To say members of various churches around the country are not too pleased at their pastors for meeting with (or “Uncle Tomming”) with President Trump at the White House would be an understatement. One of those catching heat is Pastor John Gray of the Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
Gray, along with pro-Trump pastor Darrell Scott, Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others met with Trump Wednesday. Those ministes are catching it for obvious reasons: Trump’s image as a racist and policies that aren’t being embraced by African Americans and other minorities.
What’s also adding to the anger of a lot of folks is Trump lackey Darell Scott’s comment (and those of other pastors) that Tump is basically the best thing that’s ever happened for black folks.
“This is probably the most pro-active administration regarding urban America and the faith-based community in my lifetime,” Scott told the group (in the video above), adding, “This is probably going be … the most pro-black president that we’ve had in our lifetime.”
CBN News reports that Gray responded to his critics on social media and said he prayed about whether to attend the meeting.
“I asked the Lord when I was asked to be present in this initial meeting about potential prison reform – that could greatly end up benefitting many people who look just like me – ‘Lord, do You want me in that room?'” he shared in a post on Instagram.
“My first mind was no. The pain of so many is too real. The hurt. The isolation. The sense of disenfranchisement. The real hate that has bubbled to the surface of the national discourse. I myself have been vocal about my personal disagreements with key policy decisions of this administration,” Gray continued. “I have everything to lose. Credibility. Reputation. Every natural inclination says stay home. Don’t get played. But I did the one thing I can’t shake: I prayed again and asked God, ‘Do You want me in that room?’ My attendance gives the answer. My heart was pure as was my motive and intention.”
Pastor Gray also spoke on the issue via a Facebook video:
Many took to social media to blast Gray.
“Pastor John Gray looked uncomfortable,” tweeted a woman named Loves2Read. “But I don’t think he should have gone to see that man in the White House. Pray for him at home.”
Another tweet reads, “SOOOOO disappointed he would even show up to this. I have lost all respect for him as a pastor. And I hope he don’t go saying Jesus prompted him to go to this dog and pony show,” said someone with the Twitter handle Babyu21.
This is where Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant comes in. He called Gray a friend, but he didn’t have a problem blasting Gray and the others, calling the meeting nothing more than a publicity stunt. He posed this question to the pastors:
“Preachers, when you all went around that table, and after you stopped uncle tomming, and thanking him for the privilege to be there, did any of you ask him how it is that he has separated brown and black children and put them in cages like pit bulls?”
Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Maryland spoke with CBN News about the meeting and says he believes it was the right thing to do. He said they talked about an “urban agenda,” criminal justice reform and re-entry for people. He says the president talked about 4 million new jobs; and, progress on legislation known to help those imprisoned successfully re-enter society.
“I’m just elated and I think many of those sitting around the table were delighted with the progress the president has made and his heart toward ‘the least of these’ in urban settings,” Jackson said in his interview with CBN News.
Pastor Bryant also said the pastors who met with Trump were too complimentary and didn’t press the president on the issues.
Bishop Jackson says he knows Bryant, is friendly with him and loves him. He says Bryant is passionate about promoting and advocating on issues facing the African-American community – but Jackson says he’s got it wrong on this.
“What he doesn’t understand is that you can’t be a prophet to the culture while you’re standing outside of the room,” Jackson said.
“Many of the people who came into that meeting knew they would be misunderstood, disrespected, lied on, talked about, but they came anyway because the needs of the people, especially returning citizens, are so important,” he went on to say.
“I believe this is the greatest civil rights issue of our generation. The overcriminalization of minorities and what are we the church gonna advocate for? So, I’ve got more courage than to let Jamal Bryant’s opinion keep me from speaking to the most powerful person on planet earth. That’s how I see it,” Jackson elaborated.
Jackson says his question for their critics is: “What are you doing? Not, what are you saying; what are you doing in Jesus’ name?”