President Donald Trump has visited two different churches this weekend, which is about as much as he visits a church in any given year, and he clearly did it for the benefit of the media’s still and video cameras. Needless to say, it set off yet another controversy.
Trump appeared in front of a shrine honoring Pope John Paul on Monday, and Washington’s Catholic Archbishop said “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we disagree.” On Tuesday, On Tuesday Trump posed in front of the St. John’s Episcopalian Church near the White, holding up a Bible for the benefit of the cameras, waving a Bible at the cameras, prompting the Episcopal Bishop of Washington to say “I am outraged,” adding the church hadn’t received advance that Trump notice would be tear-gassing peaceful protestors to make the visit, and that “everything he’s he’s said and done is to inflame violence.” Even the low-church and conservative televangelist Pat Robertson said Trump’s response to all the rioting and protests that have lately occurred across the country “isn’t cool.”
The more sycophantic sorts of Christians have rushed to Trump’s defense, and all his bluster about unleashing vicious dogs and awesome weapons and America’s military might to restore law and order, but he still looks ridiculous waving a Bible around as he does so. Trump’s unfamiliarity with the text is now well documented, from his telling an evangelical audience that he’d never asked God’s forgiveness is pray, to his citing of “Two Corinthians” at a Christian college, to his admission that his favorite verse from Scripture is “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” which was amended by Jesus in the New Testament and doesn’t mean what Trump thinks it means even in its Old Testament context.
We’re doing our best to be good Christians, which means not judging any other man’s soul, but as American citizens in a democratic republic we’re obliged to assess the character of the men and women on our ballots, and more than ever we find Trump wanting in that regard. He’s a bully and a braggart who lies daily, has cheated on all three of his wives, and boasted that cheating on his taxes makes him smart, and he’s cheated his employees and investors and the draft and even his partners in a friendly game of golf. At a national prayer breakfast, of all places, he disagreed with Jesus’ admonition to love one’s enemies, and we’re sure he’d also dispute all that stuff about “Blessed are the peacemakers” an “Blessed are the meek” and turning the other cheek and welcoming the stranger, and we’d love to ask him which of Christ’s teachings he does agree with. Our Catholic friends have named pride, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, wrath and sloth as the Seven Deadly Sins, and he seems to check off every box. They also tell us the seven cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and charity, and none of those describe Trump.
We’re as much for law and order as the next guy, and share everyone’s dismay about the wanton destruction that’s lately occurred, but Trump waving a Bible he’s never read in front of the cameras at a church he doesn’t worship at won’t help. His more secular threats to deploy the military to “dominate” the streets, and start shooting rioters and protestors if the governors who have constitutional authority to deal with this mess don’t comply with his wishes, also seems unhelpful in calming down an agitated nation.
— Bud Norman