This week, several prominent faith leaders in the black community met with President Trump to discuss several key issues affecting African Americans and minorities.
Among them were Alveda King, a pro-life activist, vocal Trump supporter, and niece to civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr, Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Maryland, and Pastor John Gray of the Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
As the identity politic narrative has reached a fever pitch during this administration, many of these pastors were subject to harsh criticism and racist labels following the meeting, most notably, being accused of “uncle tomming” by another pastor, Baltimore Pastor Jamal Bryant, who said:
“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?”
While many in the room during that meeting have been long-time Trump supporters, they certainly all weren’t. Pastor Gray said it took a lot of careful thought and prayer to make the decision to attend, CBN reports:
“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.”
It takes great character to meet with someone you disagree with for the sake of being heard on issues that you feel are very important, and one has to wonder how productive Pastor Bryant can be at effecting change in his community if he refuses to be in the room with people who are capable of initiating said change.
This is exactly what Bishop Jackson, who spoke to CBN following the meeting, has to say to his critics:
“What [Bryant] 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?”
Jackson says the response from brothers and sisters in Christ should have been different and handled biblically – and without judgment.
“They don’t understand that I’ve been talking about 15 months about these issues. They don’t understand that I cried and prayed and fasted that God would move on the hearts of these leaders in this administration,” Jackson said in the interview with CBN News.
“They want to diminish my heart and my spirituality and they just don’t understand that if this stuff is going on in America is gonna get fixed, we’re gonna have to call on supernatural, biblical authority to break the chains that bind, and break the curse of generational poverty on blacks and Hispanics in our nation,” Jackson said with emotion.
“So, my heart is to see America blaze in the glory of God,” he continued. “My heart is, I don’t care what people say about me, but can Jesus use me and can He move in our nation?”
It’s easy to criticize Trump as sinful and oppressive as a Christian and not bother to give him the time of day, taking a defeatist, negative attitude about the entire administration.
But is this what the great leaders in the Bible did?
When Esther appealed to her husband the king to save the lives of the Jewish people, didn’t she respectfully appeal to him, honoring his position of king in order to tactfully save her people?
When Daniel was made to serve in the court of not one but three Babylonian kings, in a time when his people were living in bondage to the nation these kings ruled over, did he not serve loyally, ultimately changing the hearts of the kings?
When Paul was facing prosecution for sharing the Gospel of Christ and held as prisoner by the Romans, did he not earn the respect of centurions and governors for his lawful appeals, all the way up to Cesar himself?
The mentality many on the left, faith leaders included, to scorn and curse Trump is a worldly attitude, not a biblical attitude. Love him or hate him, you are called as Christians to pray for your leader and respect the authority of heads of state.
If one really wants to make a difference in their community, as the great, peaceful heroes of the Bible tell us, we will be far more effective through diplomacy than by adapting the modern, worldly victim mentality.