Donald Trump isn’t the first president to call upon members of the clergy for guidance, assistance and support — and he certainly won’t be the last.
Most recently, Barack Obama leaned on the senior pastor of his hometown church in Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, with great frequency and aplomb — until some of Wright’s more controversial beliefs and statements caused such a backlash that Obama eventually found it prudent to distance himself from the “unapologetically Black” preacher.
Jimmy Carter didn’t need to seek solace from a man of the cloth as he himself was without question, a devout Christian and a man of unwavering faith — considered by many as the most religious president in American history. Even John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, gained accolades due to his decision to maintain an open and ongoing relationship with his family’s longtime priest.
But until a few days ago, Donald Trump had not been known as a president who spoke about his faith, God, the Church or who had a connection with any particular minister on whom he tended to rely upon when in need of advice or solace.
So, when word came on Monday, July 29, that he’d be meeting that day at the White House with a group of about 20 “Inner City Pastors” as he described them, we couldn’t help but question his motives. His aides have said the meeting had been initiated by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, long before his recent fight with Rep. Elijah Cummings, in order to shore up African-American votes next year.
But the timing seems a little too perfect. And even though public statements of support have come from folks like Alveda C. King, an anti-abortion proponent and a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the Rev. Bill Owens, whose Coalition of African-American Pastors group firmly opposes same-sex marriage, we hope that the Black community will not be so naïve as to follow Trump’s newly-formed “Squad” in lockstep without first thinking long and hard about such an important decision.
It is possible that Trump really met with the pastors to glean their advice. Perhaps he’s even open enough to follow said advice. But given what we’ve seen thus far, we can’t help but think that our Black brothers and sisters have served a purpose that we’ve seen occur throughout American history time and time … and time again. We don’t want to say they’ve sold out, but we fear that they’re little more than pawns — and that in short order they will be easily sacrificed in the name of victory in 2020.