Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Black Clergy Using Sermons to ‘Inform and Inspire’ in Age of Trump

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Eldren Morrison, senior pastor of Shaw Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Smyrna, Georgia.

*Donald Trump’s remarks about Haiti, El Salvador and African nations being “shithole countries” continue to draw outrage, most notably among Black Christian leaders.

Eldren Morrison, senior pastor of Shaw Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Smyrna, Georgia, believes it is his duty to strike a chord with his congregants through his sermon. 

“I have been a pastor for about 18 years now, and have always thought and been taught that the black pastor, who has the freest voice within the community, that it’s on black pastors to really speak to the things going on that affect the black community,” Morrison told NBC News in a phone interview.

“My hope was that I would encourage our congregation from my commentary while also bringing forth the truth of the gospel.”

Morrison said he told the congregation that he was “surprised by the way those in his party, especially those that were in the room, were struck by amnesia and how those that admitted to hearing the statements played them down.”

He was especially “shocked that Dr. King’s nephew stood up in the White House some days later and defended Trump.”

Morrison’s church reportedly sits in a suburb northwest of Atlanta, half of his members are residents who live within the city while “the other half hail from the more suburban and mostly white Cobb County.”

“They need to be able to speak and not be ashamed to have a voice in the midst of a white community. They need to be able to speak without feeling bad for speaking up and cautious of upsetting the status quo,” he said. “Hopefully, that message is getting out to them.”

Earl Fisher, senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee also used his sermon to shed light on Trump’s comments.

“The gist of what I said to my congregation Sunday morning was, ‘There are no s—hole countries. But we do have a–hole people who produce s—hole policies that exploit people’s resources which cause inhumane living conditions. So we need to vote the a–hole people out of office,’” Fisher told NBC News.

Trump has denied that he insulted Haiti and many of his supporters are church leaders who have come to his defense. In an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid, Evangelical Pastor Mark Burns doubted Trump made the remarks and later suggested Reid “just move to Haiti.”

William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, speaks to his congregation. Courtesy Isiah Dupree

Earl Fisher, senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, believes it is the responsibility of black religious and social justice leaders to inform and inspire.

“I’m mindful that people of faith (black folks included) are not monolithic and see things differently as a byproduct of our experiences,” he said. “And while I do believe everyone should stand and speak as they feel compelled and convicted, if we are to effectively be (black) religious and social justice leaders, we must stand on the side of truth and justice for all.”

William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., has one simple message for Trump and his evangelical supporters.

“God is the God of justice and beauty. God is concerned with the earth, women and everything that God. God’s vision is one of harmony, equality, justice and peace,” he said. “It is that message of justice and peace that drives worship and preaching and Christian social ethics. Therefore, I am also moving in the trajectory of justice, liberation and freedom regardless of who is in the White House.”

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