The Episcopal bishop of Washington, DC, said she was “outraged” when she learned that President Donald Trump had posed for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church Monday.
Federal police fired tear gas at peaceful protesters outside the White House at 6:30 pm, just before Trump gave a briefing in the Rose Garden to clear a path for the president to walk to the church after a fire was set in the church’s basement Sunday night amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Trump was photographed in front of the church following the briefing holding a Bible, saying “We have a great country. That’s my thoughts. Greatest country in the world.”
Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde said she was “outraged” that neither she nor the rector of St. John’s Church were notified of Trump’s photo-op, and that “they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” she told The Washington Post.
Budde later appeared on CNN to condemn the president’s actions, calling it an “abuse of sacred symbols” to pose with the Bible and use the church “as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for.”
Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the church used for today’s photo op, slams Trump for exploiting the church “as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for.” pic.twitter.com/CzfuQKVLZa
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 2, 2020
“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 said, adding that she does not want Trump speaking for St. John’s.
“We so disassociate ourselves from the messages of this president,” she continued. “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.”