Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., a Maryland minister who became a national voice for evangelicals and a spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump, has died. He was 66.
Jackson, the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, died Monday, according to a statement posted on the church’s website.
“It is with a heavy heart that we notify you that our beloved Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. has transitioned to be with the Lord on November 9, 2020,” the statement read. “Please pray for the Jackson family’s comfort and respect their right to privacy at this time.”
The Rev. Derrick McCoy, a longtime associate, said Jackson was found unconscious at home but he didn’t know any other details. In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election, Jackson kept a busy schedule, speaking and campaigning for Trump’s reelection bid.
“He was a man of incredible integrity and dignity,” McCoy said. “He had a lot of compassion and guts and he took the punches for he believed in. It was never about Trump it was about standing in the gap and bringing a voice.”
Since Trump’s successful run for president in 2016, Jackson became a frequent visitor for events at the White House. Last month, he attended the president’s announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the Supreme Court, later identified as a superspreader event for the novel coronavirus. When Trump himself contracted the virus, Jackson served as a participant on a prayer call with Trump’s daughter-in-law and his faith adviser, Paula White.
On the eve of the election, Jackson batted away criticism from another evangelical leader that he hadn’t challenged Trump’s policies enough.
“It’s about attempting to bring real change in our community,” he told The Informer. “If both parties want our vote, then our support of the Democrats will not be a foregone conclusion. The story for the last 40 years is that the Black vote has been taken for granted.”
Jackson, who also served as a member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, said he wasn’t surprised by reports that Trump did well in Miami because some African-American men had supported him over Joe Biden.
“Everywhere that we’ve gone, I have found more Black men supporting Trump,” Jackson said. “The question has been by how large the margin would be because we were hearing reports that more Black men were getting what Trump was all about.”
As for Trump being accused of racism, Jackson said, “Donald Trump is not a racist, he just has an affinity toward results-oriented people.”
Jackson had been very active in a number of controversial issues for years. He protested against the Maryland Marriage equality bill. He moved to D.C., where led efforts to oppose same-sex marriage. And he lobbied to get conservative justices on the federal bench.
But somehow he concurrently maintained his responsibilities as pastor and grew his Beltsville church, where he checked his conservative conservative political leanings at the door. For many years, he and his late first wife worked together as a spiritual team and sponsored many events in the community.
Jackson remarried last Labor Day weekend.