Megachurch pastor, black conservative, and evangelical adviser to President Trump Harry R. Jackson, Jr. died on Monday, November 9th at the age of 66 years old.
Christianity Today called him a “herald of a new black church and a voice of black conservatism.”
Jackson was a fierce advocate of socially conservative issues, especially in defending the unborn right to life and the sanctity of traditional marriage. But he did his best to avoid strict partisanship.
Jackson was also a registered Democrat, and through his years he often advocated for criminal justice reform and government involvement in the economic uplifting of the African-American community.
“Being able to say I’m a registered Democrat disarms many of the people who want to write me off as an ‘Oreo’ or an ‘Uncle Tom.’ There are a whole lot of black Christians who may not be Republicans but who share similar moral values. So I appeal to the fact that more than two million black babies have been lost to abortion over the last four years and that over 70 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers.”
Jackson was born in Cincinnati in 1953. After being passed over by the New England Patriots, he earned an English degree at Williams College in Massachusetts and then proceeded to a Master’s degree in business administration at Harvard University.
He worked as a salesman for Republic Steel before joining ministry in the late 1970s after the death of his father. After nearly a decade of holding small church services, he took up a position at Hope Christian Church, an independent charismatic megachurch in Beltsville, Maryland.
It was during the George W. Bush administrations that Jackson began to rise in political prominence. He called his congregants to stand up for socially conservative values, but also challenged them beyond partisanship.
“What I believe,” said Jackson in 2005, “is that the whole left and right paradigm that politics has chosen to create for itself is fundamentally incorrect because the Bible has both what we call left and right issues.”
Jackson believed Democrats took advantage of the African-American community, and that Republicans took for granted their white evangelical base.
In 2016, Jackson prayed at the inauguration of President Trump, and became one of Trump’s unofficial evangelical advisers. He has attended many events at the White House since.
In response to critics, Jackson said, “You can’t be a prophet to the culture while you’re standing outside of the room.”
This past Good Friday, Jackson was invited to pray at the White House. Trump introduced him as “a highly respected gentleman who is a member of our faith and a person that we have tremendous respect for.”
Jackson prayed, “Lord, cover us with a cloud by day and a fire by night. Lord let e pluribus unum be a reality in us. Let there be a uniting of America. Heal the divide between race, class, and gender. Once again give this great man our president, and give the vice president wisdom beyond their limitations.”
Hope Christian Church announced his death on their website last week:
“It is with a heavy heart that we notify you that our beloved Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. has transitioned to be with the Lord on November 9, 2020. Information about the memorial service will be forthcoming. Please pray for the Jackson Family’s comfort and respect their right to privacy at this time.”
Jackson was recently re-married after the death of his first wife in 2018.