Al Sharpton Warns Black Pastors: Don't Be Trumped by Trump

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex in Birmingham, Alabama, November 21,2015.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex in Birmingham, Alabama, November 21,2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Marvin Gentry)

The meeting became a flashpoint after Trump's campaign announced on Nov. 25 that "a coalition of 100 African American Evangelical pastors and religious leaders" would endorse him after the meeting set for today.

A post-meeting news conference had been scheduled to occur but it was cancelled after some of the pastors said they would attend the meeting but wouldn't necessarily endorse Trump as a presidential candidate.

In a statement released on Sunday, Trump's campaign clarified that he "will host a private, informational meet and greet with many members of the Coalition of African American Ministers at Trump Tower after which a number of attendees are expected to endorse Mr. Trump."

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Asked about the controversy surrounding the meeting during an interview on MSNBC Monday morning, Trump said the pastors may have been spooked by the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Probably some of the Black Lives Matter folks called them up, said 'Oh, you shouldn't be meeting with Trump because he believes that all lives matter,'" said Trump.

"I believe black lives do matter, but I believe all lives matter very strongly," added Trump who said that will be his message at the meeting with the black pastors.

Asked to respond to Trump's reaction to the controversy over the meeting Sharpton said: "I think it's an easy distraction to not have to deal with substance. What he should be asked is what are you going to say to them who pastor many people from the Caribbean, from Haiti, from Jamaica, from Africa. How are you gonna explain to them your immigration policies. How are you gonna deal with your refugee policies when they preach a refugee named Jesus Christ?"

Sharpton had noted earlier: "Let us not forget Jesus was a refugee and they are meeting with someone who has taken a mean stance against refugees. I don't know how you could preach Jesus [as] a refugee on Sunday and then deal with refugee bashing on Monday without raising the question. Don't be trumped by Trump. Stay in your conversion and your conviction."

Sharpton said his organization is currently organizing a similar meeting of pastors with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton later this month and plans to force her to answer tough questions as well.

"I would also say the NAN is coordinating a meeting with the Democratic candidate later this month. We gonna ask tough questions but that's what we do," he said.

If Trump isn't held accountable by the group of black pastors, warns Sharpton, it will be an insult to the black community and clergy alike.

"They should not let him do a cameo appearance. They should do a full length Q&A. And I think that should be questioned on it and I think that Donald Trump who clearly has been part of the New York landscape for a while, should be challenged about those issues if he is trying to be chief executive of this country," argued Sharpton.

"I think it would be an insult to our community and an insult to the integrity of the cloth for them to have a story that he met with black preachers and didn't deal with the issues that affects those in their congregation from immigration all the way to violence, all the way to policing," he continued.

"I'm not clear on where Mr. Trump stands and I'm sure he'll call me a bunch of names tonight 'cause that's what he does. But when you get through all of that then where is the substance. And what is it that he is proposing to the members of those congregations," he added.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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