The same day he signed a religious liberty executive order, President Trump walked from the White House through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he then posed for a photograph while holding a Bible. The church, often referred to as the Church of the Presidents, had caught fire the day before during riots over the death of George Floyd. The police report stated that they used smoke canisters and pepper bombs to clear out the park due to violence against police officers, not due to the president’s visit.
The Left criticizes Trump’s move. Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory criticized the church for allowing its building, which is supposed to be a place of worship and peace, to be used in a “fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree.” Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington, expressed outrage and called Trump’s use of the Bible “a prop.” The New York Times wrote that “when the history of the Trump presidency is written, the clash at Lafayette Square may be remembered as one of its defining moments.”
“Tonight the President of the United States used the American military to shoot peaceful protestors with rubber bullets & tear gas them. For a photo op.”Hillary Clinton
The president for CatholicVote stated, “It is regrettable that the Archbishop of Washington chose this occasion to engage in a partisan attack on the President” amidst the nation’s need for unity. The Director of Communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign said the media spread lies about police using tear gas to clear out peaceful protestors, but said we “now know through the US Park Police that neither they, nor any of their law enforcement partners, used tear gas to quell rising violence.” Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fla, called the protestors “professional agitators“ and said the media falsely reported that “police attacked peaceful protesters.”
I will never forget seeing @POTUS @realDonaldTrump slowly & in-total-command walk from the @WhiteHouse across Lafayette Square to St. John's Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate & anarchy. After just saying, "I will keep you safe." https://t.co/sH8jLg5pnz— Rev. Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) June 1, 2020