I wrote this essay, on how the latest conspiracy theory is yet another example of how Americans are being misled by right-wing quacks, for The Guardian.
If you happened to be thinking that the one thing the tumultuous year of 2020 has been missing is arguments over demon sperm, then all I can say to you is this: I’ve got good news.
Enter Dr Stella Immanuel. A Houston-based pediatrician and pastor of a church called Fire Power Ministries, Immanuel made internet history on Monday after she spoke on the steps of the US supreme court with a group of rightwing physicians who refer to themselves as America’s Frontline Doctors. (The group is supported by the conservative Tea Party Patriots.) In comments that were live-streamed by the far-right Breitbart News, Immanuel brashly stated that “Covid has a cure” in hydroxychloroquine, a claim that has been roundly rejected by the medical establishment. She also said that, with hydroxychloroquine, she can “stop Covid in its tracks in 30 days”. Then she invited the world to look her up.
And look her up is exactly what the Daily Beast’s Will Sommer did. It turns out that the good doctor has some views that have not, shall we say, been endorsed by the American Medical Association. Sommer read her articles posted on her website, and watched her YouTube sermons, to discover that Dr Immanuel believes that serious gynecological problems are caused by women having sex with “spirit husbands” (ie demons) while the women are in their dreamworlds. Sommer explains Immanuel’s views this way: “Real-life ailments such as fibroid tumors and cysts stem from the demonic sperm after demon dream sex.”
Wait a second. Let’s pause here briefly to note that Immanuel is likely referencing incubi and succubi in her sermons. Such ideas of spirits seducing humans in the dreamworld, with consequences for the waking, are found in many cultures around the world, including in west Africa (Immanuel was born in Cameroon), and date back as far as the 4,000-year-old Sumerian poem The Epic of Gilgamesh. People should, of course, be able to believe this story if they want.
Then again, no one in Gilgamesh’s family was prescribing hydroxychloroquine, either. The difference is important.
Late on Tuesday, Immanuel responded to Sommer’s article on Twitter. “The Daily Beast did a great job summarizing our deliverance ministry and exposing incubus and succubus. Thank you daily beast,” she tweeted. “If you need deliverance from these spirits. Contact us.”
Score one for the doctor?
Immanuel’s ideas are not limited to folk traditions, either. Her sermons reveal that she believes alien DNA is being used in modern medicine, that scientists are currently working on a vaccine to prevent people from becoming religious, and that the American government is partly run by non-human reptilians. (She may be on to something with this one. *cough* Mitch McConnell *cough*.)
Read the rest here.