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Bishops blast Trump in scathing rebuke for Bible photo op: 'Antithetical to the teachings of Jesus'

'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'

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump ignited controversy late Monday when he and other top administration officials walked to St. John's Episcopal Church. But in order to ensure the president's safety on the one block walk, federal law enforcement forcefully removed protesters from the area.

Once Trump was at the church, which had been targeted the night before by violent protesters, the president held a Bible for media to snap his picture.

Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In response, Episcopal Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, under whose jurisdiction St. John's falls, blasted the president, accusing him of exploiting the church and the Bible.

"Let me be clear: The President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus," she said.

In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Budde said she was "outraged" by Trump's actions and that she 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."

"Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence," Budde told the Post of Trump. "We need moral leadership, and he's done everything to divide us."

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the top leader of the Episcopal Church, also took Trump to task.

"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," Curry said in a statement, the Post reported.

"The prophet Micah taught that the Lord requires us to 'do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God,'" he continued. "For the sake of George Floyd, for all who have wrongly suffered, and for the sake of us all, we need leaders to help us to be 'one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.'"

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