The Door to Outright Delusion

There’s optimism. There’s faith in the future. Sure, things will work out. They always do, except when they don’t, but then one muddles through somehow, and everything does work out, just not in the way anyone ever expected. Go with it. Job questioned God. He’d done everything right and his life was still miserable. What’s up with that? God then told Job to just shut up – “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

In short, what do you know? I’m God. You’re not. Back off.

But no one really backs off. Politico’s Julia Duin discusses those who now claim to speak for God:

Perched on a cream-colored armchair, Johnny Enlow, a 61-year-old, California-based Pentecostal pastor with short-cropped gray hair, a trim beard and Tom Selleck-style mustache, looked into the camera and prophesied that Donald Trump would become president again.

Not in 2024. In 2021.

“The January 20 inauguration date doesn’t really mean anything,” Enlow said in the January 29 video, which has gotten north of 100,000 views on YouTube. According to Enlow, more than 100 other “credible” Christian prophets around the world had likewise declared that Trump, somehow, would be restored to power soon.

And he’s not alone:

Greg Locke, a Nashville pastor with a massive social media following, said after Trump’s loss that he would “100 percent remain president of the United States for another term.” Ka Kerr, a pink-haired preacher from Jacksonville, Florida, declared repeatedly last month that Trump had won the election “by a landslide” and that God had told her he would serve for eight years.

In his video, Enlow went further. “There’s not going to be just Trump coming back,” he said. “There’s going to be at least two more Trumps that will be in office in some way.” Donald Trump, he proclaimed elsewhere, was “the primary government leader on Planet Earth.”

Enlow, Locke and Kerr are among dozens of Christian prophets in America – religious leaders with followings among Pentecostal and charismatic Christians who claim the ability to predict the future based on dreams, visions and other supernatural phenomena. Some prophets are church leaders, while others operate independently. There are no official requirements for prophet status, though followers generally expect prophets to get at least a few prophecies right.

Well, there is that issue, but there’s always a workaround:

In 2015, spurred by the lengthy prophecy of a 27-year-old wunderkind named Jeremiah Johnson, many Pentecostals and charismatics embraced the idea that God had chosen Trump to restore America’s Christian moorings. Trump’s surprise win in 2016 offered a dramatic validation, and in 2020 dozens of prophets declared that he would win election again.

This time, they were wrong. Yet, in the wake of Joe Biden’s victory, instead of apologizing or backtracking, a number of prophets continue to assert that it is God’s will for Trump to be in the White House and that a miraculous reversal is nigh. Enlow has said Trump’s victory will be made clear by March.

It will? No good can come of this:

With only two-thirds of voters – and one-third of Republicans – expressing confidence that Biden won a free and fair election, many observers worry that these prophets are sowing more confusion, blurring the line between misinformation and religious proclamation. They are spreading their message to wide audiences – some preachers who amplify these prophecies have followings in the millions – that increasingly exist in an echo chamber of like-minded religious YouTube channels, Instagram feeds and websites such as ElijahList, host of the YouTube channel ElijahStreams, where Enlow’s video aired.

But don’t scoff at this:

In a survey conducted last year, two political scientists found that nearly half of America’s church-attending white Protestants believed Trump was anointed by God to be president – a portion of the population that other scholars have dubbed “prophecy voters.” The share is likely higher among charismatic Christians, who skew more politically and theologically conservative than evangelicals as a whole. And although this population is only a subset of American Christianity, it’s a large one: Some estimates hold that as many as 65 million Americans could be counted as Pentecostals or charismatics.

Still, there are the purists:

Not all prophets have doubled down on their Trump prophecies since the election, however. And as some have backed away from Trump, a schism has emerged. At least six recognized prophets who initially predicted a Trump reelection have acknowledged those prophecies were wrong. They now say they are deeply troubled by their peers’ refusal to acknowledge the same – and worry that allegiance to Trump could threaten the prophetic tradition itself.

It could be that Trump was the wrong guy all along:

In a December 15 article, Michael Brown, a longtime charismatic revivalist and scholar in Charlotte, North Carolina, had sharp words, warning co-religionists: “There is no reality in which Trump actually did win but in fact didn’t win. … To entertain possibilities like this is to mock the integrity of prophecy and to make us charismatics look like total fools.”

After apologizing on January 7 for his own prophecy that Trump would be reelected, Jeremiah Johnson called parts of the prophetic movement “deeply sick.” In early February, he released a new YouTube series called “I Was Wrong: Donald Trump and the Prophetic Controversy.”

“I believe that this election cycle has revealed how desperately we need reformation in the prophetic movement,” Johnson said in a February 8 video. “I have serious concerns for the charismatic-prophetic world that if we do not wake up, if we do not humble ourselves, there is greater judgment to come.”

And that should sound familiar:

The emerging rift mirrors the one in the GOP, with one faction trying to move on from Trump in the name of democratic principles, and the other redoubling their commitment to him, spurred by the grassroots and in defiance of facts. Johnson and other prophets in his camp have received fervent pushback from their followers. But Brown and his ilk believe a reckoning is in order – that false prophets must be held accountable and that reforms are needed if the prophecy movement is to retain any spiritual integrity. He has begun convening monthly Zoom calls with prophetic leaders to discuss a way forward.

“This has opened the door to outright delusion,” Brown said in an interview. “As a full-blooded charismatic, I’ll say we’ve earned the world’s mockery for our foolishness.”

But it wasn’t all them:

Trump’s wooing of evangelicals and charismatics made for “a veritable flood” of favorable prophecies during his presidency, in Brown’s words. They ranged from Australian prophet Lana Vawser’s May 2017 vision of Jesus clothing Trump with a purple robe and crown, to Enlow’s February 2020 assertion that the victory by the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl that year had prophetic significance for, among other things, the fact that “Trump is God-sent” and is advancing “a Kingdom agenda.” (Enlow is one of several prophets who believe God speaks through major sports events.)

According to local media reports and social media feeds, a handful of prophets traveled to Washington for Trump’s speech on January 6. They included North Carolina evangelist Charlie Shamp, who tweeted a photo of himself just below the steps where crowds were storming the Capitol and produced a video about the experience. “Don’t let the media lie to you,” Shamp later wrote, from a Twitter account that has since been deleted. (He has moved to Parler.) “We peacefully assembled outside the building to voice our protest against this fraudulent election and pray for America!”

That’s not what people saw with their own eyes:

Within a day of the Capitol insurrection, a few other prophets who had prophesied a Trump win apologized: Johnson, as well as California pastor Shawn Bolz and Denver pastor Loren Sandford. Johnson published a long explanation, saying he had “misinterpreted” dreams and wished to “repent and ask your forgiveness.”

“I do not blame God’s people for insufficient prayer that resulted in Donald Trump’s losing the election, nor do I blame any kind of election fraud,” he wrote. “I am simply convinced God Himself removed him and there was nothing that any human being could have done about it.”

He really shouldn’t have said that:

Blowback was swift. A few days later, Johnson wrote on Facebook that he had received “multiple death threats and thousands upon thousands of emails from Christians saying the nastiest and most vulgar things I have ever heard toward my family and ministry.” He also said he was losing financial support “every hour and counting.”

Welcome to the real world. Slate’s Daniel Politi covers the secular version of this:

Nearly half of Republicans wouldn’t hesitate to drop the GOP and join a new party led by former President Donald Trump, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll of Trump voters released Sunday. The poll revealed that 46 percent said they would abandon their party while only 27 percent said they wouldn’t drop the GOP. The rest are undecided.

Half of the Trump voters polled said that the GOP should be “more loyal to Trump.” Only 19 percent said the opposite and think the Republican Party should be less loyal to Trump. “We feel like Republicans don’t fight enough for us, and we all see Donald Trump fighting for us as hard as he can, every single day,” a small-business owner from Milwaukee said.

These secular people too will stick with Trump:

The poll showed that Trump voters are far more loyal to the former president than to the Republican Party. While 54 percent of those polled said they were loyal to Trump, only 34 percent said they were loyal to the party. The figures put into sharp focus the dilemma that Republican leaders are facing as they try to adjust to a post-Trump world. Trump has sharply criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit the former president in the impeachment trial but then said the former president was “morally” responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said.

Politi says that Mitch is toast and so is the Republican Party:

Those who went against Trump in his second impeachment are likely to face a backlash from voters, at least according to Sunday’s poll. Eight in 10 Trump voters say they would be less likely to vote for a Republican who supported the former president’s impeachment. The reason why Republicans are so willing to punish anyone who voted to impeach Trump is at least in part because they continue to believe lies about what happened in the Jan. 6 riot. Almost 60 percent of Trump voters say that the riot was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.” Little wonder then that fifty-nine percent of Trump voters want him to run again for president in 2024.

Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference next weekend where, among other issues, he’s expected to talk about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in general.

And he has his facts of the matter:

By double digits, 46%-27%, those surveyed say they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one. The rest are undecided.

Martin Longman takes it from there:

It’s numbers like these that explain Lindsey Graham’s behavior. Despite announcing on the Senate floor after the January 6 insurrection that he was done with Trump, he’s down in Mar-a-Lago for a multi-day strategy session with the ex-president. He feels that the future of the Republican Party depends on Trump.

“If he ran, it would be his nomination for the having,” Graham said of Trump in an interview. “I don’t know what he wants to do. Because he was successful for conservatism and people appreciate his fighting spirit, he’s going to dominate the party for years to come. The way I look at it, there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump.”

Maybe so, or maybe not:

In one sense, Graham is obviously correct. A new NBC News poll shows that Republican Party is rapidly becoming blue-collar, and this shift is occurring among all races. These are not traditional Republicans, and this helps explain their loose allegiance to the party. It also helps explain why 58 percent of Trump voters agree that the January 6 coup attempt was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.” It doesn’t explain it entirely though, because the gullibility of Trump supporters transcends educational attainment.

Longman cites Byron York on that:

For the rioters who are alleged to have committed serious criminal acts, more information is coming out in court papers filed in the Justice Department cases against them. And now, specifically, there is a new indictment against nine people who are said to be members or associates of the Oath Keepers militia. It’s a revealing document…

The indictment shows what they were saying to each other on social media in the days and weeks before the riot. Read together, their social media posts suggest people living in a kind of fantasy world in which they could take the Capitol, while carefully obeying Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control laws and carrying no firearms, change the course of U.S. history, and then head home.

Longman adds this:

If Graham is thinking these folks won’t stick with the GOP if it goes back to the free trade country club party of Bob Dole and George W. Bush, it’s hard to argue with his judgment. And maybe it’s too late to make the effort. Too many professional class Republicans have left for good.

Yet, when Graham says “there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump,” it’s reasonable to ask what goals he’s talking about. After all, Trumpism resembles nothing so much as the propaganda of Gottfried Feder, the “economist” behind the Nazis’ early anti-capitalist program which posited an industrious middle class, “crushed from above by taxation and [finance] interests, menaced from below by the subterranean grumblings of the [organized] workers.”

It’s a party for failed shopkeepers and disorganized proles, not the stuff of Kennebunkport or Wall Street. Is this the motley crew whose goals Graham wants to advance? If so, he’s for fascism–full speed ahead.

That may be where this is headed:

After all, this is a party whose leader just attempted a coup to overthrow our representative form of government. They refused to punish Trump for this, and most of their voters won’t even admit that they’re responsible, blaming antifa instead.

So, really, don’t expect much:

Maybe Graham should consider the possibility that his party deserves to lose for a while. Maybe there are principles worth fighting for, and they aren’t fascist principles. But he apparently can’t see that far. All he sees is a party that can no longer compete with Trump and therefore absolutely must keep Trump within the party rather than have him forming a third party.

That’s where we’re at as a country. These are the alternatives to the Democratic Party.

No, there are other alternatives. The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman covers those:

The state of Michigan and the city of Detroit have asked a federal judge to sanction attorneys who filed lawsuits that falsely alleged the November presidential vote was fraudulent, the first of several similar efforts expected around the country.

An Atlanta-area prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation into whether pressure that President Donald Trump and his allies put on state officials amounted to an illegal scheme to overturn the results of the election.

And defamation lawsuits have been filed against Trump’s allies – the start of what could be a flood of civil litigation related to false claims that the election was rigged and to the subsequent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Although Trump was acquitted by the Senate on a charge that his rhetoric incited the deadly Capitol siege, public officials and private companies are pursuing a multi-front legal effort to hold him and his allies accountable in other ways. The actions target the former president and numerous others – including elected officials, media pundits and lawyers – who indulged and echoed his falsehoods that President Biden did not win the election.

Okay. There’s God’s will, as seen by the remaining Pentecostal and Charismatic Prophets. Trump is back, forever. There’s Lindsey Graham’s reluctant Realpolitik. He’s holding his nose, but there too, Trump is back, forever. But then there’s the law:

The goal, according to lawyers and others supportive of such efforts, is to mete out some form of punishment for those who helped undermine confidence in the election results and fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But even more, they said, they hope to discourage other public officials from rerunning Trump’s strategy of attempting to overturn an election result by sowing doubt about the legitimacy of the vote.

“There has to be some consequence for telling these lies – because when you lie to people, they take action based on what they think is true,” said Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican who received threats after false allegations of fraud in the counting of the city’s votes. “Because it’s such a dangerous new thing that occurred, there has to be some reconciliation. Moving on isn’t enough.”

Yep, it’s time to slap these people upside the head with a bit of reality:

The most serious ongoing legal actions involve criminal inquiries. More than 225 people have been charged with various crimes directly related to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. Justice Department officials have said they do not expect to file criminal charges against Trump or others who gave incendiary speeches in Washington that day before the violence, but they also said the case is complex and the investigation ongoing.

But even without charges against the former president, several lawyers representing alleged rioters have signaled they plan to argue that their clients were merely following what they thought were Trump’s directions that day – meaning there could be lengthy legal wrangling over Trump’s culpability.

That’ll slow down the nonsense, as will this:

Separately, two election technology companies are pursuing multibillion-dollar defamation suits against various Trump allies, alleging that they repeatedly told lies about the companies’ products in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

Dominion Voting Systems, one of the two firms, has filed twin $1.3 billion defamation suits against Rudy Giuliani and another lawyer, Sidney Powell, who together promoted false claims that the company’s voting machines were manipulated to swing the election to Biden.

Dominion Voting lawyers have said they plan imminently to file similar action against Mike Lindell, a leading Trump supporter who is the chief executive of the company MyPillow, and the lawyers have sent letters warning of potential litigation to dozens of others, including the Trump campaign.

But wait, there’s more:

Judges in some of those suits are considering requests to sanction the pro-Trump lawyers, either through monetary penalties or by referring them for disciplinary action in the states where they hold their law licenses.

Federal rules prohibit lawyers from filing frivolous suits or from using litigation for improper purposes such as to harass or delay. Lawyers also are not allowed to lie in court.

The purpose of the rules, said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law and an expert in legal ethics, is to discourage bad practices: “Lawyers should not bring garbage complaints to the court and take up valuable court time. Judicial time is limited – it’s a valuable resource.”

Rudy’s in trouble:

Gillers noted that New York state has an especially stringent rule that prohibits lawyers from engaging in “conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” Although the disciplinary process can take three to four years to resolve, he said the court has the option to suspend a lawyer’s license on an interim basis if that lawyer is deemed a threat to the public interest. He said he thinks Giuliani could be a candidate for that kind of drastic action.

“He spent months as the titular head of the Trump legal challenges, bringing useless cases and publicly claiming that the election was fraudulent, thereby creating confusion,” he said. “I believe he knew it – or should have known it – and I think that behavior, across many months and after many losses both in court and in public opinion, adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer.”

He may be disbarred. Everyone else, including Lindsey Graham, gets sued one way or another, except those Pentecostal and Charismatic Prophets. Trump was sent by God. But remember what God said to Job – I’m God. You’re not. Back off.

Read your Bible.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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1 Response to The Door to Outright Delusion

  1. fatcatfrankie says:

    A million man army at the ready of hardened soldiers….


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