After my posting yesterday, a number of black religious leaders billed on the event flier for Donald Trump’s event responded that they are not endorsing him, and some are not attending at all. Among them is Bishop Clarence McClendon, who took a drumming in my last column, although I did concede that I was not positive he was endorsing. (Obviously I would not have devoted unfavorable coverage to Bishop McClendon were his name not on the flier, nonetheless everything I posted was based on cited sources and included his rebuttals.)
Some people responded that it was a false Internet rumor that the event was for endorsements, and noted that the event flier makes no such mention. In fact, a press advisory from the Trump campaign said “a coalition of 100 African American Evangelical pastors and religious leaders who will endorse the GOP front-runner after a private meeting at Trump Tower,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Among those not attending is Dr. Corletta J. Vaughn, whose inbox was “blowing up with inquiries,” and posted on Facebook, “I was invited to attend a gathering of clergy to listen to Mr. Trump on Monday November 30. I respectively [sic] declined as I do not support nor will endorse Donald Trump.” She also said, “Seems like the Trump flier did not confirm attendance of those invited. #soshady.”
And Bishop Paul S. Morton tweeted, “I was asked 2 meet with Mr Trump too but I refused because until he learns how to respect people you can’t represent me thru my endorsement.”
Also saying he was invited but not attending is Bishop Clarence Langston.
Bishop Hezekiah Walker, who as I mentioned before confirmed his attendance but said he would not endorse Trump, is now saying as of this writing that he is “a few seconds from bowing out of it.”
Bishop Wiley Jackson posted a YouTube video in response to a black pastor denouncing his supposed endorsement, pointing out that nowhere on the flier did it say he was making an endorsement. He lamented, “Now sitting here the day after Thanksgiving, when I really should be enjoying some more of the turkey and one of the cakes and pies that my wife prepared for me on Thanksgiving day, but I had to take time out to come and address a serious accusation.”
Others who have clarified they are attending but not endorsing are Bishop George G. Bloomer, Dr. Cindy Trimm, Bishop Orrin Pullings, Sr., Bishop Kerney Thomas (who has top billing on a revised version of Trump’s flier), Dr. Victor S. Couzens, and Sean Pennington.
As of this writing I saw no statements from Bishop Mike Freeman, Dr. Mike Murdock, Bishop Liston Page, Jr., or Pastor Riva Tims, who are advertised on the flier.
Pastor Mark Burns, who is involved in the organizing of the event, also said the event is not for an endorsement, and that the Internet reporting was wrong. He did not speak to the press advisory. All billed attendees, claims Burns, had confirmed and are now backing out. He has endorsed Trump, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Darrell Scott, the one person who confirmed his endorsement of Trump, insisted on Twitter, “Every Preacher on the list of attendees for the Trump meeting accepted the invitation to attend. I have the texts to verify it.”
Regarding the various accusations of endorsements and negative online responses thereof, Pastor Burns said, “Satan’s sitting back and laughing, and getting – he’s getting so much joy.”
I was unable to confirm Burns’s claim.