Pastor John Gray among ministers to receive backlash after meeting with President Trump about prison reform

Pastors are receiving backlash after a meeting with President Trump on prison reform, including Pastor John Gray, CNN reports.

Pastor Gray of The Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, was one of many black ministers who visited the White House to discuss faith and justice reform.

During an interview with Don Lemon, Pastor Gray said that he went to the meeting because God sent him there.

Gray repeatedly said that the visit was about listening.

"I can only speak for me," Gray said. "With everything that I could have lost and could still lose I believe that my voice was necessary because I was there for people who could not fight for themselves. That was my intention in my heart."

Gray says he did not want to be photographed during the meeting, and said in an Instagram post that he struggled and prayed about whether to attend or not.

"I had not one thing to gain by being there. Not. One. But I asked the Lord when I was asked to be present in this initial meeting about potential prison reform-that could greatly end up benefitting many people who look just like me-Lord, Do you want me in that room? My first mind was no. The pain of so many is too real. The hurt. The isolation. The sense of disenfranchisement," he said. "It's gonna be a photo op with no substance. But I did the one thing I can't shake: I prayed again and asked God. Do you want me in that room? My attendance gives the answer."

Pastor Jamal Bryant of Baltimore, Maryland opposed Gray and other pastors' decision to meet with the president, saying that he did reach out to Gray, but received no response.

"We are in a dark, dismal, and a difficult time when basketball players and rappers tonight have more moral authority than preachers," Bryant said.

Though he said he understands why people may be upset about the meeting, Gray said he did not go to the meeting as a politician.

"I'm not a Democrat nor a Republican nor an independent, I'm a Christian," he said.
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