Stella Immanuel’s theories about the relationship between demons, illness and sex have a long history

Matfre Ermengaud’s ‘Temptation by Lechery’ from a 14th-century manuscript. The British Library

President Donald Trump has a new favorite doctor

On July 27, the president and his son Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted a viral video featuring Dr. Stella Immanuel, in which the Houston pediatrician rejected the effectiveness of wearing face masks for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and promoted hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease.

Journalists quickly dug into Immanuel’s background and found that she’s also claimed that having sex with demons can cause illnesses like cysts and endometriosis.

These beliefs don’t come out of thin air, and she’s far from the only person who holds them.

As a scholar of biblical and apocryphal literature, I’ve researched and taught how these beliefs have deep roots in early Jewish and Christian stories – one reason they continue to persist today. 

Hints of demons in the Bible

As in many religions, demons in Judaism and Christianity are often evil supernatural beings that torment people.

Although it’s difficult to find a lot of clarity about demons in the Hebrew Bible, many later interpreters have understood demons to be the explanation for the “evil spirit” that haunts King Saul in the first book of Samuel.

Another example appears in the book of Tobit. This work was composed between about 225 and 175 BCE and isn’t included in the Hebrew Bible or accepted by all Christians. But it is considered part of the Bible by religious groups like Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Beta Israel and the Assyrian Church of the East.

Tobit includes a narrative about a young woman named Sarah. Although Sarah doesn’t suffer any physical affliction, Asmodeus, the demon of lust, kills every man betrothed to her because of his desire for her.

The Christian gospels are full of stories linking demons and illness, with Jesus and several of his early followers casting out demons who afflict their victims. In one of the most prominent stories told in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus encounters a man possessed by a group of demons who call themselves “Legion” and sends them into a nearby herd of pigs who stampede off a cliff.

Demon lore spreads far and wide

Demons pervade biblical apocrypha, which are stories about biblical subjects that were never included in the canonical Bible and include various associations between demons, illness and sex. 

The early Christian text “Acts of Thomas” was likely composed in the third century and became hugely popular, as it was eventually translated into Greek, Arabic and Syriac. It tells the story of the apostle Thomas’ travels to India as an early Christian missionary. Along the way, he encounters a number of obstacles, including people who have been possessed by demons.

In the fifth act, a woman comes to him and pleads for help. She tells the apostle how, one day at the baths, she encountered an old man and talked to him out of pity. But when he propositioned her for sex, she refused and left. Later that night, the demon in the guise of an old man attacked her in her sleep and raped her. Although the woman attempted to escape the demon the next day, he continued to find her and rape her every night, tormenting the woman for five years. Thomas then exorcises the demon.

Astaroth rides a winged beast and clutches a snake.
A 19th-century drawing of Astaroth. Louis Breton

Another demon story is found in the “Martyrdom of Bartholomew,” which probably dates back to the sixth century. Bartholomew also travels to India, where he finds that the inhabitants of a city worship an idol named Astaroth who has promised to heal all of their illnesses. But Astaroth is actually a demon who causes afflictions that he then pretends to cure in order to gain more followers. Bartholomew reveals the farce and performs several miracles to prove his own spiritual prowess. After forcing the demon to confess to his deceit, Bartholomew drives him into the wilderness.

Apocrypha like the “Acts of Thomas” and “Acts of Bartholomew” were popular in the medieval period, and even those who couldn’t read or write knew these stories. They also helped fuel the “witch craze” of the 16th and 17th centuries, in which zealous Christian leaders persecuted and killed thousands of people – mainly women – for their beliefs, often concocting claims that they consorted with demons.

Beliefs that persist today

It’s clear that Immanuel has profited from her beliefs in the supernatural, especially in right-wing and religious circles. She has over 9,000 followers on Facebook and over 94,000 on Twitter, with a dedicated platform as a pastor. In fact, she casts herself as a prophet and destroyer of demons.

It isn’t difficult to find other modern Christians who connect demons, sex and health issues. The conservative Christian magazine Charisma published a story claiming that sex with demons causes homosexuality. And researchers recently were able to show that belief in supernatural evilcould predict negative attitudes toward abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, extramarital sex and pornography. 

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Meanwhile, many evangelical Americans believe that Trump is God’s chosen one, who has been tasked with fighting actual demons. Trump’s personal minister, Paula White, is just one conservative figure known to espouse these views.

If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has shown how many on the religious right continue to rely on faith over scienceStudies have already emerged showing how the tension between faith and science has influenced many conservative Christians to resist the use of masks and other public health responses to the pandemic.

With many conservative Christians sharing some of the same views about demons as Immanuel – and conservative Christians forming a core base of support for the president – Trump’s promotion of the doctor’s beliefs makes perfect sense. 

He’s preaching to the choir.

Repeated leaks and revelations are chipping away at Trump’s attempts to keep his tax records secret from the American public

5cd2b468021b4c04c2399936-1920-960Donald Trump, then a real estate tycoon and media personality, poses in the Trump Tower atrium in 1989.

 

Trump in 2016 became the first presidential nominee of a major party in decades to refuse to release his tax returns.

But a series of leaks and investigations mean that, piecemeal, he is losing the battle to conceal his tax records from the American public.

The latest came last last night, when the New York Times published details of the president’s 1985 to 1994 tax records.

The documents expose large losses by Trumps’ network of casinos and hotel businesses, totalling $1.17 billion over the course of the nine years — more than any other US citizen in the same period, according to the Times.

And they contribute to a growing — but still incomplete — picture of Trump’s tax stratagems and business dealings before his election.

Before his victory— back in October 2016 – the Times acquired documents that undermined Trump’s campaign trail boasts about his business acumen, showing that Trump claimed $916 million losses in his 1995 personal filing.

The documents suggested that he may have paid no federal income tax for two decades.

5cd2b495021b4c047c7d6df7-1920-1440Trump welcomes Slovakia’s Prime Minister at the White House in May 2019.

 

Trump bounced back from the revelations, in a debate with his presidential rival Hillary Clinton claiming that paying no taxes made him “smart.” He went on to win the election.

In May 2017 more details from Trump’s private tax documents were made public by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who acquired two pages from Trump’s 2005 tax returns that had been leaked to investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.

The documents showed that Trump had in fact not avoided paying taxes for two decades, and paid $38 million on $153 million earnings that year, though at a comparatively low 25% tax rate.

Maddow defended herself afterwards from accusations the story was something of a letdown.

There were more more damaging revelations from the Times last year, which reported that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield his $400 million inheritance from his father from the IRS.

The information in the public eye so far exposes a pattern of failure and enormous financial losses during a nine-year period when Trump was building his brand as a superlative dealmaker — puncturing a narrative of success that was central to his presidential bid in 2016.

The president, though, has continued to refuse to release the full documents.

Commentators have speculated that the information could show Trump’s boasts of his wealth to be an exaggeration, lay bare how little tax he paid after his 1995 losses — or even expose financial ties with Russia.

When Democrats seized control of the House after November’s mid-terms, they pledged to get the full records.

The House Ways and Means Committee in March issued a formal demand to the Treasury for six years of the president’s tax records.

On Monday Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to meet a second deadline for handing over the records, claiming the Democrat-led panel was acting for purely political reasons. The situation could now escalate to a Supreme Court showdown.

A victory there for Trump would vindicate his strategy of concealing the documents, and offer a big win after a series of small links chipped away at his preference for secrecy. But regardless of the outcome, we may see more Trump records reach the light of day.

State lawmakers have also begun to place the president under pressure, with Democrats in 20 states introducing bills that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the state ballots in 2020.

The president continued to insist he could not release the returns because they remained under Internal Revenue Service audit — but promised to do so at an unspecified point in the future.

The IRS has said those under audit are free to release their tax returns at any time, but the battle is likely to continue and Trump’s reluctance to release the information in full to be a source of speculation.

 

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Democrat’s 2020 Vision

None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

The Democrats refuse to see reality. They’re clinging to the Russia collusion lie and now they’re attacking Attorney General Barr for telling us what is obvious: There was no collusion or obstruction.
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The left often likes to see what they want to see. After all, that’s what cultural and moral relativism is all about. To them, there is no right or wrong, just what they think is right or wrong.

They think abortion at birth is right, and a ‘right.’ They think MAGA hat wearers are ‘Nazis.’ They think Christians are evil bigots. They think a man can be a woman just because he wants to be. They think it’s ‘hate speech’ if you say that man pretending to be a woman is really a man. (The left gets to decide what hate speech is). They think diversity is strength and can’t get enough of it—therefore, open borders are a great thing because they welcome anyone in the world come to America and get free stuff from US taxpayers.

In the Democrat Socialists’ upside down world, the ‘truth’ is what they want it to be. They hate Trump and will see any lie as truth in order to impeach him. At this point it amounts to sedition. They are doing their best to keep a lawfully elected president from doing his job.

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White House considered sending immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at a healthcare roundtable at the White House in Washington

President Donald Trump and White House officials proposed in recent months releasing immigrant detainees into the streets of so-called “sanctuary cities,” places where local governments have decided to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities working to locate and deport undocumented immigrants, according to officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.

The plan, which was first reported by The Washington Post, would have targeted cities — many of them led or represented by Democratic lawmakers– which have policies that limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The term sanctuary city has been used in reference to a number of policies in different jurisdictions and does not have one legal definition. There are dozens of so-called sanctuary cities across the United States, including places like San Francisco, New York City, and Denver, where Democratic leaders have been outspoken in opposing the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

When asked about the plan Thursday night, a White House official and a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security emailed the PBS NewsHour nearly identical statements. The White House statement said, “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”

In recent years, the number of immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has hit record highs, with nearly 50,000 immigrants detained this year. It is not clear how many people the White House proposed releasing into sanctuary cities, but news of the proposal comes as Trump doubles down on his hardline immigration policies through personnel changes and new policy proposals.

In the past, the Trump administration tried to withhold federal funds from jurisdictions considered sanctuary cities but the effort has largely been blocked by court decisions.

Trump has also repeatedly blasted the idea of sanctuary cities. “I don’t think we like sanctuary cities up here,” Trump said during a rally in Nevada last year. “By the way, a lot of people in California don’t want them, either. They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.”

Ashley Etienne, the communications director for Pelosi, pointedly criticized the plan Thursday. “The extent of this Administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” she said in a statement. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal.”

News of the president’s plan to release detainees comes amid major changes in the administration’s immigration leadership positions. On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign from her post. Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Claire Grady also offered the president her resignation this week.

Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, a move Trump announced on Twitter. On Thursday, Ronald Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also announced he would be replaced in the acting role Friday by acting Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matt Albence.

White House officials have told the NewsHour that the personnel changes come as the president reviews how to best pursue the immigration policies he prefers.

Meanwhile, Nielsen’s departure also added to the slate of Trump Cabinet officials operating with “acting” as part of their titles. They include acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, and acting Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen.

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“Fake News Missing the Target”

New Ben Garrison Cartoon, “Fake News Missing the Target”

The Deep State fake news propaganda machine—collectively and formerly known as the ‘Mainstream Media,’ continue to throw darts of hysteria at the President in the hopes that one of them will hit the target.

They continue to miss.

Their latest dart is Trump’s former lawyer, Cohen. Mueller wants him to spill the beans on the president in the hopes it will lead toward impeachment. The impeachment dart will also miss because nothing Mueller has dredged up relates to his original mandate: Providing evidence on Trump’s supposed Russian collusion.

The fabricated Russian dossier that was paid for by Hillary’s campaign money (not disclosed) is another dart that missed the target. Hillary is the one that Mueller should be investigating for Russian collusion. After all, she raked in a lot of dough by selling out her country in the Russian Uranium One deal.

The Deep State media won’t report on that, though. They protect their own.

See It To Believe It: Maxine Waters Melts Down Saying, “I Resent Make America Great Again”

Alex Jones presents video footage of Maxine Waters on the floor of the House as she shouts down a Republican representative who was asking members to consider the positive benefits of MAGA.

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Meek Mill Drops Out of Trump Panel on Prison Reform!

Meek Mill Drops Out of Trump Panel on Prison Reform

Meek Mill has opted not to participate in a prison reform panel with Donald Trump that will take place Friday at the White House.

Meek Mill has opted not to participate in a prison reform panel with President Donald Trump that will take place Friday at the White House.

“I was originally scheduled to be part of a panel on prison reform at the White House to help shed light on the issues within the system,” the rapper said in a statement to Rolling Stone.

“Unfortunately, the focus turned to the President and myself, which concerned me that it might take away from creating a positive result from today’s discussions. As a result, I decided not to attend so that the focus would be solely on fixing our prison system.”

While Meek Mill worried that he would become a distraction, TMZ reports that Jay-Z, who lobbied for Meek Mill’s prison release, called the rapper Thursday night and recommended that he not meet with President Trump. Meek Mill received similar phone calls from other high-profile African Americans.

“Most importantly I remain fully committed to improving our criminal justice system,” Meek Mill added. The rapper has a Jay-Z-produced docuseries on the flawed criminal justice system in the works.

Van Jones is set to moderate the Prison Reform Summit, with over 100 activists, policymakers and experts in attendance, USA Today reports.

“As you know, I’m on the left side of Pluto,” Jones said. “But one thing I know is that it’s one of these strange issues that the more people engage on it, the more stupidity they see in the system. The more we can get the Trump White House and the Republican party to engage in this issue at all, the more progress we’ll make, and then I think more reform leads to more reform.”

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Don Lemon’s boyfriend implied ‘liberal’ CNN star went easy on pal Avenatti!!

CNN host Don Lemon has been dating Tim Malone since 2017, according to published reports. (Sipa USA)

Don Lemon’s boyfriend told a reporter the CNN star gave Stormy Daniels’ attorney the kid-glove treatment in a Monday interview that followed a blistering expose, and referred to the news network as “liberal media” in a baffling exchange.

Tim Malone, a media ad sales executive, made the shocking disclosures in a Twitter direct message conversation with Daily Caller reporter Joe Simonson. It came after Michael Avenatti appeared on “CNN Tonight” on the heels of a Daily Caller report on Avenatti’s shady past dealings. Lemon served up softballs, and Malone had a ready explanation.

“Malone also appears to believe that Avenatti has befriended the liberal media, but that his time as journalists’ golden boy may be running out,” Simonson wrote in an exclusive story about the strange colloquy initiated by Malone.

Prior to the appearance, Avenatti, who represents the porn star who claims to have had a fling with President Trump, had accused The Daily Caller of publishing “hit pieces.” He told Simonson’s colleague, Peter Hasson, in an email that he would sue his colleagues and the publication for defamation if they didn’t stop writing “lies and defamatory statements.”

In the Monday night interview, Lemon gently broached the issue, asking Avenatti about his threats against the conservative news site. Avenatti replied cryptically that “there is (sic) good journalists, and there is (sic) bad journalists,” during a long-winded answer in which he did not elaborate on his grievance. Lemon didn’t push back about why Avenatti felt the Daily Caller wronged him in its expose.

In the Twitter exchange that followed the interview, Simonson asked Malone if he thought Lemon erred by not pressing Avenatti.

“I guess, yeah,” Malone told Simonson, according to the reporter. “Ha, he won’t [sue]. I think it’s all a game. Who knows?”

Malone initially declined to elaborate, but then offered an explanation as to why Lemon tossed softballs to Avenatti.

“You don’t think Avenatti is smart enough to try and befriend the liberal media?” he said, according to Simonson, implying that Lemon and the attorney are friends.

Simonson says he then asked Malone how his boyfriend could be friends with Avenatti “considering his intimidation tactics against other journalists.”

According to Simonson, Malone said the media is going “way too easy” on the porn lawyer, and feels the Daily Caller has been “fair.”

“Honestly, I think it’s all a game, everyone is profiting, and doing what rates for their audience,” Malone said, according to Simonson. “People need to dig more. But they are starting.”

CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As for Simonson, when reached for comment about the bewildering interview with Malone, he issued the following statement: “I was and remain confused.”

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.

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