How To Become A Mega-Rich Evangelical

If you love being an evangelical so much, it makes perfect sense to make money off it. Multi-millionaire church leaders might seem like an oxymoron. But the leaders of the top 50 megachurches in America reads like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Many have done it using various methods, but if you want your faith to make you stonking rich, just follow this make-bank business model developed by the top of the evangelical stardom heap:

  1. Become a minister Pastorpreneur. Never mind seminary education and ordination, that’s old school. All you need is to have “vision” and trailblazing aspiration. 
  2. Begin a church. It doesn’t have to start as “mega” – every church has the potential to be church-growthed into a prosperous economic enterprise.  Make sure you form the 501(c)(3) and by-laws to remove transparency and make yourself bulletproof. Appoint your family into all the top positions. Make sure every employee signs an iron-clad non-disclosure agreement.
  3. Make outsiders think they possess a slice of authority, but never sacrifice control. And never, ever disclose how much church finances benefit you personally. Instead, humbly state it “would be the most arrogant thing I could do.”[i]
  4. Zero in on a comfy, white exurban area with down-market churches you can harvest. Cater to their lifestyle, offering greater spectacle and more buoyant life-affirmation. With a little talent, a dynamic praise band, and heavy advertising, soon you’ll be attracting people bored with their own churches to come and own a part of “what God is doing”.
  5. Tout yourself as the community’s church. Come up with high visibility events that get on local news. Become friendly with a few wealthy locals that will share your vision of moving up into that abandoned mega-mall across town. But never, ever ruin your pristine carpet by taking in flood victims!
  6. If the Bible doesn’t fit into your revealing of the deep mysteries of Scripture, make stuff up. Just speak in the love language of God. Nobody reads the Bible anymore anyway.
  7. A rock star preacher does more than pastor a church. Podcasts, Facebook followings, books, blogs, uploaded sermons, public appearances, speaking engagements and conference: these all make Jesus – and particularly you – famous. The more prominent you are, the more you become a religious wholesaler on the path to riches. The impetus is to diversify the client base into a religious conglomerate.
  8. You have a flock of sheep people that can work for you!  Checks in the offering plate can bankroll your writing side-business. Use staff time and church resources to do the leg work behind your books, the royalties of which wind up in your pocket. There are some loosely-worded financial accountability standards, but most churches don’t mind sermons and study materials developed on church time and with church resources (double-dipping). The bigger the megapastor’s footprint, the greater that church’s stature and influence. No ambitious church can argue with heightened public image and political clout.  Having a pastor who is a “go-to” media celebrity only enhances the cult status of the church and its brand recognition.
  9. Retain the enormously profitable proprietary rights over your books, videos, etc. Set up your own parachurch organization (which by the way pads the payroll with family members) to manage all your money under the same tax-free roof. Your parachurch can be transformed into an IRS-defined “church”, with greater opacity of finances to make it hard to follow the money.
  10. Form a separate for-profit business to receive book royalties, income from video productions, freelance speaking gigs to hype your products, etc. And while these assets are produced during your work for the church, and church resources are used to develop them, the copyrights are owned by you, the mega-pastor, through your personal side business.
  11. Disguise your books to look like works of love, not lucre. Donate copies of your books to the church for a personal tax deduction. Remember that your congregants are essentially captive customers. Sell thousands of them to the church bookstore below retail cost. No need to mark them up; you will already receive royalties up to 20 percent of wholesale. The objective is for the church to spend tithe money on numerous copies of your books to drive it onto a bestseller’s list. Everything the church does must be designed around your product line.
  12. For tax purposes, pour your assets into a CRUT (Charitable Remainder Unitrust) and name yourself as trustee. This complex tax shelter allows you, the donor, to pay yourself up to 90 percent of the assets over your lifetime, with 10 percent committed to a charity. (In the time-honored tradition of Ananias and Sapphira, it’s telling just the teensiest lie when a celebrity preacher boasts about donating his book proceeds to his church. He enjoys a hefty nest egg, while the church has to wait for whatever leftovers the trust has not exhausted by the time of his death).
  13. Expand your product placement without even having to leave the building through McChurches. Because the dream-weaver can only be physically present at one venue at a time, your image can now be teleported to preach in multiple campuses via video simulcast uplink. Franchising strings together a conglomerate of satellite operations to expand the revenue base. You do the speaking and take the offering plate, while a local staffer facilitates the satellite feed locally. You continue to profit as the main attraction, without having to pastor anybody.
  14. Remember that you are not only a person, you are a trademark. And that means protecting your property from potential rivals. The congregants are your job security, and they will take their business wherever mega-grifters offer greater spectacle. You’ll need to be trendier and produce more and better theatricality because your church’s back door is as open as it’s front.
  15. Follow these rules, and soon you’ll be a celebrity-leader collecting holy piles of other peoples’ money.

[i] Morgan Fogerty, “The Get with Morgan Fogarty: Pastor Steven Furtick”, WCCB-TV, Inc., November 10, 2015.–345443532.html  (accessed November 20, 2015).

America’s Best Christian

America’s Best Christian

It’s hard to watch Betty Bowers’ (aka America’s Best Christian) Youtube videos because she is so righteously cynical about evangelicalism. And like a roadside accident, its hard to look away. But I have my own nomination for America’s Best Christian: Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton. “We are in the position as the church, and as believers, we have to stand up and speak out,” he told a Grapevine, Texas congregation. But he hasn’t exactly spoken up about the first-degree felony charges for he faces for securities law violations. Or his extramarital affair. Or firing whistle-blowers accusing him of bribery and abuse of office; all high-ranking staffers in his office. Sounds like America’s Best Christian? Franklin Graham thinks so. He asked for urgent prayer concerning a suit filed by Paxton asking the Supreme Court to bar four states (in which Trump lost) from participating in the Electoral College. “Forces of evil are at work, and we know how much is at stake,” Graham wrote. In the real world, actual state attorneys general  have dismissed Paxton’s suits as “beyond meritless, beyond reckless”. So, I guess its a real toss up here: is it Graham, or is it Paxton who is America’s Best Christian. Your vote counts!

Old Men Yelling At Clouds

It may take a while sometimes, but most people can spot a phoney. And they want nothing to do with them. That describes the sad state of contemporary “evangelicalism”. They see wealthy telepreachers billing themselves as financial deliverers and tricking ordinary people to send in their hard-earned cash – some so brazen as to start a new year off by demanding the January paycheck or face consequences from God. They see the hypocrisy of evangelical leaders, most recent being a Trump sycophant and high-living Christian university president accused of sexual ‘games,’ and self-dealing.

They see preachers tell their congregations NOT to get vaccinated against COVID-19, because “that’s what Satan wants.” Or COVID-19-denying preachers dying, giving Holy Spirit immunity, or even shout “Hallelujah” when their church is ravaged by COVID. They hear lurid accounts of ballot-stuffed suitcases in Georgia, thankfully “caught” by Rudy Giuliani. The allegations were debunked as ridiculous – and the only thing Giuliani actually caught was a case of COVID virus. They may have seen him testifying (accompanied by what suspiciously sounded like him squeezing out a few farts), and then trying to shush his wacky “star” witness. They hear a Presidential advisor shouting an incantation of “victory, victory, victory, victory”, sounding more like a demented sorceress than a charismatic prophetess. Even Rush Limbaugh admitted Trump supporters are coming across as ‘kooks‘.

That is what the empty shell of evangelicalism looks like today. Trump didn’t invent Trumpist ideology – he simply was the opportunity for fringe politicians and fringe religionists to usurp the mainstream. “And this ends up feeding doubts about religion itself,” notes David Gerson. People see evangelicals standing with racists, white nationalists, homophobes, and misogynists, and ask themselves, “is Christianity a faith I want to be associated with?” More and more people have answered “no”, including many who voted with their feet walking out the church door. Some churches are happy to see them go, like one that uses a detailed questionnaire to see if you’re a perfect enough Christian to worship with that select few. Others just discard large swaths of humanity as “unsavable” – meaning those “who are politically or socially liberal and should be eschewed”. Where is Jesus of the Gospels in that? Who, by the way, can be expected to believe the truth of the Gospel from Franklin Graham’s mouth when it is so crammed with bullshit about Trump?

Trump scores an “A” for truthfulness on the American Christian Voting Guide. Fred Clark, who writes as Slacktivist, asks rhetorically whether Trumpism is harming the evangelical witness. No, he answers himself. “It is your witness. The entirety of it, for all the world to see. And that message is coming across loud and clear.” The inmates believe Trump is the embodiment of truth, and they are running the insane asylum. And the mentally unstable can’t understand why droves of perfectly normal humans are exiting their bogus Christian brand in disgust. For them, it is the unifying message of Christ.  To everyone else, its clear that truth no longer matters to them. “It’s bearing false witness against President Trump to say he seeks to divide us,” evangelical professor Wayne Grudem comments.  We didn’t need him to divide us, our white American Jesus has been doing it pretty well already. Looks like that Jesus has finally succeeded. And it makes our faith look like Grandpa Simpson yelling at clouds.

If you are an evangelical looking to bail out, I can only say I don’t blame you. But hang in there. Find someplace that is not a Patriot Church and still preaches only the Gospel. Our Wheaton concert band went on many regional tours, and we overnighted with honest, decent Christian families through “fly-over” America. I often think of ta particular church in rural Kansas, and how wonderful the people were. And I pray that they’ve remained the same. My advice is, look for a non-political congregation – they’re out there. Try the ELCA or the Evangelical Covenant churches. There is a loving home for you to recover your wounds and heal.

Gott Mit Uns

God Is Not Finished With Donald Trump. “He sees his claims of fraud as driving up donations – there’s nothing behind it beyond greed. Trump is using the moment to raise money.” Michael Cohen, a man who knows a thing or two about @RealDonaldTrump, surmises that Trump’s post-election misbehavior is all about keeping himself foremost in the minds of his followers and shaping public opinion in his favor. And, of course, making money off of it. Like his Election Defense Fund, a misleading but lucrative revenue stream intended to fund his post-presidency political apparatus. The Washington Post reports that there is no account associated with the so-called Fund, and most money goes to a new Super-PAC he recently set up. “He’s a brilliant thinker,” writes Paula Furr-Knight-White-Cain, “who tends to walk several steps ahead of the masses.” She could have added, “… and the courts”.

Operation Valkyrie; except without Tom Cruise. Prophet Dutch Sheets says it was revealed in dreams that “Valkyrie” was the demonic code name for the operation to steal the election. He put out a 24/7 prayer call – along with his donation plea – declaring his strategy would cause Valkyrie to fail. Perhaps he never saw the film by the same name, where the good guys used an operational plan to remediate the failure of an evil German government. Seems like quite an ironic inversion to me. Meanwhile, Prophet Rev. Dr. Sheets is making an “Appeal to the Supreme Court of Heaven”. You see, if facts go against your prophecies in “the natural” (translation: the real), you always have the supernatural, where you can simply make things up.  “It is God’s will for Trump to win this, not Biden,” he insists, a month after the election. Look for wacky charismatics pretending Trump really still reigns supreme, but in Heaven where sorry, you can’t see it. For the next four years, get ready for denying there is no President Biden, only a usurper like his former boss.

Gott Mit Uns. You would think that an erudite evangelical who wrote a sloppy book to pose as the world’s foremost authority on Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have better sense than to state that “God is with us”. Seriously? At the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, I have to remind people this motto was embossed on Nazi belt buckles. That God sides with nationalistic groups and their politically-radicalized churches is a recurring historical theme, most notably to me being the “white man’s country” of former South Africa, and its elevation by the white supremacist Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, which supplied the mythical theo-political foundation of the Afrikaner identity. What evangelicals really need to be asking themselves is, “are we with God?” If they were serious, they would hear God’s answer is “No. Repent from your sinful self-pride.”.

Oh! Listen, there’s an odor in there and I didn’t do it.” In My Point…And I Do Have One, Ellen Degeneres describes exiting a stinky airplane restroom and having to explain that the smell was there already. I feel embarrassed like that when people refer to “evangelicalism”, or rather the sociopathic free market religion it has become. I didn’t make the stink, but I have to live with it. I refer to those who seem comfortable in their own sanctified odor while calling out the farts of everyone else.  “We confess the sins of our country as proxies,” prays Michele Bachman. Proxies represent someone else. The self-narrative as the high priestly-class of America holds evangelicals back from admitting any sins themselves. National sin is the problem of other people; Christians are the good guys. Because sin has been externalized – so the argument goes – they are ordained to purify the rest of the nation. “But who,” wrote Solzhenitsyn, “if not we ourselves, constitutes society? This realm of darkness, of falsehood, of brute force, of justice denied and distrust of the good, this slimy swamp was formed by us, and no one else”.[i]

[i] Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, From Under the Rubble, New York: Bantam Books, 1976, 117.

The Problem With Judaism: All The Good Jews Live In Israel

I recall my mother-in-law, a refined Mississippi lady, announced with some surprise that a Jewish family had moved onto their cul-de-sac. Like many evangelicals, I doubt she had ever known a single Jew before. To meet a real live Israeli is an even rarer occurrence within this religiously-sheltered movement. To know one, they say, is to love them. But Jews don’t go to a megachurch, so evangelicals don’t know any. Except on television. But they claim to love the Jewish people – or at least, love Israel.

It’s cool to be a Jew — if you’re also an evangelical Christian, writes Sam Kestenbaum. Messianic Jews are a popular item on Christian television these days, keeping a semblance of halacha, while their audiences of elderly goyim blow shofars like party favors. Some “rabbis” are ekhte yidn that now claim Jesus Christ as Mashiach; they make millions off their new tribe of philo-Semitic goyim. “We’re in the Middle East because of Israel,” Trump said – a calculation in large part aimed at Christian Zionists “reached by televangelists and megachurch pastors preaching the End Times” – and who outnumber Jewish Zionists. His cabinet has been overflowing with evangelicals who are also staunch Christian Zionists, including Mike (“my-Christian-faith-compels-me-to-cherish-the-state-of-Israel”) Pence, Mike Pompeo, Nikki (“The-days-of-Israel-bashing-are-over”) Haley, and Rick “I’m-more-Jewish-than-you-think-I-am” Perry.

All these professions of undying love derive from biblical eschatology and the pivotal role of Israel they read into in the end times. The most popular apocalyptic stream in American evangelicalism today is premillennial dispensationalism, a cultic form of salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) “rediscovered” a century-and-a-half ago. Going through all its twists and turns is more tedious than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. For those interested, you could go to Dallas Theological Seminary and sit through three insufferable years of it. Suffice it to say, God made two covenants with Abraham: to give Israel as an everlasting possession, and to bless all peoples on earth through him. God’s primary concern is keeping his word through their ultimate fulfillment in the triumphant return of Christ. This present Gentile-ruled age will conclude in increasingly severe judgments, and world catastrophes. Before it gets to Israel-hating countries tossing atomic bombs like water balloons, true Christians will be surreptiously “raptured” to Heaven. Left-behinders – made famous through Christian pulp fiction dreck – endure a Superpower Death Match in which three invading armies ravage Israel, and leave a third of mankind dead. It foresees the conversion of global Jewry, which will inaugurate the Second Coming.

What irritates evangelicals is that Jews don’t seem in as quite a hurry to see the world get incinerated as they are. “Jews Welcome Evangelical Love, Money and Influence for Israel. But Call Our Christianity ‘Poison’”, Michael Brown, a converted Jew, writes. I suppose it’s a normal reaction from anybody that feels used as a pawn, not loved as a person. Or share their joy in a divinely-ordained destiny that edges the world towards conflagration. There’s a bit of “just wait and see; I told you so” conceit when the preacher’s offer of salvation is rejected. How can the Jews frustrate [our interpretation of] God’s will?,” Brown asks. “I suspect that, consciously or not, end-times believers crave apocalypse”, writes Dina Nayeri. “They want a leader who will return them to the past, or barring that, hurry it along to its end.”

“All they are interested in is their interpretation of Biblical prophecies.” A millenarian cult and the trust of influential U.S. officials in politicized prophecy results in foreign policy towards Israel being de-Judaizasied. Even today, Christian broadcast networks have 24/7 cameras at the Mount of Olives trained to bring live feed when Jesus touches down. To the dispensationalist mind, hastening the apocalypse (immanentizing the eschaton) is good for Christians, regardless how bad it gets for everyone else. “Many of them relish the second coming because for them it means eternal life in heaven,” a professor of religious studies said. “There is a palpable danger that people in high position who subscribe to these beliefs will be readier to take us into a conflict that brings on Armageddon.” Like he was casually planning another golf round, President Trump threw out the idea of a bombing campaign against Iran. He was warned down by advisors that a major conflict would erupt with unpredictable consequences. Sort of a last-minute foreign policy option to thank incoming President Biden for a rigged election by gifting him a toxic and even deadly diplomatic crisis.

Being pro-Israel does not translate into being pro-Jewish, however. Despite professions of undying love for Israel, anti-Semitic beliefs seem to be growing among evangelicals. It’s never been far below the thin veneer of Christian refinement. “A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine,” Billy Graham commented to Richard Nixon during a 1972 White House meeting. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.” Good Jews live in Israel. But not here. American Jews are overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party and espouse liberal ideals. According to Trump, Jews who vote Democratic show ‘great disloyalty’. He tells them, he loves “their” country – but apparently they do not love “ours”. And “some very fine people” were neo-Nazis at Charlottesville.

Overt anti-Semitism is growing among evangelicals – a movement which sometimes overlaps with the far-right. One major influence is Q-Anon, which with demonic baby-eaters and a global Satan-worshipping conspiracy run by Jewish billionaires is a revision of that odious book of libels, The  Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A Christian broadcaster claimed George Soros was paying $50 an hour to go protest and riot. (He heard it authoritatively from a friend who heard it from another friend.) Ginni Thomas, evangelical wife of a Supreme Court justice, spins the conspiracy theory that George Soros is the evil mastermind behind the Democratic Party.

That’s the way the Jews work,” says nutball end-times evangelist Rick Wiles. “They are deceivers, they plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda.” Wiles received White House press credentials. Not once, but again even having called Trump’s impeachment a “Jew coup”.  The chief banker funding the satanic sedition against President Trump is George Soros, he maintains. Once relegated to the lunatic fringe, fascist crackpots are now the most influential evangelical voices. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example: U.S. Representative-elect and committed Christian. Also a Q-Anon believer who wrote that Zionist supremacists were flooding Europe with migrants to wipe out the white population – the so-called “Great Replacement Conspiracy”.

“‘Respectable’ conservative evangelicalism has always been a fig leaf,” writes David French. The darker of its impulses are rising to the top. Trump – along with his motley crew of religious courtesans – will leave the White House soon, but the odor will linger like a twenty-dollar hooker’s. Christian anti-Semitism is only getting started. To my Jewish friends, be wary and remember Elie Wiesel’s words:

I’ve got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.[1]

[1] Wiesel, Elie, Night (New York: Hill and Wang) 2006, 81.

Oh, the Wicked Web We Weave…..

Bits and Pieces I’ve Been Thinking About:

Get Your Stories Straight:

When you try to manage a tangle of lies like a fraudulent election victory, sometimes your mouth gets ahead of your brain, and you forget which part of the truth you are trying to conceal.  Anyone who’s gotten their car repaired knows that the parts equal more than the whole. So it is with keeping track of all the little lies that keep the Big Lie going:

Donald Trump on November 15th: “He won because the Election was Rigged.” Donald Trump, about an hour later, trying to eradicate the morsel of truth he accidently said: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!”

Headline-seeking preacher Robert Jeffress, writing for Fox News on November 7th: “If President Biden succeeds, we all succeed.” Later that week, perhaps Jeffress heard the murmurings of his congregation, and put his money where his mouth is mouth where his money is. He must have realized how lonely it can get out ahead of his Dear Leader, and he backpedaled mightily:  “We do NOT have a ‘president-elect’ until electoral college votes December 14.”

The Bible is consistent on truth-telling; lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. I’m reminded of when God was paying attention to Sarah’s snicker and denial: “No! You did laugh.” If you want to be a credible voice, you can’t disavow yourself by pulling a Yogi Berra-ism: “I didn’t say everything I said.” Just like you can’t take your words back, integrity and reputation can’t exist amidst dishonesty and deceit.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do:

“Some believe such a tariff would place a practical limitation on religious freedom.” The CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association was protesting that proposed tariffs on China would effectively amount to a Bible tax on Christians and religious organizations. Large Christian publishing firms outsource printing of Bibles and other Christian titles to Chinese factories providing cheap socialist – perhaps even slave – labor. Some estimate over half of our Bibles are printed in China. Bibles that Christians in China are not allowed to possess. The Southern Baptists, for example, publicly attacked China for its human rights abuses, while its publishing arm has a deep relationship with China.What does that say about their Christian business principles?” What does it say about us? As believers living in the Land of the Free, flush with Shiny New Things – and Bibles – from China, we need to ask whether we raise concern for human rights only when it is convenient and good for the bottom line.

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart:

Boy, did we screw up!” After decades of deep-pockets funding of right-wing causes, Charles Koch has made his peace with the culture wars. He promises working towards “a better way forward” and “break down the barriers holding people back.” Seems like a Scrooge-like transformation is underway.

My spiritual pain is unbearable. I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle took away people’s lives, then can it be that I… am guilty for people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?” In his twilight years, Mikhail Kalashnikov expressed regret for designing the AK-47. At age 91, he was baptized and thereafter called himself “a slave of God.”  Now a believer, he died repenting of the global killing machine he had created.

The Grief of Evangelicals

While three days now following the 2020 presidential election, the dust hasn’t yet settled. Joe Biden already has won the popular vote. But with several states still tabulating, the electoral count is yet to be totaled – although Biden is on track to be sworn in next January 20th. Reasonable people are willing to see an orderly process following the rule of law. That means Donald Trump does the opposite; for such a time as this he files frivolous lawsuits against Biden-claimed States. His firehose of lies seeds doubt throughout his cult with fictions regarding corruption of mail-in ballots – but only where it hasn’t benefitted him.

Watching the reactions of evangelicals – using that term loosely – to this election, what comes to mind is how they are dealing with loss. In her 1969 book, On Grief & Grieving[1], Swiss psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified five emotional stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Just as there is no typical loss, hers is not a tidy framework; emotions overlap. The Kübler-Ross construction is helpful in seeing how evangelicals struggle with the reality that The Anointed One is their single-term president:

Denial: Defeat had not penetrated their cognitive dissonance; even their best and brightest remain in denial. It would contradict God’s own will to allow something like this happen. “The Lord, our God, has sealed this election in the heavenlies,” claims Michelle Bachmann.  Charisma News calls for prayer to help the president, who is called for such a time as this, to cross the finish line. Some charismatic apostles have released angels to secure the election process. Just as many false prophets have gone out into the world, angelic reinforcements have come from as far as Africa to hand Trump the victory.

Anger. When somebody must be to blame, the search for culprits is always successful. And it’s best to start looking in your own backyard. Traitors at home poisoned the well. We’ve been stabbed in the back – the Dolchstoß – by defeatists in our midst.  These are our November Criminals. It’s perennial troublers of Israel like Jim Wallis. It’s the Never-Trumpers like Mark Galli. It’s people like Mark DeMoss who are disfellowshipped – or John Piper – who are dropped like a hot rock. Or voluntary exiles, like Napp Nazworth. Most of the guilt is laid on lazy, lukewarm Christians who just didn’t pray hard enough to get results. They are phony Christians, because supporting President Donald Trump “is a test whether you’re even saved.” Then there are the usual suspects: the Demon-crats, the God-hating Deep State, the biased media, and ad infinitum in ever-increasing circles. Blame issued to everyone – except themselves. Few will ever progress beyond this second Kübler-Ross stage.

Bargaining: Intercessory prayer has been around as a coping mechanism since Abraham bargained with God over Sodom and Gomorrah. God is not only hearing our prayers, but great power is being released because of our continued intercession. We’ve seen this play out with prayer warriors camped out at election offices. We need all hands on deck with deep intercession, especially for Pennsylvania because there is a spirit of death hanging over this state.

Depression: Few will admit this Kübler-Ross stage. Donald Trump is a winner. We are winners. We are overcomers. Victory sums up the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you’re depressed, you don’t have to “manage” it; you can annihilate it by reading the Bible and praying in the Spirit. “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” A normal response to frustration and anxiety is to repress it by lashing out; Kübler-Ross doesn’t a suggest a linear framework; emotional states overlap, and this root of bitterness can resolve itself in anger; including taking vengeance.

“If Joe Biden is named the victor in the 2020 election, it will mean the first coup in American history has succeeded.” It is a seditious effort by an antichrist government to sabotage the President, so Romans 13 can be thrown out the window. Egged on by Trump’s rhetoric, anger may intensify over the next few days, especially with Donald Trump shouting fire in a crowded theater. Get your guns ready for the impending civil warfare, one Media Christian advises. Another overtly recommends hanging them from gallows in Trump ties. He echoes the many Sunday pew-sitters who shout “lock her up” at Trump rallies.  More level-headed evangelicals have denounced violence from either side. In the sort of benign complicity described by Hannah Arendt, Franklin Graham and many others warning that the Democrats are coming to  “take your guns”, simply muse by casually suggesting that a civil war might happen.

Acceptance: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Trumpists look to a Resurrection Run in 2024. “You shall without fail recover all,” prophesies Paul White. Trump may vacate the White House, but he will live in the hopes and hearts of his cult followers. In whatever direction his future lies, he will monetize it, counting on a loyal Christian media to perpetuate his greatness. A Washington Post article draws ideological parallels to the Lost Cause myth:

Just as former Confederates relied on the press and popular culture to disseminate their myths, we might expect cable news outlets and right-wing websites to perpetuate his charges of “rigged elections.” MAGA and Trump flags will fly on private property along major interstates or highways, just as Confederate battle flags do today.

Michael Brown notes the chorus of charismatic prophets would be humiliated in a Trump loss. “Blaming it on the devil or fraud in stealing the election would seem immature or an excuse.” As with the prophets of Baal, “they were in an ecstatic frenzy, but there was no sound, no answer, and no response.”[2] Without a note of shame, one Charismatic wacko has already backtracked by spiritualizing her Trump triumph prophecies. What she really meant was a “landslide” of revelations.

Others have written this off as a moment of demonic false victories. God isn’t happy with what is going on right now. But in their Manichean view of the world, he’ll just have to wait his turn. Come 2021, people will be “forced to listen to the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will be forced to reckon with the force of prophecy”.

But for now, people are asking, “What happened to your God?”

[1] Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth and Kessler, David, On Grief & Grieving, New York: Scribner, 2005.

[2] 1 Kings 18:29

You Broke It, You Own It

November 3, 2020. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Tomorrow is the beginning of the end of a national travesty. It’s a fresh morning for the least of these: the poor, the immigrants, those afflicted by the epidemic, climate change, racial or gender injustice, to name a few.

Trump’s insistence on a round-the-clock spotlight on himself has seen to it that the election is a referendum on himself. We have not voted on America so much as on a needy Donald Trump. It’s also a referendum on an evangelical Christianity that anointed him King of America. Evangelical media outlets have been puffing a Trump landslide and dissing Biden as demonic, ramping up a spiritual offense against the forces of evil seeking to win the election. If you followed Charisma News – not that you would ever want to – you would see the firehose of prophecy pouring forth, announcing Donald Trump’s anointed victory lap:

  • Hank Kunneman Prophesies Donald Trump Will Win 2020 Presidential Election
  • Trump Win Will Be Third of My Recent Prophecies to Be Fulfilled, Prophet Jeremiah Johnson Says
  • Sid Roth Predicts Trump Will Be a ‘2-Term President’
  • R. Loren Sandford Prophesies Trump Will Be Re-elected by a Wider Margin Than Expected
  • Prophetic Word: Trump Will Fulfill the Lord’s Will for US, Israel
  • Spirit-Filled Pastor Prophesies, ‘We’re Headed for the November Surprise’

They’ve made a huge investment in Donald J. Trump, except their trades are made in spiritual currency. Trump loses the election; they lose their moral credibility. They may not be on the ballot, but they likewise own the result. Perhaps that is why so many Media Christians embrace Trump. He’s come out of as many bankruptcies as they have. “I blow the wind of God on you.” Kenneth Copeland, another Luftballoon, last April executed judgment and declared COVID-19 destroyed. This is November, and here in the real world, Dr. Deborah Birx warns the pandemic is entering its most deadly phase.

Many evangelicals laugh these pronouncements off as performance art; the stock-in-trade of religious hucksters. Many others are nevertheless enticed by prophecies that are “a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.”[i] When I hear these false prophets come up short on their prophecies, I marvel that they are never held accountable. I always wonder, did God fail you, or did you fail God?  That question isn’t even an afterthought with this crowd.

Losing is never easy. Not for me, it’s not,” says Trump. Neither is it for failed prophets, who never admit they’re wrong. Like a TV serial, each episode ends in a dangling cliffhanger which resolves itself in the next episode, and so on. One might assume there is some benign complicity on God’s part; he’s like the Divine parent who lovingly watches his kid get an occasional hit, but usually strikes out. There’s always the next game, Son.

I, for one would feel I made a total ass out of myself for fabricating words in God’s mouth, let alone a legacy littered with failed divinations. And then there’s the Bible, which condemns one speaking presumptuously in the name of God to death.[ii] That would seem to be quite a negative incentive. On holidays, whenever we went into a gift shop, I always hovered over the kids in fear they’d touch something we would be forced to buy. And just like Trump, these false prophets never pay for the things they break. They won’t own this one either.

[i] Jeremiah 14:14

[ii] Deuteronomy 18:20

The Robed Regiment Rides Again

One of David Barton’s favorite historical fairytales involves black-robed, pistol-packin’ preachers who fought in the Revolutionary War. It wasn’t an organized armed “regiment”, but a loose collection of Colonial preachers. Its modern day counterpart was formed by Glenn Beck, a Mormon, surrounded by Christian nationalist (evangelical) A-Listers. “We are a modern day black-robed regiment network of churches”, the Patriot Church Movement announces. This independent group has a bog-standard evangelical statement of faith. But if you were to join, you’d also have to affirm both Jesus as well as right wing Americanism as core Christian beliefs.  

If you visited First Baptist of Dallas, you’d find a church that is welcoming, uncontroversial, and full of God’s love. They seem nice. But if you are a Democrat, Pastor Robert Jeffress says you have “sold your soul to the devil”, and they’d hang out the not-welcome sign. It was black-robed pastors, he says, who led the fight against tyranny. First Baptist is a patriot church led by a patriot pastor in all but name.

This sounds reminiscent of another robes and hoods movement that inveigled its way into the church during the 1920’s. One that stood for patriotism, old-time religion, and conventional morality: the Ku Klux Klan. To gain respectability, the Klan focused its recruiting efforts on civic and business leaders, politicians, clergy – local men of stature and influence. Suggestive of Trump’s “good people on both sides”, the President of the Georgia Baptist Convention declared in 1927 that the Klan was made up of “good men”.[1]  Jesus would have commended these men for their work, an Alabama minster wrote at the time. “I think Jesus would have worn a robe such as they use”.[2]

Hyper-partisan evangelicals and right-wing hate groups share a good deal of ideological polarization. Culturally, religiously and politically, these tribes often overlap in their Trumpist worldview of the tyrannical deep state. The distinction between Christian nationalism and white supremacy is that the black robes partisan evangelicals speak of waging prayer warfare in the supernatural realm, not actual combat in the visible realm. At least, so far…

Particularly given the rise of Dominionism – “the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right” –fringes of evangelicalism have been carried into the White House. The fever dream of Dominionists is an America taken over by warrior Christians, ruling over all aspects of society by biblical law. For example, partisan evangelicals may wish God would kill their enemies, or even advocate stoning God’s enemies to death. “I don’t believe it’s right for us to just be a vigilante,” said an Arizona pastor in the wake of the Orlando massacre. He added, “these people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government.” Call it the hard-edged bigotry of alt-right patriotism versus the sanctified bigotry of theocratic evangelicalism – both are committed to the cultural maintenance of white supremacy. Unlike militant groups on the hard right, Christian Nationalist rhetoric has not sanctioned extra-judicial means to perpetuate it – at least yet. Let’s just say a sympathetic neutrality exists.

It may be criticized that I’ve lumped together Trumpist churches with disparate Christianish groups on the alt-right. I’m not making that argument. I’m merely pointing out there is little contrast in terms of religious faith and backlash Americanism. Insofar as robes go, there’s very little difference between black and white. They’re all very good men.

[1] MacLean, Nancy, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995,16

[2] Sanchez, Juan O., Religion and the Ku Klux Klan, Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2016, 57,

The Fourth Seal

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Rev. 6:8

Over President Trump’s term, Christianity had enjoyed “three of the greatest years since maybe Jesus walked the Earth”. We are still one week away from November 3rd, 2020, and there are strong indications the Chosen One of God will be unchosen by the voters of the United States. This, even though Archangel Michael, the captain of the army of the Lord of Hosts, has been assigned to “lead a team of fellow archangels to descend from heaven to achieve the victory.” They’ll  come in pretty handy, because according to the D.C. Police Chief, “(i)t is widely believed that there will be civil unrest after the November election regardless of who wins”. 

In the “supernatural realm”, nothing will change in Trump aftermath, because the Evangelical Industrial Complex has too many sunk costs waging the holy culture war between Good and Evil. Evangelical leaders depended on Trump – but not really. A perfectly wealthy Paula White told him she didn’t need his money. Like her, many megastar Christians have become millionaires through feeding their ardent followers with religio-political codswallop. “Winning” is relative where Trump is on the ballot, not them. They have their weaponized media to combat the enemy’s nefarious tactics, constantly reminding their vote-rich audiences that Satan will be fighting like never before in the days ahead. “There is also widespread belief that violence and anarchy are being organized and funded by powerful forces that are maneuvering America toward a socialist dictatorship”, writes James Dobson. President Biden is going to “hurt the Bible, hurt God … He’s against God”, according to Trump. We need to pray against those who refuse to accept Christ, according to one activist; “we pray God to take his enemies and rid us of them and destroy them.”

Juxtaposed against this is the apocalyptic evangelical persecution complex. Evangelicals have always functioned more effectively as a righteous opposition. And a volatile one, nourished on victimization. Franklin Graham warns that militant leftists are coming for you and your guns.  “I believe we’re going to see persecution in this country,” he warns. We have our backs to the wall and the spiritual battle is ongoing, no matter the election results. In addition to the usual litany of end times fear-mongering, a number of evangelical leaders juiced up on the Democratic demonic death cult predicted – or even encouraged – armed rebellion. “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal,” Robert Jeffress warned during the impeachment proceedings – and Trump re-tweeted it. James Dobson intimates that violence and anarchy fomented by Soros-funded socialists may cause “another civil war”. Were Trump to be impeached, Jim Bakker warned in 2019, Christians would finally come out of their shadows and begin a second civil war. Trump’s vindication in the Senate was a further indication of God’s hand on the President. Undeterred, in their Plot to Steal 2020, the forces of Satan will try anything to win through treachery – deceitful tampering with ballots, fraudulent ballots from dead people, cyber-subterfuge, intimidation – and 1000’s of spell-casting witches.

Trump has never met a white supremacist – “very fine people” – he didn’t like. In a shout-out which many interpreted as tantamount to encouraging violence, he told a gun-toting, far-right group to “stand back and stand by”. “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged,” Trump declared, stoking fears he will refuse to accept the results. He cheerleads the chants of “Lock Them All Up”. But he was “having only fun” at a Trump rally – after thirteen people had been charged with domestic terrorism in a plot to lynch Michigan’s Democratic governor. White evangelicals attend his super-spreader rallies in droves, and share many of the ideological principles as their white supremacist confrères. They swim in the same ocean of disinformation, conspiracy theories and lies. Evangelicals love this “meanest, toughest, son-of-a-you-know-what” and his violence-exploiting rhetoric. Grievance-nursing evangelicals may not actively sanction armed rebellion, but they have a shared destiny where whites will come out on top. Their End Times narrative keeps them locked into it. Like Saul, they would watch over the cloaks laid at their feet. Rick Wiles threatened Trump’s loss would force him to stockpile to defend his home and church. “We’re in time for war,” Rick Joyner said, adding a vision in which he saw godly militias popping up like mushrooms.  “At the end of the day, the least you’ve got right now is in the low tens of millions of people who’ve actively prepared to murder their countrymen and in many were looking forward to it.”

There will never be a peaceful transition of power under Donald J. Trump,” warned Michael Cohen. Get ready; the knives are out. Whoever did this to Donald Trump is not gonna get away with it.