The Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, pastor of Northwest Baltimore's Empowerment Temple church, said the group of black pastors who met with GOP 2016 presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Monday are worse than prostitutes.
During an interview on CNN Monday night where he sparred with Pastor James Davis on whether or not the meeting with the billionaire real estate mogul had accomplished anything, Bryant doubled down on previous comments he made when he likened the pastors to prostitutes.
"I wanna apologize because prostitutes get money. And the 100 that went in there walked away with nothing. They did it for free. So there's another word for that and I would not use that language on the family channel. What I would suggest is that you couldn't find a hundred white pastors to do the endorsement. Not a hundred Rabbis, not a hundred Imams," charged Bryant in the interview.
Since Trump's campaign announced on Nov. 25 that "a coalition of 100 African-American Evangelical pastors and religious leaders" would be meeting with him on Monday, many black clergy have spoken out in opposition to sitting with the bombastic billionaire because of his brash discussion on race.
"Mr. Trump routinely uses overtly divisive and racist language on the campaign trail. Most recently, he admitted his supporters were justified for punching and kicking a black protester who had attended a Trump rally with the intent to remind the crowd that "Black Lives Matter,"" noted more than 100 black clergy in an open letter to their colleagues published in Ebony prior to Monday's meeting.
It continued: "Trump followed this action by re-tweeting inaccurate statistics about crime prevalence rates in black communities — insinuating that black people are more violent than other groups. Those statistics did not reflect the fact that most crimes are intraracial, meaning that most people do harm to people of their own race. They also did not speak to the crime of neoliberalism, capitalism, and white supremacy, which kill thousands of black and nonblack people each day."
The black pastors opposed to meeting with Trump were concerned their colleagues who signed up to meet with the billionaire were betraying the black church and giving legitimacy to a candidate who doesn't care about the black community.
"We are concerned that your choice to meet with Mr. Trump, particularly in such a visible way, will not only de-radicalize the black prophetic political tradition, but will also give Trump the appearance of legitimacy among those who follow your leadership and respect your position as clergy. Mr.Trump will use that legitimacy to gain black political support, while using that support to govern in a way that harms black communities.
"Surely, black people have been misused and abused by politicians long enough. Surely we can count on our clergypersons not to actively facilitate this kind of treatment of our people, many of whom are the 'least of these,'" the letter continued.
Prior to the meeting, Bryant had also urged congregants of the churches whose pastors had accepted Trump's invitation to dissuade their leaders from endorsing him.
"If your pastor tells you they're going to New York on Monday, I need you to call them out," Bryant said in a Periscope video posted on YouTube. "Donald Trump does not represent what our community needs or what America needs."
Bryant had also previously referred to the pastors as prostitutes on Twitter, but he was quickly condemned by Rev. Darrell Scott, senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who helped organize the meeting with Trump.
"For respectable preachers to be called 'prostitutes on a pole' is very insulting, demeaning, and misogynistic, to say the least," Scott reportedly said on Twitter. "If Trump called black preachers 'prostitutes on a pole', the entire nation would be in an uproar!"
Bryant said the video forced some of the preachers he named to skip the Monday meeting with Trump, according to The Baltimore Sun. He also said he hoped the preachers who met with Trump and "have not been on the front lines of social justice" will now get involved now that they have waded into politics.
"I hope these 100 ministers will go home and do work in their local communities now that they have made up their minds to be politically engaged," he said.