On Saturday morning, five days after Election Day, most news organizations declared Joe Biden president-elect, thus making Donald Trump only the fourth president in 88 years to be denied a second term. Nearly everyone apart from the most diehard Trump supporters knows he is finished. Reportedly, several members of Trump’s own clan–including First Lady Melania Trump and First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner–are trying to convince him to accept reality and concede the race to Biden.
However, Trump refuses to see reason. For the better part of a week, he has bombarded his followers with emails urging them to help fund numerous lawsuits intended to throw key states back into his column. And he is doing so with the tacit encouragement of the religious right. This comes as no surprise, as the nation’s so-called moral guardians were among the few demographics to remain loyal to Trump.
It has been amply established that the religious right’s loyalty to Trump is nothing short of otherworldly. But in recent days, we have learned that the religious right is so rabidly loyal to Trump that it has become complicit in his ham-handed efforts to undermine the integrity of the election.
Among the religious right luminaries who have become part and parcel of this attack on democracy is the clan of veteran televangelist Kenneth Copeland. You may know Copeland as the leading promoter of the prosperity gospel, also known as “word of faith” or “name it and claim it”–the idea that financial and physical well-being are signs of God’s blessing.
Copeland was one of many prosperity preachers who jumped on the Trump train early on. On one level, this isn’t surprising. When you preach a gospel of excess, you fit right in with a guy who is the definition of an entitled one-percenter.
But even by those standards, Copeland’s loyalty to Trump has been downright obnoxious. This is a man who once blamed Trump’s opponents for the spread of coronavirus and suggested Trump has every right to have a filthy mouth because he’s our president. He has also claimed not once, but twice (at least), that if you don’t vote for Trump, you’re guilty of murder.
With this history, it has come as no surprise that the Copeland clan has dived headlong into Trump and Trumpworld’s effort to undermine the integrity of the election. It began last Sunday, when Copeland was the guest speaker at Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha, pastored by fellow Trumpvangelical pastors and “prophets” Hank and Brenda Kunneman. Most of the attention has been focused on Copeland bursting into laughter at the idea of Biden upending Trump. Progressive Pentecostal pastor Micael Grenholm got a clip.
In the face of a firestorm of well-deserved criticism, Copeland was forced to address the matter in a message to his Facebook followers. However, he delivered a classic “non-apology apology.” Saying that he was only talking about the joy of the Lord in the face of adversity, he only apologized to those who felt he came across as hating Biden.
However, there are a lot of reasons to question Copeland’s sincerity. For one thing, before Copeland took the stage for the second service, Hank Kunneman claimed that a “just God” would never allow Biden to win because he supports abortion. Copeland made no mention of this in his statement.
But most of those other reasons come from two high-profile members of the Copeland clan. Namely, Copeland’s daughter, Terri Copeland Pearsons, and her husband, George Pearsons. They pastor Eagle Mountain International Church, a charismatic megachurch located at Copeland’s ministry complex in Fort Worth.
While her father was preaching in Omaha, Terri was not only praising God for inspiring Trump to go to court to delay his inevitable defeat, but was also praying for God to cause a new election in order to keep the country from going against his will. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Terri prayed that God would “straighten out” every race on the ballot, from the presidency down to the local level. Given that the Copeland clan has been at the forefront of the religious right’s campaign to bully us into bowing down to Trump, it’s pretty clear that “straighten out” meant upending Democrats.
And yet, this came just minutes after Terri declared, “Thy will be done!” several times. Has it occurred to Terri and George that maybe, just maybe, God’s will was for Trump to be turned out of office after one term?
Apparently not, judging by what the Pearsonses did the following day. They led a prayer meeting for staffers at Copeland’s ministry–one that, according to Terri, was called after the Trump campaign asked for prayer as it went to court to throw out votes in Pennsylvania that were supposedly cast after Election Day.
As the meeting ramped up, George issued what he called a “heavenly cease and desist order” against Biden. No, this isn’t snark. Right Wing Watch got a clip.
George called for a stand against “dishonesty, fraud and corruption,” and prayed for the truth to be revealed. Just over 24 hours later, one of Trump’s legal challenges suffered a setback. A postal worker in Erie, Pennsylvania who claimed to have heard plans to backdate ballots admitted that he made the whole thing up. That postal worker’s claim was not only highlighted by Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill, but was included in a Trump campaign lawsuit to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results.
As I write this on Wednesday night, there has been no response to this development from anyone in the Copeland clan. Gee, didn’t George pray against “dishonesty, fraud and corruption”? And didn’t Terri pray for God’s will to be done? We can only wonder if the Pearsonses and Copeland believe that God’s name is Trump.
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