On the eve of the midterm elections, a group of dominionist pastors, “prophets” and activists spent the day just outside Washington, D.C., at an event they called “Rise Up 2018.” Organized by ardent supporters of President Trump, the event was specifically focused on praying for conservative victory in the midterm elections. After a dinner break, Rise Up continued with a three-hour evening session, during which five Trump administration officials took the stage to receive prayer and blessings from the event’s organizers.
While host Harry Jackson issued unconvincing disclaimers that the event was nonpartisan, there was no real effort to mask the thrust of the gathering: that America is embroiled in spiritual warfare; that Donald Trump is on the side of God and His angels; and that fervent intercessory prayer could help conservative candidates confound the pundits. As “apostle” Mario Bramnick put it, “God has given us authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the devil.”
The administration officials who took the stage about two hours into the program are either directors or acting directors of their cabinet agency’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives: Andrea Ramirez, Department of Education; John Pughe, Department of Commerce; Mark Zelden, Department of Labor; Kevin Smith, Department of Homeland Security and FEMA; Rich Youngblood, Housing and Urban Development.
They were introduced as five of the administration’s nine agency “faith directors” by Todd Lamphere, a pastor who works for Trump spiritual adviser and White House evangelical handler Paula White. Lamphere told the Rise Up audience that these administration officials are their “boots on the ground”:
Each one of these people represent you. Each one of these people love Jesus, infectiously. The same with Department of State with Pam Pryor, the same with HHS with Shannon Royce. I’m telling you, the same with every single one of our faith directors—they love Jesus. And they’re committed to Him. And these are your boots on the ground. These are the ones pressing flesh. These are the ones that are helping the hurting. These are the ones that also need your prayer.
Harry Jackson, whose church hosted the event, began prayers for the officials, saying that “since they as believers have been set in these amazingly powerful and important positions, let’s believe that God will anoint them, give them supernatural wisdom, that the Word will be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path.” He said “spiritual warfare” has been going on “since day one in this administration,” and that “we’re believing that after prayer tonight for these folks, they’re going to move in a new realm of authority, power, prophetic insight, Hallelujah!”
Speakers placed their hands on the officials while prayers were said for them, a tradition that Jackson described as a symbolic act that allows “the impartation of the power of the spirit of God.”
“So in a manner of speaking, we believe the body of Christ tonight worldwide is agreeing with us from many lands, is deputizing them now,” he said of the agency officials. “Oh, they’re being commissioned. They’ve been set in office by earthly authority, but God, let Your authority manifest in their lives. May they move with the wisdom of almighty God.” Jackson and others then began to speak and pray in tongues.
“God has placed these people in nine of the different cabinet departments representing the Lord. This is huge,” said Mario Bramnick. “It’s a new day.” Bramnick prayed:
“Father, I decree and declare a turning point tonight, that every single opposition against the president’s agenda is turned around now. Father, we pray that every deep state undermining spirit will have no authority over the cabinet. Father, I declare change. I declare turnaround. Now! Now! In the name of Jesus.”
Cindy Jacobs prophesied that the Lord had put “special angelic hosts” around the officials’ families to strengthen them in times of stress and pressure.
As the officials left the stage, Jackson said that he knew the Education Department’s Ramirez from her work at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, but didn’t know she had taken a job with the administration. “It’s a good thing that we have Christians getting some of them good government jobs, amen, and influence,” he said.
A bit more info on the work histories of the “faith directors” who attended the event:
- John Pughe, who worked at the North Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, was deputy state political director for Trump campaign in Florida.
- Andrea Ramirez, who has a PhD from Pat Robertson’s Regent University, worked at Samuel Rodriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, which works to get more Latinos to vote for conservative candidates.
- Kevin Smith was director of emergency disaster services for the Salvation Army in Florida.
- Mark Zelden made a few spins through the congressional staff-lobbyist revolving door before joining Trump’s transition team as a budget advisor and was part of Trump’s “beachhead team” at the Department of Labor.
- Richard Youngblood is a former mortgage loan officer who organized Ohio evangelicals for the Trump campaign.
Not in attendance, but mentioned by Lamphere:
- Pam Pryor, currently at the State Department, is a former Sarah Palin aide who served as the Trump campaign’s leader of “faith and Christian outreach and previously did work for Freedom Partners.
- Shannon Royce, now at the Department of Health and Human Services, was chief of staff and chief operating officer at the Family Research Council, which, when Royce’s move to the administration was announced, issued a statement saying, “We couldn’t be happier to see her use her talents to advance the pro-life message in the Trump administration.”
Speakers at Rise Up prayed that a “red tsunami wave” of the blood of Jesus would sweep over the country during the election, fostering the creation of a multiracial “righteousness and justice” movement. Of course, the event also featured much praise for, and prayer for, Trump, whom Bramnick described as “anointed” and Lance Wallnau called an “answer to prayer.” Former Rep. Michele Bachmann asked God to “help us, Father, in our good and perfect worship of you in the voting booth” by speaking “into our ears as we vote who is your godly choice, Lord, for every office that there is.” Anti-LGBTQ activist Jim Garlow used part of his time to repent on behalf of Christians who “openly sin” by being too lazy or apathetic to exercise their “biblical responsibility” to vote, and for pastors who don’t provide the kind of leadership that produces “people that know how to vote right when they go into the voting booth.”