Trump's Walk to Church Is a Polarizing Moment

Critics say he used it as a prop, while supporters see a show of strength
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2020 3:00 AM CDT
Updated Jun 2, 2020 6:42 AM CDT
Trump's Church Photo Op a 'Flagrant Misuse of Religion'
President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

After President Trump's dramatic threat to bring out the military to quell protests, he walked from the White House to nearby St. John's Church, where he posed for photographers while holding a Bible. Before he did so, police used tear gas to clear his way, dispersing protesters from Lafayette Square Park. Some reaction to the big gesture:

  • Bishop: The Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal diocese to which St. John’s Church belongs, said she was “outraged," reports the AP. "He took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that would be a celebratory moment," Budde said. And to the Washington Post, she added: "Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence."
  • Split views: The Axios AM newsletter illustrates a divide in views. One senior White House aide saw Trump's visit to the church, which suffered minor damage in a fire set by protesters Sunday, as an "iconic moment" for the Trump presidency. But another senior official says: "I’ve never been more ashamed. I’m really honestly disgusted."

  • From the right: Twitchy rounds up tweets accusing the media and others of being more upset about by Trump's walk to the church than about the fire that damaged it over the weekend.
  • Biden: "He's using the American military against the American people," tweeted Joe Biden. "He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo."
  • 17 minutes: The walk to the church and photo op took 17 minutes, and Trump was accompanied by senior aides, per the New York Times. The Washington Post has a story about what it was like on the ground for the demonstrators who were disbursed. "Authorities shoved protesters down with their shields, fired rubber bullets directly at them, released tear gas and set off flash-bang shells in the middle of the crowd," per the story. "Protesters began running, many still with their hands up, shouting, 'Don’t shoot.' Others were vomiting, coughing and crying."
  • Another split: "He used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes," complained Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, per NPR. But the Rev. Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board, had a different view. "I will never forget seeing (Trump) slowly & in-total-command walk from the @WhiteHouse across Lafayette Square to St. John's Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate & anarchy," he tweeted.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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