Now, there’s a headline you don’t get to write every single day. Nor do you often get to see this trending on Twitter:
2020 continues to deliver when it comes to weirdness. So does President Donald Trump.
Here’s the story in a nutshell. Donald Trump’s son, aptly named Donald Trump Jr., recently labeled a video with Houston doctor Stella Immanuel a “must watch” since she promotes the drug hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks are unnecessary.
These opinions are in line with things that President Trump has said, even though most other physicians disagree. The president retweeted the video, apparently thinking that this would give medical credence to his corona policies. Madonna has also shared the video, calling Stella Immanuel her “hero”.
The problems with citing Dr. Immanuel as a reasonable medical expert are multiple. The Daily Beast reports:
Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.
She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.
Now, if you think that the Daily Beast perhaps has taken things out of context, here’s Immanuel herself disagreeing:
Immanuel originally comes from Cameroon and received her medical degree in Nigeria. Her ministry, Fire Power Ministries, is very Pentecostal. And so, as #demonsperm is trending on social media, I see tonnes of people mocking her because of her nationality and her faith.
Yes, Immanuel believes and says some very crazy things. And they’re not representative of what Pentecostals, in and outside of Africa, believe. We believe that demons exist and can affect us in negative ways, but not through dream sex. Deliverance ministry has actually helped people, but it doesn’t look like that.
As for alien DNA and reptilian politicians, you can’t find Christian doctrines about that at all. Those beliefs are not a consequence of Immanuel’s faith, but of conspiracy theories that she has likely found on the Internet.
But when secular people are mocking Immanuel for her faith, calling her a “voodoo doctor” and the like, Pentecostals who see that can feel inclined to line up behind her – especially if they support Trump and like him see the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a political issue rather than a scientific one. This adds to one of the most fundamental problems in Internet culture today: unnecessary polarization.
I was once like Trump. Not in every instance – far from it – but when I first heard the reports earlier this year that hydroxychloroquine perhaps could cure COVID-19 to some extent, I was very glad. When other reports then showed that clinical tests had failed, I was disappointed and prayed that we would find other ways to beat the virus.
Trump, and many of his supporters, seem to have a hard time dealing with disappointment. They double down on the idea that “Trump’s drug” really works, and that scientists who say otherwise are part of a political conspiracy with the aim of proving Trump wrong, rather than finding the truth independently of what Trump says.
This is what makes Trump and his son promote material from a doctor who clearly has a lot of strange and dangerous ideas. And sure, we all share stuff from time to time that pops up in our social media without doing that much research into who’s behind it.
But when you’re the president of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country, you can’t afford to be that reckless. If you’re not careful, people might start to prefer the reptilian alien to run things for them.
Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author and editor for PCPJ.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!