During a visit to Dallas on Thursday, President Donald Trump emphasized that “Americans are good and virtuous people” and said the country’s current state of unrest is “going to end up very good for everybody.”
The president spoke at a roundtable that included faith leaders, law enforcement personnel, small-business owners, and top administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr. The event, which preceded a fundraising dinner, was held at Gateway Church, a multisite ministry founded by Pastor Robert Morris, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board.
President Warns Against False Labels
At the roundtable, Trump addressed the nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. He praised police forces, called officers who use excessive force “bad apples,” and said an executive order about policing standards is being finalized. When asked for details, Trump said it includes “tactics for de-escalation” as well as “force with compassion.” But if “somebody’s really bad,” he added, “you’re going to have to do it with real strength, real power.”
Three prominent local African-American officials—a police chief, a sheriff, and a district attorney—weren’t invited to the roundtable. Journalist Gromer Jeffers said, “The criticism of the event was that if you wanted a true conversation about these issues…maybe you should’ve had a cross-section of people from North Texas.”
Regarding racial reconciliation, the president said his efforts will go “quickly and easily,” partly because “we have so many different elements of strength in this country.” He added, “We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear, but will make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots.”
Other areas Trump addressed included access to business capital, racial disparities in health care, social workers in police departments, and school choice. He also spoke about his administration’s efforts on behalf of African Americans, including criminal justice reform, opportunity zones, and the economy and jobs.
Gateway Church Calls Out ‘the evils of racism’
On its website, the megachurch that hosted Trump invites people to “join our conversation about racism and unity,” calling unity “not the absence of differences” but “the absence of division.” A page devoted to the topic states: “As a church, we value every color, culture, and class while staying focused on Jesus. We acknowledge the evils of racism and discrimination fighting so hard to tear us and our nation apart at the seams. Our unity is a powerful tool against the enemy’s attacks.”
Resources posted on Gateway’s website include a recent webinar conversation among church staff members. Viewers are invited to watch the participating pastors discuss pain, injustice, and next steps for healing.
Since its founding in 2000, Gateway Church has experienced massive growth. It now has 71,000 active attendees, according to its website. Pastor Robert Morris, Gateway’s founder, is an author, TV host, and radio host. In a 2017 sermon, he urged the church to take a stand against racism and said white people must work to understand the feelings and viewpoints of black people.