Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott of the New Spirit Revival Center who also moonlights as a surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, believes many black Apostolic Christians also known as "Oneness Pentecostals" will not vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because of her sex.
"There are entire African American Pentecostal/Apostolic Denominations that will NEVER vote for a Woman to be President!" Scott wrote in his initial tweet on the subject before adding, "Some Traditional Black Apostolic Denominations do not believe Women should be in leadership, and will NEVER vote for a Woman to be President."
The preacher then claimed: "MILLIONS of Black Apostolics will not vote for a Woman President! More Blacks will vote for Trump than people think!"
Vinson Synan, a professor of church history at Regent University in Virginia and an expert on Pentecostalism, estimates there are 15 to 20 million Pentecostals in the United States and of those, maybe 1 million are Apostolic Pentecostals, notes a report from USA Today. Apostolic Pentecostals claim to have a total 25 million members worldwide, he said.
The Apostolic movement started with the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in California and is named after Pentecost, when early Christians first received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Apostolics believe speaking in tongues is the initial evidence that someone has been filled with the Holy Spirit. They see the Bible as God's infallible word and among other things, believe "Father," "Son" and "Holy Spirit" are three different titles for one person, Jesus.
Apostolic Pentecostals according to Synan are the strictest of all the Pentecostal groups. They do not use alcohol or tobacco and they generally don't watch TV or movies. Women who are Apostolic Pentecostals also wear long dresses, they don't cut their hair or wear makeup. Synan calls it "external holiness" which is meant to separate followers from the rest of the world in the way they look and act. Men who are Apostolic Pentecostals he said, look "like everybody else."
Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk jailed for five days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 because of her faith, identifies as an Apostolic.
In his interview with CNN on Saturday Scott charged that as a result of their literal interpretation of the Bible, Apostolics support the policy "that women cannot hold offices in the church. They use the Scripture from the Apostle Paul that says 'thou shalt not suffer a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man.'"
"Now, some apply that only to the church, that within the parameters of the church a woman can't be a bishop or a pastor, hold a position of authority but I know some that I've discussed this with on a number of occasions that hold to that interpretation in all parameters of life and they've told me out of their mouth 'Oh no we' they didn't say 'I,' 'we would never vote for a woman.' Now this is the Republican primaries. They weren't supporting Trump but they wouldn't vote for a woman," he added.
Another pastor, Bishop Joel Trout of Harvesttime Apostolic Ministries in Riverdale, Georgia, told CNN that despite what the experts say however, Apostolics have evolved over the years.
"Well, I'm a fifth generation Apostolic, and I'll say this about the Apostolic Church. It's evolved over the years to the point now where we have pastors and even women bishops in the Apostolic movement. The other thing to consider is that the Apostolic Church is made up of probably 75 to 80 percent women," he said.
He said while he is not really concerned with Clinton's sex, he was more concerned about her stance on abortion.
"Gender is really a distraction. The real issue to me about Hillary is this, last year, April 2015, at a women's national or worldwide summit, she declared that the church needs to change its views on abortion. That to me is more dangerous than her gender," he said. "She's challenged the church to change itself and that takes a lot of hubris to do so."