A group of prominent religious-right leaders were featured on a Daystar television special on the COVID-19 virus Wednesday night. The program, which was also streamed on Pastor Robert Jeffress’s Facebook page, mixed encouragement and prayer with lavish praise for President Donald Trump. In addition to Jeffress, speakers included White House adviser Paula White, conservative Hispanic leader Samuel Rodriguez, prominent Christian Zionist John Hagee, and evangelist Jentezen Franklin. The special was hosted by Marcus and Joni Lamb, founders of Daystar, a Dallas-based global Christian network.
“Today, we’re not here to promote the president or promote Republicans,” Marcus Lamb said near the beginning of the 90-minute broadcast, but praising Trump and promoting White House talking points on the administration’s handling of the pandemic was certainly part of the agenda. Lamb and other speakers frequently pointed to scriptural admonitions to pray for those in authority.
“Whether you like the president or voted for him or not, he needs prayer,” Marcus Lamb said, prompting Joni Lamb to jump in, saying, “We have to acknowledge as Christians that this president has done so much for the church and the body of Christ.”
“People are beginning to see the president, the man that I’ve known for all this time, and how deeply embedded faith is in him,” said White, who claims in her recent book that God gave her Trump as a spiritual assignment years ago.
“You cannot walk two feet in the White House without running into a Christian, a believer, a person of faith, a person of prayer,” White said. “We are constantly praying together, constantly seeking God together. There’s not a task force meeting that Vice President Pence does not open up and begin with prayer.”
White said it was Trump’s idea to call the nation to prayer on March 15 and throughout the crisis and to invite anti-LGBTQ activist Harry Jackson to deliver an Easter message from the Oval Office on Good Friday. White urged people to pray that Trump will be led by the spirit of God so that he makes moves that are aligned with God’s timing.
Marcus Lamb initiated a Trumpian attack on the media, inviting Hagee to comment on “the role that secular media has played in ramping up the fear factor around the world and making it far worse than it actually is.”
“Well that’s absolutely the truth,” Hagee agreed, taking the opportunity to slam Trump’s critics. “The media, especially the liberal media, have telecasters that are nothing more than evangelists of fear.” Hagee said the media is out to scare senior citizens because it helps them make money:
Please understand when you’re watching this fake news that those people are painting a much more severe problem than the problem actually is because it drives up their ratings, and their ratings increase their commercials, and their commercials determine how much money they get. Don’t be disturbed by this, people. One of the best things you can do on that station is turn it off.
But I also want you to know that they detest the president of the United States, because they do not want to see him in office another four years. I want to say this to you very clearly: if the president came up with a cure for every form of cancer today, tomorrow, The New York Times would be saying, ‘Trump ignores heart patients.’ There’s always something wrong with what he does. The president is not responsible for this virus. The president is not responsible for the crisis of the nation. He deserves our prayers. He deserves our support. He is our commander-in-chief. He was duly elected by the people of the United States of America. And as loyal Christians and faithful patriots of the United States, we owe it to our leadership to pray for our president.
The spirit of fear is not of God. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but the liberal telecasters are nothing more than evangelists of fear. And I counsel you, do not let them disturb your life or trouble you. They are presenting a very biased message that is not true.
“Can we all say a big ‘Amen’ by clapping our hands?” Marcus Lamb responded.
White also got in on the media criticism, saying, “American people are really wising up now and beginning to see how much fallacy and false—and how much credibility, as Pastor John said, that the liberal media has lost.”
Franklin praised White for having urged the president to “remember the church” as legislation was being developed to deal with the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic, calling it “amazing” that government aid is being directed to churches to cover salaries and operating expenses. White cheered Trump’s support, saying, “Our president immediately said, ‘We have to stand and help the churches’—immediately.” She said they worked “day and night, day and night” to make sure that churches could be eligible for loans and grants without losing “the autonomy of their religious beliefs.”
Marcus Lamb was enthusiastic about the program, saying, “I have never heard in the history of the United States the federal government helping churches and ministries. It’s unprecedented. And I’m telling you what: If you’re a Christian, whether you voted for the president or not, you need to be thankful for that. And appreciative of that, because it’s going to help your church and your pastor. So thank God for that.”
Several speakers said God was using the situation as a divine “reset,” encouraging people to reconsider their priorities and focus on faith and family. Jeffress said that Christians in the future will look back on this time and say there was never a greater opportunity to spread the gospel than during this pandemic.
Marcus Lamb said that God gave him a revelation a few days ago that the pandemic would lead to “the greatest revival we have ever seen, not only in the history of the United States of America, but in the history of the world.”