Marianne Williamson deletes tweet suggesting "power of the mind" could turn Hurricane Dorian away from land

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Williamson: We need a Department of Peace

Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson came under a barrage of criticism Wednesday after she sent, and later deleted, a tweet about how "creative use of the power of the mind" might affect Hurricane Dorian.

The tweet was captured in screenshots by several Twitter users and went viral. The full tweet read as follows:

"The Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas…may all be in our prayers now. Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm."

After Williams deleted the tweet, several people called her out for a nonsensical suggestion that "mind power" could somehow affect the path of the hurricane, which is slowly making its way up the East Coast after devastating the islands of the Bahamas.

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"Marianne Williamson's tweet claiming we can turn Hurricane Dorian away with our collective minds is just as crazy as claiming we can solve gun violence with thoughts and prayers," journalist Ahmed Baba wrote.

"This deleted tweet by @marwilliamson needs to be spread far and wide," writer and podcast host Chrissy Stroop wrote. "No one who thinks that 'power of the mind' kept a hurricane away from Florida is fit to be president. And it seems she thinks Bahamians didn't pray enough? Racist much?"

When journalist Yashar Ali pointed out that Williamson had deleted the tweet, she fired back.

"Since you obviously want to debunk, counter or mischaracterize anything I do, would you like to have an honest and fair public dialogue?" Williamson tweeted back to Ali. "Since I'm neither crazy, irresponsible nor dangerous, I would appreciate the opportunity to counter the caricature."

Since you obviously want to debunk, counter or mischaracterize anything I do, would you like to have an honest and fair public dialogue? Since I’m neither crazy, irresponsible nor dangerous, I would appreciate the opportunity to counter the caricature.

— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) September 4, 2019

Ali responded: "Not sure why this tweet provoked your frustration @marwilliamson. I simply noted that you deleted a tweet. I did not editorialize," he wrote. He then rejected her offer for a "public dialogue," saying he is reserving his time "to speak with candidates who qualified for the debate."

Williamson, who did not meet the criteria to participate in September's Democratic presidential debate, seemed to double down on the now-deleted tweet.

"Prayer is a power of the mind, and it is neither bizarre nor unintelligent. People of faith belong in the Democratic Party, and will be necessary to the effort if we're to win in 2020."

"I was born and raised in Texas so I've seen it," she wrote in another tweet. "Millions of people today are praying that Dorian turn away from land, and treating those people with mockery or condescension because they believe it could help is part of how the overly secularized Left has lost lots of voters."

Prayer is a power of the mind, and it is neither bizarre nor unintelligent. People of faith belong in the Democratic Party, and will be necessary to the effort if we’re to win in 2020.

— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) September 4, 2019

I was born and raised in Texas so I’ve seen it. Millions of people today are praying that Dorian turn away from land, and treating those people with mockery or condescension because they believe it could help is part of how the overly secularized Left has lost lots of voters.

— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) September 4, 2019

Williamson, a best-selling inspirational author and lecturer, is often characterized as a "spiritual guru" because of her focus on spiritual health, but in a June interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, she said she thinks that moniker doesn't give her enough credit.

In an episode of Garrett's podcast, "The Takeout," Williamson said that calling her a "spiritual guru" was "dismissive" and made her seem "like I'm a less intelligent thinker, a little woo-woo." Instead, she argued that her emphasis on spirituality is what made her a strong and viable presidential candidate.

Williamson has criticized many mainstream Democrats for being too dismissive of the power of spirituality and religion.

She has also criticized President Trump before, slamming him for saying there is no political appetite for banning assault weapons. "Maybe not among his passionate supporters and donors which means NRA and gun manufacturers," Williamson told CBSN's Elaine Quijano days after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Williamson said she is following the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that the "primary aspect" of the presidency is to have "moral leadership."

According to her "Marianne 2020" website, Williamson's campaign for the presidency is "dedicated to this search for higher wisdom. Its purpose is to create a new political possibility in America — where citizens awaken, our hearts and minds are uplifted, and our democracy once more becomes a thing about which we can all feel proud."

First published on September 4, 2019 / 5:47 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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