Paula White-Cain is a Christian evangelical minister who has served as a longtime spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump. She joined the White House staff in late 2019 and now heads the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which focuses on outreach to religious communities.
White made headlines in January of 2020 after a portion of a sermon she gave went viral. In the clip, which is embedded below, White calls for “all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now. We declare that anything that’s been conceived in Satanic wombs, that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”
White and President Trump first met in 2002. According to the New York Times, he reached out to her after watching her preach on television. The newspaper added that Mr. Trump occasionally attended Bible study sessions she hosted in New York City. White also spoke at the president’s inauguration in 2017.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Paula White Says Her Words Were Taken Out of Context ‘For Political Gain’
Paula White’s sermon attracted attention largely due to the remark about miscarriages. Jesuit priest James Martin responded on Twitter, “No pregnancies are satanic. Every child is a gift from God. No one should ever pray for any woman to miscarry. No one should ever pray for evil or harm to befall another person. Jesus asked us to pray for our persecutors, not to curse them. To love our neighbors as ourselves.”
But two days after the clip went viral, White clarified that she had not been talking about abortions or praying for women to suffer miscarriages. She explained that it was meant as a metaphor, as a call to resist evil and fight back against the devil’s plans.
She explained, “I don’t normally respond but clearly this has been taken out of context. I was praying Eph 6:12 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Anything that has been conceived by demonic plans, for it to be cancelled and not prevail in your life…That is- any plans to hurt people. Let’s be clear what is really going on… this is a disingenuous attempt to use words out of context for political gain. I will just keep praying!”
Ephesians 6:12 in the Bible reads, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Religious professor André Gagné further discussed the meaning of the verse and what he believed Paula White had been referencing in her sermon. He explained that she had not been talking about “literal” pregnancies. “The context speaks of Christians extinguishing ‘the flaming arrows of the evil one’ = miscarriage of Satan’s pregnancies/plans.” He added, “White is commanding that Satan’s plans be aborted.”
2. Paula White Has Been Associated With the ‘Prosperity Gospel,’ an Ideology That Many Evangelical Leaders Reject
Paula White has faced scrutiny from within the conservative Christian community for some of her preachings. According to the Religion News Service, White is known as an advocate of elements of the “prosperity gospel.” Also known as the “health and wealth” gospel, the idea is that financial success and good health are “evidence of God’s blessings.” Televangelist Joel Osteen has been known to preach about this idea.
The ideology also promotes the idea that if followers donate money to the church and its leaders, they’ll be blessed. Harvard’s Religious Literacy Project explains that the prosperity gospel can be “popular among impoverished communities, where at best it is considered to offer the poor a means of imagining and reaching for better lives (at times accompanied by sound financial advice), and at worst is criticized as predatory and manipulative, particularly when churches or pastors require heavy tithing.”
White has a link on her website for donations. In early 2018, she asked for members of her church to donate up to a month’s salary as part of a “first fruits” offering and that they would be blessed for doing so. White wrote that people would face “consequences” if they “keep for yourself something that belongs to God.”
In November of 2019, an opinion article in the conservative Washington Examiner described Paula White joining the Trump administration with a less-than-enthusiastic tone. The author wrote, “White is a phony who preaches the gospel of self-aggrandizement and not much else. Similar to her peers Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and Kenneth Copeland, she preaches something known as prosperity theology, which boils down to a belief that God is good for her wallet.”
The “prosperity gospel” is viewed as “heretical” by some within the evangelical community. Evangelical leader Albert Mohler, who serves as the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in 2009:
“The entire movement presents the Gospel as a message that is primarily about earthly rewards — a theology that turns God into a heavenly banker who is obligated to invest His people with material riches if they possess adequate faith and claim these blessings for their own…
Prosperity theology is a False Gospel. Its message is unbiblical and its promises fail. God never assures his people of material abundance or physical health. Instead, Christians are promised the riches of Christ, the gift of eternal life, and the assurance of glory in the eternal presence of the living God.
In the end, the biggest problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises far too little. The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation from sin, not a platform for earthly prosperity.”
Evangelical theologian and president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore, explained in 2015 that the prosperity gospel represented “what the apostles warned us about as early as the first century: predatory teachers who use a veneer of the Scriptures to prey on desperate people for their money or for sex, or for both (2 Timothy 3:1–9). The prosperity gospel exploits the poor (in our culture, disproportionately in minority communities) and diverts resources away from those communities into the coffers of the charlatans.”
3. Paula White Was Ordained But Did Not Graduate From Seminary School; She Later Co-Founded a Church With Her Second Husband
Paula White explained on her website that she became a Christian when she was 18 years old. She wrote that her childhood had been a turbulent and abusive one, but that her life was transformed after she was introduced to the Bible for the first time. Her bio includes that White “gave her life to God, and received a vision that she was to preach the gospel of Christ around the world.”
White attended the National Bible College and Seminary in Maryland, an institution associated with Pentecostal beliefs. According to the Gospel Coalition, she did not graduate but was ordained as a minister by the school’s founder, evangelical preacher T. L. Lowery.
After being ordained, White performed ministry work in the Washington, D.C. area. Her son told the Washington Post in 2017 that that experience inspired White to keep serving minority communities.
White and her second husband, Randy White, later went on to found their own church in 1991 called the Without Walls International Church. It started with 5 members but has grown to include more than 20,000 parishioners, according to its website. Randy White is still listed as the Bishop of the church.
Since those early days, Paula White has become a well-known televangelist. From 2012 until mid-2019, she served as the senior pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center, a non-denominational megachurch in central Florida.
4. Paula White Has an Estimated Net Worth of $5 Million; She Was the Subject of a Congressional Investigation Over Her Ministry’s Tax-Exempt Status
Paula White’s estimated net worth is about $5 million. Property records in Florida, which are available to the public, show that she and her current husband, Jonathan Cain, own a nearly 10,000 square-foot home in Apopka, Florida. They purchased the 5-bedroom property for $1.125 million in 2016. White also purchased a multimillion-dollar condo in the Trump Tower on Park Avenue in New York City in the mid-2000s.
White’s career has included publishing at least 10 books. She began hosting her own television show, Paula White Today, in 2001. The original contract for the show was for $1.5 million, according to the Washington Post.
The source of White’s wealth has previously faced federal scrutiny. In 2007, while married to Randy White, the Senate Finance Committee opened investigations into the Without Walls church and her organization, Paula White Ministries, for alleged misuse of donations. Religious organizations are tax-exempt and the Senate committee, led by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, was looking into the White’s ministries were legitimately using donated funds from parishioners.
In 2010, the investigation was closed without any charges being filed. But the results of the investigation were publicly disclosed and can be viewed here. The investigation found that the Whites required employees to sign life-long confidentiality agreements concerning church matters.
Investigators concluded that the Whites “probably received a housing allowance from the church” to pay for their personal home in Tampa Bay. Donations were used to purchase a church jet. Financial statements showed that Without Walls purchased materials such as books and DVDs from companies the Whites owned. Two of the bulk purchases amounted to $541,000 and $330,000. Investigators also cited “inside sources” who claimed that the Whites used a Without Walls credit card to buy personal items such as vehicles, clothing and meals.
5. Paula White Has Been Married Three Times & Her Current Husband Is ‘Journey’ Member Jonathan Cain
Paula White has been married three times. Her first marriage was to Dean Knight. The Tampa Bay Times reports that White became pregnant when she was 18 and that she and Knight got married after their son was born. They were living in Damascus, Maryland, at the time.
White later met Randy White, who was also married, through the Damascus Church of God. They reportedly became romantically involved while still married, divorced their respective spouses in 1989, and tied the knot with each other in 1990. But Randy White insisted in an interview years later that he and Paula were both “out of their marriages” when they began dating.
But the marriage eventually crumbled and they divorced in 2007. At the time of their separation, divorce records showed that the Without Walls church earned $40 million per year.
In 2010, White met rock star Jonathan Cain on a flight, along with the rest of his band, Journey. They got married in December of 2014. The Washington Post reported that Donald Trump sent a $1,000 donation to her church, the New Destiny Christian Center, as a wedding present.
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