jueves, 23 de noviembre de 2017


Resultado de imagen para foto banderas europa y gran bretaña

Drawbridge Economics: The Brexit Reality Check Is Coming

November 13, 2017

A leading neoconservative, Irving Kristol once defined neocons as “liberals who have been mugged by reality.” Similarly, I fear that those today who speak of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union as a chance for Britain to become a global trader again will be mugged by economic reality. Given the recent performance of the British economy, where prices are rising and wages are stagnating, that mugging may already be under way.

Globalization has mugged far larger countries when they mistook economic integration for shackles, and tried to make it on their own down lonely pathways of trade. Brazil and much of the rest of South America stepped back from globalization, including by limiting trade and investment with the United States. These nations deprived themselves of stable growth. India infamously tore up its trade relations with the West for decades in pursuit of autonomy and self-sufficiency, attaining neither. China only leapt forward when it opened up, albeit partially.

The United Kingdom was perhaps especially prone to mistaking useful economic ties for chains, because it had a longstanding ambivalence about its EU membership. One codified aspect of the European project has always been the idea of an “ever closer union,” which was never an easy sell for an island nation. The best anybody was going to do was the United Kingdom being sort of in, sort of out—and so it was, for as long as it remained inside the single market, but outside the Schengen area and the single currency, with a bespoke rebate to boot. It probably ceased to be sustainable after a majority of the member states bound their fortunes more tightly together in the euro area. And it certainly ceased to be sustainable after many in Britain, and particularly England, began to take the same sort of root-of-all-evil view of Brussels that many Americans have taken of Washington.

The sad result of the referendum is that the United Kingdom has lost its comfortably ambivalent status within the European Union; even Remainers who hope Britain may yet reconsider or rejoin the European Union should not presume the country will get back any of the same opt-outs and rebates as before, unless it is willing to spend years rebuilding lost trust. And leaving that state of political ambivalence has a very simple economic implication: The UK economy is suffering “a negative supply shock.”

With Brexit, the UK economy will not be able to purchase things for the same amount of money as it used to—a shock that will ruin its competitiveness with its largest trading partner.

A negative supply shock means you are reducing the productive capacity of your economy, or the ability of your economy to purchase things for the same amount of money as you used to. Now, we can debate about how big the harm is, which industries get hit, what happens in the end after the United Kingdom adjusts, but there is no serious disputing that a shock of this sort will be the result of withdrawal. Why? Because withdrawal from the European Union will put up trade barriers.

Shocking truth

In pure economic theory, the United Kingdom could do away with all of its tariffs, not only those with the European Union, but with the entire world, and leave the UK consumer much better off. One, decidedly fringe, libertarian faction of Brexiteers fondly entertains this as a vision of the future. It is a delusion. Unilaterally opening all UK markets to the whole world would, in reality, impose substantial dislocation and disruption on thousands of businesses and millions of workers. In any event, no government—and certainly no nationalist, Brexit government—is going to stand idly by while domestic industries are hammered by foreign competition at home, especially when there are no reciprocal opportunities for exports opening up. Additional trade barriers are inescapable, and trade barriers are, fundamentally, bad for your economy.

There is no disputing that this is a negative supply shock, and—furthermore—it is a negative shock that will ruin Britain’s competitiveness, very specifically, with its largest trading partner. The heightened barriers could apply on up to half of British global commerce. The market access that will be lost cannot and will not be replaced, even in a generation, due to the “gravity” of trade flows. It is one of the few things in economics we can talk about with the same sort of confidence as natural scientists—as a fact of life. In physics, the more massive and nearer a body is, the greater the gravitational pull it exerts. In commerce, gravity means that you trade far more with countries you are contiguous with or which are nearby, than you do with countries that are far away. This pattern of trade is not only logical—a consequence of the costs and delays inherent in long-distance trade, and of the networks and habits that develop through history—but is also borne out by all studies of trade patterns.

No matter how much there has been a special relationship, be it with the United States or the Commonwealth, no matter how much the United Kingdom may want to be a global exporter, the fact is that the United Kingdom has more than twice as much trade and investment with the European Union than it does with the United States, let alone with anyone else in the rest of the world. The United Kingdom has exported more to Ireland than China in nine of the past ten years, despite China’s economy being nearly 40 times the size of Ireland’s. None of the other major emerging markets, Brazil, India, or Russia, are in the top 20 markets for UK exports. So even if we were to negotiate several new global trade deals with rising economies, it would not offset the shock of leaving the European Union, and could not do anything at all in the short term.

In theory, a UK-US trade deal has slightly more potential. There is no question that Donald Trump has the authority to move the United Kingdom to the head of the queue if he chooses to. And it would not entirely surprise me if he did, because American culture has some affinity with watching Downton Abbey and Dunkirk, and Britons are thought of as rich white people by Trump voters. But if he did, would Congress ratify his deal? After all, it is hardly in the US strategic interest to annoy the European Union, the largest economic bloc in the world, especially when the United States is already alienating Canada and Mexico by aggressively reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Besides, even if a Trump-backed Anglophone trade deal could be approved, to what end? The Trump administration approach towards NAFTA, and all the trade officials’ statements make clear that his real priority is to tilt bilateral trade balances in the United States' favor. Even if he did give the United Kingdom a trade deal, it would be a bullying deal which made it certain that the United Kingdom would end up buying more in the way of extra US imports than it would be able to sell in additional exports. The overall negative supply shock would remain, and Britain’s ability to succeed in trade would not be improved. New trade deals are not going to make up for the disruption to trade with the continent.

The news gets worse for the UK economy when we consider the impact of Brexit on cross-border investment. Because the United Kingdom had this special status as a less-regulated, low tax, English-speaking, rule of law sort of a place, that was nonetheless still in the European Union, it used to attract investment as a welcoming platform from which to trade with the wider European Union. All the more so as many non-European business people liked living in London. Now this investment is going to drain away, not to zero, but it will gradually decrease. Toyota, Nissan, and Ford, for example, all have disproportionate amounts of their European car production in the United Kingdom. All have indicated that they will not expand those plants, for example, when the United Kingdom loses full market access, and their production will likely decline.

Counting costs

It bears repeating that there is a distinction between a limited and thus feasible trade deal for the United Kingdom with the European Union, and full membership in the European single market. A simple trade deal would normally start by reducing the rate of tariffs charged on some goods and perhaps a few services. The single market, however, covers all those things that are not simply the price of goods off the boat. It is whether your vehicle meets safety standards, whether your chemicals or food additives have been recognized, whether you fit standard sizes of various objects, whether your accountants are accredited, or whether your university degree is recognized in other countries.
Since the United Kingdom is primarily an exporter of higher-end products and especially of business, financial, media, and education services, there can be no escaping the need for agreed rules and standards.

These regulations cut both ways. They are partially inefficient restraints on business, protecting incumbent companies and guilds from competition. At the same time they are also partially economically beneficial, because they set the ground rules that facilitate a large and integrated market. In any given industry, the European standards will display more or less of these two attributes. But since the United Kingdom is primarily an exporter of higher-end products and especially of business, financial, media, and education services, there can be no escaping the need for agreed rules and standards. So it loses a lot by being—as [British prime minister] Theresa May has proposed it should be—outside of the single market, even if it manages to get a trade deal.

Of course, one can say, “Ah, but Brexit is about the long term. The UK economy will adjust, and over the long term, we will be better off.” But how? Beyond fanciful hopes of gravity-defying trade deals beyond Europe, the case for being bullish here comes down to sparing the United Kingdom from the supposed growth-sapping “costs of Europe.” Five such costs get talked about. There is overregulation of EU labor markets. There is heavy-handed regulation from Brussels in other things. There are big bills for European-style welfare states. There is demographic decline. And there are problems associated with euro membership.

Now, on that list, four of those five do not apply to the United Kingdom, even if it stayed a member of the European Union. The United Kingdom has looser labor market regulations than anyone else in the European Union, and—even while complying with those strictures that Europe does require—its labor markets remain flexible by world standards. The European Union has not prevented the United Kingdom from having a smaller welfare state than comparably wealthy states in western Europe. Demographically, the United Kingdom has actually been a beneficiary of membership of the expanded European Union, because people from Poland, France, Portugal, and Romania have come and helped balance out the ageing of British society. And the United Kingdom was, of course, never a member of the single currency.

The economic cost of remaining really boils down to excessive regulation in certain areas of business life. Even there, leaving represents a mixed blessing because at the same time as escaping some of these regulations, it is unrealistic for British business to escape them all if it continues to export into the European standards-based market. Yet, by leaving, you give up the ability to push back against any of these regulations in the future because you will no longer be a member of the discussion that sets those standards.

Leave the rhetoric aside, look at the reality. This is not a very good deal in economic terms. Now, again, you can always say, “Well, this is about sovereignty, we want to do it.” But you should be aware that there is no economic upside to Brexit.

Reality check

Assuming Brexit goes ahead as May plans, the United Kingdom is simply going to have to cope with this negative supply shock. In order to adjust, the British economy will have to endure some mix of higher inflation, lower purchasing power, declining terms of trade, and a weaker pound for several years. This painful adjustment process has in fact already begun, as was seen when the Bank of England felt it necessary to raise interest rates in November, despite there being little reason to do so in terms of domestic conditions. Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, made clear that the impact of Brexit brought productivity and currency concerns to the fore.

More fundamentally, the UK economy will have to absorb this shock at a time when it is already suffering from a staggering decline in productivity growth relative to other western economies. This other reality inherently makes any Chancellor’s Budget arithmetic much more difficult (see Diane Coyle (link is external)). Even more importantly, near-zero productivity growth means near-zero real wage growth. There is no reason to expect that workers will be protected from the pain of inflation.

Furthermore, the United Kingdom has accumulated through both the boom and the bust a set of large imbalances. It has ongoing budget deficits, large trade deficits, an over-concentration of activity in the financial sector, and then—in geographical terms—an over-concentration in the southeast as well. Over the last few years, even after the Brexit vote, there has been a further growth of consumer borrowing while corporate investment has gone negative and trade has gone the wrong way. Overall, the British economy already had a painful adjustment coming, and now that process will be compounded since the United Kingdom has resolved to pull itself out of economies of scale and curtail easy access to its biggest markets.

Do the mental exercise. If this were Britain in the post-war Bretton Woods period, or during its time in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism circa 1992, and we were seeing this same mix of unbalanced macroeconomic indicators, we would predict a crash in the pound. The peg would be doomed. Thankfully, the United Kingdom today does not have a fixed exchange rate. But if you do that exercise, it reminds us of just how unsustainable the current British economic path is. The pound has to decline further. Like Britain as a whole, it has further to go in being mugged by reality.

Stable prices and exchange rates are going to have to give. No one should fantasize that a depreciation will lead to prosperity, however, any more than repeated devaluations delivered sustained growth to the United Kingdom (or to Italy) in the 1960s and 1970s. At a time when benefits for the poor are frozen and—in the last few months—wage growth has ground to a halt, even relatively modest inflation is going to hurt. And the most obvious direct cost of imposing tariffs on imports from the European Union, of declining terms of trade, is a sharp decline in British consumers’ purchasing power.

A surprising recent economic phenomenon makes the challenge from globalization to a Britain outside the European Union even greater. We have seen the occurrence in recent years of currencies declining in advanced economies, while the trade gap fails to change appreciably. Usually a falling currency is thought to be a direct mechanism of adjustment for a country that is suffering from declining terms of trade. So, in the case of the United Kingdom, after the pound falls, Brits used to find they could afford fewer German cars or Italian holidays and cut back on those products for cheaper domestic substitutes, while at the same time British exporters found their wares were cheaper in euros or dollars, and thus sold more.

But that textbook adjustment is not working today. In fact, it hasn’t worked in Britain for some years. There was a similar pattern at the start of the crisis where the trade-weighted pound also declined sharply—by roughly 25 percent over the course of 2009—but the trade gap failed to close very much at all. One factor is that the United Kingdom is towards the upper end in global supply chains. That means whether it is cars or financial services of certain kinds, production requires a bunch of imported inputs, whether of people or car parts, before the end product can be exported. The net gain you get from currency depreciation is limited. A similar logic is at work in Japan, where the decline in the value of the yen in recent years has not had as big an impact on the trade balance as economists initially expected.

A second point is that the crisis meted out a structural hit, targeted on Britain’s bloated financial services industry—reducing it from about 15 percent of UK GDP at its height, to somewhere in the region of 10 to 12 percent. That is a large and sudden shrinkage in a major economy, reflecting the wider economics of the crisis and more particular failings of the City. The damage to the British financial sector is now set to be multiplied by the shift of some of those financial services to Ireland, Germany, the United States or wherever, once the single market is exited (see Nicolas Véron (link is external)). These are real lasting setbacks to British service exports for which exchange rates alone cannot compensate—at best, a persistently weaker pound will, over time, lead to a reallocation of workers and investment to industries that compete internationally on price rather than quality. That sounds like a step backwards.

Whatever the reason why depreciation has ceased to work to improve trade balances as it used to, it leaves the United Kingdom an unbalanced economy facing a self-inflicted supply shock with one fewer means of adjustment to the new reality.

Defying gravity

Amid the daunting reality of international commerce outside the European Union and low productivity growth, it is plain that Brexit is only going to succeed economically for the British people if the country were to somehow leap beyond the reach of economic gravity, and replace much of its trade with the European Union with new markets. There is no obvious precedent, however, for any large nation successfully defying gravity, and reordering its trade on a whim, let alone doing it so quickly.

At best, a long and painful process of adjustment is required to reorient to new markets, new industries, and new relationships. In the decades after 1989, the old East European countries did achieve this—but these iron curtain countries had the option of competing as low-wage economies during the generation-long adjustment period, much to the annoyance of Brexiteers. There is no reason to believe that Britain, a country where wages already disappoint domestically but remain high by world standards, will be able to pull off the same trick.

More importantly, while Eastern Europe could forge a new economic accord with the West, there is absolutely no reason at all to believe that the rest of the world will alter its patterns of trade and investment in reaction to the efforts and aspirations of a Britain that has, for whatever reason, resolved to go it alone.

Believing such a shift will happen requires a faith that recalls Margaret Thatcher’s proclamations of TINA, that desired change must come simply because There Is No Alternative. Her disinflationary policies did not ultimately succeed in transforming the UK economy: Inflation and trade deficits bounced back with the economy in the late 1980s. Despite Thatcher’s insistence on TINA, it transpired that the British economy did not readily adjust to bullying.

But for its devotees, Brexit is likewise bound to succeed today because it must. What else, however, does one have to believe to sustain that faith? Brexit would have to cast some very special spell on all British businesses, to offset the damage done by rising trade barriers, and the flight of investment and workers from abroad. Thatcher would surely be appalled, and protest that such magical thinking involved standing TINA on her head. For all the social harm unleashed by the Iron Lady and TINA, at least the original Thatcherites could point to some plausible mechanisms for imposing new discipline—like hard money and fiscal austerity, as well as the resulting strong pound, which would force painful shake-outs on workers and old industries. The Brexiteers’ TINA is, instead, somehow meant to force transformation on an economy beset by rising inflation, and in industries that are increasingly sheltered behind trade barriers, starting with tariffs re-imposed on EU goods.

Brexit is not going to make Britain into a wonderful capitalist exemplar, let alone a global trader, like Hong Kong was in the 1970s. Brexit is going to make today’s Britain more like Britain was in the 1970s. Ultimately, it will produce lasting economic harm to British citizens, because market economics works and global integration has benefits. The costs of some overregulation imposed by Brussels in some industries are nothing to compare with the self-imposed costs of a trading nation running away from globalization. That’s reality.

Follow @AdamPosen (link is external) on Twitter.



En la inserción externa se nos va el futuro. De hecho, ya perdimos varios trenes, aunque el llamado Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP por sus siglas en Ingles) al cual Trump renuncio, pero los otros 11 estados miembros decidieron seguir adelante, eliminando alguno de los temas más complejos, todavía se puede alcanzar.

El TLC con Chile, vergonzosamente encajonado y la adhesión al Tratado en Cooperación en materia de Patentes (PCT por sus siglas en Ingles) que cuenta con 152 países signatarios mientras que Uruguay junto con un grupo de luminarias democráticas como Burundi, Myanmar y Venezuela, ha optado por quedar fuera, están en el mismo cajón. El cajón de la ignominia. En el inofensivo TLC con Chile los negociadores de dicho pais tuvieron el buen tino de adelantarse a extensos intercambios en temas que sabían que Uruguay no estaba en condiciones de avanzar y ellos mismos cambiaron la redacción para que fuera aceptable. Hasta eso.

En lo que hace al TLC con China, ya Brasil y Argentina (en menor grado) están en contra, aunque se lo hacen saber a los chinos y no a Uruguay. Sin embargo, Uruguay parece haber aceptado que algunos barcos de la flota pesquera china operen desde Rocha y Montevideo, quizás la peor decisión posible ya que la flota china es considerada dentro de las más corruptas del mundo. Pescaran más allá de los límites sustentables de las poblaciones, no aceptaran observadores a bordo, acabaran con las poblaciones de merluza que compartimos con Argentina y se llevaran hasta las piedras. No es nada personal. Es lo que han hecho en todos los países donde fueron “invitados”. Tampoco hay posibilidades de un TLC si no, quizás, un Acuerdo de Alcance Parcial donde podríamos colocar más frutas y carne. Hasta ahí. No son “compañeros”. Son un poder neocolonialista e hiper capitalista. No aceptarían ni sindicatos ni mucho menos ocupaciones.

En el TLC entre el Mercosur y la Unión Europea hay avances. Si se escucha poco es porque algo funciona. Nadie debería oponerse si se trata de un acuerdo en el marco del Mercosur como exigía el FA. ¿No?

El sector del gobierno que apoya la firma de tratados de libre comercio incluye desde el grupo renovador del Partido Socialista hasta el Frente Liber Seregni. Los ministerios son el de Relaciones Exteriores, Economía y Finanzas, OPP y Agricultura. Hay dudas si el Ministerio de Industria seguiría la línea del silencioso, pero activo, MPP o respetaría sus responsabilidades frente al deber y lealtad a la Presidencia de la Republica, la cual promueve los TLCs activamente. Su ministra es precandidata por lo que deberá pensarlo bien. En pocas palabras, el gobierno es rehén de su sindicato y sus socios en la coalición.

La oposición son el Partido Comunista, el PIT-CNT (que es una extensión del PCU), Casa Grande y la casi desaparecida 711. El MPP guarda silencio para terminar “arbitrando”. Son pocos, pero disciplinados, hacen ruido, amenazan y el líder del MPP- Honoris Causa de prestigiosas universidades globales- ofrece “trancar todo”, revelando en total dimensión al verdadero totalitario y autoritario escondido en piel de cordero y que la edad no lo llevo a la sabiduría sino al odio.

Mi propuesta es, primero, sabiendo que toda la oposición esta a favor de TLCs y que sectores del FA también, lo mejor es ir a un referéndum o utilizar cualquier otro mecanismo constitucional para que el resultado sea el de una Consulta Popular. En otras palabras, que sean todos los uruguayos los que decidan que es lo que quieren y no las bases de la Mesa Política del FA. Es el futuro de nuestros hijos y el destino del país que queremos. No que los TLCs sean una panacea, pero si permitirán ser mas competitivos y acceder a nuevos o viejos mercado con aranceles bajos o sin aranceles. Y crearían trabajo, nuevas PYMES para atender la demanda que generan los TLCs, nos permitirían insertarnos en la economía del conocimiento y, finalmente, pero en lo personal lo más importante, nos forzaría a cambiar la idiosincrasia que hace que los uruguayos prefiramos refugiarnos en el pasado y nos obligaría a reflexionar sobre el futuro e incorporarnos a cadenas globales de valor. Nos daría esperanza que es lo que la gran mayoría de uruguayos quieren. Al menos, una esperanza que esta pesadilla se acaba.

En estrecha relación con el tema de los TLCs, ya que lo ideal sería intercambiar bienes y productos con mayor valor agregado, el informe publicado hace una semana por la Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual (OMPI), la agencia de propiedad intelectual de la ONU es revelador, por decir lo menos. Ahí se describe, en detalle, el estado de la situación global, el capital intangible, innovación y las tendencias irrebatibles de la economía del conocimiento. El nuevo mundo de capital intangible. Donde nos tocará vivir. Algunas conclusiones,

  • “En promedio, corresponde al capital intangible el 30,4% del valor total de los productos manufacturados vendidos entre 2000 y 2014.
  • La cuota del capital intangible aumentó, pasando del 27,8% en 2000 al 31,9% en 2007, pero se ha mantenido estable desde entonces.
  • En su conjunto, el ingreso derivado de los activos intangibles aumentó del 75% entre 2000 y 2014 en términos reales, ascendiendo a 5,9 billones de dólares EE. UU. en 2014.
  • Corresponde a tres grupos de productos –productos alimentarios, vehículos de motor y textiles– prácticamente el 50% del ingreso total generado por el capital intangible en las cadenas globales de valor del sector manufacturero.”
Los sectores conservadores y hasta reaccionarios del FA, como dijimos antes, no querrán saber del tema. Tienen miedo al cambio y a la inclusión real. No solo ideológicamente sino por el miedo al “imperio” y a que la “robotización” tenga un impacto en el empleo. Hasta los cajeros tenían miedo cuando se instalaron los cajeros automáticos.

Por supuesto que lo tendrá, pero ningún país industrializado tiene tasas de desempleo altas. Se construyó, primero, un ecosistema con la educación como centro del proceso de cambios de paradigmas e inserción externa. Previeron. Educaron para competir en este nuevo mundo.

Los gobiernos del FA llevan gastados 530 millones en Ceibalitas donde el contenido es de dudosa calidad los maestros y profesores nunca estuvieron preparados para gestionarlas y no está dirigido a promover el conocimiento como herramienta fundamental del desarrollo. Tampoco se subió-como prometido-el porcentaje del PIB que vendieron en la campaña, de llegar al 1% en I+D+I (más la inversión privada) Estamos en 0.43% que el mismo nivel de inversión que Malta.

De ahí el título del artículo. Los trenes no paran en la Estación Uruguay, pero el cartero no demorara en traernos la noticia de que el país esta en bancarrota.


martes, 21 de noviembre de 2017


She led Trump to Christ: The rise of the televangelist who advises the White House


In 2004, Paula White asks for contributions while preaching at the Jericho City of Praise in Landover, Md., during the God’s Leading Ladies day-long workshop for women. (Andrea Bruce Woodall/The Washington Post)
(Illustration by Peter Strain for The Washington Post)

It was an early afternoon in late July, and Paula White was holding court before an audience of about 25 Southern Baptist ministers in an ornate diplomatic reception room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The televangelist was recounting one of her favorite stories — about when Donald Trump reached out to her in 2011 for guidance on a possible White House run. “Would you bring some people around me to pray?” she said he asked her. “I really want to hear from God.” White recalled that she and another pastor gathered about 30 ministers from different evangelical Christian traditions at Trump Tower in Manhattan. After the prayer session, when Trump asked her what she thought, she responded: “I don’t feel it’s the right timing.”

He listened, she continued, and the two talked and prayed about the matter over the next four years. When White again gathered religious leaders at Trump Tower in September 2015, she backed the decision he’d already made to run. Videos on YouTube of that event show her standing on his right, head down, laying hands on him as she prayed.

Who is Paula White, the pastor Trump chose for an inaugural prayer?

So here she was in the summer of 2017 at the head of a long table in the Executive Office Building, a huge French-Empire structure just steps from the White House, addressing a group of religious leaders who had been invited to Washington by the president’s evangelical advisory council. With her blond hair, scarlet Oscar de la Renta sheath dress and matching patent leather stilettos, she was a bright bird among the forest of dark-suited clergymen — and, she made it clear, the one with the access to Trump. “The president says hello,” she told them. “I was with him first thing this morning.”
Because of White, evangelicals have “an unprecedented opportunity to have our voice and say heard” in the Oval Office, Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, informed the assembled pastors. “God has placed Paula in a unique place for such a time as this.”

Not all Christians, including evangelicals, are fans of the wealthy, thrice-married White, who has long been associated with the prosperity gospel, a set of beliefs that says God will reward faith, and very generous giving, with financial blessings. Detractors point to a congressional investigation of her former church’s finances and accusations that she has taken advantage of her mostly African American parishioners through her fundraising. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has called her a “charlatan,” conservative Christian writer Erick Erickson has said she’s a “Trinity-denying heretic,” and Christian rapper Shai Linne named her a “false teacher” in one of his songs.

But since the election, White’s star has soared. She offered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration (becoming the first clergywoman in history in such a role). She sat by the president at a private dinner for evangelical leaders on the eve of the National Day of Prayer. She has hovered close by during prayer sessions in the Oval Office. She was present when Trump met with advisers to discuss the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, she told me, she has turned many of her duties as a pastor of a large church in Apopka, Fla., over to associates as she jets to the White House an average of once a week. (The Trump White House does not release visitor logs, so it’s difficult to confirm how often White is there.)

White has no title and no official position at the White House but plays several roles. After helping to put together an evangelical council for Trump during the campaign, she is now, she explains to me, the convener and de facto head of a group of about 35 evangelical pastors, activists and heads of Christian organizations who advise Trump. (The White House would not release a list of members, but other names associated with this group include Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., conservative political activist Ralph Reed and Dallas-based pastor Robert Jeffress.) She also acts as pastor to the president. And in the words of Johnnie Moore, the evangelical advisory council’s unofficial spokesman and White’s publicist, she serves as “part life coach, part pastor” for White House staff. 

It isn’t easy to discern how much influence White has with the president. Michael D’Antonio, author of the 2015 biography “The Truth About Trump,” says he had never heard of White before the election. “White is deemed by many to be a deceptive poseur, who is long on self-promotion and short on substance,” he said in an email. (White, in response, said she has never encountered D’Antonio. “And clearly,” she emailed me, “he hasn’t a clue about what he’s talking about.”)
Others say White has played a significant role in Trump’s life. Last June, Dobson identified her as someone who had known Trump for years and “personally led him to Christ.” Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, told me by email: “She’s very influential. She has been close to Trump and the family for many years.” Trump’s son Eric sent me this statement: “Paula is a terrific woman and a wonderful friend to our entire family. We are very grateful for her support and guidance. Faith is so important and Pastor White continues to be an inspiration to all those who know her.”

White seldom grants interviews, but she recently spoke to me on several occasions and allowed me to shadow her during a visit to Washington — a visit that included meetings with fellow evangelists and White House staffers, a prayer gathering and a Journey concert. (Her husband, Jonathan Cain, is the band’s keyboardist. Since her 2014 marriage, she has segued into calling herself Paula White-Cain on social media but hangs on to Paula White as her brand for professional reasons.) We also met two months later in Nashville, where she spoke to journalists at a Religion News Association conference.
 Some details of the friendship between Trump and White have to be taken as a matter of faith, because the White House turned down my request to interview the president. But when I emailed the claims White made in this article about Trump, an official responded that while the assertions hadn’t been fact-checked, “None of the below jumps out as being inaccurate.” When asked for a comment on White, Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, responded: “Reverend Paula White has been a friend and faith leader to the President for many years. Her support is a tremendous asset for which the President is grateful.”

Trump is not an active member of any church, has publicly said he doesn’t need to ask God for forgiveness, and infamously bragged about sexually assaulting women. But bring up those issues with White, and she responds with the story of Jesus speaking with an adulterous Samaritan woman at a well. “He didn’t lord it over her but sat with her,” she says. “He gets down in the dirty places of life. Does that make Jesus complicit with an adulteress? No. Because you stand with people doesn’t mean you’re complicit with them.” Later she tells me, “I don’t give up on people. I don’t have a dimmer switch. It’s who I am. Until I am kicked out, I will be with you. I don’t abandon people. I just don’t.”

Pastor and televangelist Paula White speaks to guests at the Trump International Hotel. (Mary F. Calvert/For The Washington Post)

How did a onetime “messed-up Mississippi girl” become a spiritual counselor to the president? White often points to her tumultuous childhood as a source of her grit. Now 51, she was born in Tupelo, Miss., to Donald and Janelle Furr. Her father committed suicide when she was 5, and her mother scraped together a living for Paula and her half brother Mark until she remarried. White’s mother — now 76 and named Janelle Loar — says her daughter was energetic and outgoing from the beginning. “She was born breech and she hasn’t slowed down since,” Loar told me. “She interacted with everyone she came across. She was a sweet kid, a very good student.” Another element of White’s personality showed up in childhood as well: “She was very tenacious in whatever she decided to do. In gymnastics, there was a certain flip she couldn’t do, but she wouldn’t give up. She never gives up.”
White says she was molested from age 6 to 13 by a string of caregivers, relatives and neighbors, which contributed to her becoming a promiscuous and bulimic teenager. Her mother says she was unaware of the abuse at the time. “I only found out when she opened up and wrote about it,” Loar says. “It shocked me, and it was a horrifying thing to hear.”

After her mother remarried, the family moved to Maryland, where Paula graduated from Seneca Valley High School in Germantown in 1984. She became a born-again Christian that same year. After getting pregnant the following February, White married the father, a local musician named Dean Knight, and their son was born in November 1985. “She was very attractive, which was the first thing that caught my eye,” recalls Knight, 52, who owns a janitorial service near Frederick, Md., and is the lead vocalist in a family country-rock band called the Knight Brothers. “Her hair color was different — she was a brunette — but she was always beautiful. And she was a little wild. We were a little crazy in our youth.”

White attended a Bible school at the Pentecostal-oriented National Church of God in Fort Washington, Md. Though she did not graduate, she was nevertheless ordained as a nondenominational minister by the church’s leader, the late Rev. T.L. Lowery. While doing inner-city ministry and working with D.C. homeless advocate Mitch Snyder, she became interested in serving those communities. She met a lot of black preachers, and, according to her son, Bradley Knight, she began to pick up their vocabulary and cadence. “The black community told her, ‘You’re a white girl who preaches black,’ ” he says.

Meanwhile, in 1987, Dean Knight recalls, “I was in a head-on collision. It ripped me apart and it really put a damper on a lot of things. It was after that that things started falling apart” in their marriage. Paula was attending Damascus Church of God in Maryland — part of the same denomination as the National Church of God — where she met Randy White, the associate pastor, who was married with three children. The two divorced their spouses in 1989 and married each other a year later, leaving the Washington area for his new job as a youth minister in Tampa.

The Whites established their own congregation in 1991, which would later become Without Walls International Church. Over the next decade, Paula blossomed as a pastor. T.D. Jakes, a televangelist and megachurch pastor in Dallas, became a mentor, giving White name recognition among his huge, largely black fan base. And the Whites began broadcasting their message on a regional Christian television network that reached listeners across Florida — including a restless business tycoon at Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

White thinks it was late 2001 or early 2002 when Donald Trump called. “You’re fantastic; you’ve got the ‘it’ factor,” she says he told her.
“Well, that’s God’s presence,” she responded. He repeated almost verbatim some of her sermons back to her, then confided that he often watched not only Billy Graham, but evangelists like Jimmy Swaggart and songwriter Bill Gaither on Christian TV.

This guy is hungry for God, she thought. As they talked further, she learned that he had attended church as a youth and been confirmed in the Presbyterian Church — so he had some of the basics of the faith. He seemed curious about how her pragmatic, businesslike take on religion could relate to his life. “I was talking about vision being a spiritual and mental picture of your future that is forceful enough to mold your present,” she says. 

Meanwhile, she had ambitions of her own. “I felt the Lord said to me to go on [national] TV,” she says. In late 2001, she signed a $1.5 million contract with Black Entertainment Television for a show called “Paula White Today.” She was a hit, tackling tough issues, such as family problems, money and loneliness, Oprah-style. “She was honest about her shortcomings,” wrote Phillip Luke Sinitiere, whose 2009 book, “Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace,” has a chapter on White. “Her message infused an emphasis on God’s transforming power with the raw and honest faith of postmodern confessional culture.”

White says it was around this point that she began to preach prosperity theology. Years later, she would disavow some aspects of that belief system and acknowledge “God’s presence and blessing in suffering as much as in times of prosperity.” But at the time, she reasoned that the prosperity gospel’s emphasis on giving was the only way an evangelist could get on television and stay there. “Ministry takes money, and you have to raise the funds,” she says. 

She also diversified, getting into life coaching and motivational speaking along with women’s wellness retreats, ministry to icons such as pop star Michael Jackson and baseball great Darryl Strawberry, and a spate of self-help books (“He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Unconditional Love but Is Afraid to Feel”; “Daily Treasures: Words of Wisdom for the Power-Filled Life”).“The theme of my life is overcoming,” she says. “It is my personal mantra and what I help other people do.”

Her message attracted millions of watchers. “You know you’re on to something new and significant when the most popular woman preacher on the Black Entertainment Network is a white woman,” Ebony magazine reported in 2004, quoting one of her admirers. Her church, Without Walls, zoomed past 20,000 in attendance and attracted a mix of black, Asian and Latino attendees rarely seen in a congregation headed by a white couple.

“Paula White is an incredible trailblazer,” says Clemson University political science professor Laura Olson. “Like it or not, she is extraordinary for what she has accomplished. She’s willing to be feminine, to be the wife, to take direction from her husband in certain areas, but then she’s leading a congregation — and not just a congregation of white people but of African Americans. How many white women do that?”

White and Cain relax in their suite at the Trump International Hotel during a trip to Washington for meetings with evangelical leaders, a Journey concert and an appearance at a Maryland church. (Mary F. Calvert/For The Washington Post)

White’s success drew Trump to her as well. “Are you ever up in New York?” he asked her during one of their subsequent calls. “Well, I am sometimes,” she responded, thinking of a Bible study she was leading for the New York Yankees at the time. “The Apprentice,” a reality show produced by and starring Trump, had started in early 2004, and she says he wanted her to be on the set, especially during the first season, for informal Bible studies or prayer for whoever wanted it.
A quick survey of more than a dozen “Apprentice” alumni didn’t unearth anyone who recalled her presence during the seasons they were with the show. But White says she remembers specific people who asked for her books and prayers. “I went to different episodes, different tapings, and I was at the finales for one or two of the shows,” she says. “There were people I began to meet with, and there was a lot of prayer for a lot of people.”

Including Trump. During one of their early New York encounters, “I walked in and said, ‘I don’t want your money, I don’t want your fame, I want your soul,’ ” she remembers. “He just looked at me.” The two clicked, and somewhere along the line, White apparently got her wish, though she is reluctant to offer further details. “Yes, there was an absolute moment that he received Jesus as Lord and Savior,” she says. “I have led many high-profile people to the Lord.” 

White was a rarity in Trump’s life: someone who was almost as famous and well-off as he was, who didn’t need his influence or power. She invited him to appear on her show in 2006. And she bought a $3.5 million condo in Trump Tower — with money from her businesses, she says, not the church.
But her marriage and her empire were crumbling. By 2003, the Whites had begun marital counseling; their marriage was further strained by the terminal illness of one of Randy’s daughters and Paula’s son’s involvement with drugs. The Whites announced the end of their marriage in August 2007. The divorce was complicated by their extensive financial assets — a church that was bringing in $40 million a year, plus proceeds from the couple’s many business ventures. Meanwhile, the Whites’ lavish lifestyles, which included a private jet and a $2.6 million, 8,072-square-foot home, had drawn the attention of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Finance Committee. In November 2007, the committee announced that Without Walls and Paula White Ministries would be investigated for misuse of donations, along with five other prosperity-gospel organizations.

In 2010, the Grassley committee closed down the investigation without penalizing anyone, though it released documents that remain online. The 13-page report about the Whites, which includes a number of allegations about their apparent appropriation of church and ministry finances for personal use, said theirs was one of four ministries that did not fully cooperate with investigators. One of the problems investigators ran into, the report says, was that Without Walls had required all employees to sign lifelong confidentiality agreements. White insists her ministry cooperated until it was told private donor information would be published. However, Jill Gerber, Grassley’s communications manager, says the committee neither requested nor reviewed such information. “I think that was a canard on the Whites’ part to avoid being responsive,” Gerber says. After the divorce, Randy White stayed at Without Walls, though Paula filled in as pastor while he was out of the ministry and in rehab from 2009 to 2012. The church filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
White explains how she hung on throughout the divorce and investigation: “I built up spiritual stamina, even though so much in my life was dying,” she says. And the Trump family was there to help. “When she went through hard times, the first people to call her were Mr. and Mrs. Trump,” says Jay Strack, a Southern Baptist evangelist who became friends with White last year. “She knows the real Donald Trump, obviously.”

Bradley Knight, almost 32, is White’s only biological child and an associate pastor at New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla., the church his mother took over in 2012 after its founder, the Rev. Zachery Tims, died of a drug overdose. He can quote feminist theory, has a tattoo on his back from his anarchist days (it reads “Neither master nor slave”) and is working on a second bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida, where he is studying philosophy and women’s studies. Even though he enjoys conservative thinkers, he’s a registered Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election. (White’s mother also doesn’t share her politics. “We don’t always agree,” Loar says.
 “I am a Democrat, she’s a Republican, but we love each other.”) An atheist for much of his young adult life, he was a theater major walking through the University of Tampa cafeteria in August 2007 when he saw news of his mother’s divorce on CNN. “I always feel bad for kids of high-profile people,” he says now. “There’s so much that people don’t know. I felt it was wrong to take something sacred and make it everyone’s public business.”
Another crisis exploded when White and evangelist Benny Hinn were photographed holding hands on a street in Rome in July 2010. The National Enquirer ran a double-page spread of the two of them, along with a photo of a hotel room in which they allegedly stayed. Both Hinn and White said they were just friends (although Hinn later admitted it was “inappropriate” to be spending time with a woman he was not married to). White says she disputed the piece with the Enquirer and reached a confidential settlement. (A lawyer for the Enquirer says he knew of no such arrangement.)

“When the National Enquirer did that piece,” says Moore, White’s publicist, “Trump asked why she didn’t call him because he has a relationship with them. With the apartment [she bought in Trump Tower], he was willing to give her a discount. From the beginning of their friendship, she decided that she would never ask him for a favor, and she hasn’t. That has contributed to the trust between them.”

It was about this time that White was on a flight to San Antonio that was also carrying the band Journey. “Paula walks on board with all sorts of stuff in her arms, and she dropped a big giant book in the aisle,” says Cain, 67. “I noticed she had expensive high heels on. I asked her, ‘What do you do for a living?’ She looked at me and said, ‘I am a public speaker.’ ‘What sort?’ I asked. ‘I’m a pastor,’ she said. ‘No, you’re not,’ I said.” Cain, who says he was a “displaced Catholic” at the time, says White prayed over him. “I see a book coming out of you and a studio,” she said. “I see God calling you back.”

Despite the 16-year age difference, the pair began to date. They were married during a December 2014 trip to Ghana, in a quiet ceremony officiated by one of White’s Pentecostal mentors. This was followed by a public wedding at an Orlando hotel in April 2015. It was a third marriage for both. Trump did not attend but sent a $1,000 contribution to White’s New Destiny Christian Center as a wedding gift.

Both the role of White and the role of the evangelical advisory council in the Trump administration are opaque, to say the least. The White House Office of Public Liaison (OPL), which is charged with outreach to interest groups, did not respond to my requests for details about how often White is there, who is on the council or whom she meets with. Moore told me that there is no official list of council members and that, while OPL issues invitations to religious leaders who visit, White and other members of the council supply the names.
The administration’s lack of specifics about the council has drawn criticism. “With this council, it is murky as to who is on it and what role they have,” says Robert P. Jones, author and CEO of the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute. “It looks more like another campaign arm than a representative group.”

White says her position is that of a “faith adviser” and head of a council with an inner core of about three dozen evangelical leaders who communicate by conference call and occasional visits to Washington. About 10 to 15 leaders who are very engaged receive daily communications from OPL about matters important to Trump, such as religious liberty or criminal justice reform. The entire council rarely meets as a group, but 10 or so members will gather at times at the White House, depending on the issue the administration is seeking feedback about. White adds, however, that many other religious leaders have visited the White House for “listening sessions” and have input with the administration, including Indian American leaders who celebrated the Hindu holiday of Diwali last month with the president. 

When White arrives at the White House, she says she typically heads for OPL, where she receives a schedule of events that require a faith presence. She puts together guest lists, shuttles between the offices of Vice President Pence (though she has a much more distant relationship with Pence than with Trump), Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka — and connects them with the Christian movers and shakers she knows from three decades of ministry. 
These include many of the Pentecostal televangelists — with vast followings — whom she met through Christian TV. 

White waiting for her car at the TrummInternational Hotel. (Mary F. Calvert/
For The Washington Post)

“I’m a bridge builder, and I can get information to different places,” she says. “I make sure there are people of faith at the Mexican heritage event with the first lady and president. I bring private faith-based organizations together with the government,” such as churches helping with relief supplies for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. In addition, White says, “I put people in front of” the president. “He’s a good listener, and that’s important. He is a fierce leader. He’s not a quitter. He digests information and makes informed decisions and has the courage and strength to make good leadership decisions.”

The day after she met with the Southern Baptist ministers in Washington, she met with a group of evangelical prayer ministry leaders, including Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham. Many members of this group wish to see federal and appeals courts filled with sympathetic judges, and White had notes in her purse of 130 such vacancies around the country. Trump “has been quite diligent to fulfill his promises to have originalist, constitutionalist judges,” she told me. “The president knows the judiciary is important to his strongest base.”

She and the visitors are often joined by legal and public policy specialists, she says. “We get huge access to government officials,” she explained after the meeting with Southern Baptist leaders. “Today we dealt with immigration. We bring solutions and come up with strategies.” She cited the nomination of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom — a State Department position — as one of the areas where evangelicals have made their influence felt. “That appointment got pushed up because [council members and others] brought it up at one of those sessions,” she noted.

White also says the council stepped in on the issue of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and persuaded the president to delay its end for six months. “We came in [to the Oval Office] and shared our heart, and he wanted to know the faith leaders’ feelings on DACA,” she says. 
“There were real questions asked, like did we know people who were ‘dreamers.’ We were honest and transparent with him. ... Are we in there and being heard? Yes.” When I ask White about the priorities of the advisory council, she responds: “What matters to the evangelical community is Supreme Court justices, economy, religious liberty, Israel, lower courts, human trafficking and abortion.”

Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and a frequent writer and commenter on religion and the presidency, says evangelicals have “achieved a number of victories — some small, some quite significant.” He cites Trump’s executive orders to block foreign aid groups from mentioning abortion and to ease restrictions on religious organizations endorsing or opposing political candidates; the Justice Department’s new guidance on protecting religious liberty (which states “no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with federal law”); the rollback of requirements that employers provide coverage for contraception; and some Cabinet appointments. “It’s important,” Rozell says, “to those folks to have a seat at the table and it be meaningful in some way and it not be just a show.”

Other faith traditions, it appears, don’t have the same kind of access as evangelicals in Trump’s White House. Before the election, former campaign officials say, Trump had three religious advisory boards: evangelical, Catholic and one for minority faiths. Only the evangelical one has survived into the administration, though Moore says he has observed mainline Protestant, Catholic and Jewish leaders in meetings at the White House.

Jones recounts that George W. Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to help faith-based groups of all kinds compete for federal funds for nonsectarian charitable or social work, such as services for the hungry and homeless. The Obama administration kept the same structure in place, but renamed it the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

The evangelical advisory council’s unofficial status allows it to be less transparent than those previous faith-based efforts. According to Melissa Rogers, the lawyer who headed up the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during Obama’s second term, the faith-based advisory boards under Obama and Bush were subject to the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act. That act, notes the website of the U.S. General Services Administration, was designed to “ensure that advice by the various advisory committees formed over the years is objective and accessible to the public.”
“The problem with the Trump administration is that there’s this evangelical group that has access and is being consulted, but there’s no comparable entity for other Christians and other faiths,” says Rogers. “There are no visitor logs being released, no transparency about their activities and nothing to answer to the public for. Our Constitution says our government can’t prefer some faiths over others, so anything that seems to be a preference raises some red flags.”

White says the administration has a new office in the works that will be known as a “faith initiative,” and will involve more religions and act like an official government body. Nothing had been announced at press time.

White prays before giving a sermon at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. (Mary F. Calvert/For The Washington Post)

After her White House meetings in July, White went to relax in a beige-walled suite — complete with a flower arrangement of white orchids — on the eighth floor of the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Dressed in an electric blue L’Agence suit and black patent leather Christian Louboutin stilettos, she snuggled on a couch with Cain, who takes credit for her stylish, colorful clothes. “I told her, ‘You have to look like a rock-star wife,’ ” he says.
The two accompany each other everywhere, including the band’s eastern Asia tour this past February, plus four months of domestic shows this year. “Paula comes on the road with me,” Cain says. “She doesn’t want separation. Separation will kill a marriage.” In this case, White was able to schedule her Washington meetings around a Journey concert at the MGM National Harbor on the banks of the Potomac. (The timing resulted in a kerfuffle when three of the band members got a White House tour and a photo op with Trump. After guitarist Neal Schon, who was not invited, learned of the excursion, he blasted Cain on Twitter for allowing politics to infiltrate the group and suggested Cain had “changed radically” since his marriage to White. When I asked Cain for a response, he smiled and said, “It’s a free country.”)
Before the concert that evening, White greeted an endless stream of guests and friends during a preperformance gathering where Cain was raising money for High Hopes, a Nashville-based charitable organization for children with special needs. Heading backstage to wait for the concert (when the band was playing she would head into the audience to take pictures), she turned to her iPhone, which she’s on constantly. Although other pastors fill in for her while she’s on the road, White says she tries to keep in touch. “Anytime something happens to one of my members, a death or tragedy, I call and pray over them,” she says. “What’s five minutes of my time to pray over people?”
Knight often fills in for his mom but says her political involvements have created some havoc at New Destiny. “Her relationship with the black community got really frayed because of President Trump,” he says. “She got messages from black leaders, saying, ‘You betrayed us.’ ” New Destiny lost 200 to 300 people because of Trump, he says, adding that giving dropped $10,000 a week. As White has become more visible, she has also been panned for her use of black idiomatic speech, and was mocked for doing so by Seth Meyers on his NBC late-night show in August.

Despite her detractors, however, White remains very much a presence in African American churches. The day after the Journey concert, she was a guest speaker at a women’s conference at the majority-black Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, pastored by Bishop Harry Jackson, a fellow member of Trump’s evangelical advisory council. She seemed very much at home as she told them, “Little did I know 16 years ago when I met Mr. Trump that he’d be president. God whispered in my heart, ‘Show him who I am.’ I wanted to pray and show him the Word of God. Little did I know I’d earn that place of trust where 16 years later I can bring in great men like your pastor, great women” to Trump. She received sustained applause.

White is frequently castigated in the media for not condemning many of Trump’s actions, but her son believes critics are looking at it the wrong way. “It’s not about him being a good man,” Knight says; it’s about her trying to steer Trump in the right direction. “People think she feels he is a model Christian. She believes that he is fulfilling an assignment from God that is important to the church and important to America.”
White insists that lecturing Trump is not her job. “I don’t preach to anyone on behavior modification,” she says. “There are things I can speak, but that’s not anyone’s business what I say. Why would I as a pastor expose that relationship? Everyone needs a safe place in life, and pastors can be people’s safe place. That’s why I have this relationship, because I don’t talk about it.”

She says she spends an hour a day in prayer and Bible study to maintain the necessary spiritual resources. She tries to fast one day a week and does a longer fast once a month. “If I am not fresh with God, I might as well hang it up. You can’t be a spiritual adviser and not pray,” she says. She also explains that she pays her own way. “I’ve never received a dime from anything,” she says of her work on the evangelical advisory council and trips to Washington. “I don’t get paid at all. I feel it’s part of my purpose. If God has given me this opportunity, it’d be irresponsible not to fulfill it. But I don’t get a discount or special privileges.”

“She leads [Trump’s] heart to the Lord, and that’s all Trump wants,” Cain says. “He actually recognizes her anointing and checks in with her. Every time she’s in Washington, he has to see her.” He recalls that when White was asked to pray for Trump during the Republican National Convention, “she was on her knees by the bed for hours. She prayed for him to have the strength and clarity to speak to the American public. I saw later how a calm came over him. He receives it like a child. He channels her.”

The opportunity isn’t without its drawbacks. “She gets attacked every single day on social media, email, phone calls,” Moore says. “This has cost her. And it’s never enough. She has nothing to gain from this. But she feels a call and responsibility to minister to this family.”
When I ask White about these hidden costs, she sounds philosophical. “You can’t influence anything for the kingdom of God without tremendous resistance,” she says. “I never sought this out. I’m the girl next door who loved God, who is amazed by this every day.”

Julia Duin is a writer based near Seattle. Her latest book, which grew out of an article for The Washington Post magazine, is “In the House of the Serpent Handler: A Story of Faith and Fleeting Fame in the Age of Social Media.”
Email us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.
The Washington Post Magazine.