By Samaria Bailey
PHILADELPHIA — Pastors in Philadelphia and across the country are refusing President Donald Trump’s call to reopen their churches.
“Yesterday, of course, 45 [Trump], for political purposes, started running his mouth again,” said the Rev. Allyn Waller, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, during a Zoom conference call he coordinated for pastors across the country Saturday evening.
“And we recognize that had nothing to do with his love for God, nor did it have anything to do with his emphasis on the church. All of that was for an audience of a section of the Christian church, known as evangelicals. And let me be very clear…I am a theologically conservative evangelical. But what he was talking about, wasn’t talking to me. The reality is he is trying to position himself politically to get more votes. And we wanted to address that. We recognize that we have to be smart, we have to be sensitive, we have to be spiritual around that.”
Waller, wearing a black T-shirt that said “I love Barack,” added that Enon would “be doing the same thing we did last week.”
Enon, like many churches, has been live-streaming its services.
The Rev. Marshall Mitchell of Salem Baptist Church read a letter he drafted to represent pastors and religious leaders who said they await the time when data and science confirm it is safe to reopen houses of worship.
“The president has failed again to provide wise and careful guidance to an anxious, polarized, and dangerously unprepared nation,” Mitchell said. “Instead, we call upon the president to develop and lead this nation with a coherent safety, health and economic plan based upon both science and decency. The nation is in sore need of a massive Marshall Plan effort that encourages Americans and fans the flames of optimism rather than stoking the ancient embers of division.”
Mitchell’s letter went on to say the pastors “fundamentally reject” Trump’s declarations about the reopening of churches.
Samaria Bailey is a correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.