A sign displayed outside a Birmingham, Ala., Baptist church has sparked a local controversy after it displayed a message that compared voting for President Trump to a mental illness.
On one side, bold letters read: “A black vote for Trump is mental illness.” On the other, “A white vote for Trump is pure racism.”
“God motivates me to take a stand for what’s right,” New Era Baptist Church’s pastor, Michael Jordan, told WTVM 13.“Read the Bible. And look in the White House. If they’re calling me a racist, look in the White House.
“When you vote for Donald Trump, you are supporting institutionalized racism,” he said. Later, Jordan, who is African American, added that he intended to send a message to both black and white voters.
Jordan is not the only religious leader to express political views in the era of Trump. And some have used their platforms to speak in favor of the president. Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor at the prominent Texas megachurch First Baptist Dallas, has become a staunch supporter of the presidentand frequently appears on Fox News, Texas Monthly reported. He once called evangelical Christians who do not support Trump “spineless morons.”
The president enjoys high approval ratingsfrom white evangelicals, and these voters have stood by him despite numerous controversies throughout his first term.
However, some in Birmingham thought Jordan’s message went too far.
As WTVM interviewed Jordan, a couple of bystanders argued with the pastor, including Daxton Kirk, a white Trump supporter who filmed the confrontation on his phone. He told WTVM that “you should not be able to come into a building and feel like you are hated” and the outlet reported he had complained to the city council.
This isn’t the first time that Jordan has used the church’s signage to speak out. In 2018, after a suburban megachurch planned to open a satellite in Birmingham to combat crime, Jordan erected a sign that read “Black folks need to stay out of white churches.” The sign sparked a social media outrage and earned a rebuke from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin (D).
The Internal Revenue Service requires that a church, charity or other 501(c)(3) organization “does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
Sign or no sign, polling indicates that black Americans consider Trump racist, and black voters have not historically supported him.
A July 30 Quinnipiac poll found that 80 percent of black voters say Trump is racist, compared with 11 percent who do not.
In 2016, 88 percent of black voters chose the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Trump, according to the Pew Research Center. Black women, in particular, are considered one of the most solid bases in the Democratic Party. Exit polling showed that 94 percent of black women cast a vote for Clinton in 2016 and 4 percent chose Trump, CNN reported.
And while Trump overwhelmingly won Alabama in the 2016 election with about 63 percent of the vote, Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, was an island of blue in a sea of red counties as it broke for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.