When anger shouts haughtily over reason, and fear drowns out truth, honesty is sometimes lost in the din.
We see the efficacy of anger and fear in the presidential campaign, as candidates like Donald Trump focus their wrath on refugees and undocumented immigrants, and throngs cheer in approval. But while Americans wait for Trump to tell us how he plans to build a multibillion-dollar wall to keep our problems out, he gives precious few answers on how we’ll address the problems we harbor within.
I expect those kinds of shenanigans in politics. Campaigns, after all, have become reality show-style cage matches masquerading as public discourse.
However, I expect more from clergy leaders—and black ones, in particular. That’s why it’s so disappointing to learn that a group of black pastors will be meeting with Trump on Monday. And while the gathering is not the endorsement meeting that Trump’s campaign initially claimed it would be, it is troubling nonetheless.
It’s troubling because while many of the pastors who were supposed to attend have distanced themselves from the meeting, and from Trump himself, Pastor Darrell Scott, of the New Spirit Revival Center in Ohio, has said he will endorse Trump.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Scott said that Trump’s message resonates with him, and that he’s open to acting as Trump’s spiritual advisor.
“If God raises up somebody who can speak the word of God to Trump who he will listen to, and God feels I can help provide an avenue for him to have a dialog with African Americans, then I embrace that position,” Scott told The Daily Beast. “If that does happen, it’s God that did it.”
Perhaps. But God may not raise anyone up for the purpose of advising Donald Trump. He may instead raise someone up to do the actual work of the ministry. That means addressing the real and tangible injustices that people face. It means providing spiritual leadership for movements that face insurmountable odds. And it may mean telling someone like Donald Trump that he’s wrong.
I don’t pretend to be a minister. Nor do I profess to be a theologian. But my faith tells me that I will sometimes have to stand against what’s popular in order to stand for what’s right. If a black minister claims to be practicing that same faith, then I don’t understand how he could endorse Donald Trump.
Not only is Trump’s stand against needy refugees and immigrants the antithesis of what Christianity and other religions teach regarding our duty to care for the poor and downtrodden. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is hypocritical, as well.
As recently as September, Trump was saying we should let in more Syrian refugees. But in a cynical flip-flop, he changed his tune after the Paris terror attacks, thus playing on people’s deepest fears.
In blaming undocumented immigrants for the problems of this country, Trump ignores the fact that this is a land of immigrants. And the uncomfortable truth is that those who came here from Europe had no papers to show the Native Americans.
Still, if a black minister believes Trump’s message resonates, in spite of the exaggerations, untruths, and hypocrisy, so be it. If a black minister can endorse a man who supported the pummeling of a peaceful Black Lives Matter protestor at a campaign rally, so be it.
But if a minister, black or otherwise, tells me that God has raised him up to act as an advisor to Donald Trump, I really don’t want to hear it.
Because even if you’re a minister, you can’t blame your own mistakes on God.
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