Two Louisiana pastors whose historically black churches were burned to the ground last month were “encouraged” after Vice President Mike Pence visited with them Friday.
The Rev. Gerald Toussaint of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and the Rev. Harry Richard of Greater Union Baptist Church discussed Pence’s visit with CNN host Don Lemon.
Toussaint told Lemon the vice president’s visit was “satisfying” and “uplifting,” adding he and Richard are feeling “reassured right now because of the reaction that we’re getting,” particularly from the White House.
Last week, President Donald Trump recognized the churches during a service commemorating the National Day of Prayer.
“One month ago, three historically black churches were burned tragically in Louisiana,” he said.
Pence, for his part, said Americans “mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve,” noting the three historically black churches burned down in Louisiana, those shot at the synagogue in California, and those killed at a mosque in New Zealand.
“We condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
Toussaint went on to tell the CNN anchor the country has been “so supportive” in the weeks following the arson. Shortly after the churches were burned, journalist Yashar Ali put a spotlight on a GoFundMe page raising money for the three Louisiana congregations.
To date, the crowdsourcing page has raised more than $2.1 million.
Lemon pushed the pastors to take a jab at the White House for not doing more sooner to raise awareness about the churches. But neither of the pastors were interested in criticizing Pence or Trump.
“I feel like after this tragedy, the country is coming together,” Richard said. “I appreciate the fact that Mr. Trump did acknowledge the fact that we had this tragedy down here in Louisiana and I was encouraged today when Mr. Pence came and visited with us. I respect our leadership.”
“One thing I know, Don, that if you’re going to be a leader, you’ve got to acknowledge the suffering of Christ,” the pastor added. “If that’s where his heart is, I believe that we are going to be helped.”
In response, Lemon said, “Good for you.”