It helps that the only voices speaking out against Donald Trump‘s pathetic photo op, in front of a church that opposes his policies while holding up a Bible he’s clearly never opened, include plenty of religious voices.
Several Episcopal bishops are especially outraged, and for good reason.
The Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Washington diocese, said Tuesday that Trump held up the Bible in front of St. John’s “as if it were a prop or an extension of his military and authoritarian position.”
Budde, in an interview with Craig Melvin on NBC’s “TODAY” show, said that 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.”
“He didn’t come to church to pray, he didn’t come to church to offer condolences to those who are grieving,” she said. “He didn’t come to commit to healing our nation, all the things that we would expect and long for from the highest leader in the land.”
The Rev. James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest and author, said in a statement, “Using the Bible as a prop while talking about sending in the military, bragging about how your country is the greatest in the world, and publicly mocking people on a daily basis, is pretty much the opposite of all Jesus stood for.”
He added: “Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. And God is not a plaything.”
One year ago yesterday, I became a confirmed member of the Anglican-Episcopal church. Reading these responses from bishops is a heart-warming reminder of why I left evangelicalism in the first place. I couldn’t stand paying lip service to justice and peace in a tradition that is so deeply intertwined with racism. Its members cannot — or will not — see the error of proclaiming “All lives matter” while refusing to listen to people of color or learning from their lived experiences. In the Anglican-Episcopal church, I have met Christians who treat social justice as a core component of the gospel message, and serving “the least of these” on the margins of society is met with real actions, not just righteous displays of prayer.
Given how often we chronicle Christians behaving badly on this site, remember that the values shared by many atheists would likely overlap quite a bit with those of these pastors. All the more reason to support the religious leaders willing to speak out against conservative injustice.