Beyond the spiritual examination of unrealized prophecies, there are very earthly outreaches here: under the direction of Mr. Strang, Charisma had grown from a church magazine to a multi-pronged institution with a number of New York Times bestsellers, millions of podcast downloads, and a remaining mainstay in print media with a circulation of 75,000 copies for his top magazine. It is widely regarded as the flagship publication of the rapidly growing Pentecostal world, numbering over 10 million people in the United States. With its mix of political and prophetic themes, Charisma had gained considerable market and electoral power. In 2019, a poll found that more than half of white Pentecostals believed that Mr. Trump was divinely anointed with additional research Recalling the importance of so-called Prophecy voters in the 2016 election.
In his new book, Mr. Strang only marginally mentions the former president, with much more attention being paid to subjects such as the coming Antichrist and loathed leaders who want to exterminate religion en masse.
Mr. Strang summed it up like this: “The fact is that there are people who want to break off Christianity.”
“Christians and other conservatives need to wake up and get up,” said Mr. Strang in an interview. “It’s right on the cover of the book.”
The supernatural and the mass media have long merged in Pentecostal history. In 19th century Los Angeles, Aimee Semple McPherson broadcast news programs about miracles and prophetic words on her own radio station in Echo Park. Oral Roberts conducted healing crusades through the television screen. The duo Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker mastered the flashy style of prime-time talk shows.
Mr. Strang’s journalistic career began in Florida as a rookie reporter for The Sentinel Star, covering more mundane topics like police and community meetings. In 1975, Mr. Strang founded Charisma, then a small magazine of the Calvary Assembly of God, an Orlando area church that he attended with his wife. Mr. Strang bought the magazine from the mother church in 1981 and started religious publishing.
In time, charisma flourished. The editorial voice had the sunny booster of a local newspaper covering the personalities of the Pentecostal world, an audience that Mr. Strang believed was pathetically underserved. While competitors like Christianity Today wooed the buttoned-up elite of American evangelicalism, Charisma captured a niche market of so-called charismatic Christians, who are characterized by their interest in spiritual gifts, including healing, speaking in tongues, and modern day prophecy. Mr. Strang eschewed stuffy dogmas for high-profile stories about the Holy Spirit moving through current events. Editorial meetings would focus on looking for what a former employee called “the spiritual heat” behind the headlines of the day.
“We didn’t want to become the kind of boring publications that many ‘religious’ journals are,” wrote Mr. Strang in an early editor’s note. “That is why we are first class with this publication.”