Pastor John Gray of the Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, is one of several black faith leaders under fire for attending a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.
Gray, along with Darrell Scott, a pro-Trump pastor from Ohio, Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Maryland met with Trump last week.
The ministers are being criticized for meeting with the president, whom some say is a racist and has policies that aren’t in favor of minorities.
Gray responded to his critics on social media and said he prayed about whether to attend the meeting.
“I asked the Lord when I was asked to be present in this initial meeting about potential prison reform – that could greatly end up benefitting many people who look just like me – ‘Lord, do You want me in that room?'” he shared in a post on Instagram.
“My first mind was no. The pain of so many is too real. The hurt. The isolation. The sense of disenfranchisement. The real hate that has bubbled to the surface of the national discourse. I myself have been vocal about my personal disagreements with key policy decisions of this administration,” Gray continued. “I have everything to lose. Credibility. Reputation. Every natural inclination says stay home. Don’t get played. But I did the one thing I can’t shake: I prayed again and asked God, ‘Do You want me in that room?’ My attendance gives the answer. My heart was pure as was my motive and intention.”
Pastor Gray said much more in a powerful video on Facebook BELOW:
Many took to social media to blast Gray.
“Pastor John Gray looked uncomfortable,” tweeted a woman named Loves2Read. “But I don’t think he should have gone to see that man in the White House. Pray for him at home.”
Another tweet reads, “SOOOOO disappointed he would even show up to this. I have lost all respect for him as a pastor. And I hope he don’t go saying Jesus prompted him to go to this dog and pony show,” said someone with the Twitter handle Babyu21.
And in a video, Baltimore Pastor Jamal Bryant blasted Gray and the other pastors, calling the meeting nothing more than a publicity stunt.
He posed the question to the pastors, “Preachers, when you all went around that table, and after you stopped uncle tomming, and thanking him for the privilege to be there, did any of you ask him how it is that he has separated brown and black children and put them in cages like pit bulls?”
Bishop Jackson spoke with CBN News about the meeting and says he believes it was the right thing to do. He said they talked about an “urban agenda,” criminal justice reform and re-entry for people. He says the president talked about 4 million new jobs; and, progress on legislation known to help those imprisoned successfully re-enter society.
“I’m just elated and I think many of those sitting around the table were delighted with the progress the president has made and his heart toward ‘the least of these’ in urban settings,” Jackson said in his interview with CBN News.
Pastor Bryant also said the pastors who met with Trump were too complimentary and didn’t press the president on the issues.
Bishop Jackson says he knows Bryant, is friendly with him and loves him. He says Bryant is passionate about promoting and advocating on issues facing the African-American community – but Jackson says he’s got it wrong on this.
“What he doesn’t understand is that you can’t be a prophet to the culture while you’re standing outside of the room,” Jackson said.
“Many of the people who came into that meeting knew they would be misunderstood, disrespected, lied on, talked about, but they came anyway because the needs of the people, especially returning citizens, are so important,” he went on to say.
“I believe this is the greatest civil rights issue of our generation. The overcriminalization of minorities and what are we the church gonna advocate for? So, I’ve got more courage than to let Jamal Bryant’s opinion keep me from speaking to the most powerful person on planet earth. That’s how I see it,” Jackson elaborated.
Jackson says his question for their critics is: “What are you doing? Not, what are you saying; what are you doing in Jesus’ name?”
Jackson says the response from brothers and sisters in Christ should have been different and handled biblically – and without judgment.
“They don’t understand that I’ve been talking about 15 months about these issues. They don’t understand that I cried and prayed and fasted that God would move on the hearts of these leaders in this administration,” Jackson said in the interview with CBN News.
“They want to diminish my heart and my spirituality and they just don’t understand that if this stuff is going on in America is gonna get fixed, we’re gonna have to call on supernatural, biblical authority to break the chains that bind, and break the curse of generational poverty on blacks and Hispanics in our nation,” Jackson said with emotion.
“So, my heart is to see America blaze in the glory of God,” he continued. “My heart is, I don’t care what people say about me, but can Jesus use me and can He move in our nation?”