Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Trump’s taxpayer-paid televangelist

On this week’s episode of “The Righteous Trumpstones,” prosperity preachin’ proponent and Florida televangelist Paula White has been hired by the man himself to work in the White House, amen.

Trump’s spiritual advisor ever since he cannily realized he needed one to get elected (and to prevent future embarrassing “two Corinthian” slip-ups), will be taxpayer-paid to work in the totally made up sounding Office of Public Liaison charged with advising the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

Trump, apparently frustrated by the founders’ insistence on separation of church and state really did make that one up last year. The FOI is supposed to give religious organizations more of a say in federal programs focused on religious liberty and fighting poverty, according to “The New York Times.”

Maybe. But I’m guessing if you had a pie chart of FOI’s true goals, it would feature a microscopic blue slice for fighting poverty with the rest colored a festive red and labeled “All y’all can say Merry Christmas again!”

Of course, no one ever stopped saying Merry Christmas. This is a popular Trump trope. Stirring controversy where there is none is classic Trump, much the same as his propensity to create chaos out of calm and then claim to have solved a problem of his own making. His entire foreign and domestic policy appears to be loosely based on that Lifetime movie where the firefighter turns out to be the arsonist who’s burning the town down one subdivision at a time.

It’s hard to imagine a televangelist on the staff at the White House. The very word is unsavory, conjuring up Osteenian levels of wealth and fame. The very worst practitioners soullessly peddle “anointed prayer cloths” and similar rubbish to the gullible for fun and profit.

With Trump, a branding genius I’ll grant you, putting a female TV preacher in the West Wing is a calculated, cynical way to remind the base: “Don’t forget! We won’t kill the babies.” Forget the subtleties of the “dog whistle” in politics, this is more on par with the eardrum shattering song of a million cicadas on a steamy Carolina night.

I know what you’re thinking: Osteenian is not a real word, is it? No. I meant to say you’re probably thinking a woman of the cloth—even one who preaches that God rewards-cards his “best” believers with cash and great health (Single mom with cancer? Pray harder and throw some more shekels in the collection plate, you sinner)– can’t be a bad idea if she can appeal to Trump’s better nature.

Oh, if only. Rev. White was the one who loudly prayed for Trump at a June rally, saying: “Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus.”

Demonic network? Does she mean literal networks because, if she smites “CBS Sunday Morning” she’ll have gone, as many pastors before her, from preaching to meddling. Amen.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit

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