With just over two months before the midterms, there’s no sugarcoating it–Donald Trump is in deep trouble. His average approval rating, as calculated by FiveThirtyEight, stands at 42.1 percent. But Trump should be very lucky his numbers are even that high. The religious right has been working overtime to keep white evangelicals bowing down to Trump, by way of what can charitably be described as ham-handed bullying.
For the better part of two years, the nation’s so-called moral guardians have told their followers that the opposition to Trump is driven by the devil himself. To hear them talk, God hacked the election for Trump, so the devil is pulling out all the stops to derail him.
An example of this line came on Sunday morning from John Kilpatrick, pastor of Church of His Presence in Daphne, Alabama, a suburb of Mobile. Kilpatrick warned his flock that they needed to ramp up their prayers for Trump. His explanation? Trump was under heavy-duty attack from the forces of witchcraft. Watch a clip here.
Kilpatrick claimed that the spirit of witchcraft was “trying to take America back over” after being defeated in 2016. He added that the night before, God told him that Trump was “dealing with Ahab,” and “Jezebel was fixing to step out of the shadows.”
It was obvious where Kilpatrick was going. In the Bible, Ahab is presented as one of Israel’s most wicked kings, in part because he gave in to the influence of his wife and queen, Jezebel–who is often branded as a witch. For years, fundies have called women whom they consider ungodly “Jezebels.”
Kilpatrick added that God told him to tell his flock that “the deep state is about to manifest” against Trump, “and it’s going to be a showdown like you can’t believe.” Therefore, speaking as a “prophet,” Kilpatrick told the audience that it was time to cover Trump in prayer.
Later, Kilpatrick reminded his flock that the prophet Elijah had been “knocked…out of his position” by witchcraft. The message was obvious, but just in case anyone missed it, Kilpatrick drove it home further.
Oh my God. I heard the Lord say, ‘There’s going to be an attempt to take him out of power.’ Let’s stand and pray right now.
He then led his flock in a round of praying in tongues. Things like this make this charismatic/Pentecostal Democrat wince.
If they were trying to stop any attempt to expose Trump, it didn’t work. Less than 48 hours after that service concluded, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a litany of financial crimes and campaign finance violations. He also detonated the political equivalent of a quarter-stick of dynamite–he had arranged hush money payments to two models who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, specifically to keep them from telling their stories to the press before the 2016 election. What is more, he stated under oath that he arranged those payments on Trump’s orders.
If that wasn’t enough, on Wednesday we learned that David Pecker, the owner and publisher of Trump’s longtime favorite tabloid, the National Enquirer, is cooperating with federal prosecutors in Manhattan and sharing details about the hush money payments. On Thursday, we learned that Pecker has been granted immunity. The Enquirer, in case you don’t know, bought McDougal’s story and sat on it, and also alerted Cohen that Daniels was on the verge of telling all.
So we have to ask–does Kilpatrick consider Cohen and Pecker’s flips to be the deep state at work? Does he consider it to be a case of witchcraft? In a statement, Kilpatrick said that he “stands by the statements made in the service.” In light of recent events, we can only assume that he does indeed believe the exposure of potential criminal activity by this president to be the deep state trying to cut the legs out from under Trump.
It’s not the first time that Kilpatrick has encouraged his followers to live in an alternative reality. He is best known for leading a massive revival at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida from 1995 to 2000. He has long claimed that a mighty wind rushed through the church on Father’s Day 1995, but a video unearthed by the Pensacola News-Journal showed that first service was far less dramatic than he claimed. Two of my friends at my church in Charlotte came out of this revival, so I’d like to think that God did meet them there in spite of everything.
Kilpatrick left Pensacola in 2003 and eventually made his way to the Mobile area, where he founded his current church. Meanwhile, his old church isn’t doing so well. At last report, it was buried deep in debt–$11 million, to be exact.
From the looks of it, this case is proceeding like a classic organized crime roll-up. One of the soldiers (Pecker) ratted out the consigliere (Cohen), forcing the consigliere to sing as well. Now they’re both singing about their don. One can only hope that if this is what brings Trump down, some of the associates get dragged down as well–including preachers like Kilpatrick who keep their flocks bowing down to Trump by feeding them alternative facts from the pulpit.
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