Pastor Guillermo Maldonado of King Jesus International Ministry Church in Miami addressed the concerns of hundreds of parishioners in a Spanish-language service on Sunday.
Maldonado’s megachurch will host President Trump’s “Evangelicals for Trump Coalition Launch” rally on Friday and he made a promise to his worried congregation that undocumented immigrants will not be at risk for deportation if they attend.
“I ask you: Do you think I would do something where I would endanger my people? I’m not that dumb,” the Florida pastor said. But here’s where the conversation takes a hard turn for me:
“I don’t think the president would do such a thing,” Maldonado said. “Don’t put your race or your nationality over being a Christian. Be mature...If you want to come, do it for your pastor. That’s a way of supporting me.”
First of all, as a black man in America, I would absolutely never suggest to anyone that they should put their non-marginalized, socially dominant religion before their extremely marginalized, historically oppressed racial identity. Second, “I don’t think the president would do such a thing.” Bruh, which president would that be? Certainly, we’re not talking about Donald “Tweets Like a Drunk 6-Year-Old” Trump here, right? Not Orange-flavored Mussolini, who institutes arbitrary Muslim bans, makes “illegal immigrant” out to be synonymous with “rapist” and “criminal,” and has made himself notorious for implementing policies that allowed for the separation of children from their parents at the border—not that president, correct?
I really need the good pastor to not stand behind the pulpit and pretend that his parishioners’ fears are unfounded. Just this month, we’ve seen reports of sweeping ICE raids in Mississippi. Students have been abducted and detained from the schools they attend. So the idea that snatching folks up at church is the line this administration won’t cross is, at best, naive; at worst, it’s dangerously misleading.
I suppose all we can do is hope Guillermo is right. But if it were me and Bill Clinton, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. or any other architect of mass incarceration was coming down to a black megachurch event and a well-meaning reverend was trying to assure me I’m in no immediate danger, even with no warrants on me... Nah, I’m good.