The Florida evangelical pastor whose megachurch is hosting a religious rally for President Donald Trump on Friday has pledged his protection to undocumented immigrants who fear they’ll risk deportation if they attend.
Miami pastor Guillermo Maldonado tried to reassure members of his congregation at his sermon Sunday, the Miami Herald reported. “You don’t have to be a citizen, and I will give you an affirmation as your spiritual father and your pastor,” he was quoted as saying.
“Someone said, ‘But how can you bring Trump to church if there’s people who don’t have papers?’ I ask you: Do you think I would do something where I would endanger my people? I’m not that dumb.”
Maldonado’s King Jesus International Ministry (Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesus) typically draws hundreds of Latino families to its Sunday service in Spanish. It was picked by the Trump campaign for the first “Evangelicals for Trump” rally later this week. Maldonado said that his church is not financing the event and that anyone who wants to attend has to register at DonaldJTrump.com.
The rally was organized in response to a scathing editorial earlier this month in Christianity Today. The publication, founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, called for Trump’s removal for his “profoundly immoral” abuse of his office for personal and political gain. It also criticized Trump’s “blackened moral record,” including “lies and slanders” and “immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud.”
Maldonado, who is from Honduras, calls himself Apostle Maldonado, speaks in tongues and claims to have worked miracles, including raising the dead. Some of his “immigration miracles” include people obtaining visas so they can legally stay in the U.S., according to the Herald.
Despite assurances to his flock, Maldonado didn’t appear to guarantee that undocumented immigrants who attend the rally won’t risk being detected and deported.
“I don’t think the president would do such a thing,” Maldonado hedged. “Don’t put your race or your nationality over being a Christian. Be mature …. If you want to come, do it for your pastor.”
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter