A few days ago, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards asked President Obama and the presidential candidates to wait before visiting flood-ravaged areas of his state. Everybody involved respected the governor’s request and stayed away. Everybody that is except shameless media whore Donald Trump.
Trump showed up to play the part of Santa Claus, making sure to get noticed helping unload a tractor-trailer full of Play-Doh and other much-needed supplies on Friday. His campaign also made sure that everyone was aware that he donated $100,000 to the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church to help in relief efforts. Trump visited the church on Friday, where he spoke to a small group of flood victims.
The problem with all of this, aside from the fact that Trump was asked not to come, and instead he thumbed his nose and showed up anyway, is that the interim pastor of the church in question is one Tony Perkins. Perkins’ other claim to fame is that he is the head of the Family Research Council, a notoriously anti-gay organization. Perkins and the group are both so anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled his organization as a hate group.
Perkins himself has also been branded as an anti-gay extremist by the SPLC. As a Louisiana delegate to the Republican National Convention this year, Perkins took credit for language in the platform that made it the most anti-gay platform in party history.
But Tony Perkins’ extremism may go further than his anti-gay stance. According to his SPLC profile, he once purchased a mailing list from former Klan leader (and Trump supporter) David Duke, to use in a political campaign he was in charge of. They also note that in 2001 Perkins spoke to a Louisiana chapter of a white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.
The church’s website makes quite clear their stance on homosexuality and marriage equality:
“We believe the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in scripture. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
“We believe that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.”
Perkins agreed with a guest on his radio show last fall, who speculated that a predicted hurricane strike on Washington D.C. could be his god’s response to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. That comment, along with other times over the years that he has agreed with the notion that natural disasters are one way the almighty punishes the wicked opened him up to ridicule when it was recently revealed that Perkins had himself been a victim of the flooding.
It is obvious that Trump donated the money to the Greenwell Springs Church at least in part due to Perkins’ connection to it. Perkins’ association with Trump goes back at least to this past June, when he arranged a meeting between the real estate mogul and evangelical leaders. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with donating private money to a church. And a large percentage of Greenwell Springs’ parishioners have been affected by the flood. But when you donate money to a church with an avowed hostility to part of the community, there will always be questions about whether the money is being distributed to everyone who needs help, regardless of whether they live a lifestyle that meets with church approval or not.
Here’s hoping that church leaders will do what Jesus would have done, and use Trump’s money to help everyone who needs it, not just those who agree with them and their bigoted interim leader.
Featured image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images