Bishop says she found out Trump visited historic DC church by watching it on TV

The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., said on Monday that she learned of President Trump’s visit to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church only by watching it on the news. 

Trump visited the church, which was damaged in a fire during protests against police brutality over the weekend, after making remarks at the White House condemning the demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death and threatening military action. Local law enforcement had forced protesters out of the area using tear gas and flash-bangs shortly before Trump walked to the church, which is just across the street from the White House.

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

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to enflame violence,” she added.

Outside the church, Trump posed for a photo and vowed to keep the building “safe.” He also told reporters, “Greatest country in the world.”

Budde said the church does not associate itself with Trump’s messages or his response to the killing of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody after an officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck. The violent death, which was captured on video, has sparked nationwide protests and demands for reform. 

“We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so so grounding to our lives and everything we do and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice,” she told the Post.

According to the Post, the church has had several clergy members at the church and at Lafayette Square to support protesters but left once the 7 p.m. D.C. curfew was reached. 

Trump has responded furiously to the protests, tweeting that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and deploying the National Guard to cities across the country. On Monday, Trump said he would mobilize “all available resources, civilian and military” in order to crack down on protests.

St. John’s was one of many historic D.C. buildings vandalized over the weekend. Businesses around the White House had windows shattered, and spray paint was left on monuments along the National Mall. 

Trump has accused anarchists, looters, antifa and other “radical left-wing groups” of causing the destruction.

Tags Donald Trump flash bang George Floyd protests Mariann Budde St. John's Church tear gas The Washington Post

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