A Maryland pastor spent his Sunday sermon addressing President Donald Trump's comments about immigrants from Haiti and Africa that reportedly contained profane language.
The Rev. Maurice Watson got a standing ovation during his sermon at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland. It was a topic undoubtedly addressed in many churches on the day before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but on Sunday, Watson had Vice President Mike Pence sitting in his congregation.
Watson said the vice president’s office called him earlier to let him know about Pence’s visit.
“I felt I needed to speak up, and I would have spoken up regardless to whether the vice president came or not,” Watson said. “It wasn't about his being there. This was about trying to be a responsible pastor to speak up for God's people.”
Watson said there are members of his church who are from Africa and Haiti. The president was accused of using “s---hole” to describe African countries during an immigration meeting with a bipartisan group of six senators. The president, in the meeting, also reportedly questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the U.S.
The pastor called the reported comments “dehumanizing” but he said he wasn’t directing his sermon specifically at the vice president.
“I did not look at him while speaking,” Watson said. “I wanted to keep my focus on speaking to my people, because it wasn't a personal attack. I wasn't trying to personally go after the vice president.”
On Monday, the White House confirmed Pence attended the service but did not characterize his reaction to the sermon.
“Yes, the VP attended the service yesterday with the Second Lady and Secretary Perdue,” according to a statement from an official with the vice president’s office. “He was welcomed by the Pastor and the congregation received him with open arms. The VP and Second Lady went from church to lay a wreath at the MLK monument.”
Watson said under similar circumstances, he would do the same sermon again.
“If I had to do it 100 times again, I would do it, because it is right,” he said.