Minutes after announcing plans to mobilize the military to violently crack down on the millions of Americans who since last week have been demonstrating against police brutality, President Trump sauntered over to Washington, D.C.’s historic St. John’s Episcopal Church to have his picture taken with a Bible. His path was cleared by the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters.
Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., was not happy. In fact, she was outraged. “I’m outraged,” she 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.”
Here’s what she’s talking about:
great photo op. nailed it pic.twitter.com/X7uedAcxHb
— Brendan Karet 🚮 (@bad_takes) June 1, 2020
Because the area was crowded with demonstrators, law enforcement used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to clear a path to the church. Sirens were audible in the background as the president struggled to find the most awkward way possible to brandish the holy book for the cameras.
“Is that your Bible?” a reporter asked.
“It’s a Bible,” replied the president.
Trump said he was visiting St. John’s to “pay respects to a special place,” but Budde wasn’t buying it. “Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” she told the Post. “I am beyond. 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.”
Budde also went on CNN to express her disgust to Anderson Cooper. “I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen,” she said. “What I am here to talk about is the abuse of sacred symbols for the people of faith in this country to justify language, rhetoric, and an approach to this crisis that is antithetical to everything we stand for, everything that this faith stands for.”
Church leader speaking about Trump's photo-op after peaceful protesters were tear gassed and pushed back: "What on earth did we just witness?" pic.twitter.com/CmVi2aOftQ
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) June 2, 2020
“We so dissociate ourselves from the messages of this president,” Budde added while speaking with the Post. “We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so, so grounding to our lives and everything we do, and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice.”