Robert Jeffress: Trump photo at DC church amid protests ‘completely appropriate’

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Dallas megachurch pastor and President Trump ally Robert Jeffress said Tuesday that the president’s photo-op at a Washington, D.C., church after law enforcement cleared away protesters demonstrating against George Floyd’s death was “completely appropriate.”

Jeffress told The Atlantic that he was “happy” with the president’s Monday walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been vandalized the night before, to pose for photos while holding a Bible.

The clearing of protesters out of D.C.’s Lafayette Square at least 15 minutes before the city’s curfew in order to make a path for Trump’s visit has drawn bipartisan criticism.

“I thought it was completely appropriate for the president to stand in front of that church,” Jeffress said. 

“And by holding up the Bible, he was showing us that it teaches that, yes, God hates racism, it’s despicable — but God also hates lawlessness,” he added. 

The megachurch pastor was not the only person praising Trump for his trip to the church, where a small fire was set during Sunday’s demonstrations. 

Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told The Atlantic the visit “sent the twin message that our streets and cities do not belong to rioters and domestic terrorists, and that the ultimate answer to what ails our country can be found in the repentance, redemption, and forgiveness of the Christian faith.”

David Brody, a news anchor at the Christian Broadcasting Network, tweeted that he would “take a president with a Bible in his hand in front of a church over far left violent radicals setting a church on fire any day of the week.” 

At least one priest was among the people police cleared from the patio of St. John’s before Trump’s visit. 

“I am shaken, not so much by the taste of tear gas and the bit of a cough I still have, but by the fact that that show of force was for a PHOTO OPPORTUNITY,” the Rev. Gini Gerbasi said in a Facebook post. 

“The patio of St. John’s, Lafayette square had been HOLY GROUND today,” she added. “A place of respite and laughter and water and granola bars and fruit snacks. But that man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second.”

The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said on Monday evening that she learned of Trump’s visit to St. John’s only by watching it on TV.

“I don’t want President Trump speaking for St. John’s,” Budde told The Washington Post. “I am outraged.”

Several governors, mayors and lawmakers slammed law enforcement’s actions against the crowd, with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) calling the incident “shameful.”

Protests have erupted in cities across the country, including D.C., in response to the death of Floyd, who died after being detained by police in Minneapolis last week.

Jeffress has been a loyal Trump supporter, and the president said he watched his Easter Sunday service this year as he avoided crowds because of the pandemic. Jeffress has celebrated the president’s social media habits and called it “hypocritical” for Trump’s enemies, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to say they pray for him.

Tags demonstrations Donald Trump George Floyd George Floyd death George Floyd protests Lafayette Square Megachurch Nancy Pelosi police brutality Protests Robert Jeffress St. John's Episcopal Church tear gas Washington D.C. White House

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