Politico reports on the incident in Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Park yesterday still drawing shocked reactions a day later, after President Donald Trump ordered the gassing and dispersal of peaceful protesters who had committed no offense beyond legally occupying space between Trump and St. John’s Episcopal Church:
President Donald Trump faced withering criticism in the hours after spurring a violent incursion against apparently peaceful protesters for the purposes of staging a political photo opportunity — provoking rebukes Tuesday from local and state executives, congressional lawmakers, faith leaders and even foreign governments over the extraordinary show of force amid converging national crises.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed officials within her office were “very shocked and, quite frankly, outraged” by the aggressive dispersal of crowds demonstrating outside the White House on Monday evening, facilitated by police officers and National Guard troops firing rubber bullets and deploying flash-bang grenades…
“At no time did we think it was appropriate that people who had not violated the curfew or anything else receive that treatment,” Bowser told CNN, saying she could not comment on “what made the federal authorities think it was appropriate to clear the way for that purpose.”
NPR has the angry response to Trump’s violent photo-op from the Episcopal Bishop of Washington–as angry, we suppose, as an Episcopal bishop is allowed to get anyway:
“There was no reaching out, no sense that it would require some sort of authorization before using the church as a backdrop in that way,” said the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington, with oversight responsibilities for the church.
When the president held up the Bible, without praying or quoting a verse appropriate for the moment, Budde was further incensed.
“It almost looked like a prop,” she told NPR. “That is the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It speaks messages of love, of God, love of neighbor. I was outraged that he felt that he had the license to do that, and that he would abuse our sacred symbols and our sacred space in that way.”
Slate’s Ruth Graham summed up the moment well:
Trump’s slow walk to the church was not an event that began with a photo-op. It consisted of nothing but the photo-op itself. [Pols emphasis] The president did not give a speech at the church. No clergy joined him. He did not read a passage from the Bible he held. When a reporter on the scene asked Trump if it was his own Bible, he replied, “It’s a Bible.” The president’s personal copy of the Bible, which he used to take the oath of office, is now located at the Museum of the Bible. It is not clear if he personally owns another copy.
The condemnation of Trump’s violent attack on Lafayette Park protesters in order to visit a church, apparently undertaken entirely using forces under his personal authority, has been pretty much universal–except, as usual, within the Republican Party. Here in Colorado, where the unholy alliance between mostly white evangelical clergy and the Republican Party has been steadfast since long before Focus on the Family came to Colorado Springs, our leading religious/political figures are rushing to bless Trump’s actions:
For the word of God is alive and active. – Hebrews 4:12 pic.twitter.com/3pDiZNF0NT
— Jeff Hunt (@jeffhunt) June 2, 2020
It’s the age-old quandary when both sides in a conflict think God is on their side. Only one of them can be right.
We tend to think God is not on the side of gassing people for a picture in front of a church.