Popular Southern Baptist pastor David Platt learned that President Donald Trump was on the way to his church in the middle of the service, as he prepared to take communion. When the president arrived, Platt put his arm around Trump and prayed:

“We pray that he would look to you; that he would trust in you; that he would lean on you; that he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, good for righteousness, good for equity, every good path. Lord, we pray that you would give him all the grace he needs to govern in ways that we just saw in 1 Timothy 2 that lead to peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.”

Last year, Vice President Mike Pence visited Metropolitan Baptist Church several days after Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.” At the service, Maurice Watson, the senior pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, pushed back on that characterization.

"I stand today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject such characterizations of the nation’s (inaudible) and of our brothers and sisters in Haiti and I further say whoever made such a statement and whoever used such a visceral and disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa,” Watson said. “Do you hear me, church? Whoever said it is wrong and they ought to be held accountable.”

Watson’s actions came out of Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4 to speak the truth in love.

“It literally means truthing in love, and sometimes truthing in love means that one has to do as Pastor Platt did, and that is to pray for someone even if that person is someone with whom one disagrees,” said Watson. “But also truthing in love is what I believe I did, to speak in a very measured, in a very respectful way, to say if someone made those remarks about these people groups, whoever that person may be, is wrong.”

Watson joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and managing editor Andy Olsen discuss what it’s like to have the executive branch show up in your congregation, the challenges of pastoring in DC, and what happens after you push back against the Trump administration while the VP is in the house.

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Quick to Listen is produced by Morgan Lee and Cray Allred

June 5, 2019 transcript

Morgan Lee: I'm here with Andy Olsen. Andy is our managing editor of our magazine.

Andy Olsen: Hey Morgan, good to be here.

Morgan Lee: I'm really glad that you're here, Andy. It's great to have you as well. And who else is joining us?

Andy Olsen: For today, we're going to be speaking with Dr. Maurice Watson. We're so thrilled to have him with us. He is the senior pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland, which is a northern suburb of Washington, DC. He's a well-known name in many ministry circles. He has over three decades of pastoral experience, leading churches from Arkansas to Nebraska to Georgia and now the DC area, of course. He holds degrees from Philander Smith College and Creighton University, and he earned a Doctorate of Ministry from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He and his wife Janice are the proud parents of two daughters. So we're very grateful to have you on the show, Dr. Watson.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Thank you very much. I'm glad to be invited.

Morgan Lee: So, popular Southern Baptist leader David Platt faced an interesting conundrum on Sunday. Here's how he described his conundrum in a statement from McLean Bible Church, the congregation where he joined their teaching staff in 2017. So he wrote this,

"At the end of my sermon at the one o'clock worship gathering, I stepped to the side for what I thought would be a couple moments in quiet reflection as we prepared to take the Lord's Supper. But I was immediately called backstage and told that the president of the United States was on his way to the church, would be there in a matter of minutes, and would like us to pray for him."

So Trump arrived in the building and he ended up coming on stage with David Platt. And while he was up there, David Platt cited 1 Timothy 2 and he put his arm around Trump and he prayed, and we're going to read an excerpt from this. We can put the whole prayer in our show notes, but I'll just read you an excerpt of the prayer.

He said:

We pray that Trump would look to you, that he would trust in you, that he would lean on you, that he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, good for righteousness, good for equity, every good path. Lord, we pray that you would give him all the grace he needs to govern in the ways that we just saw in 1 Timothy 2 that lead to peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.

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So Trump attended the church after playing golf earlier in the day, and that Sunday also happened to be the same Sunday that Franklin Graham had called on Christians to pray for the president as inspired by 1 Timothy 2. Where in that passage, and as you can see Platt also mentioned this in his prayer, Paul or just Christians to offer petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and holiness.

So just one side note from our coverage. For years, Platt has preached against the American focus on self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency, and individualism, materialism, and universalism. Now, he's the pastor of the suburban Washington congregation full of Christians who work on the Hill, a place once deemed "a holy destination for GOP senators and Bush aides." So this week on Quick To Listen, we'll discuss what goes through your mind when the executive branch shows up at your church, which is actually something that happened to Dr. Watson, which is why we're really excited to have him on the show to talk about that. But before we start asking him questions, I want Andy and I to just both have the chance to react to this particular story. And Andy, do you have some thoughts that you would like to share?

Andy Olsen: Yeah, Morgan. It's funny, I think it speaks to our particular moment in time, right? That praying for a president would be so controversial. Just it in a sense it almost doesn't even matter what the prayer is, that it's just merely being on a stage alongside the president is a matter that is arguable on Twitter and is worthy of a good Twitter fistfight. You know, I also think it's interesting because it speaks a little bit to the unique role that the church finds itself in, in particular in politics today. In theory, it's biblical. It's good to pray for any leader. I think even David Platt referenced that the church was called the pray for Nero, so it seems reasonable that we could pray for any president and an administration. And yet it is just not so simple in reality as it's lived out. So it is a tremendously delicate spot for any pastor—particularly of an influential, large church—to be in.

Morgan Lee: Yeah, I didn't want to kind of like overload our summary with just comments from different statements that were released from McLean Bible, but David Platt does acknowledge in his statement that his actions may have been really challenging and come at some sort of, I don't know if cost is too strong of a word, but made it challenging for the church to pursue unity there. And one thing that I think is interesting is that we actually did a piece on Friday about Franklin Graham's declaration to ask people to pray for the president, and we kind of got a bunch of people to talk about what that means to pray for the president in a little slightly more generic terms, but not necessarily.

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But, I think what is interesting to me, and part of the reason I really want to have Dr. Watson on the show, is that there's both the action of praying for the president, but there's also like tending to your flock as well and being attentive to how people that are part of your congregation are going to process this, or see that way.

These are somewhat reminiscent, a little bit, of conversations I had with some people a Taylor University a couple weeks ago. Taylor University is a Christian school in Indiana that Mike Pence recently spoke at commencement. And I had conversations with people who felt uncomfortable about that when it happened. About what it would mean to have the actual vice president show up during their graduation. And so there's also some things too of just the spectacle of someone that's that powerful and influential coming to this space that's ostensibly open to everyone, but often they kind of really change the dynamic in really significant ways.

So Dr. Watson, as we kind of transition to you, I really want to hear your thoughts on this Platt situation, but I'm wondering actually if at first you can tell us a little bit about your particular story that took place last year in 2018, when the vice president showed up at your church.

Dr. Maurice Watson: For sure. It was the week leading up to the Martin Luther King celebration. I received a call from the Office of the Vice President indicating that he had been recommended to come and visit our church by the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, who had been periodically attending our church, I had a relationship with him. And they wanted to know was it okay for the vice president to visit our church. And of course I said, it's absolutely okay. Anybody can visit our church. We don't discriminate against anyone coming to visit our church. So, things were going routinely in terms of all of the preparations behind the scenes for that to happen.

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But in the meantime, the news cycle that week happened, and someone allegedly said some disparaging things about people from Haiti, and people from some of the countries in Africa. And it was kind of controversial, and the adjectives that were used to describe them were dehumanizing to say the least. And being a pastor of an African-American church, some of my members are actually from Haiti and some of my members are from some countries in Africa. And of course, I felt a need to address this. It had to be addressed because they had been dehumanized. Regardless of what one thinks of Haiti and what one thinks of certain countries in Africa, all people are made in the Imago Dei, in the very image and likeness of God. And the adjective that was used to describe them dehumanized that image.

And as a pastor, a Christian leader, I have a responsibility to defend my flock and to give a voice to the voiceless. And so I wasn't, we were not going to disinvite the Vice President because one, the Vice President did not make that remark. And so he came as he had planned to come, and I told the church that I usually don't address every news cycle, but this happens to be one that I have to address. And I made my statement. I would have made that statement whether or not the Vice President was coming. And that is that I said—and of course, it's public record, you can Google it—that it has been alleged that someone said, and I never said to president, but I said someone said, used some visceral adjectives to describe people Haiti and Africa, and I said whoever said it was wrong and owes those people groups an apology. And so that's kind of how things developed behind the scenes for me and that's how that happened.

Morgan Lee: I'm curious if there was any part of you that was just maybe a little bit anxious or nervous when you decided to kind of address those remarks in front of the entire congregation.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Let me be absolutely honest with you. Absolutely. I have the highest respect for the office of President and for the office of Vice President. I don't make it a habit of having people come into my presence to say controversial things in their presence. That was not something that I had planned to do. But the news cycle happened when it happened, and I had to be responsible as a pastor to give a voice to segments of my congregation that I believed had been offended. So yes, it was nerve-racking, but I prayed and asked God to give me the right words to say and to give me the right tone of saying it. And I believe one would listen to those remarks that they were very measured, and they were very carefully spoken and done, so I hope, with a with a spirit of love and politeness.

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The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4 that we are to speak the truth in love. It literally means truthing in love, and sometimes truthing in love means that one has to do as Pastor Platt did, and that is to pray for someone even if that person is someone with whom one disagrees. But also truthing in love is what I believe I did, to speak in a very measured, in a very respectful way, to say if someone made those remarks about these people groups, whoever that person may be, is wrong. And so in both cases, I believe both models were truthing in love.

Morgan Lee: So when you were working with the Vice President's team, I'm just curious from like a logistical perspective, it seems that there was a little bit more intentionality than in this case that David Platt faced, as far as knowing ahead of time when things were going to happen. But is there a protocol for where the Vice President sits, or the way that the Vice President might participate, or come on stage or not come on stage, or any of that stuff that gets kind of communicated logistically ahead of time?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, my executive pastor handled most of the behind-the-scenes logistic, working with the Secret Service, and of course where the Vice President sits that's the decision of the Secret Service and what-have-you. Of course, the Vice President knew that he was not to make remarks. When politicians come our church, we usually will recognize politicians and of course allow them to shake hands if they like to stay and shake hands if they want, but not to speak. And that's not just for the Vice President, that's just a general rule we use for all politicians who come to our church.

Morgan Lee: Do you actually mind sharing a little bit about that type of rule that you have? I mean obviously you're a church that's in DC, right? So I'm sure there are politicians that come through all the time. So what are the underlying principles behind that policy?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, one, as a nonprofit corporation, we are not to promote any particular politician as a nonprofit corporation. So we do that from that perspective, for one thing. Secondly, it's not the church's job to tell individuals how they should vote and who they should vote for. And so in the interest of fairness, if I allow one politician to speak then I have to allow the rest of them to speak. But the purpose for worship service is not promoting a political agenda. It is to worship God and to bring glory to His name. And so that's why, in part, why we do what we do in terms of not allowing politicians to address the church.

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Andy Olsen: Dr. Watson, I'm curious, were there media or press at your church when the Vice President appeared? I noticed at McLean, there was at least some photographs distributed by the Associated Press.

Dr. Maurice Watson: No, there was no media there. The recording that's on the internet of my remarks, it was just recorded from our cameras that we use every Sunday in our worship services.

Morgan Lee: So, obviously you give these particular remarks then and as you said there was no media there, but what happened, or the specific things that happened and what the stuff that you said, did get picked up by the news media. And I'm curious if you can tell us about what that experience was like for you after the fact.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Oh, wow. You've ever been called a communist?

Morgan Lee: Nope.

Andy Olsen: Not to my face.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, I was called a communist. And I was called many other names that I certainly could not as a Christian say in public, or in private for that matter and have a good conscience. I got a lot of emails. Probably 95% of them were very, very supportive that I had the courage to take the stand that I did to speak out against what I perceived to be wrong. But of course about 5% of them were very visceral and negative remarks and emails that I received unfortunately. Some of them were from Evangelical Christians, who challenged the notion that I would embarrass the President of the Vice President, which was certainly not my intent at all. I was simply being a pastor speaking on behalf of his members, and my remarks were not toward the Vice President, but toward whoever allegedly made those kinds of comments. And so I had to stop listening or reading emails for a while because it was just kind of overwhelming.

Andy Olsen: When you are visited at your church by someone as prominent as the President or the Vice President, as a pastor, do you just assume that it's going to become a public affair?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, wherever the President and Vice President goes it becomes a public affair. That's just the nature of their office. But when politicians come into churches, I think they need to realize that they come into our space, they come into God's space. And coming into our space doesn't mean that we're supposed to change our message to accommodate them. That we still have to represent a higher power. That the church is not, I think in the words of Tony Evans, to ride on the backs of donkeys or elephants. Jesus didn't come to ride on the backs of donkeys nor elephants. He didn't come to take sides. He came to take over. And that we represent the kingdom of God. And so politicians need to understand when they come into the church, they come into our territory and we are not necessarily bound to change our emphasis or our message to accommodate them.

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Andy Olsen: One of the interesting things I think about the situation with Vice President Pence's visit to your church, Dr. Watson, and then of course President Trump's visit to McLean, is that there is a sort of a crossing of the line. You know, the church first and foremost has a local minister—any church first and foremost has a local minister to its own church body. And yet, of course as Christians and as a church with a Capital C, there is a global ministry to—not only geographically global— but to all people, right?

So the church, certainly with a Capital C, is called to pray for—I mean, there would be no one outside the bounds of acceptable prayer, right? And yet as a pastor, I can only imagine your duty that you feel towards your particular congregation suddenly has to be balanced in a new way when your church is sort of thrust from a local ministry into a more national ministry. Just in terms of how your comments are going to be weighed. You said you didn't change what you said just because the Vice President was in attendance, but I do wonder how as a pastor you weigh your obligation to your local church, but also to fulfill kind of the broader calling to pray for all leaders.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, I commend Pastor Platt for praying for the President. I prayed for the president myself. Though many things that President does I strongly disagree, but I'm obligated as a Christian to pray for those who are in leadership. And so I commend him for offering that prayer. However, with regard to the Franklin Graham called for prayer, the problem that I and others have with that is the politicizing of Mr. Graham's call for prayer. We all agree that we should pray for the President, but one cannot stick one's head in the sand and not also know the political support that Mr. Graham also calls on people to have for this president. So I think that's where a lot of the controversy lies. That it has become politicized.

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Morgan Lee: Yeah, and I think that's actually a thing that I would like to talk a little bit more about. Because I think Andy touched on this a little bit of the beginning of the show, but it seems like with this administration there's maybe a certain group of people who think that like, yes business can kind of continue as usual. This is just another president. There's nothing to see here. And there are other people who say, no. Basically, everything that this administration touches. It politicizes in some way. It may be co-ops. It puts people in situations that are completely unlike what any other administration would do, with regards to the type of tensions that they feel, or with regards to the maybe communities they're betraying or supporting in this instance. Is that something that you would say is true in your experience?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Absolutely. I agree 100%.

Morgan Lee: Yeah, which seems to make this situation that we were talking about on Sunday unique in its own right. I mean, I think even just from this idea of showing up a couple minutes beforehand and saying that you would like to be prayed for and putting everyone in a really like difficult situation with regards to how they wanted to handle that.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, I wouldn't dare say that I know what the intentions of the President were in his heart, but the optics of it was somewhat troubling for me. If in fact his visit had anything to do with them praying for him in light of the massacre of the 12 individuals in Virginia, if his asking for prayer has to do with that event, I thought the optics of coming off of a golf course after 12 people have been massacred to just, as almost as an afterthought, to show up at church and say pray for me. I don't know if those optics look right.

Andy Olsen: Yes, it is certainly intriguing that the President had other options. He could have requested to meet maybe privately with David Platt after the service or between services to be prayed for. It didn't have to be in a public way. Which makes me think as a pastor in a city where there are many a politician often in your church it sounds like, do you think through questions of motive? You know, why is this particular public figure in my church? What are they—not to put it to crudely—but what are they trying to use my church for? Or do you, as a pastor, just assume everybody has many motives for coming to any church and I just treat everyone the same?

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Dr. Maurice Watson: On one hand, yes, we do try to treat everyone the same, but on the other hand we would be irresponsible and naive if we did not also understand that politicians, for the most part, politic. And that going to churches for some politicians can be for photo-op purposes and what-have-you. I'm not saying, again, that I know what's in a person's heart. I don't. But we have seen especially in—well, in my context, I've seen politicians who come for a photo opportunity. I mean, you would have to agree that with in light of the Martin Luther King celebration, I'm sure the Vice President wanted to honor Dr. King, and of course, like you said, wherever the President or Vice President goes, it becomes a national issue.

Morgan Lee: So, there were many people who were praising David Platt specifically for the nature of his prayer, and there were some people that were saying this is such a great prayer. It should be used by pastors to pray for every politician out there. And I'm just curious, like what do you make of that type of reaction? Like, oh there's a prayer out there that we should use, and it should just be used for every single president out there. It's a great prayer, or you know, would you say that sometimes like the politics of that particular politician should determine how you engage them?

Dr. Maurice Watson: I think a person should be led of the Lord how to pray for anyone, and I don't think there's any cookie cutter prayer that is always appropriate. I think one just needs to be sincere when one prays from one's hear what he senses the Lord, what he wants the Lord to do for that particular person. While I commend Rev. Platt for his prayer. That's not the only way that one could pray, but it was certainly an appropriate one.

Morgan Lee: Well, I actually want to talk about the "only way" thing. So what are some various ways that you can imagine the situation that it might have played out? Where this is not the only way that David Platt—and this is not anything about picking on Platt, this is just thinking through the different ways that we engage any type of person that's in the presidency that allows us to show them respect, but maybe allows us to also, you know, choose to challenge them in different ways. I think you made an interesting point earlier about when people are coming into our space, too. And just balance. But also the fact that people are coming in to church, right? And that doesn't necessarily mean that they are able to kind of tip the balance or really change the dynamics in the room beyond just that.

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Dr. Maurice Watson: This is one of the reasons I just believe that as ministers we have to be careful getting in the bed with politicians. Because sometimes the spiritual leader has to tell the political leader that he or she is wrong. We have many, many biblical examples of that, whether it's Old Testament or the Apostle Paul. I just believe that we have to keep our independence as religious leaders to be able to pray for politicians and government leaders and encourage them, but we have to also have that independence to be able to say when the king is wrong to call out the king's wrong.

Morgan Lee: What do you think are some like small things that pastors might do that might compromise their ability to speak the truth to whomever is in power?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, when pastors get in the bed with politicians, and we're seeing an example of that with many of the powerful evangelical pastors who say that they stand for morality and for righteousness, but have not once said to this president about anything that he has done or said that is obviously wrong, not once have we heard from the national evangelical leadership. Not one word of criticism. Not one word of challenge. And I find myself baffled as I engage in conversations about that. Why aren't we hearing any of the powerful white evangelical pastors, spiritual leaders speak up and call this president to the carpet when he does something or said something that is certainly unbiblical and unchristian? And yet, and I believe we all know that President Obama had done or said one tenth of some of the things that we've heard from this administration, he would have been attacked by those same pastors who say nothing now.

Andy Olsen: Dr. Watson, I'm curious as an African-American pastor of a fairly prominent church in the DC area, have you found yourself feeling more pressure over the last couple of years to dip your toe into the political waters more? Or even just to speak maybe even obliquely to some of these things from the pulpit—whether that's pressure you put on yourself or put on you from others—or do you feel no more pressure now than you did, you know, say three years ago to speak about these things?

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Dr. Maurice Watson: You know, that's a very, very good question that I'm glad you asked. I would have to, if I'm honest, I would have to say that that's one of the differences, when we were talking about is DC in the South or not, pastoring in the South—the true South, I'll call it. The politics of this region are real, and the social consciousness about the issues that we face are very, very real. I pastor a church that is accustomed to and expects its pastor to speak up for the downtrodden and to have a social conscious voice. And so yes, being in this area I would be naive if I didn't say that it has made me more sensitive to speaking up when it is appropriate for me to speak up for the issues that we're seeing and facing today. It definitely has had an effect on how I look at these matters and when I speak—how much I speak out— on these matters.

Morgan Lee: What is your own gauge for when something is appropriate or not?

Dr. Maurice Watson: I'm not one of those pastors who believes that every time something happens in a news cycle that I need to give a commentary on it. If that's the case, I wouldn't have time to preach the gospel. I would just get up every Sunday and just read the newspaper.

Morgan Lee: That's our fear too, at CT.

Dr. Maurice Watson: Right, right. But it's just... there's no particular rule, just when something's lead me, when I feel led at times that I need to speak up on something some things I will. When it crosses a particular threshold in my mind and heart that I feel like I would be irresponsible if I didn't speak out? Then that's when it kind of tells me, yes, you probably need to say something.

Morgan Lee: Gotcha. We talked about this a little bit earlier, but I want to talk a little bit right now about just the congregation and church unity and the effect that these types of situations have on the people that are there. So first of all, Dr. Watson, can you tell us about what you heard from your congregation after Vice President Pence came? And also the ways in which you saw your congregation kind of react to what you were saying, and react to the vice president being there as well?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Let me also say this, and I'll answer that question, I was not trying to have a "got you" moment with the Vice President of the United States. I respect the office of Vice President and President too much to trivialize it with a got you moment. But I was just being a pastor, loving my people and defending their honor.

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I had some members of my church from Haiti, Africa, and places like that that came up to me with tears in their eyes, thanking me for giving them a voice. Of course, overwhelmingly our congregation was supportive of what I did that day and what I said that day. So, yes in their eyes, they're very pleased and happy.

Morgan Lee: How did they react with regards to just the Vice President being there? Is that something that feels like old news or they're excited about that?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Oh, well, you know what the Vice President came, the Vice President was treated with respect. Members of our church were taking selfies with him, and to his credit the Vice President stayed for the entire worship service and shook hands with people after service. And so they treated him very, very respectfully. They were, of course as any church would be, honored to have a President or Vice-President to go to come to its worships experience. It's not the first time of a president has come to Metropolitan Baptist Church. In the Clinton administration, he visited our church under the former pastor.

Morgan Lee: Gotcha. So there was not a sense of, why is Metropolitan Baptist hosting someone from this administration? There was a sense of like...

Dr. Maurice Watson: Now there were some there who were questioning why he would be invited to come. But as I told my congregation, this was not an invitation from us for him to come. He asked, his office asked if he could come. And of course, if he asked if he could come, absolutely we would say yes, you could come to church. I'm not going to tell people you can't come to church.

Morgan Lee: I'm wondering if you feel like it changes the dynamics at all to have a member of the administration come to a predominantly African-American church versus one that, like David Platt—which I think at the beginning, I know that it is more multi-ethnic than it used to be but, in our story we talked about it being a holy destination for GOP senators and Bush aides—and if there's any part about like the demographics of the church that kind of change how these appearances by politicians play out?

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Dr. Maurice Watson: There's nothing new with regard to politicians visiting churches. They've been doing that as long as there's been politics and as long as there's been a church. The unfortunate thing that we're seeing today is just the highly politicized and highly divided atmosphere that we are seeing in this nation today. And so with it being so highly charged politically and the lines are drawn, have been drawn on both sides, for the conservative or progressive, now when a politician attends a church it takes on a different feel than it used to maybe 10 years ago because of how divided we are as a nation.

Morgan Lee: One of the ways that we often end this podcast—we talk to people from all over the world, but I think this is a fitting question for you know, the DC area this time—but how would you encourage listeners of this podcast to pray for DC right now?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, I would say not just pray for DC, but pray for our nation. That somehow, we can heal and somehow, we can resolve our division along political lines, along racial lines, along the socio-economic lines. We can do better than this. I believe that this country is better than this. But right now, we're being so charged— racially charged and politically charged. We got to ask God to step in and touch hearts, and change our mindset, that we can learn that even if some of us don't love the other person at least we can respect the other person. There used to be a time when people would say, "I don't like your politics." But now the atmosphere is, "I don't like your politics and I don't like you." And somehow, we've got to get beyond this hate and this visceral division that we have.

Morgan Lee: What would you say to people of color who feel like they have been betrayed or really hurt by white evangelicals during the past couple of years?

Dr. Maurice Watson: Well, we have been and it's quite unfortunate what we're seeing happening. White evangelicals don't understand what it means to be put in an underdog situation as we have with African Americans. And yet with everything that's been against us, somehow with God's help we've been able to survive. I hope that we learn, that those in power would learn to empathize with people who've been marginalized. And that it is wrong to stereotype people groups and to think that the color of one's skin lessens or increases one's value inherently.

I just would say again that we've been called to speak the truth in love, and that love doesn't mean that we stick our heads in the sand and everybody says, "let's just have a Kumbaya moment and can we all get along." But love sometimes means that like a David Platt, we have an obligation to pray for our national leaders. But love, on the other hand, means that we have to have the courage to speak up and speak out and tell even leaders when they are wrong.