Dominating Sunday’s Metropolitan cover of the New York Times, an in-depth piece by Sam Kestenbaum delved into — as the print edition put it — “Preaching the Gospel According to Trump.”
Unfortunately, that yawner of a headline failed to rise to the level of the story.
Kestenbaum’s nuanced, carefully crafted profile of New Jersey pastor Jonathan Cahn deserved a better, more eloquent title.
The headline on the online version of the piece is more precise and closer to the mark:
#MAGA Church: The Doomsday Prophet Who Says the Bible Predicted Trump
A charismatic pastor in New Jersey (who also calls himself a rabbi) leads a church fixated on end times. Before the apocalypse, however, he’s fitting in a trip to Mar-a-Lago.
Kestenbaum’s colorful opening sets the scene:
On a Sunday morning at Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, N.J., a bearded pastor named Jonathan Cahn stood on an elevated platform, gazing over a full house. Stage lights shifted from blue to white as the backing band played a drifting melody. Two men hoisted curled rams’ horns and let out long blasts.
“Some of you have been saying you want to live in biblical times,” Mr. Cahn said, pacing behind a lectern. Then he spread his hands wide. “Well, you are.”
Sitting at the end of a sleepy drive an hour from Manhattan, Beth Israel may look like any common suburban church. But the center has a highly unusual draw. Every weekend, some 1,000 congregants gather for the idiosyncratic teachings of the church’s celebrity pastor, an entrepreneurial doomsday prophet who claims that President Trump’s rise to power was foretold in the Bible.
Mr. Cahn is tapping into a belief more popular than may appear.
Keep reading, and Kestenbaum — a contributing editor at The Forward as well as a regular writer for the Times — demonstrates his religion writing experience as he explores Cahn’s theology.