A few days ago I read an article titled God is Angry and Will Put an End to Impeachment about a recent Bethel Church sermon. Since the article was posted by Right Wing Watch, not exactly the most unbiased news source, I read it with a grain of salt. I then went to the source, clicking on the link to listen to Pastor Kris Vallotton’s sermon for myself.
I listened at double speed because I know from experience that Kris’s sermons are mostly comprised of personal anecdotes coupled with “get ‘er done” and, “are you getting this?” — two of his favorite sayings. I wasn’t wrong about the anecdotes, though disappointingly there was no “get ‘er done”. There was a whole lot of skipping from Bible passage to Bible passage, prefaced by the statement that while Pastor Kris’s sermons are all prophetic (meaning that they offer supernatural insight into the future or the unknown) this one is significantly more prophetic than usual. In fact, he tells us, it’s the direct word of God to us, a message he was instructed to give.
It was approximately 45 minutes long, but fortunately I’m slightly more direct than Kris is, so I can give you the message a whole lot more quickly and in bullet points:
- We are in a sovereign moment in time when we are to follow God unquestioningly.
- Do not go against God in the sovereign times (some people died when they did so).
- God says that every tongue that accuses Trump will be condemned.
- God will step into the impeachment process and bring it to a close.
- God will give Trump another term.
- Don’t resist God’s will in this or he will be angry (some people died when they did so).
While these bullet points may appear political, Kris was quick to preface some of his most partisan statements with the words, “This is not about politics.”
“This is not about Republicans or Democrats . . it’s time to step up and have our loyalty to the Kingdom. If you have a political spirit you will miss this . . . moment.”
Meaning, I infer, that if your politics differ from the ones espoused in this sermon you have a political spirit, are disloyal to God’s Kingdom, and have missed God’s moment. And remember now, this isn’t Mr. Vallotton’s message, this is God’s message.
“You don’t want to be the one resisting a movement,” Kris said, sounding as if he was about to cry with the intensity of his words. “When a dad gets angry, a good dad, you don’t want that. There is something about finding the mood of God and adjusting for it.” My children know what I mean, he said, sounding both apologetic and ominous.
That kind of fathering sounds like dysfunctional enabling and codependency to me, but I haven’t found a Bible verse to back up my opinion, so let’s move along.
Mr. Vallotton’s personal politics and values were pretty clear from his mention of “the mutilation of transgender children” paired with statements about “strengthening the hands of those who do evil”. “The church can no longer embrace wickedness” Vallotton said. “We want sinners to come to church, but there is a big difference between embracing sinners and normalizing sin.”
At times he paused, obviously for applause, which was weak, prompting him to ask: “Are you guys OK?” — another of his favorite sayings, intended to inspire stronger audience applause next time he pauses. I know Mr. Vallotton probably doesn’t intend to manipulate his audience this way, but it does seem to come to him very naturally.
The audience laughed weakly, trying their best. As someone who has heard many Bethel sermons, it’s obvious from this laugh track that the crowd is not on board with Kris’s message, though from the occasional cheers I think it’s safe to assume he has some strong supporters there.
“They’ve switched off Bethel TV by now,” Kris said, likely in acknowledgement of his subdued audience and in reference to the fact that the church tends not to televise its more controversial messages. But he continues on, unfazed. After all, a prophet is merely the voice piece of his God.
“This is a sovereign moment,” Kris said.
When used as a noun, sovereign means “a supreme ruler” as an adjective, someone or something possessing supreme or ultimate power. Truly a telling word to use in a sermon designed to reinforce the power of Trump. And that was the intent of this message: to declare in the voice of Bethel’s leading prophet, that God stands with Trump, and we must, too.
If this is not campaigning for the sitting president, I’m not sure what else it is. Certainly, there is no purpose in this message, other than to instruct the audience what their views on Trump and impeachment should be, unless it could be construed instead as a warning to save those opposed to Trump, or in support of his impeachment, from the sudden death inflicted on biblical characters who failed to recognize the will of God.
According to the IRS, non-profits, including churches, are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office”. So I hope the IRS is watching this church with $60 million in income, 10,000 local attenders, and both a national and international television presence as it promotes a sitting president’s next victory as the very will of God, instructing their sheep that to resist Trump is to anger God himself and risk death. Because if the Johnson Amendment was made for anything at all it was made for moments such as this.
I guess that’s why at a recent Presidential prayer breakfast Trump vowed to “get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.”
Allow churches to campaign for him, he means. But not to worry, Bethel is already doing so.
(Editor’s note: Pastor Kris Vallotton did not respond to Thursday’s request for comment.)
Editorial Note: This article was updated at 8:10 am on December 21, 2019 for readability and accuracy. A previous version of the article that stated that Mr. Vallotton did not know the meaning of the word sovereign was incorrect. The word he references in his sermon as not knowing is “providence.” The title of the sermon referenced in this article is “Sovereign Providence”. A Bible verse reference has been deleted as it does not appear to be accurate. A reference to the exact timing of audience laughter has also been edited. Corrections have been made to the spelling of Mr. Vallotton’s name.