Religious Leaders Outraged Over Trump’s Church Photo-op Amid Nationwide Protests

WASHINGTON – Religious leaders in Washington criticized President Donald Trump on Monday after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators outside the White House to allow Trump to walk to a nearby church for a photo-op.

The incident took place just before a 7 P.M. curfew, declared by the mayor of Washington, went into effect.

– Trump walks to church

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 2, 2020

– Peaceful protesters dispersed in D.C.

Heavily armed federal officers fired rubber bullets and teargassed peaceful protesters outside the White House to clear the path for President Trump to visit St John's Church.

— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) June 2, 2020

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump addressed the nationwide protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Shortly thereafter, the police forcefully removed hundreds of protesters from Lafayette Square, across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, despite the fact that the curfew hadn’t yet come into effect nor were the protesters violent in any way.

The police assault, it soon became apparent, was intended to clear the path for Trump to walk from the White House compound to the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House. Trump stood outside the church with a Bible in his hands, posing for pictures for the media.

– LISTEN: High priests, holy smoke and cannabis in the Temple

LISTEN: High priests, holy smoke and cannabis in the TempleHaaretz

Later, protesters tried to set fire to the 200-year-old church building, but the Washington Fire Department managed to subdue the conflagration before it caused any significant damage to the structure. 

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, who oversees the church Trump visited, told the Washington Post Monday night that she was “outraged” over the president’s conduct. “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” said Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde.