Paula White, President Trump’s spiritual advisor, has asked followers to send donations or prepare for “consequences” from God.
White, a Pentecostal televangelist who functions as the senior pastor of a Florida megachurch, is the head of the president’s evangelical advisory board. She has been described as Trump’s “God whisperer,” and fellow evangelists say she can “walk into the White House whenever she wants to.” She came under fire this week for a post on her website where she asked followers to give her the “First Fruits” of their labor. “Every January,” she says, “I put God first and honor Him with the first of our substance by sowing a first fruits offering of one month’s pay,” White explained. “That is a big sacrifice, but it is a seed for the harvest I am believing for in the coming year. And God always provides!”
While White says that the rewards of giving a First Fruit offering are “miraculous,” she also says that the consequences of not giving are serious. White writes that “God lays claim to all firsts, when you keep for yourself something that belongs to God you are desecrating what is to be consecrated,” and that when you don’t give the “first fruits of your labor” to God “whether through ignorance or direct disobedience, there are consequences.”
The televangelist goes on to urge followers to donate their First Fruits offering through her: “When you sow a First Fruits Offering of $75 or more, I will rush to you the book, the devotional and also a Paula White 2018 wall calendar! Track throughout the entire year prioritizing God with me!” All donations given through her website appear to go to her company, Paula White Ministries.
After her words prompted a national outcry, representatives of her megachurch rushed to clarify her comments. A spokesperson who chose to remain anonymous told People Magazine that White merely “encouraged others to also be generous,” and that “anyone who has listened to White’s teaching within its proper context should come to this conclusion as well.” The passages where she advocated donating a “day, week or month’s” wages or talked of “consequences” of not giving were also removed from her site but still remain on the Wayback Machine’s copy of the article (screenshotted below).
White is a well-known believer in prosperity theology, the Christian idea that wealth and well-being are gifts from God and that faith and donations to religious causes will make you wealthier. The belief, popular among televangelists, has garnered controversy among more mainstream Christians. Thinkers like writer R. Kent Hughes point to Jesus’ statements condemning rich people and accuse those who preach prosperity theology of abusing their followers’ trust to gain large donations.
White has also courted controversy for her apparent belief in Christian Nationalism, or the idea that the American government should work based on the principles of the Christian faith. Last August, after the president was criticized for saying that there were “some very fine people” among the white nationalists and Neo-Nazis who protested in Charlottesville, White claimed that opposing the President meant opposing God.
During a panel interview on the Jim Bakker show, she told Bakker that the president was “raised up by God” and that “when you fight against the plan of God, you’re fighting against the hand of God.” She concluded her statement by saying, “When our forefathers came over […] They took their crosses when they landed at Plymouth and when they walked that beach area and put their white crosses down and dedicated this land and said that it would be a lighthouse for God […] We must take back our school systems, take back our families, take back our homes, take back our nation. We were not sent into this earth to fit in. We weren’t just sent here to be a part. We were sent here to take over.”
But despite the controversies, President Trump has not distanced himself from White. As of publication, the embattled president has yet to make a statement on his embattled spiritual advisor.
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