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Faith Community Outraged Over Trump's Church Photo-Op During Nationwide Protests

Updated on June 3, 2020
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.

Religious leaders in Washington and around the country began criticizing President Donald Trump on Monday, June 1, 2020 immediately after he used St. John's Episcopal Church as a backdrop and the Bible as a prop for a photo-op.

The incident took place soon after Trump announced in the Rose Garden that he had ordered police to get rid of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square across the street from the White House so he could walk through the park to the nearby church. The police followed the president's order by using tear gas, flash grenades, and firing rubber bullets at demonstrators. People are wondering why Trump didn't wait 25 minutes later when the curfew would have started.

It has been reported that Trump wanted a photo-op because he was angry that the media gave the public information that he had been in an underground bunker while protests were going on just steps away from where he resides. He told aides he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates.

During the photo-op, Trump posed for pictures for the media as he stood in front of the church while holding a Bible awkwardly in his hands as if it was a foreign object.

Upside Down Bible

Everybody has accidentally held a Bible upside down as the president did. It might be only a few moments before the person would turn it the right way and perhaps open it to some passage to read. However, the president did not open it and read anything from it. When asked if it was his Bible, he said it was "a" Bible (with emphasis on the “a”).

The nation is dealing with more than one crisis. The last thing the country needs to see at a time like this is for President Trump to stand in front of a historical church he doesn't attend with a closed Bible.

Episcopal Bishop of Washington Speaks Out

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde oversees the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She criticized President Donald Trump because of his visit to St. John's Episcopal Church amid protests over the death of George Floyd.

Bishop Budde told the Washington Post Monday night soon after Trump's visit that she was “outraged” over the president's action. She said neither she nor anyone else was given even a courtesy call that the area would be cleared so Trump could use the historic church as a backdrop. Buddle indicated that she found out about the event when she saw it on television along with everyone else. She said, "I just can't believe what my eyes have seen."

Budde also accused Trump of inflaming violence in the country. She noted that the leader of the country did not pray or acknowledge the agony of our country. She added that Trump's message is "antithetical to the teachings of Jesus."

The bishop described what Trump did in front of the church she oversees "was an abuse of the spiritual tools and symbols of our traditions and of our sacred space."

Budde did not think it was appropriate for Trump to hold up a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition without opening it to read a scripture to encourage people and help the nation heal. She described the photo-op as a charade.

CNN's John Berman on New Day was asked if Trump was a frequent visitor to the church. The bishop did not hesitate. Instead, she immediately said, "No, he's not. He is not a man of prayer who comes to the church on Sunday mornings. He is not one to worship at St. John's regularly or any of the churches of our diocese.

St. John's is the house of worship that has been used by American presidents for more than a century since the days of James Madison. However, the bishop indicated that President Trump has not been to St. John's for worship since the morning of his inauguration on Friday, January 20, 2017. He did visit the church again later that year to mark a national day of prayer for victims of Hurricane Harvey and in 2019 on St. Patrick’s Day, but he has not been inside the church since.

At the end of his speech in the Rose Garden, Trump announced, "Thank you very much, and now I am going to pay my respects to a very, very special place."


Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Speaks

Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first African-American bishop to hold that position, released a statement criticizing Trump's action.

“This evening, the President of the United States stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, lifted up a Bible, and had pictures of himself taken. In so doing, he 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 is the bishop who delivered the inspiring message when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married on May 19, 2018.

President of Interfaith Alliance Speaks

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, criticized Trump's behavior. He oversees an organization that brings together clergy from different religions and denominations. Moline stated:

“Seeing President Trump stand in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church while holding a Bible in response to calls for racial justice – right after using military force to clear peaceful protestors out of the area – is one of the most flagrant misuses of religion I have ever seen. This only underscores the president’s complete lack of compassion for black Americans and the lethal consequences of racism."

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida Shares His Views

Greg Brewer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, tweeted that he was shaken while watching protestors in Lafayette Park being mistreated during a peaceful demonstration.

He said he was also disturbed when he saw the President of the United States do a photo-op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church holding a Bible. Brewer concluded, "This is blasphemy in real-time."

Do you think President Donald Trump's actions were inappropriate?

See results


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I was just judging someone and this article came to mind. I stopped judging. So this article has some good in it.

    • Jack Jenn profile image

      Jack Jenn 

      11 months ago from Nelson Bay NSW Australia.

      Hi A B Williams,

      Thank you and please stay safe in Him.

      Sometimes my tongue gets out of sync with my brain - my apologies again.


    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      Jack, I believe in the greatness of my Country, founded on Godly principles.

      I understood what the President was trying to do that night.

      The Church, (also known as the Church of the Presidents) is in very close proximity to the White House...and it was set on fire, the night before!

      Maybe, him going out the front door of the White House and walking through the streets where riots and looting were ongoing, wasn't the most planned out gesture, I'm sure the Secret Service was freaking out, I was afraid he would be shot...but most understood the significance!

      I don't know the Party affiliation of the Pastors/Bishops that have spoken out against what the President was trying to do, BUT I wonder if they even care that God was written out of the Democratic Party Platform a few years back.

      God doesn't have a place within the Democratic Party (don't take my word for it, do your own research) and yet...they continually stand in judgement of President Trump!

      I too agree with Brenda, what is currently happening in our Country, is heartbreaking.

      Take care Jack and be well!

    • Jack Jenn profile image

      Jack Jenn 

      11 months ago from Nelson Bay NSW Australia.

      Response for A B Williams,

      I'll make this quick because I don't want to hijack Margaret's post.

      Firstly, anyone reading your comment would more than likely think as I did - that you obviously believe in the Trump idiocy. And if that is the case, then I would suggest you modify your approach in the way you come across as you may be easily missunderstood by the tone of your comment.

      If I have missunderstood the thrust of your comment, then I sincerely apologise and I agree the negative side to all this isn't the best way to bring change - I agree with Brenda saying it's no longer about George Floyd and those protesting in a violent way certainly isn't the answer - prayer will do more good than violence. There is more than just one way to protest.


    • Brenda Arledge profile image


      11 months ago from Washington Court House

      It is a bit upsetting that our President is making so many flubs...his tweeting on Twitter needs to stop also.

      This time is heartbreaking. The violence and protesting hurts everyone and is no longer about George Floyd.

      It has gotten out of hand. We need a leader to be sincere.

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      No Jack, you are so wrong.

      I have stayed in my home, I have not broken windows in order to loot stores for jewelry, shoes, plasma televisions....killing those who get in my way. I have not set churches ablaze. I have not destroyed people's livelihood by destroying their small businesses. I have not thrown bricks at people, I have not shot police officers or stabbed them in their neck. I have not blocked the pathway of firemen attempting to get children out of a burning building.

      I have not toppled statues, sprayed graffiti over the memorials of those who died in service to this Country. (ALL races, from all walks of life)

      I understand that the Vietnam memorial in L.A. stays victimized by graffiti and statues were being toppled during the Obama Admin. IT just continues.....(so, it began long before Trump came to D.C.)

      The people doing these things aren't those that ACTUALLY CARE what happened to George Floyd, they are PAID ANARCHISTS, they are attempting to destroy this Country (they are anti-capitalists, anti-America and blinded by hate) and the ignorance of those that THINK it is anything else, is mind-blowing!!!

    • Jack Jenn profile image

      Jack Jenn 

      11 months ago from Nelson Bay NSW Australia.

      Hi Margaret,

      I am so saddened by the injustice served to black Americans by a certain percentage of the police forces, not just in Minnesota but the whole country. And while we in Australia have had similar problems over the years, most if not all have recognised the wrongs and have done so much to put things right, it would seem that many white Americans still have a wrong, hostile attitude in regard to black Americans.

      And if the founding fathers of the country could see the wrongs committed by 'so called Christians' they would all turn their back on them.

      I cannot understand the mentality of those who voted for Trump in the first place - what is wrong with you people, do you not see what he really is? Are you so blind you ignore the ignorance of this man?

      This deluded man, full of his own importance is no better than the leaders of China and North Korea - how quickly the world forgets the past, with most completely onlivious to what is coming in such a short time.

      If Trump was a politician in Australia he wouldn't last 5 minutes and if people make the mistake of putting him back in power, then it really shows the mentality of the population, they will deserve him.

      It's odd that people can see the dictatorial regime of the Chinese and North Korean governments yet they fail to see what Trump has become - a dictator.

      Not only is he a dictator, he is also a coward. It was reported during the unrest he was in the bunker because he was fearing for his life. It was then reported that he was only 'inspecting' the bunker - yeah right. What was he inspecting it for, rats?

      And now to add insult to injury, he brazenly walks through the park, surrounded by security to have a photo shoot outside that church holding up a Bible - I am incenced that he should even touch it.

      What arrogance, and he portrays himself as a Christian - he isn't a Christian's bootlace. And as for the comment from A B Williams - you need to seriously address your disgusting stance, which is the reason your country is in the mess that it's in - typical I suppose.

      Good luck America if you fall for his lies again.


    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      11 months ago from Central Florida

      Really, people are being murdered in the streets, small businesses are being destroyed and the "faith Community is outraged" over this picture!?!

      Sounds as if this "community" needs to grow a spine!

      Remember the Black Robed Regiment?

      During the American Revolution, the clergy, aka "faith community" left the pulpit, pulled off their black robes and picked up a rifle to fight for their freedom and for the freedom of their families, their congregation, their community.

      So...apparently I AM in the minority on your poll, sounds about right!

    • profile image

      KC McGee 

      11 months ago from Where I belong

      Funny, no mention of ANTIFA try to burn down the same church the day before

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow you sure made you position clear. For me, too much anger and predisposition to hate (Trump).

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 

      11 months ago from East London, South Africa

      What a hypocrite! A really sad person.


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