Bishop at DC church outraged by Trump visit:
'I just can't believe what my eyes have seen'By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Updated 11:14 PM ET, Mon June 1, 2020
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-- Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
said Monday evening that she is "outraged" after President Donald Trump visited her church without advance notice to share "a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus."
Her pointed comments came after the President walked from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church, a house of worship used by American presidents for more than a century.
Peaceful protesters just outside the White House gates were dispersed
with tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets. It was all,
apparently, so Trump could visit the church.
"I am outraged. The
President did not pray when he came to St. John's, nor as you just
articulated, did he acknowledge the agony of our country right now,"
Budde told CNN's Anderson Cooper on "AC360."
"And in particular,
that of the people of color in our nation, who wonder if anyone ever --
anyone in public power will ever acknowledge their sacred words. And
who are rightfully demanding an end to 400 years of systemic racism and
white supremacy in our country. And I just want the world to know, that
we in the diocese of Washington, following Jesus and his way of love
... we distance ourselves from the incendiary language of this
President. We follow someone who lived a life of nonviolence and
"We align ourselves with those seeking
justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others," she
continued. "And I just can't believe what my eyes have seen."
was surrounded by aides in front of the church, including national
security adviser Robert O'Brien, Attorney General Bill Barr, senior
adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows,
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
remained at the boarded-up building for a matter of minutes before
returning inside the White House. The exterior of the church had been
defaced during protests outside the White House Sunday, and there had
been a small fire in the parish house basement but church leaders said
in a statement
"We have the greatest country in the world," Trump said outside the building.
Beyond using the church as a backdrop, Budde criticized Trump's use of a Bible during the visit, which he held up as he posed for cameras.
me be clear: The President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of
the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese,
without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the
teachings of Jesus," she said.
The episode follows nearly a week
of protests across the country that at times have turned violent over
the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died at the
hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.
While still at the
White House Monday evening, Trump declared himself "your president of
law and order," and vowed to return order to American streets using the
military if widespread violence isn't quelled.
"If a city or
state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and
property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States
military and quickly solve the problem for them," he said.
The address came after he had been angered by news coverage depicting him holed up in an underground bunker
amid protests in Washington. He told aides on Monday he wanted to be
seen outside the White House gates, according to a person familiar with
the matter, which is part of what drove the decision to stage the
photo-op at St. John's Church.
But Budde stressed Monday that
his presence in front of the church -- and his response to the
nationwide protests -- were both unwelcome.
"What I am here to
talk about is the abuse of sacred symbols for the people of faith in
this country to justify language, rhetoric, an approach to this crisis
that is antithetical to everything we stand for."
The Episcopal Church has repeatedly refuted Trump on a range of issues including proposed cuts to social services and the construction of a wall on the US southern border.
Curry, the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, said in a
statement Monday that Trump had "used a church building and the Holy
Bible for partisan purposes."
"This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or heal us," Curry said.
And Greg Brewer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, tweeted
that he was "shaken watching protestors in Lafayette Park gassed and
cleared so that the President of the United States can do a photo op in
front of St. John's Episcopal Church holding a Bible."
"This is blasphemy in real time," Brewer said on Twitter.
This is story has been updated with additional information Monday.
CNN's Kevin Liptak, Kaitlan Collins and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.