she also bought a $3.5 million condo in Trump Tower. She has acted as a spiritual adviser (not an official title) since he took office in 2016.

Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, described White as “very influential,” according to the Post, while Eric Trump said the family is “very grateful for her support and guidance.”

A controversial figure

White is a controversial figure in Christian circles. For one, her former ministry was one of six included in a federal probe launched by Republican Senator Charles Grassley in 2007 to investigate the misuse of donations and violating IRS rules against “excessive compensation” of religious organization leaders.

That investigation ultimately found no definitive evidence of wrongdoing, with Grassley’s committee citing lifelong confidentiality agreements required by Without Walls employees as a significant roadblock in investigating the ministry, according to the Post. White went on to divorce her second husband and, in 2012, became head of a Florida megachurch, which she stepped down from last month to try and open 3,000 churches and a university, according to HuffPost.

In 2014, she married Jonathan Cain of the band Journey.

Pastor Paula White-Cain speaks on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images/Joe Raedle

She is also linked with a strand of Christianity known as “prosperity gospel,” which believes that God will reward believers with material wealth if they increase their faith and give generously to ministers. She has been dubbed a “charlatan” and “Trinity-denying heretic” over her views.

In a 2017 interview with CNN, she called the criticism against her “absolute absurdity,” adding “God knew everything I would go through before I ever went through it… not everything is perfect in my life, but I don’t think everything is perfect in anybody’s life.”

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