The famous televangelist Jim Bakker, who is preaching again on television after a rape accusation and a prison term for financial fraud, recently warned that Christians would start an armed insurrection if President Trump were impeached. “If it happens, there will be civil war in the United States of America,” Bakker told his television audience. “The Christians will finally come out of the shadows, because we are going to be shut up permanently if we’re not careful.”
.. In polls, white evangelicals went from the group most likely to say that personal morality mattered in politics to the group least likely to say that — in just five years. These are values voters?”
.. Bakker: “But God, you put Trump in power! So many evangelical leaders, like Robert Jeffress, have pointed out that Trump could have been elected only if that was your doing.”
Bakker: “Pastor Paula White said the other day on my television show that since Trump’s presidency is God’s will, opposition to Trump amounts to resisting ‘the hand of God.’ ”
God: “Hmm. Did she say that when Barack Obama was serving two terms?”
In the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, God told Frank Amedia that with Donald Trump having been elected president, Amedia and his fellow Trump-supporting “apostles” and “prophets” had a new mission. Thus was born POTUS Shield, a network of Pentecostal leaders devoted to helping Trump bring about the reign of God in America and the world.
Amedia described the divine origins of POTUS Shield during a gathering that spread over three days in March 2017 at the northeastern Ohio church he pastors. Interspersed with Pentecostal worship, liturgical dancing, speaking in tongues, shofar blowing, and Israeli flag waving, Amedia and other POTUS Shield leaders put forth their vision for a Christian America and their plans to bring it to fruition through prayer, political engagement and organizing in all 50 states. Among the many decrees made at the event was that Islam must be “completely broken down.”
POTUS Shield’s leaders view politics as spiritual warfare, part of a great struggle between good and evil that is taking place continuously in “the heavenlies” and here on earth, where the righteous contend with demonic spirits that control people, institutions and geographic regions. They believe that Trump’s election has given the church in America an opportunity to spark a spiritual Great Awakening that will engulf the nation and world. And they believe that a triumphant church establishing the kingdom of God on earth will set the stage for Christ’s return. Amedia says that the “POTUS” in the group’s name does not refer only to the president of the United States, but also to a new “prophetic order of the United States” that God is establishing.
Conservative Christian leaders are nursing a more-than-half-century grudge against the federal courts for rulings on school desegregation, separation of church and state, abortion, equality for LGBT people and more. Amedia has spoken repeatedly about a vision God gave him of a giant broom sweeping up and down the Supreme Court building. God, he said, is going to sweep the entire federal court system of unrighteous judges and “change the laws of the land.”
POTUS Shield members are, like other Religious Right figures, ecstatic about the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and they are sure—because God has told them—that Trump will have at least one more Supreme Court vacancy to fill in the near future. Amedia also insists that Justice Sonia Sotomayor is going to have “an encounter with the living God” that will transform her outlook on the law.
In an appearance on Jim Bakker’s television show the week of July 4, Amedia said that he is telling activists to bring cases into the lower courts now, because by the time they get to the Supreme Court, its membership will have changed and it will be more favorable to their causes. “We are going to re-establish the Judeo-Christian doctrines of this country,” he declared. “It’s coming and can’t be stopped.”
.. Who Are These People?The prophets and apostles taking part in POTUS Shield are not, for the most part, household names to people outside their spheres of influence. Many of them are part of what religion scholars call the fastest-growing form of Christianity in the U.S. and maybe the world—a nondenominational, network-oriented Pentecostal Christianity, a strain of Protestantism that emphasizes direct supernatural experience through “the gifts of the spirit,” which are manifested in ways such as speaking in tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecy... Many of the “prophets” associated with POTUS Shield are part of an “apostolic” movement within Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (ACPE), meant “to build positive and ongoing personal relationships among nationally recognized prophetic voices,” was birthed at a January 1999 meeting in Colorado Springs called by C. Peter Wagner and attended by 18 people, including Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Chuck Pierce and Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer..The movement’s theology is grounded in a verse from the biblical book of Ephesians, in which the apostle Paul describes five kinds of leadership callings that Christ granted to people in Christianity’s founding era in order to build up the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. NAR believes that for centuries the church had abandoned the first two. But, they believe, God has moved in our time to re-establish the ancient roles for apostles and prophets who will transform Christianity and bring about the kingdom of God on earth.
.. NAR is meant to be disruptive to the rest of the Christian Church. It views “denominationalism” as a sin and views established denominations and leaders as resistant to the reestablishment of the offices of prophet and apostle. Wagner, who died last year, believed that today’s apostles and prophets would bring about the most radical changes to Christianity since the Reformation in the 16th century, changes that were meant to allow the church to fulfill its true mission. A triumphant, dominion-taking church, Wagner’s disciples believe, will establish the kingdom of God on earth and set the stage for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Among their concrete goals:
- get rid of federal judges whose rulings are not to their liking;
- end legal abortion;
- stop same-sex couples from getting married;
- bring “official” prayer and Bible reading into the nation’s public schools;
- and make America the Christian nation they believe it was meant to be.
.. Engle believes it is the church’s vocation to “rule history with God.”
.. Here’s an excerpt from his teaching guide, “Keys to Dominion”:
The same authority that has been given to Christ Jesus for overwhelming conquering and dominion has been given to the saints of the most high. … We’re God’s rulers upon the earth. … We will govern over kings and judges will have to submit. … We’re called to rule! To change history! To be co-regents with God!
.. At the March POTUS Shield gathering, Engle prayed for God to “sweep away” Supreme Court justices and federal judges who uphold Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for Trump to nominate their replacements. Engle suggested that God could either kill or convert the judges in question, and he had some words for people who might be squeamish about praying for God to “remove” bad judges:
I tell you, the church can’t be humanistic right now. I feel this in my spirit. We’re so concerned about these Hamans [Haman is the evil adviser to the king in the biblical book of Esther] that we’re not concerned about the millions of babies! I say that we believe that Donald Trump, President Trump, is a Jehu as well as a Cyrus. And I’ve been praying, ‘remove the house of Ahab.’