According to a Time report today, Donald Trump is trying to make up with the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, the Hispanic evangelical group headed by Samuel Rodriguez, who has spent much of the presidential campaign cycle criticizing Trump for his anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rhetoric.
An official with NHLC, Mario Bramnick, apparently met with Trump earlier this month and came away thinking that “Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.”
The meeting was reportedly organized by televangelist Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries, who is the Trump campaign’s “liaison for Christian policy.”
We had never heard of Amedia before, so we did a news search and found an AP story from February 24, 2010, titled “Voodoo practitioners attacked at ceremony for Haiti earthquake victims”:
Angry crowds in a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attacked a group of Voodoo practitioners Tuesday, pelting them with rocks and halting a ceremony meant to honor victims of last month’s deadly earthquake.
Voodooists gathered in Cite Soleil where thousands of quake survivors live in tents and depend on food aid. Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols. When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.
Tensions have been running high since the Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless. More than 150 machete-wielding men attacked a World Food Program convoy Monday on the road between Haiti’s second-largest city of Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince. There were no injuries but Chilean peacekeepers could not prevent the men from stealing the food, U.N. spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux said.
Religious tension has also increased: Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, Mormons and other missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake to feed the homeless, treat the injured and jockey for souls. Some Voodoo practitioners have said they’ve converted to Christianity for fear they will lose out on aid or a belief that the earthquake was a warning from God. “Much of this has to do with the aid coming in,” said Max Beauvoir, a Voodoo priest and head of a Voodoo association. “Many missionaries oppose Voodoo. I hope this does not start a war of religions because many of our practitioners are being harassed now unlike any other time that I remember.”
“There’s absolutely a heightened spiritual conflict between Christianity and Voodoo since the quake,” said Pastor Frank Amedia of the Miami-based Touch Heaven Ministries who has been distributing food in Haiti and proselytizing.
“We would give food to the needy in the short term, but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I’m not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn’t want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”
In a YouTube video posted in 2011 of a post-earthquake visit to Haiti, Amedia channeled Pat Robertson by attributing Haiti’s problems to a lack of literal fatherhood and a relationship with God, saying that the country had been afflicted by “the curse of Voodoo”:
The redemption of the country has to be in the fathering of the country. Pastors need fathers; the president need a father; and the families need fathers. There’s a lack of a fathering spirit here. And once that’s restored, the relationship with the Father in heaven and then the fathers here on earth, and there’s a mentoring and a fathering going on, this land will heal.
It’s the curse of Voodoo that has taken away the fathering in this land.