Donald Trump will have six clergy members participating in his inauguration activities, but by far the most talked about is a Florida televangelist. So who is Paula White, and why is everyone talking Trump's pick? The spiritual leader has a a strange background when it comes to her religious practices.
This isn't White's first involvement with the Trump camp. She serves as the president-elect's spiritual advisor. She assembled Trump’s evangelical advisory committee while he was running for office, and she now runs his evangelical advisory board. James Dobson, who runs the group Focus on the Family and met with the president-elect while he was running for president, identified White as the person responsible for Trump's path to Christianity, though the Trump camp did not comment on that assertion.
But none of that is what makes her a controversial pick to lead the prayer at the inauguration. As the senior pastor at New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, White preaches the prosperity gospel, which is popular among many big churches and televangelists. The main idea is that followers should give seed money, and then that money will be returned to them many times over. The prosperity gospel says that God rewards the faithful with monetary gains.
Earlier this year, White offered her followers a "resurrection seed" that would supposedly save them from spiritual death, all for $1,144. After preaching about Jesus raising Lazarus' from the dead, White offered to do the same with the donation of a grand and change. White told her followers, according to the Christian Post:
I don't know what is dead. I don't know what the enemy sent a death to. I don't know what decision that caused death to come upon whatever the situation you're facing, but I do know that God has sent me to you to bring resurrection life. To tell you that I believe that as we put our faith together before Easter Sunday on March 27, there's gonna be resurrection life in your life.
White also said that in exchange for sowing the resurrection seed, people would receive special prayer cloths that could possibly bring miracles.
If that sounds suspect to you, you aren't the only one. In 2007, White became one of six televangelists ensnarled in a Senate investigation into her fundraising practices. According to NBC, White refused to fully cooperate with the investigation. The investigation concluded in 2011 and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
White's role in the inauguration has made waves in the Christian community. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore tweeted: "Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe."