Mr. Trump goes to church

He did not pray. He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years. We need a president who can unify and heal. He has done the opposite of that, and we are left to pick up the pieces.

–Mariann E. Budde,
bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,
in the
New York Times, June 1, 2020

And the beat goes on; and so yesterday Donald Trump threatened to call up the army to invade and militarily occupy his own country. The days all seem to string together without division, so I can’t say exactly when he also characterized members of the Antifa movement as a terrorist organization. (Mr. Trump and his defenders are apparently Profa themselves.) Because  he is Donald Trump, his threat was laced through with stupidity: there is very little if any real organization among the Antifa crowd, making them a quite slippery target. It’s plain that the real rationale behind his characterization is to provide carte blanche for individual prosecutions under terrorism laws. And under a Trump judiciary, this will likely succeed.

Otherwise his designation is useless, not unlike most of the things he does. Late yesterday, his path there cleared by police firing tear gas canisters into the crowd, he walked from the White House to a riot-torn St. John’s Episcopal Church and stood before it for a photo op, waving a bible. “This evening, the President of the United States stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, lifted up a bible, and had pictures of himself taken,” noted Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. “In so doing, he 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.”

Quite good at waving bibles around, our president is, but he is a better waver than a reader. It’s unlikely that he’s come across the passages about rich men, needles, and camels; the merchants’ tables in the temple; meals with prostitutes and tax collectors (though here he may have something in common with Jesus); the urges to humility, modesty, simplicity, non-violence, our common humanity, and sacrifice. It’s possible that one day Mr. Trump may open the New Testament to read about these things. It’s also to be hoped that Mr. Trump will see fit to forgive Jesus for such a disappointing message.

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