Mark Silk on Marianne Williamson’s Metaphysical Campaign for President

Marianne Williamson campaigns for president at the Sondheim Center in Fairfield, Iowa on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Fairfield is home to Maharishi University of Management, a school founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that attracts students for its “consciousness-based” education model that includes the practice of Transcendental Meditation. RNS photo by KC McGinnis

Unless the Democratic National Committee moves the goalposts, New Age author and activist Marianne Williamson will be on stage for the party’s first presidential debate in Miami at the end of June. Last week, her campaign announced that it had received contributions from 65,000 separate donors, which is one of two ways to qualify (the other is reaching 1 percent in three approved polls).

You figure that a lot of those donors are people who have read one or more of Williamson’s seven New York Times bestsellers, or at least catch her on Oprah’s “SuperSoulSunday.” She’s the first religious professional running for president since 1988, when Jesse Jackson sought the Democratic nomination and Pat Robertson, the Republican.

Jackson, the Baptist pastor, and Robertson, the Pentecostal televangelist, represented evangelicalism. What Williamson represents is metaphysical religion, a tradition defined by scholar Catherine Albanese as comprising Freemasonry, early Mormonism, Universalism, and Transcendentalism before the Civil War, and subsequently Spiritualism, Theosophy, New Thought, mind cure, and reinvented versions of Asian ideas and practices.

If Candidate Williamson has a predecessor it’s Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, who undertook to run for president in early 1844. This Easter, she explained her own move to politics in a live-streamed talk to a group of followers in Los Angeles:

You know, so often when we come to religion we think in terms of dogma, we think in terms of doctrine. But the spiritual revolution on the planet today—and there is a spiritual revolution—is a revolution of consciousness, as we all know. It’s not about doctrine. It’s not about dogma. But it is about where the human mind goes. And politics has everything to do with where the mind goes, because thought precedes behavior.

She goes on to place herself in the tradition of religious reformers who pushed for the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage. “At the deepest level,” she says, America is engaged in “a spiritual contest” between demonic and angelic forces. “The separation of church and state is one of the most enlightened aspects of our country,” she says. “But the founders were not seeking to suppress religion. They were seeking to liberate and protect it.”

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Source: Religion News Service