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Washington Bishop Budde: Trump used our church as a prop

Washington Bishop Budde: Trump used our church as a prop

President Trump today used tear gas to disperse a peaceful crowd for a photo-op of him holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

[Update: Trump is demanding that “the media” retract the statement that tear gas was used. The Attorney General of United State personally ordered the forced removal of peaceful protestors.

Officers from the U.S. Park Police and other agencies used smoke canisters, riot shields, batons and officers on horseback to shove and chase people gathered to protest the death of George Floyd. At one point, a line of police rushed a group of protesters standing on H Street NW, many of whom were standing still with their hands up, forcing them to race away, coughing from smoke. Some were struck by rubber bullets.

As a consequence, Arlington County has pulled police from D.C. who were in Lafayette Square acting as mutual assistance.

The latest is that tear gas was used: (1) Washington Post: Trump demands journalists correct stories on the use of tear gas. According to the CDC, it was tear gas. (2) Vox: US Park Police denies using tear gas on peaceful protesters. Evidence suggests otherwise. The official statement raises more questions than it answers.]

Federal police officers then used force to clear a large crowd of peaceful demonstrators from the street between the White House and the church, apparently so Trump could make the visit.

“I am outraged,” Budde said in a telephone interview a short time later, pausing between words to emphasize her anger as her voice slightly trembled.
“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said.

She noted that Trump stood in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood after demonstrators shattered glass there and in many other buildings on nearby streets Sunday night — holding a bible, “one that declares that God is love.”

Bishop Budde’s statement to the president:

Photo Credit: Roger Hutchison


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christopher r seitz

Let us pray for St Louis Police Captain David Dorn, George Floyd, and others caught up in violence. God have mercy.

christopher r seitz

How odd. The veracity–or lack thereof–concerning tear gas and other details was supposed to be irrelevant. Now you want to find support for its use. Which is it?

As I have said in response below. If just before a DC curfew, and warned by megaphone to clear by the police, that would have been the course of action for protesters concerned to keep George Floyd in center frame. There has been enough violent action, looting, killing of policemen (African American and others), brutality against shop owners and innocent people trying to protect their businesses and property, all off the back of a covid pandemic with its economic tidal wave.

Helen Kromm

Your repetition of right wing lies is disgusting, and your defense of this action is perplexing. An Episcopal priest engaging in no unlawful activity was tear gassed and physically forced from private church property that she had every lawful right to occupy. She was forced from that parish so that this president that you appear to slavishly follow could have his picture taken holding a bible upside down. By what sick, twisted logic do you rise to the defense of this.

The first hand account of this by the Reverend Gina Gerbasi:

christopher r seitz

Bishop Brewer, for avoidance of doubt, my comment was written before yours and unrelated to it. My comments do not appear in real time. I never know when they will appear. One I wrote earlier has never appeared. Grace and peace.

Simon Burris

How could this comment possibly be “disliked”????

There sure is a lot of “us versus them” going on here at

(Of course, it has been like that for a long time.)

christopher r seitz

Turns out there was no tear gas. Does the truth matter anymore or is this always now about people projecting their narratives and outrage? Selah.

christopher r seitz

Mr Chilton.

The truth is our friend. If there is no tear gas, do not say there is. This is called honoring the commandment, bear no false witness. Basic Christianity.

Be well. Hope there is no new wave of covid.

My heart goes out to business owners who have lost everything. George Floyd deserves better, as his brothers have underscored. May their voices win the day. I fear it will not be so, but our God is a miracle worker.

Tina Teague

Mr. Seitz,
If, you are in a similar situation, hypothetically, and a police officer, agent, whatever you choose to call him, throws a canister in your direction and some kind of smoke, fog, whatever you choose to call it, makes your eyes tear up. Does it matter what it’s called? It was some kind of gasses foggy smoke which teared their eyes!!
They didn’t know the difference, they were innocent people standing on THEIR CHURCH PROPERTY when physically driven by force Off THEIR CHURCH PROPERTY so some person good have his picture taken for political gain. Who the heck cares what you or they call it?! YOU COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT!

christopher r seitz

Just to be clear. If I were in a similar situation (as you propose), and it was almost time for the curfew, and I was warned three times by megaphone to clear the area, I would have done so. Five police officers died yesterday trying to keep the peace. One, an elderly African American cop, was trying to protect a friend’s store, and he was shot. An elderly woman in Rochester was beaten to near dead. So, Tina, my prayer would be that the brothers of George Floyd be heeded, when they call for peace and order, so that the focus might remain on him.

Gregory Orloff

The commandment not to bear false witness (as opposed to simply making an error of fact on a rather specific detail) is indeed important — even for a president who has often borne false witness on video and in audio, then brushed it aside without so much as a blush. Surely basic Christianity applies to those who go through such trouble to pose with a Bible in front of a church, no?

christopher r seitz

Can’t win on logic? When did anyone belief ‘logic’ was the currency de choix at the Lead. The fact that no tear gas was deployed obviously matters little. One fact is certain. The concern of a bishop in TEC as a cultural reality is on about 24 hour loop.

Gay Nell Key

Anything our president does is wrong according to lots of people. He is a no nonsense , straight forward, that is not politically correct to most people.

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