Last August, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, raised his eyes to the sky with open arms in the middle of the gardens of the White House, and said before a crowd of journalists: "I am the chosen one." Days later he clarified that the messianic comment was a joke. The man who claims to have never asked God for forgiveness has been trying for years to get close to the hard core of the evangelical religion to retain the most conservative bases in his attempt to be re-elected in 2020.
To help him achieve that "mission" he is closely accompanied by his old friend and spiritual guide, Paula White. Since the Republican assumed the presidency, the media pastor who proclaims the “theology of prosperity” —which equates finances and well-being as the will of God— was on his side. But now it will be even more.
Last week, White was officially appointed advisor to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative, whose purpose is to serve as spokesperson for religious groups that government programs devote to issues such as the defense of religious freedom and the fight against poverty. Before occupying a formal place in the Administration, White had already favored meetings of conservative pastors and White House officials, ensuring that Washington took into account the most conservative bases.RELATED
Trump accommodates White's seat before a meeting with pastors. (Photo: Reuters / Carlos Barria)
The Florida pastor, 53, married three times and living in a large mansion, began her television career in 2001. A year later, at the end of her sermon on the Paula White Today program, she received a call. It was the real estate mogul Donald Trump, who congratulated her and, as White confessed, he recited three of his sermons almost perfectly. Coincidentally, White was in New York and Trump invited her to meet his family. Both kept in touch and saw each other again at the end of the first season of the Trump reality show The Apprentice. White prayed with the program team before the recording.
The friendship between the two grew to the point that the pastor bought an apartment in the 502 building on Park Avenue, owned by the tycoon, who continuously repeats that her favorite book is The Bible and that "nobody reads it as much" as he does. However, he is unable to mention a verse when asked which one he likes.
The day the Republican took an oath of his position as president, in January 2017, he did it on two Bibles: one of his own and another used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Next to him was the ultraconservative Mike Pence, who swore as vice. That day, Paula White became the first religious who officiated the prayer during the ceremony. After his public appearance with the politicians, his support in the networks dropped considerably. "I saw how my followers on Twitter fell by 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 …", he acknowledged to The Washington Times. Now he has 700,000 on this social network and three million on Facebook.
A Trump meeting with White and other pastors. (Photo: AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
In June, in Orlando, Florida, the spiritual advisor changed the tone used in the inauguration of the president's mandate to move to a more alarmist at a meeting of the Republican. “That each demonic network that has aligned itself against the call of President Trump be torn down in the name of Jesus. I declare that the President will overcome all the strategies of hell and all the strategies of the enemy, ”he exclaimed before the crowd. Some Christians consider their ideas heretics and there is no lack of those who call it a populist and even a figure that divides faith.
White, like Trump, was not always religious. In his memoir Something Greater tells the "divine visit" that Jesus made in 1986, when he was with his newborn daughter. In the vision, she appeared preaching on all continents. The image was an impulse to devote himself completely to religion. Since then, she built an empire, with television, radio, books, tours of the country and, since 2014, as a senior pastor in an evangelical church in Florida.
That, until Jesus spoke to him again. In May, during the Sunday sermon, he said that the Lord had told him that you could not "miss this moment" to do bigger things. So she left her pastoral position at the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka to open a university and build 3,000 new churches. But White's ambitious plans were interrupted by one of his followers: Trump. The American president, who tries to make sure that evangelicals remain in their ranks, called her to take care of getting it from the White House. White still didn't comment on it. His networks are focused right now on promoting his new book before Trump himself.