Bishop Marcus Matthews
Bishop Marcus Matthews speaks on behalf of the United Methodist Church during a clergy press conference on May 15. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)

President Donald Trump has had a less than stellar week at the White House – and that’s putting it mildly.

Still reeling from strong blowback after his controversial and sudden decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the president also reportedly divulged secrets to Russian officials that the intelligence community said could have life-threatening implications.

The action led to several high-ranking administration officials being trotted outside the West Wing to give media members varying, and ultimately less-than-honest defenses of Trump while political fires burned throughout the Capitol.

But another blaze still burns as Trump now seemingly has a problem with God – or at least those who say they are men and women of the cloth.

On Monday, a group of national and local religious leaders stood in the shadows of the U.S. Supreme Court to call on the president to make good on his promises to Blacks and minorities instead of tweeting out threats and innuendoes.

“We are especially concerned by the actions, policies and behaviors of the president of the United States,” said the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Church USA Office of Public Witness in Louisville.

“He has appointed men and women as members of his cabinet who instead of promoting policies that enhance the public’s well-being, promote policies that do more harm than good,” Hawkins said.

There is a “danger of moral corruption by offering tax cuts mostly for the rich while slashing programs for veterans’ health,” said the Reverend Barbara Skinner, a former faith advisor to President Barack Obama.

Harkening back to last month’s health care bill that threatens to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Rev. Leslie Copeland-Tune also lashed out at Trump.

“It’s inconceivable to me that the House of Representatives would vote to pass a healthcare bill that cut out the most vulnerable in the nation,” said Copeland-Tune, the director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative in Northwest.

Each speaker recalled when then candidate Trump made a stop in Ohio on Aug. 22 where he called on African Americans to vote for him, saying what has since become legend: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Trump initially posed the question during a campaign rally in North Carolina a few days earlier.

He then repeated it in both Michigan and Virginia, before expanding it to include Latinos.

“Our government has totally failed our African-American friends, our Hispanic friends and the people of our country. Period,” Trump said to a mostly white crowd.

“The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities. For those hurting the most who have been failed and failed by their politician, year after year, failure after failure, worse numbers after worse numbers. Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education.”

“No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats.”

“And I ask you this, I ask you this – crime, all of the problems – to the African-Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out. I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?” said Trump, who often repeated the refrain to potential blue collar voters who bought into his “Make America Great Again” campaign.

However, Hawkins said that the coalition of ministers has issued a “Progress Report” to coincide with Trump’s first 100 days in office and it’s sure to reveal that Trump has completely missed the mark in any effort to make the country great.

Going forward, Hawkins said, the coalition has asked for a meeting, an economic plan for the African-American community and a plan for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

They also want Trump to reconsider his stand on healthcare reform.

“Healthcare is not a privilege, but a right,” said the Reverend Cynthia Turner, pastor of Day Spring Community Church in Lanham, Maryland, who joined the coalition of both national ministers and local pastors at the event.

The Reverend Kip Bernard Banks, pastor of East Washington Heights Baptist Church, said hate has played a vital role in the current administration’s policies.

“Today, hate is in style,” he said. “And, we are losing out in terms of jobs and prosperity.”

WI Senior Writer Stacy M. Brown contributed to this report.

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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