Black Pastors Whose Churches Faced Arson ‘Encouraged’ by Pence Visit, ‘Satisfying’ and ‘Uplifting’

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Two pastors whose historically black churches were burned in arson attacks spoke on CNN about the response of the Trump administration and the visit of Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.

The arson attacks were allegedly by the son of a local sheriff’s deputy and are being considered as a hate crime.

Don Lemon asked Rev. Gerald Toussaint of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and Rev. Harry Richard of Greater Union Baptist Church about Pence’s visit.

The pastors praised Pence and the response of the administration.

From Daily Caller:

“Today the vice president visited the site and your church,” Lemon said. “How do you feel about support you’ve received from the Trump White House?”

“It’s satisfying and it’s uplifting,” Toussaint responded. While the pastor said they were “concerned” at first, he told Lemon they are “reassured right now because of the reaction that we’re getting, especially the visit of Vice President Mike Pence.”

“I’m encouraged right now because of the reaction of the country,” he said. “The country has been so supportive. And for us because we didn’t know what we were going to do during — after the fire. We didn’t know what reaction we were going to have but now I’m so encouraged right now and I’m so elated about the reaction that they had … The people that gave, the people that supported us. I can only be just joyful.” 

Lemon couldn’t let that stand and had to interject some criticism about the administration being slow to respond, but the pastors weren’t going for it.

“Some people thought it was a little too late, but it’s good now that the administration has acknowledged it,” he said. “And do you think that they’re going to help? Do you feel satisfied with this?”

“Well, I’m optimistic, Don,” Richard answered. “I feel like after this tragedy the country is coming together. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Trump did acknowledge the fact that we had this tragedy down here in Louisiana and I was encouraged today when Mr. Pence came and visited with us. I respect our leadership. One thing I know, Don, that if you’re going to be a leader, you’ve got to acknowledge the suffering of Christ. If that’s where his heart is I believe that we are going to be helped.”

Toussaint said, “I wouldn’t know how much is enough. But at least I feel confident that at least they’re reaching out.”

From AP:

Pence said he came Friday to show the parishioners and their church leaders that the country was supporting them and had been inspired by the way they met the destruction of their houses of worship with courage and resilience, pointing out the forgiveness offered to the man accused of setting the blazes.

“What happened here at Mt. Pleasant, at Greater Union, at St. Mary’s was evil but these communities of faith have overcome evil with good,” he said.

Rev. Pastor Kyle Sylvester of St. Mary Baptist Church thanked Pence for coming and remarked on the outpouring of support for the churches and their congregations.

“It just proves that we live in a world where people still care about each other,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t lose heart … and remember that we’re here to help one another.”