The Rev. Van Moody, one of the black pastors who was heavily criticized for meeting with President Donald Trump this week about prison reform, stood by his decision saying he wanted to make sure Trump’s plan would be fair for minorities.
“I know that in many ways I’ve been vilified on social media,” the Alabama pastor told reporters in a meeting at his church, Worship Center Christian in Birmingham.
“Much has been made about my comments to President Trump yesterday about ‘caring for all people,’ as some individuals have incorrectly interpreted that statement to mean a blanket endorsement of everything he has done. That was not the intent of my statement,” said Moody as he read a prepared statement.
As the founder and senior pastor, he was one of a number of faith leaders called to the White House for Trump’s “Meeting with Inner City Pastors” which was presented as an opportunity to discuss prison reform and opportunities for ex-convicts, re-opening of steel mills, urban issues, job growth for minorities the president’s leadership and faith.
But the pastors were slammed on social media for even taking the meeting. Moody however said he was somewhat ambushed believing that the meeting was set up with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and he said he didn’t know that Trump planned to be there.
Still he defended his presence saying: “I’m hoping we can move the needle on this issue,” Moody said. “As believers, we’re called to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It transcends who might be in the White House.”
Moody said Trump seemed to be genuinely concerned about the issue of prison reform.
He said he was not promised by any financial gain for the meeting.
What do you think they got out of this? It had to be more than this 2 second news clip. Are they now equity partners in Trump Inc. or something.
Because we all know that this is all lies. pic.twitter.com/BmBDbgJF5A
— deray (@deray) August 2, 2018
However, the risky meeting has him in the crosshairs of many on social media, he said. “I’ve been demonized and called all kinds of names of social media,” Moody said.
I am saddened that a pastor that I’ve respected for several years has basically co-signed the Christian foolery that president #Trump is perpetuating. @Van_Moody I am very disappointed. #VanMoody #Trump #ChristianFoolery
— Angela Haynes (@angela_denise25) August 2, 2018
Moody said he was disappointed because the Obama administration never invited him to a meeting.
“I was never invited to the White House in the Obama administration,” Moody said. “This is also something I’ve wrestled with. I wish I could have gone, but I was never invited.”
Darrell Scott, a Ohio pastor who has cozied up to the administration by calling out the ills of the Black community, used the opportunity to kiss-up to Trump instead of calling out the high number of police shootings against blacks in a neighboring city.
“This is probably the most pro-active administration regarding urban America and the faith-based community in my lifetime,” Scott told the group, reports the NY Daily News.
Also in attendance was OWN reality TV star John Gray, the head of Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
After a few opening statements and greetings from the president, he asked Gray to start the conversation with a prayer.
“God, we thank you for an opportunity to speak about the hearts of those who sometimes cannot fight for themselves. Thank you for this moment to be able to share our hearts with the president and his administration,” Gray said, according to White House transcripts. “Dr. King said we cannot influence a table that we are not seated at. And so we pray that this conversation will be fruitful, and productive, and honoring of the best traditions of this nation. We further pray that you will continue to give wisdom and insight to our President and his leadership team to be what our nation needs, to build this country from the inside out, that we will continue to be a beacon of hope and light around this world.”
Scott’s comments received swift backlash online. One influential Pastor Jamal H. Bryanttook to a live video to address the Trump meeting and criticized the pastors for failing to use the movement to their benefit to better their communities.