John Gray, Harry Jackson, and other black pastors who met with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday are receiving criticism from Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, MD.
He expressed his criticism in a Periscope video titled, “Chairs with no legs… black preachers at the table with Trump.”
Watch below or click here.
Read his comments below.
Good evening, everybody. This is the day the Lord has made; we rejoice and we are glad in it. It’s been quite an interesting day and I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, lots of information that I want to share. I need you all to please, please, please help me get this message out to as many people as possible because I really want to share a lot of my thoughts and feelings about today’s meeting. I think it’s very important that we have this dialogue and I need to have it with you. So I’m going to start in just two minutes. Let me say to you, I want you to please grab something to take notes with because this is not emotion; this is information. Not only am I giving you information, I’m going to give you a call to action and direction to respond to it. So I need you to have it. In just 90 seconds, I will begin and we’ll go full throttle…
My heart is heavy. As you all know, ordinarily, I do not go back notes. But there’s so much that I’ve collected this afternoon that I do not want to miss a single solitary thing. And I need you to have all of the information that was gathered. So if I’m not making eye contact with you the whole time it is because I am consulting my notes.
President Trump had, according to the White House press office, a meeting with religious, influential urban leaders. Urban is now the code word for black. Influential urban religious leaders. He said that all of the people that were there today were there at the invitation, the gathering, and the call of Paula White. Paula White was the one who assembled the meeting. Stick a pin in it. I’m coming back to it.
I want to now share with you the names of the people, the names of every person who was at the table today. Not just them, but I have the name of their church. So I’m gonna go around the table and share with you who was there: Bishop Kevin Cabarrus from Impact Church, Pastor Wilfredo de Jesus from New Life Covenant, Pastor Michael Freeman from Spirit of Faith, Dr. Philip Goudeaux from Calvary Christian Center, Senior Pastor John Gray from Relentless Church, Pastor Richard Hayes from Relentless Church, Bishop Darrell Lynn Hines from Christian Faith Fellowship Church of God in Christ, Senior Pastor Harry Jackson from Hope Christian church, Dr. Alveda King from Alveda King Ministries, Pastor Julian Demond Lowe from The Oasis Church, Dr. Van Moody from The Worship Center in Birmingham, Alabama, President Willie G. Owens from the Coalition of African American Pastors. If there’s anybody who’s a member of that organization, please let me know. President Willie G. Owens from an organization I’ve never heard of called the Coalition of African American Pastors. Senior Pastor Benny Perez. Pastor John Ponders. You all’s favorite, Pastor Darrell Scott from Cleveland, Ohio, Bishop Kyle Searcy from Fresh Anointing House of Worship, Senior Pastor Paula White from New destiny Christian Center. And [rounding] out the table, Bishop Marvin Sapp.
Alright, so a couple of things that I want to say. I can’t tell y’all how heavy my heart is right now. The Bible says if you have aught with your brother, then go to them. I am coming to you live from Greenville, South Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, which is the home of the Relentless Church. Home of my brother John Gray, who I love. He is not my friend. He is my brother. I love John Gray and I am in Greenville, South Carolina. The Bible says if you have an issue, you don’t air that out publicly. You go to them. So I sent a text message to John Gray with the headline from World News Tonight saying, “Brother, I need to talk to you.” This was at 2:47 this afternoon. I got absolutely no response, so I wanted to say I did reach out to him. So this conversation, this dialogue did not happen without me reaching out. Now, what I also need you all to know is I actually have the minutes from the meeting. I have the minutes from the meeting and I want to read those to you.
Bishop Darrell Hines opens up, says thank you. ‘I would love for an opportunity, after watching the news, I would love for the opportunity to go and have Mr. Trump hear me. To know you hear me, President Trump, is an encouraging moment.’ That was Bishop Darrell Hines, he’s on the General Board of Church of God in Christ. I called two members of the General Board of the Church of God in Christ and asked, “Is he representing the Church of God in Christ?” And the board members said, “Not only is he not representing the Church of God in Christ, we didn’t know he was going.”
Pastor Bill Owens, after Darrell Hines, said, ‘Mr. President, we’re with you 100 percent.’ Michael Freeman, ten minutes from the White House, said, ‘President Trump, you’re invited any Sunday you’d like to come. You said Christians would have a friend in the White House, and I’m elated you’re a man of your word. You have any ear from God.’ Michael Freeman then said to Donald Trump, ‘The country is in good hands with you as the head.’ I’m reading the official minutes from the meeting. Trump then responded, ‘I’ll get over there.’
Bishop Dale Bronner then said, ‘I love how you stimulate the economy right now.’
Bishop Harry Jackson then said, ‘I really feel called to pray for you. Criminal justice reform is so critical [unclear] Blacks and Hispanics from becoming an underclass.’ At that, Harry Jackson and President Trump shake hands.
John Gray then replies, ‘Those who have committed our lives to fighting for people have a seat at the table.’ No response to questions. It’s page one. Let me now go to page two of the minutes.
In the White House notes, it says, ‘pastor,’ but doesn’t have a name beside it. A pastor says, ‘Thank you for your leadership on prison reform and for caring for all people.’ This is what a pastor said to President Trump. Another pastor — White House records does not give a name — says, ‘We appreciate your tenacity and your leadership.’ Another pastor in the White House minutes says, ‘We are in the presence of greatness.’ Another pastor said, ‘Thank you, POTUS, for giving faith leaders this platform. Another pastor speaks about lowest unemployment rate in [the] African American community in history. Paula White then chimes in, ‘It’s an honor to serve you.’
Jared Kushner, who is the son-in-law of the president, said, ‘When you asked me to lead your efforts to try to lead our prisons facing problems in politics, so I came to you, and you said, This is more important than politics. These policies do help our community. I’m very happy for everyone to be here today.’
Darrell Scott then says, ‘It’s an honor and privilege to work with then-candidate Trump, and now President Trump. I know he has a heart for all Ameroicans. This is probably the most proactive American regarding urban America in my lifetime.’ This is what Darrell Scott said. ‘This is probably going to be the most pro-black president in the history of the United States. This president wants to prove something to our community. The last president didn’t feel like he got a pass.’
All right. Those are the minutes from the meeting. And now, I want to share with you from my heart.
Pastor John Gray prayed for President Trump, which I believe is in order, and then quoted Dr. King. John Gray quoted Dr. King and used this quote: ‘How can you have influence if you don’t have a seat at the table?’ And, tonight, for the remaining moments that I have with you, I want to talk about chairs with no legs, black preachers sitting at the table with the president. It’s not going to take me long.
First of all, I want to establish that the role of the prophet is never to comfort the king or to comfort the leader, but to challenge the leader. We are in a dark, dismal, and a difficult time when basketball players and rappers tonight have more moral authority than preachers. I am in a place of repentance to the Black Lives Matter movement, to those who have walked away from church, from those who are questioning where is our voice, only after 24 hours ago, seeing Lebron James open up a school. Whereas our moral authority, when you got rappers like T.I., Ludacris, and David Banner on the front line and the preachers are saying, ‘I’m glad just to be at the table.’ Let me say as a caveat to the defenders who are going to be rousing up, yes, it’s good to be at the table. Yes, it’s wonderful to be invited. But if you are going to go to the table, make sure you come with a styrofoam container so you got something to go. If you don’t walk away with something at the table, then you’ve wasted your time. Might I also add that they were at the table and weren’t even offered a piece of bread. He says, ‘I prepare a table for you in the presence of my enemies.’ So all of these preachers that went, God provided the table and you just had a photo-op. And you walked away with nothing.
I have several issues that I will raise as questions: Of the preachers who were there, since this was a meeting about prison reform, of the preachers who were there — these are questions; I don’t know the answer; these are questions — Of the preachers who were there, who amongst them has an active and a viable prison ministry? I’m placing that right there. If the meeting was about prison reform, why did you not bring preachers who do prison ministry? That’s number one.
Number two, since you’re there for influence, while you were there, what budgetary item did he say he was lending to support prison reform? How much money is going to be earmarked for the next session of Congress to support these ideas? Number two. This is not even to you, this is for the preachers who were watching who were at the table.
Number three, what piece of legislation is going to be introduced for prison reform and what legislator has he gotten to support it?
Number four, if, in fact, he’s serious about prison reform, is he going to push for ex-offenders and returning citizens to regain their right to vote? I can’t hear anything.
Number five, if, in fact, he’s serious about prison reform, will he, in fact, make public universities more affordable and take away private prisons that is, in fact, getting the money that should have been delegated to HBCUs? I don’t even know what number I’m on. Am I on five or am I on number six?
Number five, let’s go to number five. Number five. What programs and services will in fact be offered for returning citizens? Will they be able to get a trade? Will they follow the piece of legislation that happened on a local assembly level that, after 10 years, your record is wiped clean and you’re able to be reintroduced into the general society without having that mark against your character?
Number seven, if this is about prison reform, what are you going to do to stop the prison pipeline so that what it is that the penal system does tracking records at fourth, fifth, and sixth grades to be predictors to how many beds will be needed in the prison system? What will be done?
Questions I need to ask is that preachers, when you all went around that table and after you stopped Uncle Tomming and thanking him for the privilege to be there, did any of you ask him how it is that he has separated brown and black children and put them in cages like pit bulls? When he went around that table, did any of you all ask him how it is that he said absolutely nothing to Putin when he was meeting with the Russian leader as how it is that Russians disguise themselves as black lives matter activists and infiltrated Facebook to try and stop people from voting? When you went around that table, did any of you urban pastors say anything about gentrification and why it is that the number one people who are deported are not people from Ireland, not people from the UK, but people from the Caribbean and people from Africa? Did any of you, when you went around that table, talk about why it is that absolutely no money has been earmarked for the redevelopment and the resuscitation of Puerto Rico that is in fact under the auspice of the United States of America? When you went around that table, urban preachers, did you say anything about Waffle House? Did you say anything about Starbucks? Did you say anything about the pointed remarks of D.L. Huguley who said better than I, ‘The most dangerous place for a black person to live is in the imagination of white people’?
When you went around that table, did you all ask for anything for public schools, knowing that schools are opening in two weeks and that our teachers are underpaid, the textbooks are outdated, and the only piece of technology they have is metal detectors? When they went around that table, preachers, did you say anything about Flint, Michigan? When they went around that table, did you all check him for disrespecting Aunt Maxine Waters? When it went around that table, did you in any way talk about any first time buyers program and money for entrepreneurship in the communities that you pastor? Did you say anything?
No, you didn’t, because they told you, going into the meeting, there will be no questions. So you went in there as prophets representing urban centers and couldn’t ask them anything. Why did you not risk being arrested? Why didn’t you risk being thrown out? What merit, what value did you think going back to pastor and preach to poor, struggling, and oppressed people did you think you were gonna have to say, ‘I got to meet the president’? And I want to know when Darrell Scott said that Donald Trump will be the greatest asset to black America in the history of this nation because Obama has done nothing, I want to know how none of you around the tables didn’t say a word? None of you corrected him. None of you challenged him. None of you said he was out of order. Can you imagine that he being around a table of rabbis and their most lauded and celebrated Jewish man be vilified by another Jew that the Jews at the table wouldn’t have stood up?
Can you imagine that with Italians? Can you imagine it with the Latino community? Can you imagine that with the Irish? Absolutely not. No more sell-out negroes. We can’t do it. We are fighting by the hair on our chinny chin chin to keep the body of Christ relevant and you all going in there today and asking for nothing, challenging nothing, has made us do the electric slide backwards. We can’t do it. We cannot do it. I want thank Bishop Reggie Jackson who is chair of the board of the AME Church. He has called for a meeting, a demonstration for real black clergy on September 6th at 9:00 AM. I want you to put that on your screen please. September 6th at 9:00 AM across the street from the White House, in the park. We’re calling for preachers of all denominations, all reformations, all ethnicities to come.
And if, in fact, President Trump is earnestly serious about meeting with urban pastors, we’ll be right across the street. Open the door. We don’t even have to come in. You come out. I’m praying for the body of Christ. I’m praying for our leaders. I’m praying that God will have us to have a conviction of consciousness. I want to thank the pastors that were invited that didn’t go. This is a stain on the body of Christ. It’s a stain on our community. But I want those of you who remember 5’2″, 145 pounds, James Baldwin, who said, ‘You cannot be black with a level of consciousness and not function with some level of rage.’ I need to know how all of y’all were smiling at that table while the whole world frowns at what this represents and what it looks like. The blood’s dripping off your hands just like the white evangelicals who have been conveniently quiet in the face of injustice. Let’s do better. Let’s fight forward and let the church be the church again. Those of you who are invited, all of the issues that I’ve raised, I welcome you to correct me. I promise to God, I want to be wrong. Prove me wrong. It is a dark day for the church, but it’s a great opportunity for the church that the church be the church again. God bless you.