Donald Trump met with a group of influential Black religious leaders in the Oval Office as an opportunity to discuss prison reform and opportunities for ex-convicts, reopening of steel mills, urban issues, job growth for minorities, the president’s leadership and faith. But many people are dumbfounded and outraged when one of the pastors praised the president as the “most pro-Black president” in recent history while simultaneously slamming President Obama as doing nothing for Blacks.
Darrell Scott, a Cleveland-area pastor who very publicly supported Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, was again publicly exalting the 45th president.
“This is probably the most pro-active administration regarding urban America and the faith-based community in my lifetime,” Scott told the group, according to the New York Daily News. “This is probably going be … the most pro-Black president that we’ve had in our lifetime.”
Scott kept pouring it on thick, saying former President Barack Obama didn’t do anything for the Black community.
“This president actually wants to prove something to our community, our faith-based community and our ethnic community. The last president didn’t feel like he had to,” Scott said, adding that Obama “got a pass.”
Some observers were surprised to see OWN reality TV star John Gray, the head of Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He started off the White House meeting with a prayer:
“God, we thank you for an opportunity to speak about the hearts of those who sometimes cannot fight for themselves. Thank you for this moment to be able to share our hearts with the president and his administration,” Gray said, according to White House transcripts obtained by the Daily News. “Dr. King said we cannot influence a table that we are not seated at. And so we pray that this conversation will be fruitful, and productive, and honoring of the best traditions of this nation. We further pray that you will continue to give wisdom and insight to our President and his leadership team to be what our nation needs, to build this country from the inside out, that we will continue to be a beacon of hope and light around this world.”
Scott was met with a forceful backlash on social media. Baltimore-based mega-church pastor Jamal H. Bryant criticized the pastors on Instagram for failing to use the meeting to their benefit to better their communities.
“My heart is heavy,” Bryant began. “We are in a dark, dismal and difficult time when basketball players and rappers have more moral authority than preachers.”
Bryant quoted Scripture and scolded the pastors saying “He [God] said, ‘I prepare a table for you in the presence of my enemies’ All these preachers that went. God provided the table and you just walked away with a photo op. And you walked away with nothing.”
Many others on Twitter and Instagram were not even that kind in accessing the Black preachers:
Gray closed the meeting by telling the president, “my prayer is that you will continue to have wisdom and insight to lead this nation,” he said according to the Daily News.
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.”
Even still, the Black preachers kept getting slammed by social media users: