The square between St. John’s Episcopal Church and Lafayette Park was brimming with individuals peacefully protesting police fierceness late Monday evening when U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops suddenly started pushing them away for no clear reason.
And afterward it turned out to be clear. President Trump needed to stroll from the White House through the park to the church. Camera crews scrambled to stay aware of him as he strode through the park, trailed by his little girl Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, alongside Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials.
Trump stopped quickly outside the church and held up a Bible,
“We have the greatest nation on the planet,” he said. “Protect it decent and.”
The improvised visit came just after Trump conveyed remarks at the White House, proclaiming himself “your president of lawfulness” and requesting that governors send National Guard units and “command the streets.”
St. John’s Church opened in 1816 and is known as “the Church of the Presidents,” having hosted each U.S. president since James Madison. On this occasion, in any case, the president’s visit was unannounced, and church authorities were furious that the White House didn’t try to caution them already.
“There was no connecting, no sense that it would require some sort of approval before using the church as a background in that manner,” said Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, with oversight responsibilities for the church.
At the point when the president held up the Bible, without imploring or citing a verse suitable for the occasion, Budde was additionally incensed.
“It almost resembled a prop,” she told NPR. “That is the most sacred content of the Judeo-Christian convention. It speaks messages of adoration, of God, love of neighbor. I was shocked 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 manner.”
The church has for some time been known for its support of social justice causes, and in the hours prior to the president showed up, ministry and lay volunteers had been ministering to the protesters in the square. Protests, some of them rough, had happened around the church on previous nights, and the church was quickly in peril on Sunday after a fire started in the church basement.
A previous St. John’s minister, Gini Gerbasi, was among those taking care of the protesters before the church when the police moved in.
“We were truly DRIVEN OFF of the St. John’s, Lafayette Square yard with nerve gas and concussion grenades and police in full mob gear,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Individuals WERE HURT SO THAT [President Trump] COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!! HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO STEP OVER THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES WE LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE WE WERE BEING TEAR GASSED!!!!”
In a statement Monday evening, the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry participated in the criticism of Trump’s visit.
“Tonight, the President of the United States stood before St. John’s Episcopal Church, lifted up a bible, and had pictures of himself taken,” Curry said. “In this manner, he used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes. This was done in a period of profound hurt and torment in our nation, and his activity never really help us or to recuperate us.”
The church visit was praised, be that as it may, by an individual from Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, the Rev. Johnnie Moore.
“I will always remember seeing @POTUS @realDonaldTrump slowly and in-all out order stroll from the @WhiteHouse across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church resisting those who intend to crash our national mending by spreading dread, loathe and political agitation,” Moore tweeted.