Over the weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board penned a scathing indictment of evangelical preachers who told their followers to view former President Donald Trump's potential victory in the 2020 election through the lens of Biblical prophecy — and thus making them blind to the reality of Trump's loss.
"Editorially, we try to avoid opining about religious faith," wrote the board. "But invoking divine guidance to advance partisan causes smacks of the worst kind of manipulation, opening the door to abuse and financial exploitation. Pentecostal and charismatic Christian leaders have laudably begun insisting that the false prophets among them cease and desist."
Previous reporting has detailed how Trumpism became a fertile ground to radicalize white evangelicals around the country, and how religious extremists encouraged the "Stop the Steal" lie and the subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. There have also been links between the evangelical movement and the QAnon conspiracy theory, which recycles centuries-old anti-Semitic paranoia about shadow elites cannibalizing and brutalizing young children.
And faith leaders in positions of trust have furthered along this conspiratorial thinking, wrote the board.
"'Why were most of the prophets wrong when it came to predicting the outcome of the 2020 election?' host Jan Markell, founder of Olive Tree Ministries, asked on her 'Understanding the Times' Christian radio show on June 25. She followed that question with a lengthy series of pre-election recordings in which a variety of prominent evangelical preachers claimed that God had told them Trump would be reelected," wrote the board. "'Trump will win. … He will sit in that office for four more years, and God will have his way in this country,' author and self-proclaimed prophet Kat Kerr stated in one of the clips Markell played. Several others followed, including one by evangelist Pat Robertson and another by Jeremiah Johnson (who has since publicly repented)."
"Such quackery also can be deadly dangerous, such as when many protesters, claiming divine inspiration, joined in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. 'Jericho March' cofounder Rob Weaver was among the preachers who claimed divine guidance in directing followers toward Capitol Hill," wrote the board, which concluded by promoting the propheticstandards.com petition website calling on preachers to reject "the spiritual manipulation of the prophetic gift for the personal benefit of the prophet or of his or her ministry."
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