A faith leader who heads North Carolina’s state branch of the NAACP said over the weekend that it was “theological malpractice” for Christian leaders to lay hands on and pray for President Donald Trump.
“It is a form of theological malpractice that borders on heresy when you can p-r-a-y for a president and others when they are p-r-e-y — preying — on the most vulnerable,” the Rev. William Barber told MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
He continued, “You’re violating the most sacred principles of religion.”
At the center of Barber’s consternation are his views on Trump’s treatment of the poor and purported attempts to transfer wealth to the “greedy.” His comments came after a video showing evangelical leaders praying over Trump gained viral attention last week.
Watch Barber’s comments below:
“When we have this extremist Trump Republican agenda that takes health care, transfers wealth to the greedy — that’s hypocrisy and sin. Seven hundred billion dollars, Joy?” Barber added during the MSNBC segment. “You haven’t seen that kind of transfer of wealth on the backs of bodies of people since slavery.”
He continued:“Claiming to care about life, but then passing a bill when you know thousands will die — 22 million people, poor, working people will be hurt — that is hypocrisy and sin. When you know it will hurt children, the disabled and veterans, that is sin. That is hypocrisy.”
Barber told WRAL-TV on Monday that he was unapologetic over his comments, but clarified that he was criticizing the clergy who don’t criticize Trump’s policies, not laypeople who pray at night on their own for the president.
“When you pray for leaders without critiquing their policies, and you bless them, you’re actually enabling them to be unjust,” he said.
As Faithwire previously reported, the photo that sparked Barber’s reaction was snapped after about 30 faith leaders received an invitation from the White House to hold a meeting earlier this month. Many of those who attended that gathering are on Trump’s faith advisory council, which he has relied on from time to time, according to The Washington Post.
The group met with Jennifer Korn, special assistant to the president, for a day-long discussion that focused on a range of issues, including health care, religious freedom, criminal justice reform and Israel, the outlet noted.
A photo of the group praying over Trump went viral after it was shared by faith leader and public relations expert Johnnie Moore, who attended the gathering. Moore said the event was an informal “meeting of friends” during which faith leaders prayed that God would lead Trump and protect his family.
“He was in great spirits, as was the vice president,” Moore told The Washington Post. “He was very very much [in] command of the situation. It felt like all was well. He was happy and joking.”