According to 2016 presidential hopeful Donald Trump, black pastors expressed “great love” during a recent meeting where he sought their endorsement. These black pastors did not endorse his campaign as expected, and instead Bishop Victor Couzens said they spent much of the discussion focusing on the tone of Trump’s 2016 campaign, including how he speaks about Mexican immigrants and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, when Donald Trump’s campaign announced the meeting with the black pastors, it was described as a “coalition of 100 African American Evangelical pastors and religious leaders who will endorse the GOP frontrunner after a private meeting at Trump Tower.” Instead, the planned press conference was cancelled after the two-and-a-half hour meeting finished, although Trump described the results as “amazing.”
Not all of the black pastors agreed with the way Trump portrayed the results. For example, Los Angeles Bishop Clarence McClendon said the media misrepresented the purpose of the meeting, claiming it was not intended to be “a meeting to endorse but a meeting to engage in dialogue.”
Others were far more critical. Bishop Paul S. Morton of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship refuses to attend any such meeting until Trump “learns how to respect people.” Bishop Corletta Vaughn, the Senior Pastor of The Holy Ghost Cathedral, even openly attacked Trump on Facebook.
“Trump is an insult and embarrassment. But he represents the country we have become,” wrote Vaughn. “ZERO experience… Flaunting a ticket of unbridled bigotry, sexism, racism and everything that is wrong with America.”
Donald Trump: Black Pastors Want Me To ‘See Victory’ In 2016
According to Donald Trump, the number of black pastors in attendance numbered in the hundreds, and he touted it as an overall success.
“I thought it was an amazing meeting,” Trump said, according to Think Progress. “The beautiful thing [was] that they didn’t really ask me to change the tone. I think they really want to see victory, because ultimately it is about, we want to win and we want to win together.”
Bishop Victor Couzens disagrees with this characterization of the meeting entirely. Couzens believes that “maybe somewhere between 40 and 50” black pastors attended altogether, adding that he was “pretty confident there weren’t 100 people there.” The pastor also said it was not true at all that the pastors did not ask Trump to change the tone of his rhetoric.
“That’s not true,” Couzens said. “We spent a lot of time just discussing the overall tone of the campaign. I personally said to him, he needs to apologize. He needs to repent.”
Couzens claims that when he asked for the apology, Trump allowed his staff to interrupt and answer on his behalf.
“He let his people answer for him. He didn’t seem to mind that,” the pastor said.
According to Couzens, the major issue is that Trump was not receptive to the idea that he should soften his rhetoric in regards to Black Lives Matter, Mexican immigrants, and the disabled community. In recent times, Trump was criticized for how he treated a Black Lives Matter protester at a rally, telling the man to “get the hell out” after other attendees allegedly beat up the man for chanting “Black Lives Matter” over and over.
At the same time, Couzens says Trump is not a racist, “he just has [a] very bad bedside manner.” They also did not specifically discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, but Trump seemed receptive when discussing police brutality and the events surrounding Ferguson and Baltimore.
“[Trump] seemed concerned, like he was empathetic to the people who were impacted more directly by [police brutality],” the black pastor said. “He mentioned [the death of Laquan McDonald in Chicago], and how preposterous he thought it was that someone could be shot 16 times. He said, even if a police officer has to shoot someone, shoot them in his leg.”
Overall, Couzens believes that public perception of Trump in the African-American communities will be more important in 2016 than Trump’s actual intentions.
“If [Trump is] not willing to apologize… he’s going to lose a lot of the minority votes,” he said. “[His tone] works well for where he came from — corporate America, the board room — But I think the leader of the free world has to be a little more sensitive, a little more engaging.”
Black Pastors Who Support Donald Trump
Not everyone walked away from the meeting with an overall negative impression of Trump. Pastor Darrell Scott, leader of the New Spirit Revival Center in the Cleveland area, says the media has falsely portrayed Trump in the past.
“I didn’t have concerns [with Trump] because I was already convinced, but there were concerns that the liberal media has put out portraying Mr. Trump in a light that I know he’s not the type of person he was depicted to be. So what we were able to do today was allow to see his heart for themselves and to make up their own minds about him. And they find out that he’s not the person that the media has depicted him to be.”
Scott disagreed with how other black pastors have portrayed the results from the meeting, saying, “We asked questions [which were answered, and we were satisfied with the answers, and we’re a unified front right here. We had a wonderful time, a wonderful dialogue, wonderful fellowship, wonderful interaction. It was a great day.”
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[Photo by Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images]