Episcopal Church Head Michael Curry Condemns Trump’s Bible Photo-Op At St. John’s Church For ‘Partisan Political Purposes’
The head of the Episcopal Church has criticized President Donald Trump over his Bible photo-op at St John’s Church while police officers used tear gas on the peaceful George Floyd demonstrators in Lafayette Square.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry released an official statement, saying Trump “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,” the statement read.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington said she was “outraged” after Trump’s church visit. Budde told CNN, Trump didn’t pray when he arrived at the church, nor did he “acknowledge the agony of our country right now.”
Minutes before the visit to St. John’s Church, known as the “Church of the Presidents,” Trump gave a Rose Garden speech, in which he urged governors to “dominate the streets” to suppress the nationwide anti-racism protests. Meanwhile, law enforcement officers in riot gear cleared out Lafayette Square between the White House and St. John Church, using tear gas and rubber bullets at the peaceful demonstrators and journalists.
Gini Gerbasi, a rector at a different St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown, was at the scene together with 20 other priests to support the George Floyd demonstrators, providing them with water and snacks. She told CNN the demonstration was non-violent, but around 6 p.m. police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets to push the crowd out of Lafayette Square. Both Gerbasi and a seminarian, who was with her, got tear-gassed along with other demonstrators.
“I was literally helping wipe away tears in people’s eyes and tried to tend to them and help them on the grounds and suddenly the police were pushing us back,” Gerbasi said. She described the scene to be “a literal battleground,” with police officers using forceful measurements to clear out the crowd.
The nationwide demonstrations engulfed all 50 states after the death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old African American man died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck during the arrest. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder.