US President Donald Trump's much-hyped photo op holding a bible outside the historical St John's Episcopal Church, backfired badly, leaving many aghast at the manner it was organized by dispelling peaceful protesters using teargas.
Trump's highly publicized walk to St John's on Monday, comes hours after he was criticized for hiding out in a secret bunker as Washington burned around him with protesters demanding justice for the death of George Floyd. Various media outlets reported that on Friday night, as protesters gathered outside the White House, Trump along with his family rushed to the bunker, usually used during wartime or terrorist attacks.
Trump's 17-minute of Fame Using Bible and Church as Props
A heavily protected Trump took a walk from the Rose Garden, where he spoke about the importance of law and order, to the historical church. Accompanied with Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, his eldest daughter, and senior adviser Attorney General William P. Barr, along with other aides, Trump started walking towards the church at 7.01 pm, a minute after curfew deadline started.
Upon reaching his desired spot in front of a graffiti-laden board outside the church, Trump, in his typical expression with lips pursued thin, moved the bible as if assessing its weight. The outer cover of the bible read 'God is Love'. On being asked, if it was his bible, Trump responded, saying "It's a Bible" while hoisting it up for everyone to see. The entire photo op, which did not include any member of the church, lasted for about 17 minutes.
Religious Leaders Condemn Trump for Using Bible and Church as Props
Slamming Trump for his outrageous stunt, Rev Mariann Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said that she was outraged by Trump's visit. "Let 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 told CNN adding that the church disassociates itself from the messages of 'this president'.
Speaking to The Guardian, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Primate of the Episcopal church, accused Trump of using the church and Bible for partisan political purposes. "For the sake of George Floyd, for all who have wrongly suffered, and for the sake of us all, we need leaders to help us to be one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all," he said. In a tweet, Father Edward Beck, a Catholic priest, wrote: '"Has the Bible ever been used in a more disingenuous and exploitative way?"
Enraged, Twitter trends with #bible
Apart from the religious leaders, commoners too were left enraged with Trump using the bible and church to spread the message of love and peace, a complete contradiction of his acts. #Bible and #BiblePhotoOp was trending on number one with over a million tweets within a few hours.
"Christians are you really ok with the president using the Bible and a Church as propaganda? This is a godless man leading us into self-destruction #Bible," wrote an user.
"Trump's posing with a bible after directly ordering an attack on a constitutionally legal, peaceful assembly of American citizens is a perversion of decency and the basic tenants of American liberty unequaled in our long history. His words are those of a tyrant. NOT IN THIS LAND," wrote another. Soon, memes related to Trump holding a bible also flooded the internet. In some pictures, Trump was photoshopped to look like a satan.