By Faye Thompson
Nationwide — Donald Trump’s clandestine meeting with Black clergy leaves many with one question. Besides all that loving in the room, exactly what transpired behind those closed doors?
Ask the O’Jays. A lot of things jump off because of money. In my latest novel, Slippin’ Sippin’ Saints (Ultra Pearl Power), I touch upon the influence of the Black church and the power of money. Wealthy businessman Price Alexandra propositions his cash-strapped pastor for a night with the first lady. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For better or for worse the church has a tremendous ability to affect change. Like James Wright singing the praises of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies, a pastor’s words can easily translate into an endorsement that a politician can take to the bank. Pastors know the power of the black dollar and politicians do too.
A savvy politician pours into demographics that serve him or her best. Sometimes after the election, we learn that it was just a ploy. By no means am I implying that all politicians are wolves in sheep’s clothing, or that all pastors are righteous. However, as shepherds of God’s flock, religious leaders and pastors have a responsibility to their congregation.
Effective pastors and politicians exhibit some of the same qualities. And though they make strange bedfellows, it’s not unusual for politicians to seek counsel from a trusted clergyman. The connection cannot be denied.
As a child, I pledged allegiance to the American flag and one nation under God every day. Then one morning the ceremony stopped. As I matured I realized that we worship differently. There are those who worship animals or inanimate objects. There are those who don’t worship or believe in Him at all. Yet, we are all a sum total of our experiences and beliefs. Those experiences and beliefs shape policy, legislation, jobs, housing, healthcare, etc.
In a perfect world, politics and religion mix quite nicely—like sugar and spice. But let’s keep it real. We are not there yet. Religion and politics are like oil and vinegar, setting the stage for those Seven Deadly Sins. We need a healthy distance between the two arenas. Separation of church and state encourages accountability and transparency. Unfortunately, it doesn’t guarantee it.
The influence of the Black church should not to be taken for granted or viewed lightly. Attention politicians: particularly during an election year pastors can be your closest allies or biggest opponents. Ultimately, however, it’s up to the voters to decide. God bless America.
Watch Donald Trump’s press conference below: