On Monday, President Donald Trump had protestors cleared from Lafayette Square with tear gas so that he could walk to a church across from the White House that had been partially vandalized, and pose in front of it with a Bible. That’s literally all it was: a photo op. Watch this unedited video to see the unholy POTUS PR machine at work.
Yesterday Trump was at it again, but this time his goal was to
reach out pander to Catholics by appearing at a Washington D.C. shrine to Pope John Paul II.
Trump’s brief visit to the shrine appeared to serve primarily as another photo opportunity. The president and the first lady, who identifies as Roman Catholic, stood to face the media before facing the statue of John Paul II for a few minutes.
They seemed to take a stab at praying for about 25 seconds.
Then they looked at a wreath of red and white roses that held a card saying “Mr. President.”
He wasn’t welcome at the church on Monday, as the blindsided Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopalian bishop of the Washington diocese, made abundantly clear:
“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.”
And the reaction he got yesterday from the Catholic Archbishop of Washington D.C., the Rev. Wilton Gregory, was just as bitter:
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said in a statement as Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Northeast Washington.
Gregory’s full statement is here.
Other people who weren’t buying Trump’s act included these folks:
About half a mile away, several dozen protesters held signs that read, “Black lives matter,” “Trump mocks Christ” and “God is not a prop.” Just before noon, the group knelt down for eight minutes of silence and prayer — one for each minute a police officer kneeled on [George] Floyd’s neck before he died. [They could have added almost an extra minute: Floyd had the cop’s knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, TF]
Chian Gavin, 57, of nearby Brookland, wiped her eyes while the crowd sang “Amazing Grace.” “Eight minutes is so long,” she said. “To think that someone would be in pain, would be suffering in that position for that long.”
Even some conservative Christian leaders joined Budde and Gregory in condemnation of Trump.
“The Bible is a book we should hold only with fear and trembling, given to us that in it we might find eternal life,” J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention said in a statement to the Washington Post. “Our only agenda should be to advance God’s kingdom, proclaim his gospel, or find rest for our souls.”
Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Religious Liberty and Ethics Convention, said in a statement that he was “brokenhearted and alarmed.” … “For me, the Bible is the Word of the living God, and should be treated with reverence and awe,” he said, adding that Americans should listen to what the Bible says about the preciousness of human life, the sins of racism and injustice and the need for safety and calm and justice in the civil arena. …
Ed Stetzer wrote on his Christianity Today magazine blog that the president’s [Monday] photo op was “jarring and awkward. It did not play well, even with many of the president’s supporters.”
If that’s true, I hope Team Trump organizes many more photo ops at many more places of worship, angering many more of his constituents.
(Screenshot via YouTube)