Donald Trump is in a brutal position by any standard as July nears its end. His average approval rating, as measured by FiveThirtyEight, stands at 41.8 percent. FiveThirtyEight also pegs the Democrats leading the congressional ballot by an average of almost eight points. But Trump should be lucky to be doing that well. While most of the nation hopes 2018 will deliver a respite from almost two years of near-daily embarrassment, one segment of the country is still firmly in Trump’s corner–the religious right.
Most of the nation’s so-called moral guardians are still bowing down to Trump–even after Trump bowed down to Putin in Helsinki. Among them is a ghost from the past, Jim Bakker. For over a decade, the former “PTL Club” star has peddled a steady diet of overpriced survival food and hard-right politics. He is so rabidly pro-Trump that he once claimed any county that voted for Hillary Clinton would feel God’s wrath. He also claimed that Christians would riot if Congress impeached and removed Trump.
There’s a method behind this hellfire and brimstone. Bakker, like most Trump-worshiping pastors, believes that Russia didn’t hack the election for Trump–God did. To drive that point home earlier this month, he brought on one of his regular guests, Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj, a convert from Hinduism to Christianity who now calls himself a prophet. The first of a week’s worth of shows featuring Selvaraj aired on Monday.
While Selvaraj may not be a familiar name even to religious right watchers, he is a mainstay in the hypercharismatic circles in which Bakker now moves. He’s a real piece of work. Among other things, he believes Pope Francis is the Antichrist. No, this isn’t snark–watch him say it.
It says a lot about Bakker that Selvaraj is one of the many “Prophets Talking Loud” on his show. So there is little doubt Bakker knew what he might be getting when he asked Selvaraj to deliver a “message for the church.” Watch here.
Selvaraj said that while at a conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he got a vision of God standing over the East Coast with a shepherd’s rod in his hand. He then got a message in four parts.
First, God was going to judge the United States for “political crimes”–among other things, legalizing abortion and marriage equality. Second, Obama did a lot of “damage and harm” in eight years, and crafted “secret plans of alliance” that were still “in fetal stage” and would have “given birth” had Hillary Clinton won. Third, Trump’s upset victory was an answer to prayer, and God was giving his people a chance to “put away evil and establish righteousness in the land.”
So far, standard religious right agitprop. But Selvaraj’s fourth point was really off the wall, even by hypercharismatic standards. To hear him talk, this nation has been given a “period of respite” by a “council in heaven.” Supposedly, he had been taken up to a meeting of this council, chaired by Abraham, at which he learned the United States had been given four years to “turn back to the ways of God, and to righteousness and holiness.”
The message here is obvious. By putting Trump into office, this nation supposedly got four more years to clean up its act. Remember, folks, it’s more or less an article of faith on the religious right that God is using Trump. So never mind that he fires off unhinged, hateful, and degrading tweets and retweets. Never mind that he has no qualms about bowing down to hostile powers. No, no–none of that really matters. All that matters is that God sent Trump as an answer to the prayers of good Christians who didn’t want Hillary in the White House.
This show was taped on July 10–a full week before Trump’s outrageous performance in Helsinki. It’s rather telling that Bakker still let this air. Apparently even potentially treasonous behavior isn’t a bridge too far for Bakker. It’s yet more proof Bakker, Selvaraj and friends are so convinced God answered their prayers and gave this country a respite that they either cannot or will not see that Trump is taking them for a ride.
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