PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — For the first time in its 125-year history, the Tidewater Metro Baptist Minister’s Conference has broken with tradition and made a political statement.
In a scathing document, the conference denounced President Donald Trump’s re-election bid, citing the president’s policies, practices, and personal demeanor. The conference has 125 members who serve at 50 historically Black churches in the Hampton Roads area.
Not using scriptures, but the headlines, the conference cited what it describes as Trump’s harmful policies, practices, and personal demeanor.
“We have made a statement that vigorously and vehemently opposes the candidacy of this current president,” said Dr. Keith Ivans Jones, president of the conference.
In a video teleconference, Jones reacted to widely reported instances where Trump denigrated women and a reporter who has physical disabilities.
“We think that anything that denigrates a woman, it’s shameful. We think that anything that separates people by race — we’ve seen him denigrate a person who is impaired by way of disability — so all of these things we think are not keeping with Christian values,” said Jones.
Jones used a medical metaphor to describe the Trump era.
“We’re suffering under the Trump virus. We know he likes to call [the coronavirus] the ‘China virus’ but if you are the leader, you have to take ownership. We are suffering under the Trump virus,” said Jones.
A pastor from Smithfield weighed in on the televised images from this summer when the president used federal troops to clear protestors near the White House as he staged a photo op in front of a church and held a Bible.
“As the president indicates that he is for God, I have never heard him call for us to pray,” said Dr. Melvin Blackwell, pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church in Smithfield.
The conference is calling on citizens to vote and is taking a sense of urgency one step further. In the teleconference, Jones called on Trump to resign.
“The best thing that he could do is resign. His lack of performance certainly warrants that,” he said.
When asked if the organization is calling for Trump’s resignation before the election Jones called it “a good thing — that would be a novel idea.”
The unprecedented actions of the conference produced a sharp reaction from the head of the Virginia Beach Republican Party.
In a statement issued to WAVY-TV 10, local party Chairman Bill Curtis wrote:
“… [T]he current presidential election has led the conference to make a political endorsement for the first time in its history. Taking such a position is certainly within its authority. However, it is interesting to note that even the egregious and reprehensible, and as yet unrepentant, behavior of former President Bill Clinton, did not elicit a similar response from this highly regarded conference,” wrote Curtis.
Here’s Curtis’ full statement:
There are issues in ever election cycle that raise significant concerns for the electorate in general, and religious orders in particular. This presidential election is no exception. In that regard, l know the conference recognizes that God places women and men in positions of leadership with purpose. We do not always understand that purpose, but we attempt to interpret it through study and application of the written word. However, in doing so we must be careful to not superimpose our will over that of the Lord, to satisfy our own limited understanding of his intentions. The Lord’s goals are eternal.
The events of the day, especially in contentious political environments, have a way of consuming us, and righteous indignation does have its place. Apparently the current presidential election has led the conference to make a political endorsement for the first time in its history. Taking such a position is certainly within it’s authority. However, it is interesting to note that even the egregious and reprehensible, and as yet unrepetent, behavior of former President Bill Clinton, did not elicit a similar response from this highly regarded conference.
We should all be engaged in the political processes of our great nation, as this is our temporal home. However, our Christian leaders are held to a higher accounting for the direction they provide to their flocks, and must take pause prior to condemning one positioned leader with the intent of benefiting another. Their role is to teach christian principles and values, as outlined in the written word, so that each individual can make his or her own decision, properly informed by the word of God.Bill Curtis, Chairman Republican Party of Virginia Beach
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