Influential social justice advocate and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, William J. Barber II, says his church is open to every 2020 presidential candidate — including President Donald Trump — for worship and they don’t need his permission to attend.
The invitation comes as Barber revealed Sunday that gay Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who's in a same-sex marriage, has accepted an invitation to worship at his church on Dec. 1 and plans to discuss issues related to poverty after the service.
“Presidential candidates often ask me, they say, ‘Could we come by the church?’ I said, 'Well, the church is open to everybody. You can come. You can always come and worship.' I wish Trump would come. I would love to preach with him sitting right there,” he said, pointing to the front of his church in a video clip he posted on Twitter.
“See, I preach the Gospel in season and out of season. I preach it if you say amen, if you don’t say amen. So some of them are starting to take us up on that and next Sunday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg asked could he come. I said, 'You don’t have to ask that. You can come to worship,'” Barber continued.
“Now, we don’t do stuff during service ‘cause we’re not gonna stop having audience with the King to talk to a presidential candidate. But afterwards, if you want to discuss poverty ... We want to hear where you stand on the issue of poverty and we’ve said that to all of them that will come,” he added.
Buttigieg was not able to join 10 other candidates when Barber and his co-chair, the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, hosted a Poor People’s Campaign candidates' forum in Washington, D.C., earlier this year during their Moral Poverty Action Congress.
Renowned Old Testament scholar and preacher the Rev. Dr. Renita Weams is expected to be the guest preacher during Buttigieg’s visit. A release from Barber further noted that the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will hear from representatives of America’s 140 million poor and low income people, a third of which live in the South — 4 million in North Carolina alone.
Last year, Barber was announced as one of 25 people to receive a MacArthur "genius" fellowship that came with an unrestricted $625,000 grant.
The prestigious fellowship, according to the MacArthur Foundation, is reserved only for "talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction."
Barber was recognized for "building broad-based fusion coalitions as part of a moral movement to confront racial and economic inequality."
The moral movement is the Poor People's Campaign which makes a national call for moral revival.
"We believe that the issue of systemic racism and poverty, and ecological devastation, the war economy and the false moral narrative of so-called Christian nationalism are interlocking injustices that have to be addressed by poor people, poor impacted people, coming together and organizing with religious leaders, their advocates and even people who may not be of religious faith but they believe in things like establishment of justice," Barber said in a video published by the foundation.