ReligionNews.com: The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which towers above other buildings near the White House, is best known for hosting global diplomats and prominent dignitaries in its lavish facilities.
But on Friday afternoon (Dec. 7), one of the hotel’s many glimmering ballrooms was transformed into a sanctuary, where dozens of worshippers held their hands aloft and spoke in tongues as Jon Hamill, co-founder of Washington, D.C.-based Lamplighter Ministries, led the group in prayer.
Hamill — whom supporters describe as a prophet — closed his eyes tightly and shouted above the chattering: “In Jesus’ name, we declare the Deep State will not prevail!” He then hammered a judge’s gavel onto a podium as people raised their voices in approval.
It may seem unusual to mix ecstatic worship with a popular conservative theory that Donald Trump’s administration is being sabotaged from within by government officials installed by previous presidents. But last week’s Revolution 2018 conference (Dec. 6-8), organized by Hamill and Lamplighter Ministries, offered a rare glimpse into a peculiar subgroup of faith-fueled Trump support: a loose network of charismatic Christians who see his election and presidency as a catalyst for a spiritual “turnaround” in America, even as the nation is under siege by forces of spiritual evil.
Speakers at the conference described visions, prophesies, direct conversations with God and encounters with angelic beings — all hallmarks of charismatic Christianity. But while some charismatics shy away from explicit political speech, those assembled in Washington over the weekend claimed to see a direct tie between politics and the spiritual world…
…Conference speakers repeatedly cast Trump administration officials as agents of God. And they urged the gathering of “intercessors” — believers who offer invocations on behalf of others — to aid the White House through prayer. Doing so, they argued, would help bring about a cosmic, spiritual “turnaround” for the nation.
“I saw headlines that President Trump had one of the most difficult days of his presidency yesterday,” Hamill told the assembly on Saturday. “It is extraordinary to me that… God drew the finest group of intercessors on the planet to come here and pray through that darkest hour of President Trump’s presidency.”
Brad Christerson, professor of sociology at Biola University and an expert on the broader charismatic movement, said the Lamplighter Ministry group appears to be part of what he calls “independent network charismatic Christianity,” one of the fastest-growing religious groups in the country.
While charismatics have been around for some time, the specific political theology preached at the Revolution 2018 conference and elsewhere is a relatively new trend.
“They really think God installed Donald Trump to then install other people in the government to have what they call ‘kingdom values,’” Christerson said, speaking generally of the movement. “We call it ‘trickle down Christianity.’”
Christerson, co-author of The Rise of Network Christianity, also noted that the group’s preferred methods of political influence are distinct from religious right leaders who champion traditional grassroots organizing.
“They really feel that they’re involved in this spiritual battle to take over the world, but their tactics are pretty much all supernatural,” he said.
Hamill explained the Revolution 2018 conference was set during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah so that it could usher in a spiritual shift “to a nation that desperately desires it.”
Chuck Pierce, president of Glory of Zion International Ministries, said worshippers at the event would face off against evil forces — “a season of demonic confederacies” — in every U.S. state.
“A NEW DAY is breaking in AMERICA!!” read a slide during Pierce’s presentation, which he said were God’s words to him. “FROM STATE TO STATE BORDER WARS ARE BEGINNING! THE DAY OF BIPARTISAN RULE HAS NOW SHIFTED! A NEW RULE FOR A NEW ERA! This is a TIME TO PROPHESY!”
Speakers also appeared to adopt Trump’s rhetoric. Although Hamill, a former photojournalist, championed the idea of a free press, he and others invoked the idea of “fake news.” His wife Jolene, co-founder of Lamplighter, called on worshippers to repent for trusting certain media sources.
“We need to repent of drinking the cup of the media, because it is a false cup,” she said, closing her eyes and lifting her hands in prayer. She later added: “We repent for getting our information, intel and all kinds of things from a false media network.”
Conference speakers repeatedly suggested their prayers helped bring about some of the president’s major achievements and hinted at an unusual level of access to the Trump administration…
“We have governmental leaders throughout the Trump administration who love Jesus with all of their heart, and they are giving their all for this nation and for God’s dream for this nation,” Hamill said…
Hamill also said prayer helped Brett Kavanaugh become a Supreme Court justice earlier this year.
“Just hours after we prayed … we saw Brett Kavanaugh get into office … the vineyard was secured,” Hamill said. “The justice of our time (is) shifting from a covenant of death empowering a future of death to a covenant of life empowering a culture of life.”
Organizers of the event believe God’s involvement in American politics began long before the Trump administration.
Hamill claimed the American Revolution was rooted in the rallying cry “no sovereign but God and no king but Jesus” — a phrase popular in stalwart Christian nationalist circles but the origin and significance of which is debated by historians.
He also said that at times, America fell short of its divine calling. “Our forefathers and founders got something wrong,” he said, by allowing the institution of slavery to persist…
This Christian-centric understanding of the United States was often paired with references to the importance of the state of Israel. Hamill gave thanks for Trump “realigning” America with God’s “covenant nation of Israel.” Leaders also often showcased an affinity for traditionally Jewish traditions such as Hanukkah and placed a menorah on stage.
The layering of these two ideals was made literal on the second day of the conference when organizers stood at the front of the room and placed an American flag underneath a Jewish prayer shawl, also known as a tallit. Volunteers then held both objects aloft together as participants walked beneath them to receive an anointing for commissioning into “the freedom movement.” As they passed, some collapsed in ecstatic revelry.
Chuck Pierce praised Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this year.
“I think the world sees us a lot better than we see us. I think Israel sees us a lot better,” he said. “And when it all boils down to it, that’s all we really care about, isn’t it? Because that’s where it’s all going to end up.”
“The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.” The Great Controversy, page 588.