Men of God in the City of Man, Part 8: Zoonosis


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Men of God in the City of Man is a nine-part essay series that tells the story of a powerful Narrative virus whose ultimate unintended target was nothing less than faith in American democracy as an institution. Part 1 introduced the idea of the narrative virus as a mechanism for astroturfing (fake grassroots) campaigns, and the idea that the danger may not come so much from forcing new Common Knowledge, but changing what some of the population needed to be true. Part 2 is the story of the carriers of its chief ultimate symptom: a rabid belief in rampant electoral fraud. Part 3 is the story of the creators of the narrative virus and the memetic building blocks they brought to bear. Part 4 is the story of the way in which the special environment into which those memetic building blocks were introduced changed the way that they expressed themselves on major social and cultural institutions. Part 5 is the story of how all of these pieces finally came together to create a narrative epidemic within one community. Part 6 is the story of how that epidemic went pandemic. Part 7 is the story of how mutations in the narrative fundamentally changed the path of that pandemic. Part 8 is the story of how those mutations became zoonotic, escaping the confines of a fringe species of charismatic Christian prophet into a persistent cultural phenomenon.

I am deeply indebted to the work of James Beverley, Matthew Taylor and Paul Djupe in various areas of this essay series. I have attempted to source their work where possible, but if you see something unsourced that makes a clever observation about our subject matter, please do me the favor of assuming it is the work of their dutiful scholarship.


Some of our greatest tales tell us of men who built their identity on stories that have broken.

There are a thousand pieces of precious literature and almost as many films that grapple with how a man who bet it all on belief responds when the world tells him he was wrong. Some despair and die or slowly fade. Some embrace nihilism. Some emerge in rapture and joy as if freed from the story’s grip, like a prisoner from a dark cell.

The most interesting of the stories, I think, are about those who refuse to bow to the new reality. Don Quixote’s madness is self-imposed and willful, ever revealed for its absurdity. But surrendering errantry would mean surrendering to death, as Harold Bloom put it. Blanche Dubois, when not foolishly played as a madwoman, I think, knows precisely who she is and who she cannot bear to be. And we all prefer the version of Pi’s shipwreck that has an actual tiger.

There is a more obscure source that hits nearer the mark.


The story spread that Han Fei-tzu’s mad daughter, alone of all the godspoken, persisted in her rituals. At first she was ridiculed for it – for many of the godspoken had, out of curiosity, attempted to perform their purifications again, and had discovered the rituals to be empty and meaningless now. But she heard little of the ridicule, and cared nothing for it. Her mind was devoted solely to the service of the gods – what did it matter if the people who had failed the test despised her for continuing to attempt to succeed?

As the years passed, many began to remember the old days as a graceful time, when the gods spoke to men and women, and many were bowed down in their service. Some of these began to think of Qing-jao, not as a madwoman, but as the only faithful woman left among those who had heard the voice of the gods. The word began to spread among the pious: “In the house of Han Fei-tzu there dwells the last of the godspoken…

She herself became old, and the Journey to the House of Han Qing-Jao was now the most famous pilgrimage of Path. Indeed, there were many who heard of her on other worlds, and came to Path just to see her. For it was well-known on many worlds that true holiness could only be found in one place, and in only one person, the old woman whose back was now permanently bent, whose eyes could now see nothing but the lines in the floors of her father’s house.

Holy disciples, men and women, now tended the house where servants once had cared for her. They polished the floors. They prepared her simple food, and laid it where she could find it at the doors of the rooms; she would eat and drink only when a room was finished. When a man or woman somewhere in the world achieved some great honor, they would come to the House of Hang Qing-jao, kneel down, and trace a woodgrain line; thus all honors were treated as if they were mere decorations on the honor of the Holy Han Qing-jao.

At last, only a few weeks after she completed her hundredth year, Han Qing-jao was found curled up on the floor of her father’s room. Some said that it was the exact spot where her father always sat when he performed his labors; it was hard to be sure, since all the furniture of the house had been removed long before. The holy woman was not dead when they found her. She lay still for several days, murmuring, muttering, inching her hands across her own body as if she were tracing lines in her flesh. Her disciples took turns, ten at a time, listening to her, trying to understand her muttering, setting down the words as best they understood them. They were written in the book called The God Whispers of Han Qing-jao.

Most important of all her words were these, as the very end. “Mother,” she whispered. “Father. Did I do it right?” And then, said her disciples, she smiled and died.

Han Qing-jao, from Xenocide, by Orson Scott Card

In the third book in the series that begins with the far more commercially successful Ender’s Game, there is a planet called Path. Unbeknownst to the citizens of Path, they were genetically modified by the Starways Congress, overseer of multi-planetary colonization, to carry a godspoken gene. The genetic modification was designed to produce super-intelligence in its carriers. It was also designed to produce symptoms similar to obsessive compulsive disorder. This second symptom was a leash, a mechanism to permit Starways to benefit from the genius of the godspoken of Path while constraining them as a threat to the power of Congress. Part of that leash was necessarily cultural. That is, Starways simultaneously introduced a belief among the citizens of path that the godspoken who experienced both the positive and negative features of the modification were, in fact, hearing from and communing with the gods, cleansing and sanctifying themselves to receive the wisdom associated with their superintelligence.

The OCD-necessitated rituals required by the ‘gods’ of Path varied. Some godspoken were forced to wash their hands obsessively. Some performed violent, jerking movements or dances. Han Qing-jao traced the grains in wood floors until she felt clean. Embedded in the godspoken belief cultivated in the people of Path was the idea that the gods must always be clothed. They could not or would not appear or interfere directly.

This narrative would become very important indeed when certain of the book’s characters found a way to cure the people of Path of their genetic modification. You see, most of the citizens of Path were not blessed by the modification, and many of them had long been oppressed by the godspoken. For these citizens, the unclothing of the gods was a joyful development. That was even true for nearly all of the godspoken, who felt both betrayed by the Starways Congress and grateful to be freed from their affliction. But for one, for Han Qing-jao, both the superintelligence of the godspoken and the rituals demanded of them were the clothing that the gods wore to give gifts and commune with the people of Path. The removal of that clothing by the hands of man did not mean that the gods had ceased their demands, nor that she was free to cease her purification rituals. To the contrary, the collective apostasy invested by the citizens of Path in the removal of the gods’ genetic clothing, if anything, required further penance.

For Han Qing-jao, the revelation of reality thus became one more pillar of support for her delusion, rather than a cure for it.

When the narrative virologists who prophesied eight years of a King Cyrus embedded within their virus both the memes of A Faithful Remnant Returning and Haman’s Gallows, they built certain features into the core narrative. The first was the idea that to fulfill their calling, to be faithful to the Ancient Covenant and be rewarded with the promised harvest, the ekklesia would need to keep the faith in God’s promises, even when their Christian and conservative fellow-travelers had lost their own. The second was the idea that part of God’s promise was that He was going to use the tools of the enemy against it. Attempts at fraud and evil would not only fail. They would not only be revealed. They would backfire! They would be worked out so that the decrees of the apostles might come to pass, to reveal God’s hand and reward for their faithfulness in a way that no one might deny.

For the narrative virologists in our story, the revelation of reality thus became one more pillar of support for their delusions, rather than a cure for it.

So it was that when it became clear that Donald Trump had clearly, unequivocally lost the presidential election of 2020, when some of the godspoken began to quail, to feel relief that they no longer had to look for a new way that Trump might still win, there was a remnant of the faithful who persisted in their rituals. Like Han Qing-jao, they continued to trace their lines. More importantly, others began to see, like the pilgrims to Path, that they could place a small claim on that faithfulness and holiness by joining them in their empty ritual.

And so they did.


Source: Victory Channel “America Stands” coverage, November 4, 2020

Phase 1: “So that we will know it is God”

In the initial aftermath of the election on November 3, 2020, and especially when it was becoming clear that Joe Biden had been victorious, the apostolic-prophetic community was all over the map. Dutch Sheets was praying and decreeing against a “planned coup” by Occupy Wall Street, Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Robert Henderson and Lance Wallnau were commanding angels to oversee election counting taking place in Pennsylvania and Michigan during a livestream on election night. The Victory Channel demanded in its election coverage that the “spirit of communism” bow its knee, lest America become Zimbabwe.

As early as November 5th, however, a clear narrative had emerged: that God would miraculously overturn the election in such a way that His enemies would be toppled and no one could doubt that it was God who did it. It was a narrative rich with memes of Ancient Covenants, of A Faithful Remnant and of Haman’s Gallows. It embraced the phraseology of a sudden and surprising victory, an outcome that man could not have predicted. It was layered with the language of binding, calling those who had believed the prophets in the light to believe them in the darkness, reminding those who saw a unique covenantal relationship between God and America that faithfulness would be rewarded – and faithlessness judged severely.

This message spread in nearly identical format with nearly identical language from practically every noteworthy, public-facing corner of the apostolic-prophetic community. The old days of widely held private knowledge in the charismatic-Pentecostal church, of a thousand voices crying out in a different wilderness, were gone. The modern social networking environment had produced such profound Epimemetic change and convergence in the underlying memes accessed by these prophets, apostles and intercessors that there was no longer any need for a period of call and response. No one needed to look around to see what the others were saying. They repeated the common knowledge in perfect unison.

The victory He promised will come. The miracle God is about to do will be something new—something we have never seen before. He is doing it this way, so we will know that it is God Who has brought this miracle, and we did not do it ourselves…

Those of us who are the remnant of God must enter into the chamber of God’s presence and let this storm pass. To be sure, there will be a powerful judgment from God, because He is going to topple arrogant villains.

Mario Murillo, originally posted on Mario Murillo Blog, accessed through Give Him 15 (November 5, 2020)

There is going to be a divine demonstration of the justice of God that is going to be seen in the United States of America. The demonstration of the Lord’s power and His justice to “OVERTURN” is upon the United States of America.

Lana Vawser, A Word for the United States of America, Elijah List (November 5, 2020)

Some prophetic voices have said this battle will look like the book of Esther. Haman, who thought he was being exalted, was instead hanged on his own gallows…As in all these cases, the enemy will think he has won. It will look like it’s over. Then suddenly, the victory will be seen. That’s exactly what has happened so far.

Dutch Sheets, Give Him 15 (November 10, 2020)

The enemy thinks he has secured great victories in this season, but I am the master of the chess board…I have sudden moves that Satan and corrupt men will not see coming…these moves will secure victory.

Rebecca Greenwood, via Give Him 15 (November 9, 2020)

The prophets have spoken that President Trump will win the election. And President Trump won the election! However, fraud – due to unprecedented and unsupervised write-in ballots, even after the election – reversed the results before our very eyes. We are dealing with a strong network of political demons that concocted an unholy strategy to steal this election…Never forget…it’s not the fat lady singing or the television networks that have the last word. GOD HAS THE LAST WORD!

Sid Roth, It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings! (November 10, 2020)

This is something that God is doing—that God has done. He has set things up to do this. And I feel like we’re against the Red Sea. And we need to praise God. He is going to part the Red Sea. He’s going to destroy Pharaoh’s army. We need to praise him and know that now.

Eric Metaxas, on a since-deleted Facebook stream hosted by Jim Garlow, as transcribed by Right Wing Watch (November 15, 2020)

And the Spirit of the Lord says major key puzzle pieces are being released into the hands of those seeking truth, who are fighting for truth, these are connectors, pieces that are going to cause the entire picture to make sense says the Lord…I the Lord am destroying the axle of the operation, they will suddenly fall off, the ENTIRE QUIVER FULL SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS THIS DAY, for it is Hunting season says the Lord and hunted they shall be says the Spirit. The super predator shall become shaken prey.

Amanda Grace, Words from the Lord on November 14th, 15th, and 17th 2020 (November 17, 2020)

For some who had been more strident in their prophecies of a Trump victory in 2020, this common knowledge afforded them the opportunity to transform the words they had delivered previously to better suit the zeitgeist. No one performed this dance more expertly than Kat Kerr, who had prophesied a “landslide” victory for Donald Trump. In the early days of the post-election period, she told Elijah List’s Steve Shultz in a since-deleted video interview that the landslide referred to a “landslide” of evidence of fraud that would result in Trump’s ultimate victory.

And then [God] said, ‘It will all start with one phone call.’ Those who have been perpetrating the lie, they’ve been paid to commit lies or stealing or cheating, will begin to get very nervous…let me tell you, conviction is going to come upon some of them in the lower levels; that’s what he meant about the landslide, the smaller rocks move first, which pulls the bigger ones down. And that’s what he meant when he said, ‘Trump will win by a landslide.’ 

Kat Kerr, DAY 10, NOV. 4: Kat Kerr/Steve Shultz – Election Day +1!, Elijah Streams

Still others within the prophetic-apostolic movement began to incorporate language that veered in another direction entirely. It is not unusual within any tradition to pray earnestly that God’s will would be done. If you are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, you will know that this is central to how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. After an election has taken place, however, it is difficult to interpret a desire that God would “reverse the edicts of men” as anything other than a request that God, well, reverse the decisions that men made about who should be the president.

Let Your hand establish the outcome of this election, let Your hand and Your arms strengthen the outcome of this election right now. In the name of Jesus, we declare it will not be established by men.

Paula White-Cain, Election Prayer Service at City of Destiny Church, November 5, 2020

Immediately following the Esther fast was a sudden reversal of fortunes. This is the glory of the whole story of the God of Esther, the unseen God who moves to actually expose Haman in the courts…

God is the one who reverses the edicts of men using the church as an agent of righteous revolution to displace kings and overthrow their decrees through the weapons of fasting and prayer. I believe there are spiritual powers on heaven and earth that are moving in corruption and fraud…

I believe God is rising now. This exposure could bring forth a sudden shift of events.

Lou Engle, Expose Expose, November 5, 2020

And Lord, if it be your will and if it be necessary, another election, another voting day…Whatever it takes under your kingdom, oh God, to bring it all in line, bring it all in line, bring it all in line with the will of God

Terri Pearsons, Eagle Mountain Church in a now-deleted video accessed via RightWingWatch.com (November 8, 2020)

I think we would go too far to assume these were intended as anti-democratic sentiments, although if you watched the entire Paula White-Cain event you could be forgiven for coming to a different conclusion. I also think that it is still useful to know when this kind of language first emerged. The nature of decrees the apostles were willing to make and the constitutional and legal standards they were willing to disregard grew rapidly over the weeks that followed. One of the primary engines for that growth emerged once the apostolic-prophetic movement lent its energies toward acting as a node for the amplification and verbatim retransmission of the claims of President Trump and his legal advisers.


Gene Bailey, Lance Wallnau, Dutch Sheets and Bill Johnson on Flashpoint, a new prophetic-oriented news program that charismatic televangelist Kenneth Copeland says God led him to create amid the election controversy of 2020. Source: Victory Channel, Rumble.

Phase 2: “We must expose!”

The specific claims of fraud made by the Trump campaign and its various retainers, of course, began almost immediately. By my reckoning, the transition of the apostolic-prophetic movement from a focus on promoting the narrative that God would perform a miracle to a new role as a mechanistic repeater node for those claims took a little bit longer.

By which I mean about a week.

They made up for lost time with thoroughness.

Around November 10th, a huge swath of the movement began a systematic process of promoting and decreeing the exposure of every single claim of electoral fraud, no matter how dubious. You might recall from Part 1 when we discussed the gifts of the spirit that gave the charismatic movement its name. What we didn’t discuss is that smack dab in between prophecy and speaking in tongues in the critical verse in 1 Corinthians is the spiritual gift of discernment.

Friends, it was in short supply.

On November 12, charismatic apostle Dutch Sheets began his campaign. Through his Give Him 15 website, he first promoted Sharpiegate, the silly assertion that election officials in Arizona were affecting votes by handing voters Sharpies instead of pens, the former of which could supposedly not be tabulated. He also called the claim “widely reported.” In reality, Sharpie votes get counted just fine, and it wasn’t “widely reported.” Some lady posted it in Facebook. The same day, Sheets promoted the claim that fraud was occurring through curing of provisional ballots in Georgia, a theory which emerged on the basis of a guy on Facebook named Zed who deleted his account shortly thereafter. He also promoted the claim of Georgia having a “statistically impossible” number of votes. Probably the least nutty claim was of the Biden-only nighttime ballot dump in Detroit. And I only say it is the least nutty because the claim at least resulted in a lawsuit. A lawsuit that was laughed out of court, to be sure, but hey, it was something!

His suggested concluding prayers make clear his belief in the existence of each of these frauds.

Lord, we will not stop praying for the full exposure of voter fraud in the 2020 elections, especially in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Let many reputable witnesses come forward with complaints so specific and verifiable that the need for investigations is clear...For Michigan, we decree that every detail of the ballot dumps will be made known.

Dutch Sheets, Give Him 15 (November 12, 2020)

Sheets continued on November 13 by repeating verbatim the various claims funneled by the Trump administration through anti-vax lawyer Leigh Dundas. They included boring claims like dead people supposedly voting en masse in Nevada. There were more exciting ideas, too. Remember that week where we heard about Benford’s Law proving fraud in Wisconsin (it didn’t), then about Twitter banning the phrase entirely (it didn’t)? Sheets adds the associated claim that “Mathematicians and statisticians are concluding that the voting numbers for Joe Biden in this state are statistically impossible.” He then pivots to the oft-repeated, evidence-free claims from the Trump campaign of GOP poll-watchers being thrown out of ballot-counting venues across Pennsylvania.

On the 20th, Sheets repeated Sidney Powell’s many discredited allegations, all of the Dominion claims, all of the “we’ve seen the algorithms that change votes” nonsense, all verbatim once again. He begins to entertain the various alternative outcomes that could change the winner, like the one-vote-per-state process in the House of Representatives. At this point, Sheets increasingly forgets to include that critical “if” or “alleged” in his references to fraud, stating unequivocally, “This is election fraud on a scale not seen before in America’s history.”

In short, he was kitchen sinking it. And he wasn’t the only one in the apostolic-prophetic community to do so.

  • Eric Metaxas, after suggesting “there’s nobody more sober-minded than Sidney Powell,” asserted that “the Dominion stuff was designed for voter fraud.” He then hosted Lance Wallnau and Joe Oltmann on a two-part podcast reiterating claims of collusion by Dominion employee Eric Coomer.
  • Pat Robertson told his viewers “There were many, many states where Dominion paid money to people to be allowed to count the ballots…it sickens you.”
  • George Pearsons, from Kenneth Copeland’s Eagle Mountain Church, claimed from the pulpit that “there are [ballots] through software that votes have changed,” before switching gears to mail-in voters submitting four ballots.
  • Prophet Johnny Enlow joined his voice to a chorus of assertions that Chinese money produced corrupted Dominion voting software, leading to a “Red Sea of control” over American elections. True to the form of the Haman’s Gallows Meme, he then predicted that “the same Red Sea that did the controlling will now drown the very manipulators who have used it.”
  • Prophet Mario Murillo claimed a “mountain of evidence” indicating that Democrats used Chinese funding and Dominion voting machines to steal the election and alleges falsified mail-in ballots.
  • Prophet Lance Wallnau went to Facebook to share helpful illustrations of just how Dominion voting machines were being rigged.

Going far beyond the influence of any one individual, the primary media clearinghouses of the movement were central to the enmeshing of charismatic-Pentecostal voices and the movement with the Trump administration’s attempts to assert election fraud. Charisma magazine, for example, published the preposterous claims from Amir George that a national security supercomputer called the Hammer modified 3% of all votes. In classic Fiat News fashion, this and many other claims leaned heavily on the classic passive voice construction, with frequent examples like, “it is believed the technology altered the election outcome.” Charisma also repeated Team Kraken claims of 3 million stolen votes, a Supreme Court backstop and then a House of Representatives backstop as evidence of a coming miracle from God. They repeated thumb drive theories, amplified by an old Hank Kunneman prophecy about a thumb drive that would signal when everything was going to change. Their news coverage treated the number of “fraudulent votes” in Trump’s lawsuits as priors. They published articles from contributors suggesting that Trump summarily impose “executive order 13848” to arrest and imprison those who clearly perpetrated the fraud.

Perhaps the most connected and highest transmission power node within these mesh networks, however, was the Victory Channel. Founded primarily as a venue for airing both Kenneth Copeland’s messages delivered through Eagle Mountain Church and those of other prophetic and apostolic ministries, Victory Channel and its prophets had covered the election and its aftermath through its America Stands programming. As the 2020 election became more contentious, however, Kenneth Copeland claimed to have been led by God to establish a more focused prophetic news program focused exclusively on God’s promises for this election.

He called that program Flashpoint.

You might remember Flashpoint featuring fairly prominently in Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Its first broadcast was on September 24, 2020. Thereafter, on a weekly basis during the post-election period, a recurring cast of characters from the apostolic-prophetic movement repeated verbatim and without any apparent due diligence practically all of the specific claims of fraud put forth by Ellis, Roger Stone, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and others. Most of the videos from this period have been removed from YouTube as part of its heavy-handed and oppressive crackdown on “dangerous” free speech. The Victory Channel itself, however, continues to host each of the videos from its archive.

  • On the November 24 broadcast, Lance Wallnau repeats Team Kraken claims that Georgia election officials were bribed, along with the usual claims about China’s influence through HSBC lien-holder claims on Dominion patents. Gene Bailey shows a demonstration video of how Dominion machines were used to change votes. Hank Kunneman and Mario Murillo joined as well, but continued to focus more on the Haman’s Gallows prophecies that featured so prominently in Part 7. They all rejoice that the fraud will be exposed soon.
  • On the December 1 broadcast, Mario Murillo posited that the only reason all of the evidence from the claims had not been revealed is because of the forces of evil that control our country. Sid Roth reminded his compatriots and viewers not to fear, because “where two or more prophets” have agreed on anything, it is “settled,” a reiteration of our oft-stated argument that this movement’s dependence on confirmation made it particularly susceptible to narrative viruses. Hank Kunneman and Gene Bailey likewise threw their immediate support behind claims of “thumb drives discovered with votes.” They all rejoice that the fraud will be exposed soon.
  • On the December 3 broadcast, Kunneman, Bailey, Wallnau and Murillo discussed what “quickens in their spirit” upon seeing a then-famous video of a thumb drive supposedly used in Fulton County, Georgia to change votes. Wallnau reiterates Giuliani’s false claims about disallowed election observers as the group does a frame-by-frame review of the video. The prophets then discuss the “video evidence of ballots in hidden suitcases” in Georgia, the hundreds of thousands of ballots in several states and Pennsylvania truck driver claims, all of which claims ended up being demonstrated as thoroughly false. In an overflow video from that session, Kunneman asserts the specific claim that bribed election officials would begin to come forward. They all rejoice that the fraud will be exposed soon.
  • On the December 15th broadcast, Lance Wallnau was on a roll, repeating the Kraken assertions of machine manipulation in Michigan, Maricopa County, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere. Bethel’s Bill Johnson and Dutch Sheets join the group, which proceeds to conduct a play-by-play on every claim in a Sidney Powell interview. They all rejoice that the fraud will be exposed soon.

And that’s when any possible remaining gap between the apostolic-prophetic movement within the charismatic-Pentecostal church and the Stop the Steal movement closed. How? By the full integration of its primary actors into nearly every weekly episode. Sidney Powell herself ran through all of her claims on Flashpoint on December 29th. The January 4th broadcast featured Jovan Pulitzer, origin of the claim of having “hacked the Georgia voting machines” and of there being “paper with bamboo” found as evidence of direct Chinese intervention. Ali Alexander came on a special January 5th edition to promote the Stop the Steal rallies that would take place the next day. On January 6th itself, Flashpoint ran yet another special edition in which Mike Lindell presented his entire catalog of machine switching, ballot faking and “packet capturing” claims…while Wallnau described for the audience how the capitol riots were really just Antifa.

Throughout this period, there was near universal common knowledge within this community, built on the powerful memetics of our mutated narrative virus, that God was going to use this to expose his enemies and the enemies of the church, to capture a triumph for the Faithful Remnant who had remembered America’s Ancient Covenant. I would describe the mood as an almost gleeful anger, but not in the mode of Churchill’s old quip that he likes a man who grins when he fights. This was an altogether different vernacular.


Kenneth Copeland preaching and/or practicing stand-up comedy at Hank Kunneman’s Lord of Hosts Church. Source: Eagle Mountain Church, YouTube, The Independent

And yet, beyond the laughter, it was perhaps inevitable that the Faithful Remnant would return once again to its familiar panopticon, the prison imposed by our involvement in norm-enforcing social networks that we discussed at length in Part 4. The post-election period was once again a time when dissent from the words of the prophets would not be tolerated. I guess you could say things were getting pretty Old Testamenty.

Most importantly, You are going to shake those that devised these plans of wickedness. Those that planned this coup against President Donald John Trump and the United States of America. They are going to be found out. Let them fear the Lord God Almighty, Maker of the Heavens and the Earth. It is time for their pride to be cut off. It is time for them to see who they have been plotting and planning against. You will no longer be mocked. This is Your covenant nation, Lord. These are Your promises and people. You have not forgotten us. We will war with You in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.

Dutch Sheets, Give Him 15 (November 22, 2020)

This is also when the confidence of the apostolic-prophetic movement that God would expose the works of the enemy in the electoral fraud perpetrated against God’s King Cyrus transformed into calls to action.

It was time for the ekklesia to take up its scepter and rule.


Charismatic-Pentecostal followers of Dutch Sheets gather in Philadelphia at 12:33 AM on December 2, 2020 to declare that “Valkyrie has fallen.” Source: Dutch Sheets Ministries, YouTube

Phase 3: “We must act!”

On November 16, in a medium-sized church just outside of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, the first of a series of emergency events was just beginning. Coudersport is a town of about 3,000 people, and you probably have no idea where it is. Imagine a triangle between Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and draw a dot in the middle of it. That’s Coudersport. There’s a church there called the Coudersport Gospel Tabernacle. It is a Pentecostal church in submission to the apostolic reformation and polity promoted by many of our narrative virologists.

A charismatic apostle and prophet named Clay Nash from Omaha, Arkansas – a village maybe a half hour south of Branson, Missouri – dreamt this meeting into being.

On June 24th, 2020, Nash dreamed that Donald Trump was traveling to the headwaters of the Allegheny River, which are just a bit to the west of Coudersport. Dream Trump began to decree that “the original purposes of God for America would be accomplished,” and Nash felt that the dream called him and other intercessors to join the president in this decree.

On November 2, 2020, Nash dreamed once again about the “headwaters” of the Allegheny River. As he did with the first dream, he shared it with an apostle with whom his mesh network of influence frequently overlapped: Dutch Sheets. This being the day before the election, Sheets decided to fly as close as he could get to the headwaters of the Allegheny River to pray for the prophesied election outcome – and to ritualistically bury in the soil several pieces of patriotic and religious iconography. Along the way to north-central Pennsylvania, as Sheets describes later, he received a call from another prophet within his network to remind him of a dream from earlier that year. In this dream, Sheets was (please stay with me here, folks) playing football with Thomas Paine. Dream Paine was understood in the dream to say to Dream Sheets, “We must be encouraged to finish this war. We are on the battlefield. It looks at times like we won’t win, but if we persevere, we will win.”

When Paine delivered what common sense would only dictate was a perfect spiral, Sheets looked at the football. Triumph was written on it. Dream Sheets places the Triumph Football in the water, and it drifts toward the seat of America’s Ancient Covenant with God: Washington, D.C. In Washington D.C., Sheets later interpreted, the football would open to release triumph. Trump’s triumph. Or perhaps more accurately, God’s and the ekklesia’s triumph through Trump. After all, this prophetic dream spawned a series of events specifically designed to intercede against claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Now, look, this is neither here nor there, but if we’re going to talk in deeply memetic terms about America, we are going to need just a little more precision about Thomas Paine, rivers and footballs.

There is perhaps no figure in early American history who would more loathe being drawn into the prophetic dream of a theologically conservative, inerrantist, dominion-oriented evangelical Christian than avowed deist Thomas Paine. To be clear, this essay series pulled no punches in its whole-hearted agreement with the contention that America has always been a culturally Christian nation back in Part 1. But Thomas Paine? You would not do very wrong to suggest that the entire third act of Paine’s life was not only influenced by but defined by the results of his unbridled antipathy toward Christian institutions. To make the choice in this case even more ironic, Paine saved his greatest fury for “revealed religion,” the texts and prophecies of men, as he saw it, which told men how to think about God. At its feet he would lay “the most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race.” A contemporary account of the loneliness of his funeral on account of this kind of belligerence was blistering.

On my return from my journey, when I arrived near Harlem, on York island, I met the funeral of Tom Paine on the road. It was going on to East Chester. The followers were two negroes, the next a carriage with six drunken Irishmen, then a riding chair with two men in it, one of whom was asleep, and then an Irish Quaker on horseback. I stopped my sulkey to ask the Quaker what funeral it was; he said it was Paine, and that his friends as well as his enemies were all glad that he was gone, for he had tired his friends out by his intemperance and frailties.

From the London Packet, as reproduced in The Life of Thomas Paine, by Moncure Daniel Conway

By later accounts, it wasn’t six drunken Irishmen in the carriage, but instead Marguerite Brazier, who had fled France after her husband compared Napoleon with Cromwell, with her sons. And it was indeed a Quaker on the horse, but the man was Willett Hicks, who would later claim achieving a deathbed conversion of Paine. The rest of the account seems accurate, more or less.

More importantly, if you placed a football with triumph written on it in the Allegheny River at Coudersport, Pennsylvania, it ain’t going anywhere near Washington D.C., folks. If it never got hung up on anything, it would travel about 225 miles downstream of the Allegheny to Pittsburgh, where it would pass by the Steelers’ lovely Heinz Field a little over three days later. Now traveling on the Ohio River, about six and a half days later, it would float past Paul Brown Stadium, where the Cincinnati Bengals play. I think it would pass fairly close by the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, but let’s be honest: a football thrown by Thomas Paine has grander ambitions than ending up in a Big XII game.

About four days later, our football would pass by where the Ohio meets the Wabash, around Uniontown, Kentucky. If the football had some sort of artificial power, it could travel up the Wabash, bang a right at the White River around Mt. Carmel, Illinois and in a couple days see Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. But our football is just an ordinary football thrown to us in a dream by one of the founding fathers, so no Colts for us. For the same reason, we can’t head up the Cumberland River to watch the Titans waste another year of Derrick Henry’s career, either. And so, we must float along the Ohio until we join the Mississippi, where, again, our current means that we cannot drift mournfully northward toward The Dome at America’s Center, where the St. Louis Rams would still play if the NFL owners were not the miserly bastards that they are. Instead, it’s a lonely 10 days to Baton Rouge and Tiger Stadium, then another day down the river to the Superdome.

Let’s get creative. Let’s say for a moment that the football could swim upstream, and found a way to boogie up the Youghiogheny River. And then let’s say that it could jump over the Deep Creek Dam in Oakland, Maryland. Then let’s say you brought Uncle Rico to the clubhouse at the Lakeside Golf Club in Swanton, Maryland and he wanted to make a bet that he could throw a football over them mountains. Then, if you drove over to Dragon Head Beach, called Uncle Rico and told him to recite Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis from memory while chucking his football over Backbone Mountain, which rises some 400-500 feet above the surrounding area, and if he could manage to throw it a touch under 8 miles, then you could drop the football into Jennings Randolph Lake, and some, oh, 17 days later it might float underneath the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

OK, so why the silly little escapade here? It’s not as if there is anything wrong with the Allegheny River or Coudersport, Pennsylvania, or even having a dream about the founding fathers, even of grossly historically inaccurate caricatures of them, I suppose. And all joking aside, you don’t have to travel very far east of Coudersport to be in the Susquehanna watershed, which wouldn’t take you to D.C., but would at least take you to Baltimore and northern Chesapeake Bay. Highway 44 running south of Sweden Valley, Pennsylvania is more or less the drainage divide between these two watersheds.

But after reading seven essays, presumably attempting some measure of grace for people with different values and views, you deserve some seriousness. After writing and researching those very same essays, I don’t think I am out of line in asking for some seriousness myself. Or, if you please, some discernment.

In that spirit of discernment, we must grapple with the fact that the entire impetus toward action within the apostolic-prophetic movement for November and December 2020, the foundation of what would ultimately become a self-sustaining engine of unwavering support for Donald Trump and belief in an inherently broken electoral system, was built on a dream by a prophet from the backwoods of the Ozarks about a football with “Triumph” written on it, thrown by a founding father who famously loathed Christian institutions, especially at their intersection with government, to a modern-day apostle, at which point it manages to float to Washington D.C. along a river system that actually empties into the Gulf of Mexico, in order to unlock against all hope an electoral “triumph” for Trump,

When I say “the entire impetus toward action” of this movement in November and December 2020, I am not exaggerating. I mean precisely that.

In the same way we argued in Part 3 that Jeremiah Johnson’s 2016 prophecy was transformative, converting prophetic utterances about Trump as King Cyrus into an apostolic strategy for the charismatic-Pentecostal church to ensure his election, the collaboration of Pierce and Sheets in the post-election period in 2020 was transformative, converting prophetic utterances about exposing fraud into into an apostolic strategy for the charismatic-Pentecostal church to overturn those acts of fraud to ensure Trump’s re-election.

A couple days after the election, Dutch Sheets mentioned this series of dreams to Chuck Pierce, his part-time co-author, mentor, long-time funder and overlapping mesh network node. Pierce, who had previously issued a prophecy that this unsettled period would last through January 18th, 2021, had created a sense of urgency and a specific timeline for the unfolding strategy. He immediately suggested that Sheets take other members of the ekklesia back to the “headwaters of the Allegheny.” Pierce claimed, consistent with his history of promoting new age syncretic prophecies of places of power and ley lines, that prayers at the headwaters of the Allegheny would create a line of freedom with Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. A line of triumph for Donald Trump. That’s how this group ended up at the Coudersport Gospel Tabernacle on November 16, 2020 for what Sheets was convening as a “solemn assembly.” Solemnity, bear in mind, dear reader, is in the eye of the beholder.

Father, you showed me that America is in the red zone. And we thank You, Lord. We’re down on the 10-yard line, and Father, You’ve said that the ekklesia was pushing this thing through to the goal line. Father, You showed me that that Dutch was a fullback, and Donald Trump wore 45, dear God, as a running back, and the ball was pitched to Donald Trump, and then Dutch, representing the ekklesia, ran a sweep around to begin to cause what was in front of us, an iron curtain to begin to be penetrated, and as the ekklesia ran through the iron curtain, Father, You showed me that 45 carried this ball across the goal line, and America won the game.

Dr. Greg Hood, Praying for the Elections from Pennsylvania (November 16, 2020)

After Coudersport, Sheets, along with his brother Tim, took Nash, Hood and another group of itinerant prophets and apostles from associated mesh networks to Atlanta on November 21. Georgia, as you might remember, was ground central for many of Team Kraken’s fraud claims. There, they decreed as God’s legislative authority on earth, that every “hidden [work] of darkness” would be exposed, “from Governor Kemp’s office, from Secretary of State Raffenberger’s (sic) office, down through the House, down through the Senate.” They decreed Trump’s triumph.

God, bring angelic help and angelic visitation, Lord, to the legal team of Donald John the Beloved Trump. Lord, we decree, Lord, that a verdict is being made in heaven, Lord, that Trump triumphs.

Pray for the Nation: Georgia (November 21, 2020)

The party then traveled on November 22 to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they crammed shoulder-to-shoulder into Barbara Yoder’s Shekinah Church ministry. This was, incidentally, the day that 7-day COVID-19 cases peaked in Michigan, and about two weeks before deaths would peak at over 120 per day. It was a logical location for the apostolic strategy to unfold, as Michigan was also host to many of the most aggressive claims of fraud, especially overnight ballot dumps and “dead voters.” Hundreds of thousands of charismatic and Pentecostal Christians watched online through ministry websites, church websites, Facebook, YouTube and other streaming venues as a local pastor prophesied that “Big Blue would run red.”

On November 23nd, the Pray for America tour moved on to Maricopa County, Arizona, and the Fresh Start Church, an Assembly of God (Pentecostal) church. Maricopa County, of course, would later be the site of a Jericho March, and was a focal point for a variety of electoral fraud claims. The messages, prophecies and decrees from the various prophets and apostles participating in these meetings were largely consistent with earlier events, so I do not think there is much to be gained from repeating them. However, thus far in our essay series, we have treated the influence of these individuals on the narratives, language and common knowledge of the charismatic-Pentecostal as a given.

I think it is instructive to see the language used by those following these apostolic leaders. All of the memes are here. All of the narratives, the mutations. Remnants, ancient covenants, promises of harvests, Haman’s gallows and above all, near-perfect confidence in the reality of claims of electoral fraud. And some other things besides. You can see the full chat in the video streamed on YouTube, or the comments shared on Facebook. Here is a brief selection to give you a sense of just how distributed each of the features of the narrative virus had become by this point. Names have been redacted.


Selected chat contributions from Pray for America from Arizona (November 23, 2020). Source: YouTube

From Arizona, it was on to Wisconsin for a prayer service on the 24th, jointly hosted by two organizations: Lighthouse Church in Madison, and the Global Presence Center’s Madison campus. Lighthouse is a Global Spheres church, which means that it recognizes Chuck Pierce’s apostolic authority (it is his umbrella organization). Global Presence is an apostolic-prophetic ministry with campuses in a variety of locations, operated by Stephen and Rene Springer. As in the other meetings, this one took place in a prime state for Team Kraken claims of alleged “vote switching”, a claim dutifully repeated by our chief narrative virologists. It took place at the literal week when COVID cases and deaths peaked in Wisconsin. And it incorporated similar decrees regarding fraud, Trump’s triumph and the restoration of America’s Ancient Covenants. And yes, the participants in the livestream represent yet another opportunity to witness the effects of our narrative virus on the millions of ordinary people who took part in them remotely.


Selected chat contributions from Pray for America from Wisconsin (November 24, 2020). Source: YouTube

The roadshow took a break for the Thanksgiving weekend, but returned to action almost immediately on Monday, November 29th, this time in Las Vegas. Rather than belabor the point, let me assure you that every decree, claim and feature of the other events took place here as well. However, something else happened here that would cause the apostolic strategy to accelerate further still. More accurately, on the Sunday morning before the Las Vegas event, Stephen Springer – you may remember him as one of the co-hosts of the Wisconsin event – claimed to have a dream. He shared it with Dutch Sheets.

On the morning of November 28, in a dream I saw Independence Hall and the large clock tower! An Angel came and stood on top of the clock tower and shouted, ‘When the clock strikes 3:00 AM, Valkyrie will fall and will not sing, if the sons of the Kingdom will pray!’ I then saw fervent prayer taking place in the night and through the night, and it caused the witchcraft and curse to bounce back to the sender!

“There was then another group of warriors awakened, clothed in battle array, who was surrounded and led by a host of angels! One of the angels declared repeatedly, ‘The Commander’s judgments are supreme!!!’ It energized the warriors and they joined in with the declaration!

“I then saw the Scales of Justice tip and became perfectly balanced!!!”

Stephen Springer, A Dream Communicated to Various Prophets, Give Him 15 (December 1, 2020)

To paraphrase Sheets and those who would take up the mantle of the plan to make “Valkyrie Fall,” this was a purported prophetic dream that the apostles and prophets interpreted as a post-Allegheny headwaters strategy provided by God to thwart the designs of the enemy to steal the election from Donald Trump. If you are a student of history, you will know that “Operation Valkyrie” refers both to a series of German plans to stabilize and establish martial control over the country under certain contingent events, as well as to a plan by a group of German citizens and members of the military to kill Hitler. It therefore being unclear which group was being portrayed as the Nazis (although I suspect you can figure it out), the group leading the apostolic-prophetic movement’s strategy to resist the stolen election quickly embraced Valkyrie as the rallying cry. The last ditch. The moment when the corrupt would be exposed and dangle from Haman’s Gallows. Figuratively, of course.

And so, as they conducted and then traveled between the Las Vegas and then the New Mexico events, our prophets and apostles planned. Then they returned to Pittsburgh, to the Allegheny River, for their final event on December 1st. This event, however, would end with something that all of the other events did not: Operation Valkyrie.

After the Pittsburgh service, spiritual intercessors, prophets and apostles from each state would begin to decree the end to the wicked schemes to deny Donald Trump the presidency. The prayers would cascade at three minute intervals in the order of each state’s admission to the union, beginning with Delaware at 12:30 AM ET on December 2, 2020, and ending with Hawaii at 2:57 AM ET. At these events, they would use the decree that Dutch Sheets sent to each of them on the morning of December 1st, culminating in this text:

We decree the next 4 years of Donald John Trump’s Presidency will see the fruit of God’s divine Reset of America. We will experience a Third Great Awakening; we will return to our ancient paths and foundations, including being a voice of the gospel of the kingdom to all the earth; and America’s heart will be captured once again by her Creator, Yahweh.

Dutch Sheets, Valkyrie Decree (December 1, 2020)

When Valkyrie fell and sang no more, they believed, the Steal would be Stopped. The long-promised exposure would take place. Haman’s Gallows would be occupied. The Baal prophets would be knocked from their thrones. Trump would triumph. The Ancient Covenant would be restored, and the Third Great Awakening would be unleashed.

Oh sure, Jericho Marches and Stop the Steal marches took place in the intervening weeks. Plenty of opportunities to sell pillows. For all of the publicity these events received in popular media, however, they never approached the scale of the streamed prayer events that took place throughout intercessory networks, prophetic networks and apostolic networks during this period. And yes, there was a role that many of our narrative virologists played in fomenting and participating in the events of January 6th. But this isn’t an essay series about January 6th, or the rise of Christian nationalism, or anything like that. If you are interested in those topics – and they are intriguing – I can only recommend once again that you spend time with Matthew Taylor’s 6-part podcast I recommended several essays ago.

Ours, though, is a story about a story.

It is a story about how words led a community to a place in which common knowledge became a prison. It is a story about how epimemetic forces systematically created confirmation for prophets whose credibility was built on confirmation. It is a story about how apostles arrived at strategies that could now be shared with millions within moments while pastors waited for Sunday morning and politicians waited for Meet the Press.

It is a story about what happened to men who bet everything on a story that they needed to be true precisely at the point that it had become clear that it was not.


Phase 4: Zoonosis

Gene Bailey, Lance Wallnau, Hank Kunneman, General Flynn, Mike Lindell and Clay Clark come together on Flashpoint to discuss election fraud, Q-adjacent conspiracy theories and the upcoming “Health and Freedom” conference predecessor to the Reawaken America tour on April 1, 2021. Source: Victory Channel, Rumble.

The most interesting moment in the story of Han Qing-jao, I think, isn’t when the genetic modification is revealed for what it is. It isn’t even when she decides that its removal is just a new form of clothing the gods are wearing to require a more intentional faith. It is when all of the outsiders look and see that here there is an abiding faith that has faced a contrary reality and stayed true. Here there is an abiding faith to which we might attach our own ideas. Here there is an abiding faith we can commercialize for our own ends.

In any narrative virus, this is, to carry our virus analogy to its final point, the moment of zoonosis.

A zoonotic virus, in case you have been sleeping for the last three years, is one which is capable of transmission directly from a non-human species to a new human host. Many bird flu variants are zoonotic. West Nile. Rabies. And COVID-19…uh, probably.

When I describe a narrative virus as zoonotic, what I mean is that it achieved transmission from one distinct cultural sub-division with a set of governing narratives and ideas to a different cultural sub-division. In the same way that host genetics are so critical to determining whether physical viruses can begin to replicate within a new host, so too do host memetics determine whether narrative viruses can begin to replicate within a new host.

For that reason, sufficient memetic overlap between two populations can facilitate this. That is, if you drape an idea with enough of the core stories and values that tend to cross the boundaries between two human cultural groups, you can achieve zoonosis. Rebellion sells to kids, which is why you could still sell a pair of Levis to an East German teenager for three times retail as late as the early ’90s. Pacific Rim can’t sell its way out of a damp paper bag in the west, but fills theaters where Japanese kaiju and Chinese hairen are fundamental, well-established parts of storytelling culture. And sex sells everywhere. I think this happened – narrative zoonosis, not sex-selling, I mean – to some degree between the charismatic and evangelical church in America, and mostly in one direction. As we discussed in Part 4, the adaptation of the memes of our narrative virus not only influenced a meaningful portion of the evangelical world, it may have contributed to a shift in its fundamental beliefs. At least in practice, if not in stated doctrine. Remember: one third of Americans now believe in modern-day prophecy.

At this point, however, January 6th had passed. The absurdly and obviously unconstitutional attempt to convince or coerce Vice President Pence to accept an alternative slate of electors from the states in dispute had faded, despite the decrees of the apostles. The spurious lawsuits had run their course, and Biden had been inaugurated. Prophets who had apologized, then retracted their apologies while Operation Valkyrie proceeded, then reissued them.

Many of the godspoken were retreating into the woodwork, ready to become regular citizens of Path once again.

If the narrative virus that had become core to the identity of the apostolic-prophetic movement were to survive the breaking of its story in reality world, it would need new hosts. Hosts who needed it as much as it needed them. Sub-cultures from the mainstream, distinct species from the cultures that hosted the narrative virus during its evolution, might need the movement’s support to provide “charismatic zeal” to their more mainstream theology, as Joe Morecraft, founder of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, put it. Sub-cultures from the nominally irreligious fringes of society might need the movement’s support to provide access to the powerful networks of the newly religiously and politically connected charismatic-Pentecostal church.

Our narrative virus went zoonotic in both directions: toward the mainstream and toward the fringe. But the latter, more extreme sub-culture proved to be the more willing host, having already been infected by a narrative virus of its own. It was built of similar memetic stuff, a product of a kind of convergent evolution in narratives. And that made all the difference, I think. You see, we live in a world of mottes-and-baileys. It is a world in which expressing extreme views, retreating to more conventional ones, then pretending that they are the same is the way that politics is done at scale. In this world, the generators of those extreme views become the tone-setters, the narrative missionaries for practically every topic of interest – including the integrity of American elections.

Thus, the very last chapter of our story, I am sorry to say, tells not only of how our narrative virus went zoonotic to infect an irreligious conspiracy theory fringe, but how the governing narratives of that sub-culture went zoonotic to infect the charismatic-Pentecostal church in America in turn.

This is the chapter in our story which must tell of the QAnonification of the charismatic church, achieved through the narrative- and event-driven transformation of the identity of the apostolic-prophetic movement.


Lance Wallnau on the Jim Bakker show on January 28, 2021

Since so much of this phase of our story has necessarily focused on the role that the ministry of Dutch Sheets played in the final days of the charismatic Stop the Steal movement, it seems only fitting that he begin the story of the post-inauguration QAnonification.

On January 21st, 2021, three days after the date Chuck Pierce had prophesied would bring an end to the confusion and uncertainty around the election, and one day after Joseph Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, Dutch Sheets posted a dream sent to him by someone within his network. Rather than include its full text – it is long, and you can read it here – I will summarize. Kamala Harris is about to take a seat at the Resolute Desk. A lion moves to stop her. Harris smiles – she was expecting this – and hands a tranquilizer gun to a politician, who hesitates to use it to shoot the lion. A four-star general enters the room and puts a stop to the whole affair.

You don’t have to have the gift of Daniel or Joseph to interpret this ‘dream.’ The idea being innocently promoted is that Kamala Harris, whether that is a literal version of the vice president or a figurative representation of the far left, is trying to take over America, and that God will use the military to stop her. The text at least contemplates the involvement of the military. Sheets protests, of course, that this is only one among many interpretations, but in narrative world, the language is out there. And it would return.

Around this time, as many of the godspoken retreated, voices from the intersection of the QAnon movement and the charismatic-Pentecostal church began to emerge. Dave Hayes, known as “The Praying Medic” within the QAnon community, had been a guest on Sid Roth’s charismatic It’s Supernatural program for years. Around the same time that Sheets wink-wink-Nudge-nudged the idea of a military coup in his app to facilitate daily prayer, Hayes suggested that outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sending coded messages that Trump had a plan, and might secretly have a path back to power. This idea of a secret plan, as you are probably aware, was the hallmark of many QAnon theories as well.

The adjacent notion that Trump was not only going to be forcefully reinstalled but was still the literal, actual President of the United States was immediately embraced by a wide range of voices from within the apostolic-prophetic movement in the wake of the inauguration of Biden. Johnny Enlow, two days after the inauguration, was perhaps the most strident, arguing that Trump was not only still the President of the United States, but the “primary government leader on Planet Earth.”

God is doing things with him…he’s not a passive player. He is recognized from heaven. He is recognized as the primary government leader on Planet Earth.

Johnny Enlow, THE PROMISE MAKER IS THE PROMISE KEEPER, Elijah Streams (January 22, 2021)

Lance Wallnau, Enlow’s Seven Mountains compatriot, went on the Jim Bakker show to express a similar idea.

I think people think, ‘He’s out of office, [we] have a new president,’ but what if God has an anointing on Donald Trump to be Cyrus, and there’s an illegal counterfeit in office?”

Lance Wallnau, Jim Bakker Show, as transcribed by Kyle Mantyla (January 28, 2021)

It was common, especially among those prophets who had been hangers-on to the main figures in the movement, to embrace the language underlying these ideas, even as they encountered their QAnon analogues in the wild. Robin Bullock, in February, confirmed that Biden was not “recognized by heaven” as president. Mario Murillo, in early February, was eager to urge Christians to leverage God’s history “revealing” conspiracies. Prophet Jeff Jansen, on the other hand, was saying the quiet part out loud, integrating both the belief that Trump was still the president and that the military would shortly be reinstating him.

Actually, the military is in control right now and they’ve already made their determination. Now it’s about execution. Now it’s about returning civil power after … the rightly, duly elected president from this past election comes forward and they expose the corruption, there will be civil power restored to the United States and that president will be Donald J. Trump.

Jeff Jansen, on a since-deleted Elijah Streams podcast (February 9, 2021)

Now, the core clearinghouses of charismatic-Pentecostal narratives – Charisma media and the Victory Channel – had not really gotten in the full swing of the new direction the narrative was going. They were not silent, to be clear, but mostly repeated many of the same mantras about exposure of evil schemes, giving Kat Kerr time to recast her prophecies a third time, and the like. It took time for a new version of the narrative virus to emerge. And it did, on April 1, 2021, when prophets Hank Kunneman and Lance Wallanu joined pillow magnate Mike Lindell and Flashpoint to welcome two newcomers: General Michael Flynn and Clay Clark.

We only briefly mentioned Clay Clark, a former wedding DJ turned business podcaster, in Part 2. Inspired by the words of charismatic word of faith preacher Kenneth Hagin that “there would be an atheistic, communist, Marxist and racially divisive spirit that would descend upon America” and that “the spark of the revival would start from Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Clark decided to establish a conference focused on both the COVID response and the fraud of the 2020 election that he would initially call the “Health and Freedom Conference.” Advertised first on the charismatic Flashpoint with the approval of the prophets and apostles, it held its inaugural meeting two months later.

You could do worse forming a snap judgment of the conference’s content than watching the first minute of the streamed video of the first day of the first conference there in Tulsa. What you’d see – the full video is here – is the conference’s founder Clay Clark kneeling on a stage at the Pentecostal Rhema Bible College to sign a Make America Great Again hat while a worship band plays Bethel’s “Raise a Hallelujah” in the background.

Alternatively, you might fast-forward to around minute 58 of the video. If you did, you would hear chants of “USA!” juxtaposed against a chorus of dozens of shofars, whereafter you would hear charismatic prophet Amanda Grace deliver the opening prayer. It transformed into a live prophecy about Christians in America.


The opening prayer at Clay Clark’s Health & Freedom Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma in April 2021. Source: Rumble

You’ve seen at least one Amanda Grace election prophecy from November earlier in this essay. She issued a second prophecy that month, too. In it, she summons the now-familiar Haman’s Gallows meme, but she recasts Mordecai, the man who was supposed to be hanged on the gallows until God intervened through Esther’s kairos moment, as General Flynn, the man of the hour in this conference circuit.

Haman and his 10 sons are hanged on the gallows on the 13th day of the 12th month.

Next year is the 76 anniversary of the Nuremberg trials 10 Nazi officers hanged as Haman’s sons 7+6=13 the 13th of Adar is when the defense began of the Jews on Purim…

Let’s call Mordecai General Flynn…

Amanda Grace, Words of the Lord and Notes from November 24th, 2020 (November 24, 2020)

General Flynn could easily have occupied an honored position in Part 2, in which we discussed the chief carriers of the narrative virus and how they all had become enmeshed with the apostolic-prophetic movement within the American charismatic-Pentecostal church. After all, he had long been central to the Trump administration’s work to discredit elections, meeting multiple times with both Lindell and the President to develop his strategy. A lifelong Catholic adopted into the charismatic vernacular like so many others involved in the stolen election narrative, Flynn has also rapidly embraced and promoted nearly every conspiracy theory and fringe cause through his involvement with and leadership of the Health & Freedom Conference series, which was later rebranded with more explicitly religious wording as ReAwaken America. It is in this role that Flynn’s impact on this narrative pandemic has been far more significant.

While Flynn happily disavows QAnon as made-up nonsense, it is not hard to see how the convergent evolution of that particular narrative virus made it a near-perfect candidate for zoonosis with the charismatic-Pentecostal community’s version. Both narrative viruses were built from old memetics describing the deep state and its corruption. Both played on Faithful Remnant memes. Both embedded prophecies of a moment when the corruption would be exposed. Both were loaded with memetically powerful identification of globalists as a primary source of corruption. Both presumed the existence of a cabal of pedophiles at the heart of that globalist power, in the Deep State and in the Democratic Party. Both relied on heavily symbolic language, one because of the historical vernacular of “prophecy,” and one because of the very similar vernacular of conspiracy. Both even shared some of the very same language, most notably the idea of a “Great Awakening” as the reward for faithfulness, even if the groups differed in how they defined that reward and what the “Awakening” might be. It also probably didn’t hurt that many charismatic prophets had been happily prophesying that QAnon would be validated for years.

It is even easier to see how the ReAwaken America tour was designed and operated with facilitating this zoonosis between charismatic-Pentecostal and QAnon narrative viruses in mind. For example, around the same time that the tour was being planned, Flynn and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne were establishing a new 501(c)4 together. Byrne has famously embraced a wide range of conspiracy theories, has happily worked with a variety of noteworthy figures from Q on those projects (e.g. Juan Savin), and was a headlining speaker at the inaugural Health & Freedom event in Tulsa. Later that year Byrne would premiere his stolen election documentary-style film called The Deep Rig (based on a kinda-sorta e-book he published with the same name) at the Pentecostal Dream City Church in Phoenix, joined on stage by local QAnon figure BabyQ. You might remember Dream City Church from the anointing of Kari Lake we discussed briefly in Part 2. QAnon podcaster Ann Vandersteel has spoken at ReAwaken America several times. Scott McKay, QAnon “streetfighter” and Hitler apologist, was an honored guest, too.

But I said in Part 1 that I didn’t want to play the guilt-by-association game. Instead, just enjoy the 30-second synopsis of how transparently the conference series embraced the zoonosis as Lin Wood concludes a brief segment describing what God was going to do in the lives of conference-goers with refrains of “There’s your Q.” I will give you three guesses which comment earned Wood a standing ovation, and the first two don’t count.


Source: OANN, Health and Freedom Conference

This narrative zoonosis was a two-way street. Almost immediately, the major public-facing institutions of the apostolic-prophetic movement jumped into ReAwaken America’s Charismatic-QAnon Syncretism with both feet. The Elijah List livestreamed it. Flashpoint promoted it on the Victory Channel. Charisma Media became its biggest sponsor, livestreamed it on their streaming video service, and sent Stephen Strang to speak at it.

Individual ministers joined the party, too. Eric Metaxas pushed the tour on his podcast. Prophet Lance Wallnau was practically a host. Sean Feucht, the former Bethel worship leader mentioned in a few places throughout this essay series, was a fixture. The aforementioned Greg Locke, too. Bill Cook, founder of the “Black Robe Regiment.” Apostle and prophet Rodney Howard-Browne, fundamental participant in both the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville revivals, hosted it at his church. Then again, Howard-Browne’s penchant for nearly all conspiracy theories nearly matches that of Patrick Byrne. Over the course of the next three years, they were joined by dozens of pastors, prophets, apostles and ministers, mostly from the charismatic-Pentecostal church and charismatic-tilting evangelical churches. Many more were present in the crowd. After all, tickets for pastors were discounted by 50%. It is unclear whether starting a Let’s Go Brandon chant (a stand-in phrase for “Fuck Joe Biden,” for the uninitiated) at one of the largest charismatic churches in the country would get you an additional discount.

The zoonosis did not manifest only in this particular tour.

In the wild, the godspoken were still tracing their lines, embracing new, more aggressive language to prophesy Trump’s reinstatement. Jeff Jansen was still out there for all of 2021 telling people that Trump was still the double-secret probation President, soon to be reinstalled by the military. Johnny Enlow, as was often the case, struck perhaps the most strident tone. It should not be surprising, since Enlow has explicitly and publicly lent his unvarnished support to QAnon theory.

“As I was praying today, I saw a vision of DJT seated on a throne holding a golden scepter. He also had a golden crown on his head. This, I was shown, is his PRESENT status from heaven’s perspective…. Heaven does not recognize [Biden] having any scepter nor wearing any crown…

[T]he prophetic word has been true all the way from Nov 3. On that date, DJT won the election ‘as spoken by His servants the prophets,’ IT WAS FULFILLED. The only thing presently yet to be made visible is will an outrageous steal hold for a whole term. It will not! The answer from God to the question of when is—SOON.

Johnny Enlow, The Prophets Were Right, Facebook (April 30, 2021)

Mike Lindell said the same thing to Steve Bannon. Robin Bullock prophesied that one of Biden’s stumbling episodes was a sign of his imminent fall. Charlie Shamp prophesied Biden’s impending death. Amanda Grace, Nathan French, Hank Kunneman, all of them joined the train of prophesying a late-2021 surprise. And make no mistake: this symptom of our narrative virus was continuing to exert outsized influence on its hosts. As late as June 2021, fully 30% of Republican voters continued to believe Trump would be reinstated that year.

But at the fringes of the apostolic-prophetic movement, our now-zoonotic virus was producing new symptoms. In March 2022, Steve Shultz of Elijah List first starting pushing the Devolution theory to subscribers to his newsletter through an interview with aforementioned QAnon figure Dave Hayes. If you are not familiar with Devolution, it is a conspiracy theory posited by a guy in the development office at a Catholic high school that the Biden administration was a mirage, and that Trump had passed certain executive orders that permitted him to pull the real strings of government from the background. As with similar theories for Trump’s inevitable reinstatement, it assumed that this reinstallation would take place through the military. It is absolutely bonkers stuff. But in the absence of Q drops after January 6th, it filled the vacuum left in our adjacent conspiracy-oriented narrative virus. It also made its way through to all of the subscribers to Elijah List and became part of the apostolic-prophetic vernacular.

If you know someone connected to the apostolic-prophetic community OR someone connected to this narrative virus through more traditional conspiracy theory channels, I am guessing that at some point in the last year, you may have been told that you should stock up on supplies and prepare for power outages, cell phone outages and loss of internet access. A lot of this is connected to the spread of Devolution and devolution-adjacent stories about how the military might need to act to reinstall President Trump. Within the charismatic-Pentecostal community, much of it was also connected to a rash of epimemetically self-reproducing prophecies warning vaguely about these outages. Like this one from Hank Kunneman, or this one from Nathan French, both people who had also issued prophecies about Trump’s reinstatement.

At this point, the zoonosis of the election fraud narrative virus of the charismatic-Pentecostal movement to the conspiracy theory-influenced far right, and the zoonosis of the QAnon narrative virus traveling in the other direction, were complete.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that this meant that our narrative virus was careening solely into the fringe. Quite to the contrary, the mainstream was careening into it. The very next Flashpoint episode after the one launching the ReAwaken America tour featured Donald Trump, Jr. and Lauren Boebert describing how the current administration and environment would disenfranchise, cancel and eliminate the Godly influence of The Right People. Both would become regulars on the program. By February 2022, the influence and staying power of the movement had become so compelling that Eric Trump himself began speaking at the ReAwaken America conferences. His wife Lara was at this point already a Flashpoint, Victory Channel and Elijah Streams mainstay. By 2023, Trump properties began hosting ReAwaken America events. At the very least, Eric and Lara were able to get them to rescind Hitler apologist Scott McKay’s invite to this particular celebration. Given that Don Jr. and Peter Navarro signed up for the Vegas event in August, it sounds like that smoothed things over nicely.


Source: ReAwaken America Tour

The former president himself called in to the conference, telling Michael Flynn, “You just have to stay healthy because we’re bringing you back.” Only a couple weeks prior, Trump also joined Flashpoint for one of his only interviews of the present political season. In the meantime, Michael Flynn has become a king-maker of sorts in various smaller scale elections. And the shortest odds for GOP vice presidential nominee in 2024 belong at 7/2 to Kari Lake, anointed by Pentecostal ministers, accompanied by Sean Feucht, surrounded by the shofar-blowing ekklesia during the Maricopa Jericho march, chief promoter of widespread electoral fraud among would-be elected officials.

In the same way that the zoonosis of narrative viruses between QAnon and the apostolic-prophetic movement has become nearly complete, so too has the zoonosis between the apostolic-prophetic movement and the mainstream, such as it is, of Republican politics.

There is no litmus test, no panopticon-enforced value with more signaling power in the world of conservative politics today than the ongoing belief in a stolen 2020 election.

There is no community, no sub-group of the population that is as steady and unwavering a bastion of support for those beliefs, than the charismatic-Pentecostal church in America, and the apostolic-prophetic movement in particular.

And so they travel from all of the known universe to Path to trace a line with the faithful Han Qing-jao.


It is a good story.

But the real story isn’t about General Flynn, Donald Trump or Kari Lake. It isn’t about prophets, the New Apostolic Reformation, Eschatology or dominion theology. It isn’t about Christian nationalism. It isn’t about “why white evangelicals voted for Trump.” It isn’t about election integrity or even politics at all.

The real story is about the story. It is about how words and language can achieve power beyond any original intent of the author. It is about how social networking has transformed that power. It is about how events permitted that narrative power to mutate into forms that deeply affected the world of reality. It is about how this is a feature of human culture, not any special feature of the American church.

Because, you see, the charismatic-Pentecostal church in America is far from the only institution in our exceptional nation – and it is an exceptional nation – with prophets and panopticons. There are doctrines and memetic embeddings which infect institutions and communities of both the right and left, both faith-based and irreligious in the extreme. There are apostles and apostates to be found in a thousand places, all primed for a narrative that burrows its way into our identity, that changes what we need to be true.

And we need to talk about them. All of them.

We also need to talk about how, foreign as it sounds after telling some of the oldest stories, some of our newest technologies transform this risk by an order of magnitude.

And we will. This essay series will take a pause for a few weeks. What we want to do next is talk about this. Yes, if you want to talk about these events, by all means let us talk about them. But we also want to talk about the other examples that we know you have in mind, the institutions and groups prone to narrative viruses of a similar kind.

We hope you’ll join us this Friday, July 21st at 2PM to do exactly that. We’ll keep the conversation going, and then we will publish Part 9, an assemblage of what we think and what we have heard from you.



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Comments

  1. Nine parts. I can only imagine how many hours of discussion went into this. Looking forward to all of it.

    @rguinn I was wondering: did you use the narrative machine retrospectively, whether wholly or in part, to identify the sources here?

  2. OK, I feel like I’m doing a crap job explaining this, so forget everything I just said and use this rule of thumb: if an American Christian willingly says “Yes, absolutely!” to the question “Are you a born-again Christian?” then they’re evangelical. If they cringe and grudgingly say, “Yeah, I mean, I guess so, but can you clarify what you mean?” they’re probably a non-evangelical, mainline Protestant. If they say, “OK, what are you selling?” they’re Catholic.

    As someone raised Catholic and currently attending an evangelical Baptist church I audibly guffawed at this paragraph. Absolute perfection.

  3. As a socially liberal and fiscally conservative Presbyterian who is probably more agnostic now and (yes a run-on sentence) am fully ingrained with the fact that our country’s laws are based on Presbyterian polity, I too laughed out loud at this statement.

    Levity, a good carrier for important considerations.

  4. Rusty,
    Curious to see what attention, if any, the doctrine of biblical innerancy will get in this series.

    As a teenager, I was baptized in and eventually pastored at a wonderful Foursquare church in Oregon. Additionally, for several years during that time, I lived with 4 Calivinist buddies of mine.
    During my years-long exposure to both charismatic Pentecostalism and Calvinism, I found over and over again how fundamentally problematic the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and literalism is for all churches, regardless of whether it’s the reformed Eric Metaxas/Wayne Grudem/John Piper type or the charismatic Pentecostal Benny Hinn type.

    In my experience, the “charismatic norms” (like prophesy), can be a really beautiful thing. But it’s when the charismatic norms (like prophesy) are connected to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy/literalism that things can go super sideways and do anything but “edify”. As I see it, inerrancy is the core virus that has been wreaking havoc in the churches (you name the tradition) and the world for centuries.

    Anyway, really looking forward to reading these notes.

  5. Three of the mentioned fellows will make at least a cameo appearance, but it isn’t necessarily a focus of the series. I agree that it would also be fascinating to see how that narrative - the soul of American evangelicalism, really - emerged and became common knowledge, but that would be a different series.

  6. In part, although as I think you’ll discover as we go along, our aim was to be thorough enough not to have to be stingy in our source selection.

  7. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    Man, fascinating stuff. Can’t wait to read the rest.

    I was raised mainline Protestant in NY in the 80s. Never even heard of Charismatics until I moved to TX as an adult.

    I think I understand why it is the fastest-growing branch of Christianity. Vs the stuff I was raised with, my first impression as an outsider is the level of passion and… hmm… immediacy.

    I’m assuming that this is the basic story we’re discussing, I had not heard it yet. It explains what some prophets need(ed?) to be true and why.

  8. This was a great and insightful read, @rguinn.

    “Like the Widening Gyre, the most effective vectors for effective astroturfing campaigns may focus not so much on changing common knowledge but on changing What We Need to Be True.”

    Inoculation against direct responsibilities is one of the fundamental traits of human beings’ proto-centralized religions. In a context of apparent lack of control, agency was projected outward.

    Witchcraft was the reason for pain without feeling guilty and gods’ (God) wrath for pain when feeling guilty in ancient cultures.

    In this context of apparent lack of control (post 2008), changing what we need to be true is an escape from direct responsibilities when focusing on the excuses that explain the individual or collective failure as an out-of-control external factor (spiritual: evil-witchcraft- the devil or kind of real threats: immigrants - woke - deep state), that apparently has agency and goes directly against you as a cosmic good vs. evil fight. So, it’s the perfect context for this phenomenon to emerge in the American-style, spirit-filled charismatic Christianity.

    Low locus of control (direct control over outcomes) + belief in miracles (indirect control over outcomes) + best in class already system of memes (Christianity).

  9. You’ve got it nailed. Only I think that we will discover that there are many more areas of our society and culture which exhibit very similar traits in very different wrappers.

  10. Really interesting start…as someone who has walked among the movements you reference, I’m looking forward to your reflections and observations.

    I’ll just observe here that the role of discernment has always been the weak link when it comes to Pentacostal/Charismatic movements.

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