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Trump's Spiritual Adviser Has Little Experience in Evangelical Activism

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By    |   Monday, 11 Jul 2016 11:37 AM

Televangelist Paula White, credited with leading Donald Trump on his spiritual journey, is reportedly emerging as one his main connections to the GOP evangelical community that remains skeptical about presumptive nominee's policy and personal views.

But it won't be easy for White, a twice-divorced grandmother married to rocker Jonathan Cain of Journey, who has her own critics as well,  Politico reports.

"I don't know who she is, I don't have any contact with her, I've never met her, never talked to her, the most prominent her name has been is, she's tied to Trump," David Lane, an evangelical leader with whom many of the Republican presidential candidates have cultivated a relationship, bluntly tells Politico.

"She can't move evangelicals," he declares.

White, who is based in Florida and has known Trump for 14 years, is nonetheless confident.

"Over the years, that [relationship] grew stronger and stronger," she said of her ties to Trump. "I was in New York for many years. He has a very open-door policy. If I was in town, [he'd say], 'Hey Paula, come by, hang out with friends, family.' He'd allow me to sit in his office, be a part of his life, his world."

And, she says, "I can absolutely tell you that Mr. Trump has a relationship with God. He is a Christian, he accepts Jesus as his Lord and savior."

According to Politico, White was central to establishing Trump's evangelical advisory board, which includes some well-known figures of the religious right, including James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Now she's assembling a bigger group of supportive leaders from across the country, according to her spokesman, Johnnie Moore, a Christian author and member of Trump's advisory committee.

"Pastor Paula had a hand and is having a hand in [Trump's] faith walk," Pastor Mark Burns, a vocal Trump surrogate and member of his advisory board, tells Politico, adding White is "the authority to say if he has a real authentic relationship with God."

White wouldn't elaborate on her role in Trump's acceptance of Christ, telling Politico it's Trump's story to tell.

"There's a lot of people that have influenced Mr. Trump's life," she tells the website. "One thing I can tell you, that absolutely might be new to some of the media, new to some people, but God is not new to Mr. Trump. He absolutely has a heart and a hunger and a relationship with God."

She says her own struggles in her spiritual journey makes Trump's faith walk relatable.

"Not only do I think that's helped me connect with Mr. Trump, I think it's helped me connect with so many people," she tells Politico.

But according to Politico, White has also emphasized her wealth in her preaching and public appearances, prompting some to criticize her for pushing the "prosperity gospel" – that God wants people to be rich.

"Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe," Russell Moore, a prominent Southern Baptist leader and vocal Trump critic, once tweeted, according to Politico.

White rejects the label.

"Do I recognize that I've been labeled as a prosperity preacher? I recognize that," she tells Politico, but says her main focus is cultivating "disciples for Christ."

"Do I believe that God is a sugar daddy? Not at all," she adds.

She also has had, like Trump, financial challenges too, Politico reports, including IRS scrutiny in the early 2000s, and a congressional probe headed by Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley. According to Politico the probe was eventually dropped.

The Tampa-based church she and her ex-husband founded and led declared bankruptcy in 2014, Politico reports. But a bigger problem may be recognition within GOP evangelical circles, Politico reports.

"She's not active in my world," Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America tells Politico. "I don't think she's been active in the pro-life movement, to my knowledge. I've never worked with her."

White says she connects with the evangelical community "on the exact same things."

"Jesus Christ is our lord and savior, we connect the same on [the] trinity, on redemption, on basic principles, the fundaments of our faith," she tells Politico. "When you get to that, there's not too many places where you can go, 'She's a lot more different.'"

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Televangelist Paula White, credited with leading Donald Trump on his spiritual journey, is reportedly emerging as one his main connections to the GOP evangelical community that remains skeptical about presumptive nominee's policy and personal views.
Trump, Spiritual Adviser, Little Experience, Evangelical, Activism
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2016-37-11
Monday, 11 Jul 2016 11:37 AM
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