Black pastors are facing backlash from some of their own congregants for meeting with President Donald Trump this week and many are firing back at critics who say they should have never met with the president.
Van Moody, an author and pastor of the Worship Center Christian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was among the group of about 20 predominantly African-American inner city pastors who met and prayed with Trump in the White House Wednesday and discussed issues pertaining to prison reform, urban economic growth, and workforce development.
With Moody and his church being actively involved in prison ministry and reform, he thanked the president for his leadership on prison reform and workplace development. According to the transcript of the public portion of the meeting, Moody also thanked Trump for being “compassionate and caring about all people.”
Considering the large amount of media attention paid to Trump’s rhetoric and his administration’s actions pertaining to issues like illegal immigration, Moody’s remark angered some members of his own congregation, according to WBRC.
Many critics took to Twitter to voice their “disappointment” with Moody.
On Thursday, Moody held a press conference at the church to address the concerns over his meeting with the president.
“President Trump’s administration seems to be concerned about the issue [of prison reform.] What they did is ask me, along with other faith leaders, to come and share our thoughts about it,” Moody said.
Moody explained that Wednesday’s meeting was the second time he has visited with the administration to discuss his thoughts on the FIRST STEP Act, a bipartisan prison reform legislation passed by the House in May that has yet to be voted on in the Senate.
Moody’s engagement comes at a time when his church serves in over eight prisons across Alabama and as prisons in that state are experiencing an overcrowding problem.
He clarified that his remarks don’t symbolize a blanket endorsement of all of Trump’s policies.
“I don’t regret the comments,” Moody said. “What I regret is maybe what I should have said right after was, ‘on these issues.’ But once again, I do appreciate anybody that tries to help the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And that’s my heart on the issue whether they be white or black.”
In a separate YouTube video addressing critics of the meeting, Moody said that he has been called “everything but a child of God.”
“I understand why some people have responded to the news of me going to the White House the way that they did. But I wanted to take a minute to share my heart with you so that you can hopefully put my visit in its proper perspective,” he said.
He added that the first time he was invited to the White House he almost didn’t go. He said he was “very close” to not going but that he was “convicted” by God.
“The reason I almost did not go the first time is because I was thinking about me. I didn’t want to be attacked and I didn’t want people to think that I am an apologist for Trump or anything of that nature. Then, I was really convicted about what this was really about — ‘was it about you or is it about the people who are disenfranchised and marginalized and voiceless?’ Particularly, the people that we see every month as we serve throughout the state of Alabama.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith