All Rights reserved
Donald Trump has appointed a "liaison for Christian policy" -- a minister who has said AIDS is caused by "unnatural sex" and threatened to withhold relief from Haitian earthquake surviviors if they continued to practice voodoo.
Frank Amedia, pastor of Touch Heaven Ministries, arranged a meeting earlier this month between Trump and several other ministers, Time reports. They discussed the "erosion of religious liberty," the magazine notes, along with Israel and immigration -- the latter being a focus of Trump's presidential campaign, with his call to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and his plan to deport all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Catering to the religious right, on the other hand, has not been a priority for the presumptive Republican nominee, and he has made some missteps in his references to the Bible. But now with Amedia, he's joined up with a representative of the conservative Christian fringe.
"Amedia, who was once implicated in a bribery scandal in which he attempted to help a car-dealer friend avoid prosecution, is now a self-proclaimed 'apostle' who says that he once single-handedly stopped a tsunami from hitting an island in Hawaii," reports Right Wing Watch,which has made a thorough investigation of the minister.
Amedia, a former Jew who now calls himself an apostle for Jesus Christ, has broadcast many sermons online and on television. In an undated one (below) that was posted to YouTube last year, he discussed how to avoid AIDS: "We know that many of the diseases today are avoidable if only we practiced a wholesome life. AIDS is a disease that comes because of unnatural sex. We understand that many of the diseases that we receive is because of exposure that we have to things that we should not be exposed to, lifestyles that are unhealthy or things in our spirit that cause us to become bitter."
In 2010, Amedia was in Haiti distributing food to earthquake survivors, but said he might make further aid contingent on Haitians giving up the practice of voodoo. "We would give food to the needy in the short term, but if they refused to give up voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice," he told the Associated Press in a story quoted by Right Wing Watch. "We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel." He later tried to walk back the comments, saying AP had not told "the full story," but still appeared willing to cut off aid if Haitians did not embrace Christianity, according to Christianity Today magazine.
And in another of his greatest hits, Amedia once claimed he persuaded God to keep devastating waves caused by Japan's 2011 tsunami from hitting a Hawaiian island his daughter was visiting -- and the waves did great damage to a neighboring island, apparently not favored by God.
Touch Heaven Ministries has a church in Ohio, where Amedia once lived; he reportedly moved to Florida in 2000. Go to Right Wing Watch for more on Amedia, including his role in the bribery case; he was never charged, but admitted to attempted bribery in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Some other ministers who met with Trump have similarly extremist views. Rick Joyner of Morning Star Ministries has blamed gay people for Hurricane Katrina and likened Trump to Christ. Sid Roth has said homosexuality will cause a nation to "vomit out" its people. Mario Bramnick, pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Florida and a representative of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, last year hosted a meeting that called for the "mobilization" of Christians in response to the "demonic shift" brought to the nation by the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling.