Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, the founder and president of Impact Television Network who is set to interview Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Saturday as part of the candidate's outreach to black America, says some critics have the wrong impression about his reasons for hosting the billionaire.
"My phone has been burning up," Jackson told the Detroit Free Press in an interview Tuesday.
"And the things people are asking: 'Is Donald Trump paying me off?' They haven't paid me off. You haven't looked at me and seen a man who's needed things I've always been blessed. It's not about being a Judas to my people. I love my people. I feel that we should be better off than what we are. This is not an endorsement. This is engagement, for him to tell us what he wants to do," Jackson added.
Jackson, whose network reaches 50 million homes in the U.S. including Puerto Rico and several countries in Africa and Canada, is set to interview Trump in his office at Great Faith Ministries International in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday after an 11 a.m. church service.
In a press release on the network's website, Jackson explained his reason for granting Trump the interview despite controversial comments the candidate has made in the past regarding racial minorities.
"The goal for this interview is to get real answers and Trump's views and plans on policies that affect our community. Mr. Trump will be allowed 30 minutes to outline his policies followed by a frank on-air conversation with Bishop Jackson," the release noted.
"Impact Network's opportunity to interview and broadcast an interview with Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is NOT a rally or an endorsement of Trump's candidacy by Impact Network or Bishop Jackson," it added.
Jackson said the interview with the New York City billionaire is something he needed to do for his audience.
"I owe this to my viewers," he said.
Critics of the pastor, according to the Detroit Free Press, are worried that Jackson will allow Trump to "experience" the Saturday service and use his pulpit to make what some see as offensive appeals to black voters, such as his most recent question: "What the hell do you have to lose?"
Jackson, who is a registered Democrat who has voted Republican before, said it is the criticism that he finds offensive.
"Do you think Donald Trump will manipulate the people? Black folks, we're not stupid. We know when someone is running a game," Jackson said, noting that Trump will not speak at the church.
"If anybody knows, we know. And I'm saying, 'We don't need a guardian. We don't need a guardian from one party or the other.' "he said.
"We want not only to satisfy the spiritual man," the bishop said. "We want to make sure we are being innovative in getting the message. … We talk about spiritual issues. We talk about racial issues. We talk about political issues. We talk about health issues. We want to impact the whole man."
Jackson explained that nothing impacts black America more than the politics of inclusion, racism, economics and opportunity and hearing from both candidates on these issues are important.
"I'm an independent thinker, and I say this over and over: One gift God gave man was the power of choice. Free will. And he lets us use that free will and the vote that we inherited from martyrs, who were Jewish, Hispanic, white, black …," he said.
"You can't be afraid to be criticized for making right decisions, for not being politically correct," he said. "We should all sit down and see what's going to be the best thing for this country. We should be independent and not go with the crowd but make sure in our hearts of what we're voting for. When I go into that ballot booth, I vote with my heart and not what somebody told me to vote."