Moments after claiming to be an “ally to peaceful protesters” in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump ordered a phalanx of riot police, some of them on horseback, to forcefully disperse a crowd of peaceful protesters (video) yesterday with batons, flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas. The president then walked from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a brief photo op where he brandished a bible.
Religious leaders from around the world and lawmakers from both major parties condemned the action, noting that Trump’s message seemed diametrically opposed to that of Jesus. Trump had previously threatened protesters with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”
The president’s statements echoed similar statements aimed at protesters at his rallies during the 2016 election, which included: “I’d like to punch him in the face,” “Knock the crap out of him … I will pay your legal bills,” and “(In) the old days … they’d be taken out on stretchers.”
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington said, “The president just used a Bible as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. He sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard. We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”
Michael Curry, the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, released a statement that read in part: “This evening, the President … used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes. This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or to heal us.”
A small minority of Christian leaders saw the incident differently. Televangelist Kenneth Copeland compared “King Trump’s” walk to Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, noting “minor differences,” such as, “Instead of people laying their clothes and palm branches in the roadway to clear a path, they threw flash grenades and tear gas. Same diff.”
We’d add that while Jesus rode an ass, Trump is one.
Image from freebibleimages.org