Tuesday, Rodney Howard-Browne joined evangelical leaders in the Oval Office to pray for President Trump. The experience, he recounted, was both "surreal" and "humbling."
Put another way, it was sober — the exact opposite what's often ordered up by the self-described "Holy Ghost bartender."
Like most in Trump's religious circle, Howard-Browne is a charismatic evangelical, who occasionally preaches a bit of prosperity gospel. Unlike most everyone else though, Howard-Brown encourages his dearly beloved to get "drunk in the spirit."
While a photo of the presidential prayer time indicates that Howard-Brown kept that theology bottled up yesterday, he's used to stronger spiritual stuff. When Howard-Browne is calling the shots, it's not unusual for his congregation to get gassed. They laugh hysterically, lose control of themselves, and roll around on the ground like sloppy drunks.
But like Trump, Howard-Browne doesn't serve alcohol. He gets his followers tipsy on what he describes as "holy laughter." An apostle of Baucus, he explained in a 1995 profile by the Christian Research Journal that the phenomenon cannot be understood by "an analytical mind."
He's probably right.
A quick YouTube search yields hundreds of videos of Howard-Browne in action, reducing men and woman and children to uncontrollable laughter and animal-like howls. "I'm just the Holy Ghost bartender," Howard-Browne told the Journal. "I just serve the new wine and tell them to come drink."
Among more traditional denominations, some see the practice as weird. Others decry it as downright heretical, including Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute.
After attending one of Howard-Browne's services, Hanegraaff slammed the charismatic ministry as "a counterfeit revival." Dubbed "the Bible Answer Man" because of his grasp of hermeneutics, Hanegraaff rebuked Howard-Browne's teachings as "fabrications, fantasies, and frauds."
That criticism has perhaps slowed his ministry in recent years. It has not stopped him though. In 2014, Howard-Browne came to Washington, rented out Constitution Hall, and left hundreds in a state of spiritual stupor. Plenty are still addicted to the spiritual drinking shtick, including Trump's spiritual advisor, Pastor Paula White-Cain.
Reportedly at White-Cain's invitation, Howard-Browne found himself stumbling into the White House. One wonders if the sober president will invite him back.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.