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Sooner or later in this bizarre campaign, somebody was going to say something truly foolish. Enter minister Robert Henderson of Waco. Henderson already talked about dreaming that President Donald Trump called him and made him a spiritual Cabinet member — and his running mate. This time, the Radiant Church leader — a TV guest of televangelist Jim Bakker and once an opening act for Benny Hinn — said that on a visit to Washington, he led other pastors to pray for God to “shut the mouth of the lion” defending current abortion laws on the Supreme Court. “Well, guess what?” he said last Sunday. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away. .... That’s no accident.” Besides the egotistical fantasy that his prayer somehow affected Ginsburg’s 11-year battle with pancreatic cancer, I think Brother Henderson might have missed the point. The evangelicals I know believe in life. They don’t brag about death. By Thursday, Henderson was backpedaling. He’d seen days of headlines like on conservative WBAP.com: “Waco Pastor Credits His Prayer For Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” “We didn’t pray for her death,” he said in an online video against a giant American flag backdrop without a cross or religious symbol in sight. “I was asking for a judgment against the lion in the spirit world,” he said. “... And what happened a few days later, two or three days, was that [she] passed away.” See? It was all just a coincidence. Even though he had said just Sunday, “That’s no accident.” This isn’t the first time Henderson has claimed to be God’s associate judge. At a Virginia church, he told about a 2016 dream about Trump calling him personally asking him to “expose Hillary Clinton.” “I prayed,” he said, “and Hillary Clinton’s campaign withered away.” Henderson’s comments show Trump’s supporters are not solely mainstream evangelicals, said a respected fellow Wacoan, professor Thomas S. Kidd of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, Trump’s believers include followers of “prosperity gospel” televangelists such as Paula White-Cain and ministers like Henderson, affiliated with the spinoff New Apostolic Reformation. That alliance is a “marriage of convenience which is sometimes embarrassing to mainstream evangelical leaders,” Kidd wrote. “The claim that one’s prayers led directly to the death of a Supreme Court justice would be considered offensive and peculiar among most evangelical leaders,” he added. When I emailed Texas evangelist James Robison’s headquarters in Euless, his son, Randy, wrote back that he had already heard about Henderson’s Ginsburg comments. “When I heard,” he wrote, “ my statement to a friend was that Jesus said he came to give us life ‘more abundantly.’ So if we want to be in agreement with Jesus, we pray for people to have life, not death.” Robison’s executive vice president, Bruce Jacobson, was a White House staffer for President Ronald Reagan. “Is there judgment? Yes, for all of us,” Jacobson said. “But Jesus is all about love and grace. ... When you have somebody you disagree with, you don’t pray for them to die. You pray for them to have a change of heart.” Amen.
Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 16 Texas Legislature sessions. First on the scene of a 1988 DFW Airport crash, he interviewed passengers running from the burning plane. He made his first appearance in the paper before he was born: He was sold for $600 in the adoption classifieds.
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