The head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington has denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to pose in front of the historic St. John’s Church, located near the White House, that recently suffered fire damage during protests against the killing of George Floyd.
On Monday, U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops cleared the pathway from the White House to the church, reportedly using tear gas and pushing peaceful protesters aside, before Trump walked to the church holding a Bible and giving some brief comments.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde responded on Facebook, expressing outrage over the president’s decision to use the church as a backdrop.
“The President just used a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for,” stated Budde, the Facebook post getting as of Tuesday morning more than 13,000 likes and 52,000 shares.
“To do so, he sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard. I am outraged.”
Budde went on to say that she did not “support the President’s incendiary response to a wounded, grieving nation.”
“In faithfulness to our Savior who lived a life of non-violence and sacrificial love, we align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others through the sacred act of peaceful protest,” she continued.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry also denounced Trump’s move.
“[H]e used 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 said.
“The Bible teaches us that ‘God is love.’ Jesus of Nazareth taught, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The prophet Micah taught that the Lord requires us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.’ The Bible the President held up and the church that he stood in front of represent the values of love, of justice, of compassion, and of a way to heal our hurts.
“We need our President, and all who hold office, to be moral leaders who help us to be a people and nation living these values. 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.'”
Several journalists, including NBC News Reporter Garrett Haake, reported that protesters were peaceful in their demonstrations. But WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein said the Park Police told him the officers were “pelted with water bottles.” So they used smoke canisters, not tear gas, to disburse the crowd. “Another factor was that protesters had climbed on top of the structure at the north end of Lafayette Square that had been burned the day before,” Augenstein wrote on Twitter.
Other security officials have yet to confirm if they used tear gas but witnesses reported that tear gas had been thrown at them.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski