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Present and Former Archbishops of Canterbury Condemn President Donald Trump's Actions

Present and Former Archbishops of Canterbury Condemn President Donald Trump's Actions
Trump brandishing a Bible is 'an act of idolatry,' says Rowan Williams
Welby called out the "ongoing evil" of white supremacy
National Association of Evangelicals calls out "racial injustice"
"They should be thanking him rather than criticizing him! They are nitpicking his gesture," says Franklin Graham

By David W. Virtue, DD
June 5, 2020

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, condemned President Donald Trump posing with a Bible in front of an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1, calling it, "an act of idolatry."

"Objectively this was an act of idolatry -- standing somewhere else than in the truth, using the text that witnesses to God's disruptive majesty as a prop in a personal drama. In a context where racial privilege itself has long been an idolatry, where long-unchallenged institutional violence has been a routine means for the self-defence of that privilege, the image of the president clinging to the Scriptures as if to an amulet is bizarre even by the standards of recent years."

"Quite literally, God alone knows what was going on in the head of the President of the United States as he stood outside a church this week brandishing a Bible, having walked to the church with his path cleared by tear gas and rubber bullets, posturing before a nation more tragically divided than it has been for decades, wounded at so many levels," Williams wrote in a June 4 newsletter to the members of St. Clement's Church, Cambridge.

Williams was the Archbishop of Canterbury for 10 years until 2012. He was considered a disaster by the Global South, caving into pansexuality and failing to show leadership in the Culture Wars tearing the Anglican Communion apart.

Justin Welby, current Archbishop of Canterbury, also addressed the killing of George Floyd, the African-American man whose death at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis last week sparked the current protests and amplified complaints by the American Episcopal Church about the use of St John's as a backdrop.

Welby in a joint statement with John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, the Church of England's most senior black figure, called out the "ongoing evil" of white supremacy. "Racism is an affront to God," they wrote. "It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated."

On Twitter, Welby retweeted comments by Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, condemning Trump's use of the church.

Curry, the first black person to lead American Episcopalians, wrote that the president had used a church building and 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."

A day later, Trump took his anti-protester "law and order" message to a Catholic shrine, a visit that drew swift condemnation from Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who slammed the presidential visit in a statement shortly before the Trumps' arrival.

"I find it baffling that and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated 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," Gregory said in a statement.

The Trumps posed for photos in front of a statue of Saint Pope John Paul II outside the shrine and stood silently for a few minutes, hands clasped in front of them. They did not make remarks.

The primate of South America, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables told VOL in an email, that "President Trump holding up a Bible in front of our cathedral had no more significance than holding a Mickey Mouse doll up in front of Disney World or a bra in front of Hooters."

While Trump's high profile visit to St John's Episcopal Church on Monday sparked widespread condemnation, it also brought some support.

Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, condemned what happened to George Floyd calling it a "terrible tragedy". He went on to say that what has taken place with these riots is also a heartbreaking disaster for so many and for our nation.

When asked if he was offended by the President walking out of the White House, which is his back yard, and walking over to St. John's Church, Graham said, "Offended? Not at all. This made an important statement that what took place the night before in the burning, looting, and vandalism of the nation's capital--including this historic house of worship--mattered, and that the lawlessness had to end."

"I'm not offended that he held up the Bible--as a matter of fact, I was encouraged! I appreciate it. I believe that God's Word is the only hope for each individual and for our nation. The problem we are facing in this country is a spiritual and moral problem. New laws and more government give-away programs are not the answer. It's a heart problem, and only God can change the human heart."

Graham said he was disappointed that some of the President's harshest critics about going to the church were clergy. "They have publicly (to the media) criticized the President for walking to the church and for holding up the Bible. That's unbelievable. They should be thanking him rather than criticizing him! They are nitpicking his gesture, also saying he should have prayed while he was there.

"I call on all pastors, regardless of denomination, race, or political persuasion, to join hands and join hearts in praying for our nation, that God would give wisdom to our leaders--our mayors, our governors, our President Donald J. Trump, and also our law enforcement. The God of the Bible is our only hope."

However, The National Association of Evangelicals in the US said the wrongful deaths of Floyd and other black people "illustrate severe racial injustices in the United States" and "the recurring trauma experienced by African Americans".

"We condemn racism and the violent abuse of power, call for justice for victims and their families, and exhort churches to combat attitudes and systems that perpetuate racism," it said.

"We are grateful for law enforcement officers who honorably serve and protect our communities, and urge our members to uphold them in prayer."

Earlier, The Archbishop of Canterbury was on record saying that he "really genuinely" doesn't understand why fundamentalist (evangelical) Christians in the United States had voted for Donald Trump. "No, I don't understand it. I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from."


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