The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Americans are suffering. Trump offers them a doctor who warns of sex with demons.

President Trump speaks during the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on July 23.
President Trump speaks during the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on July 23. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is “an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of [the] uterus — the endometrium — grows outside [the] uterus.”

Not so, says Stella Immanuel, a Houston pediatrician and spiritual leader of Fire Power Ministries, a pronouncedly non-orthodox church. Endometriosis and other potentially dangerous gynecological conditions are the residue of sexual intercourse with demons, Immanuel teaches. These demons, known as “spirit husbands” and “spirit wives” (you might prefer their pet names: Incubus and Succubus) once walked the Earth in physical form. After they drowned in Noah’s flood, however, they carried on only in non-corporeal form. They visit humans in sexy dreams, which aren’t dreams after all but spirit spouses making a booty call. The demons are responsible not only for diseases of the female reproductive system but also for male impotence, most financial troubles, marital discord and spiritual malaise.

This is not Immanuel’s only diversion from the medical mainstream. She also maintains that alien DNA is a component of some therapeutic drugs and that government scientists are developing a vaccine to prevent religious faith. You can find these and other teachings of hers on YouTube.

Or you can find Immanuel on President Trump’s Twitter feed, where she testifies to the power of hydroxychloroquine (yep! we’re back to that one) to cure covid-19 and assures the public that masks are not important to fighting the pandemic. More than 10 million Americans heard her advice, thanks in part to the president’s amplifying effect, before Facebook took down her page. In response, Immanuel threatened to have Jesus unplug Facebook’s servers.

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I guess there is no point in expressing my strong view that the president of the United States should not, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, pass along medical advice that undermines public health officials without good reason to believe that it comes from a qualified authority. The president doesn’t care.

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And I suppose it’s pointless to say to my Christian brothers and sisters in Trump’s dwindling camp that a man who raises the profile of a heretical preacher is not a friend of the faith. Many so-called evangelicals who stick with Trump gave up on evangelism — that is, winning people over through selfless acts of love and charity — long ago.

Even as the number of U.S. coronavirus cases passes 3 million, President Trump has repeatedly played down covid-19’s toll on the country. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jonathan Newton / Washington Post/The Washington Post)

I’m not sure there is much use in patiently explaining that fighting the novel coronavirus while doing as little damage as possible to the economy is a very significant challenge, requiring the best efforts and maximal good faith of every American — starting at the top. No bridge is long enough to span the abyss between “best efforts” and “spreading dangerous bull hockey from a woman who believes in disease-spreading orgiastic dream demons.”

So, let me speak to those Republicans cowering in closets and hiding under stairs in Washington and the state capitals, muttering prayers that Trump might somehow calm the flames that threaten to consume them.

Run away. Close your eyes and duck your heads and sprint as fast as you can away from Trump. Claim amnesia. Say you’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Blame your spirit spouse — whatever. A fury is building in Middle America that has nothing to do with Russia or impeachment or “Access Hollywood.” It’s rising among people who managed to look past all of that to find something they liked about the president. And now he’s repaying them with a stubby middle finger in their faces.

These folks don’t get daily covid-19 tests with results in 15 minutes. Their every contact is not screened and scanned. They live in the real world, a place Trump looks down on from his jets. They understand that covid-19 is not a joke.

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They have children whose teachers are afraid to be in school with them. They have teenagers reeling from the mental health impacts of isolation and anxiety. They’ve lost their jobs, their businesses, their sense of safety. They’re worried about losing their homes.

They’ve lost the Final Four and the Olympic Games, and now it’s dawning on them that the NFL and college football may be next. They can’t go to a movie theater or enjoy a concert. In many places, they can’t schedule a surgery or visit an elderly relative.

And they see what the president thinks of them and their concerns. Here, you dupes and dopes, Trump says — here’s a video from a woman who believes in demon dream sex. Or here’s one from a washed-up game-show host who says covid-19 is an election ploy. Or how about this idea: Drink some bleach.

They’re worried and suffering, and their president might as well be saying: I don’t care if you live or die. And it’s coming through loud and clear. The political center is slow to anger. It’s also slow to forget.

Read more from David Von Drehle’s archive.

Read more:

Michael Gerson: Trump is responsible for our unfolding coronavirus disaster

The Post’s View: Let’s throw the kitchen sink at covid-19 and get back to normal by October

Kristin Urquiza: Governor, my father’s death is on your hands

The Post’s View: Countries should stop hacking each other and start cooperating on a vaccine

Greg Sargent: Stop saying Trump is ‘in denial.’ The truth is much worse.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 12 and older get an updated coronavirus booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant circulating now. You’re eligible for the shot if it has been at least two months since your initial vaccine or your last booster. An initial vaccine series for children under 5, meanwhile, became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

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