With both his words and his actions, Trump continues to fan the flames of violence amid protests
As protests both peaceful and violent continue across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death and centuries of injustice and brutality against people of color, Donald Trump has done little but encourage violence and fan the flames of unrest. In addition to threatening protestors with “vicious dogs,” “ominous weapons,” and military force, this week, he had police clear protesters in front of the White House with tear gas — all so he could pose for a photo opp at the church across the street.
Trump heading to St John’s church. Asked about clearing out a park for a photo op. pic.twitter.com/4icg7olFPf
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 1, 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church sits across the street from the White House, and it’s a historic place where presidents all the way from James Madison have worshipped. Just days ago, the church’s basement was set on fire amid protests in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, when Trump visited the church, he posed in front of it for a photo holding a Bible. Onlookers said he did not pray. Now, The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, is speaking out.
Police in Washington, D.C. used tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters to clear them away from St. John's church, which suffered a small fire Sunday night, near the White House.
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) June 1, 2020
“I am outraged,” Budde told the Washington Post. “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”
But Budde is particularly angry that Trump would choose now, amid these protests, to pose for a photo opp at her church.
“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” she said. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”
Bishop Budde on President Trump's visit: "If he had come to offer words of solace and healing and resolve, to bind the wounds of our nation, that would have been an appropriate use of the sacred symbol of walking across the park to the church. But he did none of those things" pic.twitter.com/Szh9VCxaj1
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 2, 2020
“If he had come to offer words of solace and healing and resolve, to bind the wounds of our nation, that would have been an appropriate use of the sacred symbol of walking across the park to the church. But he did none of those things,” Budde told MSNBC.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal denomination, provided a written statement to the Post in which he accused Trump of using “a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes.”
“This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or to heal us,” Curry wrote. “The prophet Micah taught that the Lord requires us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.’ 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.'”
During Trump’s visit to the church, he did not go inside. He only posed for the photo outside. No representative of the church was present at the time.
“No one knew this was happening,” Budde said. “I don’t want President Trump speaking for St. John’s.”