A charismatic pastor in New Jersey (who also calls himself a rabbi) leads a church fixated on end times. Before the apocalypse, however, he’s fitting in a trip to Mar-a-Lago.
On a Sunday morning at Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, N.J., a bearded pastor named Jonathan Cahn stood on an elevated platform, gazing over a full house. Stage lights shifted from blue to white as the backing band played a drifting melody. Two men hoisted curled rams’ horns and let out long blasts.
“Some of you have been saying you want to live in biblical times,” Mr. Cahn said, pacing behind a lectern. Then he spread his hands wide. “Well, you are.”
Sitting at the end of a sleepy drive an hour from Manhattan, Beth Israel may look like any common suburban church. But the center has a highly unusual draw. Every weekend, some 1,000 congregants gather for the idiosyncratic teachings of the church’s celebrity pastor, an entrepreneurial doomsday prophet who claims that President Trump’s rise to power was foretold in the Bible.
Mr. Cahn is tapping into a belief more popular than may appear.
A recent Fox News poll found one in four Americans believe “God wanted Donald Trump to become president.” Celebrities like the televangelist Paula White and Franklin Graham have boosted the idea. The president’s own press secretary suggested as much in a January interview. And on the opening day of the Conservative Political Action Conference this month, the millionaire businessman Michael Lindell took to the stage and declared President Trump “chosen by God.”
Mr. Cahn was ahead of the curve.
He has dedicated an entire book to this very thesis, an insight he claims to have received from God. “The Paradigm: The Ancient Blueprint That Holds the Mystery of Our Times,” in fact, is only the most recent installment of a best-selling series dealing with the supposed mystical meaning behind all manner of current events. In it, Mr. Cahn likens Mr. Trump to the biblical king Jehu, who led the ancient nation of Israel away from idolatry.
With his growing stature, Mr. Cahn is also a rising figure in some quarters of conservative politics. In an email to congregants, Mr. Cahn shared his latest good news: This weekend he is making his first trip to the president’s vacation retreat, Mar-a-Lago. He is set to address a small gathering of activists and advisers.
After worship on a recent Sunday, in a roped-off section flanked by security guards, Mr. Cahn signed piles of his books before a small crowd. At 59, Mr. Cahn cultivates a refined demeanor, rarely appearing without a signature all-black suit and tie. He laid his hands gently on one man’s shoulders and offered quiet counsel. “Be patient,” he said. “Keep praying for breakthrough.”
Gail Greenholtz, an elder member, stood near the end of the line. “Many of us consider him a prophet of our time,” she said. “A visionary.”
Michael Cooney, 58, had driven an hour to hear the pastor teach on politics and prophecy. “It’s all relevant for this moment,” he said. “He shows us that Trump was actually in the Bible.”
SOURCE: Sam Kestenbaum
The New York Times