When Pharisees Visit The Oval Office

How this latest “meeting” orchestrated by Trump puts a spotlight on a constant problem in the Black spiritual community and leaves more questions than answers.

Pastor John Gray sits next to President Donald J. Trump during meeting on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 on prison reform & other matters (photo credit: CBN)

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves.
- 2 Peter 2, New International Version of the Holy Bible

I come from a background in terms of faith where I am more spiritual than religious. It’s a broad statement, an expansive collection of words to match the truths that my faith has brought me to at this point in life. I believe in a higher power, raised in that manner by a family that emphasized actively living my faith than just giving lip service to it. I see the good in going to service, and I unfortunately have seen and heard the negatives carried out by some folks going there and even the pastors themselves. But for me, my faith isn’t defined by those elements. And so I’ve carried that forward, even though I’m not someone who makes it a practice of going to church often. I don’t rock with wolves in Lane Bryant and Men’s Wearhouse who can drop a random Bible verse on cue but talk bad about you like that.

That said, I found myself shaking my head as I checked social media this past Wednesday. Why?

Because his past Wednesday, 17 pastors from “urban” areas led by Pastor Darrell Scott of Cleveland, Ohio who is known as Trump’s religious errand boy (sharing that duty with Pastor Mark Burns)sat down with Trump for a highly publicized meeting with cameras present on “prison reform”. Trump went on to talk about the achievements he made, citing the tax bill once again and claiming that there’s a new bill on prison reform that is being held up in Congress which was authored in part by Jared Kushner. Yes, you read that right. Trump himself sounded incredulous as he described prison reform as Kushner’s “number one priority”. (Vomiting yet?) Among the attendees were Pastor John Gray, known for his show on the OWN Network “The Book of John Gray” and Marvin Winans Jr., son of Bishop Marvin Winans of Detroit, Michigan who attended in place of another faith leader who was too ill to attend. Gray led the group in prayer, and was prominently seated on Trump’s right side. As you can expect, the meeting was met with surprise, and scorn.
It didn’t help that Scott decided to trash Barack Obama as doing nothing for the Black community, sounding much like your ashy friend on Facebook who read maybe half of a Carter G. Woodson essay and thought they were intelligent. You know that type, the type still passing around those fake “wearing Timberlands is supporting slavery” memes.

Pastor Darrell Scott

I’m not surprised that Scott helped to bring this together. Someone who always looks like they could’ve been making money on the side as a Lloyd Banks impersonator in a male revue for aunties with tiara’s from Claire’s
dropping dollar bills, someone who has no shame whatsoever…of course he’d be in the mix. For him to say that Trump, TRUMP would be “the most pro-Black president this country has ever had” however…THAT was seriously unconscionable. This statement, made to praise someone who got to this office by overtly race-baiting and putting extra venom in the birther movement by calling former POTUS Barack Obama a “secret Muslim from Kenya” is a new low. But what else are you going to expect from someone who looks and acts as if he could play the S-Curl laden heavy in a Tyler Perry production on cue? (If you really doubt this statement, just go back to the video clip where the esteemed April D. Ryan tried to ask Trump a question on his racism on the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and watch Scott shout her down and then advance as if he was going to attack her.) It
proves once again just how heinous and vile Scott and the rest of these prosperity preachers that have been a thorn in the community truly are.

With regards to Pastor Gray, and even Winans Jr., they’ve had to defend their presence at this meeting with Trump from the backlash they’ve received. Gray released a statement shortly after, saying that he went despite his own criticisms of Trump and the policies and divisiveness of his administration. He even led the opening prayer. I’m here to say it — he and other 16 pastors who attended got played. They were brought there to give Trump a public handjob as both a distraction from the cornucopia of crap that he and his cronies have unleashed on this country and the world by extension and as a way to say “see?! Black people love me — look at these guys! Pastors!” (Side note — how none of these religious leaders actually took the initiative to ask him flat out on camera about the “2 Corinthians” gaffe he made a while ago is telling.) These faith leaders should be embarrassed at being roped into this spectacle.
Embarrassed that they weren’t listening to the concerns of those around them. Embarrassed that they now got put on the apricot abomination’s Summer Jam screen, grouped into the same box of dusty Raisinets along with Diamond & Silk, that other sanctified coon Mark Burns and that one guy who shows up to all the rallies holding up the “Blacks For Trump” sign. Embarrassed to do so as hundreds of children are still separated from their parents, being held in facilities across the country in dangerous and abusive conditions at times. Embarrassed to sit across and next to a man who is aiming to deport thousands of Haitians next year as his administration revokes their temporary protected status. And so on. Pastor Gray is going to have to do a lot to repair his image after this. Which is a shame, because from whatever I saw from his show he seemed to be someone bringing faith in a real way to the community. But reality shows aren’t reality. I know that others will defend him, as I have already heard since January 2017 of people in churches praying for Trump “out of respect” as he did in going. There’s already some in the Christian community upset that “politics” are marring this situation. Tell that to Franklin Graham who literally laid the groundwork for this atrocious behavior for both of Obama’s presidential terms and opened the door to those calling him “the Antichrist” among other foul terms.

There’s already a groundswell of dislike against jack-leg preachers in the Black community, fueled further by the disgraceful behavior of the late Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar (shoutout to my boy DJ Stress who I can’t forget when discussing Creflo — “whoever heard of a plantation owner who’s last name was Dollar?!!!”), the latter literally asking for money in 2015 from his congregation for a new jet. This meeting doesn’t help, especially when you’ve got someone as sleazy as Scott trashing Obama claiming “he got a pass.” This fool is like anyone else who aids Trump — they’re hoping for some crumbs of capital he might, MIGHT throw their way. Ask Rudy Giuliani.

For some of the false prophets out there, twenty pieces of silver don’t compare these days to the promise of a silver Jaguar and sleek suits. What happened last Wednesday is just another example of how greed is better than faith to them. It isn’t the first time Pharisees have been to the Oval Office. It’s just the first instance of them being so blatant and subservient to a Herod-in-waiting.

Freelance writer. Author of 3 books of poetry. Raconteur. Queens is the county, Jamaica is the place.