As the criticism of black pastors who met with President Trump this week continues, Pastor Van Moody held a press conference at Worship Center Christian Church in Birmingham, AL, on Friday to address the backlash.
At the White House meeting, Moody complimented Trump for being “compassionate and caring about all people.” He defended his remarks in the press conference saying, “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.”
He went on to say, “I don’t regret the comments. 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 another video posted to YouTube, Pastor Moody said, “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 went on to describe his first meeting on prison reform with Trump administration officials and how that led to Wednesday’s meeting this week:
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.
I went [to the White House] and I was brutally honest with them. I read through the bill and I actually sat down with some key leaders on this issue. I was actually surprised because I was not expecting [the officials] to receive what I had to say, but they did. They received it and I sent correspondence to support a lot of the things I said in the meeting and they responded immediately back to me. It took all of that in consideration in trying to craft this bill in its final phase. Subsequently, after that meeting, the bill went forward and the bill has passed the House and has yet to pass the Senate.
Just like the first meeting, there is not much that I knew about the context of the meeting — who was going to be in the meeting and who was not going to be in the meeting. I didn’t even know going in who the other pastors were that were going to be there. The first meeting I had at the White House, President Trump did not come into the room and there was no media allowed.
Then, President Trump came in and he shared his heart about the need for prison reform and for workforce development. Then, he allowed the media to come in for a moment.
If you follow me or have read any of the op-ed pieces that I put out … you know that I have at times, particularly recently, been very critical about a lot of things that are happening. What is unfortunate is that people took that statement, took that snidbit, and then ran away with it to suggest that I have sold out or things of that nature. That is absolutely not the case.