Let me be damn clear on this: I DO NOT SUPPORT THE ABUSES OF POLICE ON PROTESTORS IN THE LAST WEEK. NOT ONE LITTLE BIT. I posted about my thoughts on all of that on Monday night.
What has me spitting fire for the last 36+ hours is what happened in D.C. around 6:30 p.m. because it was just adding insult to the massive injury this country has.
There were peaceful protestors at Lafayette Park. Trump was speaking in the Rose Garden and trumpeting his power to call in the military to put down the protests, kind of like happens in Russia, China, or North Korea. Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s advisors, decided it would be a fabulous idea for Trump to take a picture in front of a St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible. Oh wait… there’s this pesky problem of the protestors in Lafayette Park around the church.
So… in the spirit of Napoleon “dismissing the crowd “with a whiff of grapeshot“, the police, backed by the National Guard, unleashed tear gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets on the protestors, who were peaceful and not violating curfew. (If you’d like a firsthand account from a clergy person who was AT the church when this happened, click here.) The mayor of Washington did not approve of this.
When he got to St. John’s Church, he didn’t go in to pray. He didn’t meet with church leaders. (His handlers didn’t even give the rector and staff a 30-minute warning that is the bare minimum of courtesy.) He didn’t let the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Washington know. He just had pictures of himself taken while standing in front of the church holding a Bible.
Let’s talk about all the things wrong with this picture.
1.) He is holding the Bible upside down and backwards. If it was actually a holy book to him and not just a prop to make him look like a defender of Christianity, he would hold it more reverently. When asked if it was a family Bible, he replied that it was “A Bible”. That says to me that the thing he is holding has no importance to him. It does, however, have importance to me. The teachings in it govern how I live my life. The teachings in it are about loving one’s neighbor as much as one loves oneself. Those teachings are antithetical to Trump’s actions. I feel like the Bible was desecrated by him holding it that way.
2.) Him standing in front of the church gives the impression that the church backs him. It is an Episcopal church. I am an Episcopalian. We do *NOT agree with his actions, his words, or most of the things he has done during his time in the White House. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, made this ABUNDANTLY CLEAR. She found out about his visit while watching the news and seeing a scene out of a war movie taking place in front of one of her churches. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, weighed in on this as well.
(Side note: I had the displeasure of seeing a bunch of Trump followers taking the Presiding Bishop to task for his words, and my act of charity for the week was responding to their idiocy kindly and explaining to them why they were wrong. I also had to inform them that the Presiding Bishop told us after Trump’s election that we need to pray for him… and we do it in some form EVERY Sunday. It’s written into our liturgy.)
3.) HE TEAR-GASSED PEACEFUL PROTESTORS FOR A ******* PHOTO OP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I wish WordPress would let me use 72-point font for that one.) People were peacefully protesting the murder of an innocent man, and he put his selfish desires above listening to what people were saying. It was the cherry on a feces sundae. We are in a horrible situation in this country, we have a horrible history, and the person who is supposed to be our leader is taking selfies with a holy book to pander to his followers instead of listening to people and acting like someone deserving of the leadership role he has. I am sitting here at a loss for words at how utterly inappropriate this was.
This image from Twitter actually sums it up well:
Fear not, Catholic readers. He went and took selfies at the St. John Paul II National Shrine. It was supposed to be to sign an executive order on religious freedom and he laid a wreath, but the Archbishop of Washington was not amused, given Trump’s actions in the previous 24 hours.
The pictures taken at St. John’s Church and the shrine will undoubtedly be used for campaign propaganda to make him look like a defender of Christianity, but he is the farthest thing from a defender of Christianity. His actions represent everything Jesus preached against in the Gospels, and I am angry beyond words that he decided to pander to his base rather than listen and learn during a time when our nation really needed it. I saw it way before he ran in 2016, and I cannot understand why people don’t see it:
HE IS A FUNDAMENTALLY SELFISH PERSON WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT ANYONE’S NEEDS BUT HIS OWN. HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE COUNTRY. HE CARES ONLY ABOUT WHAT MAKES HIM LOOK GOOD.
I feel like the 5th chapter of the Book of Amos speaks to all of this beautifully:
Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
2 “Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”
3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel:
“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”
4 This is what the Lord says to Israel:
“Seek me and live;
5 do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
6 Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
7 There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.
8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
9 With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.