US pastor on leave after Melania Trump 'trophy wife' comments

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US First Lady Melania Trump holds a roundtable discussion on cyber safety in 2018Image source, AFP
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The pastor evoked Mrs Trump in a sermon which gave women advice on everything from sex to weight loss

A Baptist preacher in Missouri has gone on leave after a backlash over comments he made about women's appearances.

Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark drew scorn for a sermon offering advice to wives he said would stop their husbands becoming "distracted" by other women.

It included comments about Melania Trump whom he described as "the epic trophy wife of all time".

The pastor's General Baptist denomination has admonished him for his comments.

A 22-minute video of his February sermon was shared on Facebook, where it has been viewed thousands of times.

In it, he is seen using a well-known online meme of a distracted boyfriend to tell women not to "give him a reason to be looking around".

He tells churchgoers that it is "really important" for men to have a beautiful woman on their arm, asking the crowd: "Why is it so many times that women, after they get married, let themselves go?"

"Now look, I'm not saying every woman can be the epic trophy wife of all time like Melania Trump, I'm not saying that at all," he says, as an image of the former First Lady appears on screen behind him.

"Most women can't be trophy wives, but you know... maybe you're a participation trophy."

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Pastor Clark then criticises women for wearing casual clothes like jogger bottoms and pyjamas, before turning to "weight control" and referring to one woman as "a sumo wrestler".

"Don't ever forget this, God made them to look and you want them to look at you - not some hottie out there or someone on a computer screen," he is seen telling parishioners.

The pastor's marital advice then turns to make-up, hairstyles, fashion tips and sexual intimacy.

Most of his comments can be heard getting a muted response from those in the audience.

The video was posted online by a woman who said she was angry after hearing him allegedly preach similar messages last week.

Thousands of people then commented on the video, accusing Mr Clark of sexism and misogyny.

Outrage over the sermon led General Baptist Ministries, the denomination to which his Malden First General Baptist Church belongs, to address the matter on Facebook.

"General Baptists believe that every woman was created in the image of God, and they should be valued for that reason," they said in a statement.

They said he had resigned as a moderator for a meeting scheduled in July 2022, but clarified that they had no control over his employment.

The 55-year-old pastor's church told KCTV, a local CBS affiliate, that he was now on leave and in professional counselling.

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