Bishop ‘outraged’ after Trump had protesters tear-gassed before posing with bible at her church

Gino Spocchia
US president Donald Trump outside St. John's Church across from the White House: AFP via Getty Images

A bishop says she is “outraged” after Donald Trump tear-gassed demonstrators outside the White House before posing with a bible at her church.

The US president visited the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday moments after he warned US troops would “dominate the streets” to end demonstrations against police brutality and George Floyd’s killing.

Police then tear-gassed protesters positioned between the White House and the church, where all American presidents since James Madison have worshipped, so Mr Trump could visit.

Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, told The Washington Post that she was “outraged” the White House had cleared demonstrations “with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop”.

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call,” added Ms Budde.

Reports suggest the president made the church visit because he had been mocked for "hiding" inside the White House bunker as protests continued outside this weekend.

The bishop condemned Mr Trump after he was pictured holding a Bible that read “God is love” outside St. John’s, on Monday, which had been boarded-up.

Ms Budde told The Post: “We need moral leadership and he’s done everything to divide us and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition”.

She added that her church did not accept the president’s messages, which instead “inflamed violence”.

“Let me be clear, the President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” Ms Budde told CNN.

She added: “We align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others. And I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen”.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal denomination, said the president had used the church for “partisan political purposes.”

“For the sake of George Floyd, for all who have wrongly suffered, and for the sake of us all, we need leaders to help us to be “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,” he wrote on Twitter.

Many other religious leaders voiced their anger at Mr Trump’s actions on Monday night, as unrest continued across the US.

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