Pastors Booted From Capitol Center Because Title of Racial Reconciliation Event Included 'An Appeal to Heaven'

A view of the Capitol Dome from a skylight in the Capitol Visitor's Center at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 2, 2013. | (Photo: Reuters/JONATHAN ERNST)

Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Maryland, is now crying religious and racial discrimination after a group of pastors were booted from the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and forced to find a different venue for a racial reconciliation event in Washington D.C. because their theme included the phrase "an appeal to heaven."

Jackson explained in an interview with CBN News Wednesday that his group was originally granted approval to use the congressional auditorium at the visitor center for their event, but they were told last Friday that they would have to eliminate the reference to heaven from their title.

"They were aware of the original theme, but it seems as they looked into things that the question of God and heaven really caused them angst," said Jackson.

Bishop Harry Jackson speaks to attendees at the Watchmen on the Wall National Briefing held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 22, 2014. | (Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)

"Unfortunately, we got pushed back and we felt it was discriminatory. And there is a tinge of religious prejudice in terms of our content, our theme, our focus. We felt that we needed to continue with the meeting anyway rather than get all tied up in a back-and-forth fight with the folks at the Capitol," he explained.

When asked what specific explanation the representatives at the Capitol gave for pulling the plug on the event, Jackson said they specifically cited the reference to God.

"What the representative said to us, our representatives, was simply that the God thing kinda bothered them. And they had a number of other questions and that they had been digging into it for some time," said Jackson.

"So there was some back-and-forth from their team to our team on more than one call, more than one occasion. And Friday, they basically declared that they couldn't guarantee that they were gonna be able to do the event on Wednesday. Based on that, the decision was made that we needed to move and hold the event but we still need to cry out and let it be known that although taxpayer dollars pay for the location [this is happening]," he continued.

Jackson said they eventually relocated to the Washington Hilton but appeared to remain slighted by the treatment his group received.

"I think the real problem for me, personally, is that first a go ahead was given and the rules were followed as we had known them at that moment. Then questions come, content is questioned … and it seemed to me that there was some angst and concern that we were a biblically based, evangelical, black, Christian group," he asserted.

"Had we been more of another religious background or more interracial or there was a sense that there was more control over the event, it may have been different. But from where I sit, it seems like religious pushback, racial concern, about how this is going to look and what our intentions are going to be. However you envision it, it's not the welcome we want based on using a public facility and following the rules," he said.

The Christian Post reached out to the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for comment on Thursday but a response wasn't available in time for this report.

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

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