“…the kind of vile, bitter and polarizing campaign that Donald Trump has conducted says to me that he should almost be a pariah and not one you should entertain in a conversation…”- Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr. (Courtesy photo)

On Nov. 30 at Trump Towers in New York, Donald Trump met with a group of Black pastors from around the country. The meeting between Trump and the clergy was organized by the Rev. Darrell Scott, senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

The meeting was originally billed as an endorsement for Trump and was to include a press conference where the Pastors would announce said endorsement. After several pastors vocally complained that they were there simply to meet with Trump and not endorse him, a scheduled press conference was cancelled and the meeting was closed to the press.

Trump appeared in the lobby of his hotel after the meeting surrounded by several Black pastors, including Scott and the Rev. Omarosa Manigault, stating that he had gained the support of an undisclosed number of Black preachers from the productive meeting.

Many Black pastors around the country were vehemently against this sit down with the polarizing republican presidential candidate. Over 100 Black religious leaders, including the Rev. Lawrence W. Rodgers, pastor of the Westside Church of Christ in Baltimore, wrote an open letter in Ebony magazine objecting to the meeting.

“Mr. Trump routinely uses overtly divisive and racist language on the campaign trail,” the letter stated. “Most recently, he his supporters were justified for punching and kicking a Black protester who had attended a Trump rally with the intent to remind the crowd that ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Trump followed this action by tweeting inaccurate statistics about crime prevalence rates in Black communities — insinuating that Black people are more violent than other groups.”

Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr., of Union Baptist Church in Central Baltimore, said in an interview with the AFRO, “My first reaction is for Black pastors to single out one candidate to meet with and interview is somewhat suspicious and could be construed that they’re being used by the candidate. I also think to recognize the kind of vile, bitter and polarizing campaign that Donald Trump has conducted says to me that he should almost be a pariah and not one you should entertain in a conversation unless he, in biblical terms, repents on his ways that are not wholesome and redeeming. When I first heard about this meeting my first reaction was much ado about nothing, these are not politically or socially active ministers that you would know of, there were some that had name recognition or were noteworthy but it almost appeared that when questioned everyone backed away from the fact that they were meeting with Trump to endorse him to then just wanting to hear him.”

The Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, pastor of The Empowerment Temple in West Baltimore, said he was invited to the meeting but instead declined to meet with Trump and took to social media to speak out against the meeting. Bryant accused the preachers of “selling out” to Trump, called them “pawns” and on Twitter compared them to prostitutes writing “Prostitutes for Trump … don’t let Black pulpit become a pole.”

Bryant went on later to write about the event, “They initially boasted 100 endorsements, and then they had just three. They shifted it from a press conference to a meeting. En masse, they were backpedaling. It shows the power of social media.”

Scott fired back at Bryant on Twitter by writing, “For respectable Preachers to be called ‘Prostitutes on a pole’ is very insulting, demeaning and misogynistic to say the least. If Trump called Black Preachers ‘Prostitutes on a Pole’ the entire nation would be in an uproar! #BlackPreachersMatter.”

Bryant stood by his statements in an interview on CNN that evening and went on to say “I want to apologize because prostitutes get money and the 100 that went in there walked away with nothing. They did it for free, so there’s another word for that and I would not use that language on a family channel.”

Pastor Heber M. Brown III, pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, said in an interview with the AFRO, “I’m not surprised that there were a group of pastor’s willing to meet with him.” He added, “It seems that many in our community can be excited, especially around election time, about access to what they perceive as power, but when that access has this type of track record it has to raise questions and concerns.”