President Trump unleashed law enforcement to fire rubber bullets and tear gas at peaceful protesters so he could have a photo op using a Bible as a prop. Unsurprisingly, this infuriated the Right Rev. Mariann Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington — a sincere person of faith (as opposed to a huckster like Jerry Falwell Jr.). The Post reports:

“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. ...
“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde said. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”

In a CNN interview, Budde declared: "I am outraged. The president did not pray, nor ... did he acknowledge the agony of our country right now. ... I just want the world to know that we, in the diocese of Washington, following Jesus and his way of love ... we distance ourselves from the incendiary language of this president. We follow someone who lived a life of nonviolence and sacrificial love.” Speaking for many, she said she could not believe what she had just seen.

Here is what we pray after this dark episode in American history:

  • Representatives of every faith group should denounce the use of violence and exploitation of the Bible. They should call for a day of prayer. They should throw open their doors, inviting people of all faiths to hold vigils, pray and reiterate their commitment to racial justice. As in the civil rights era, they have a key role to play in lifting Americans’ eyes and stirring their consciences.
  • Former vice president Joe Biden, scheduled to make his first appearance outside his home state with a speech in Philadelphia, must denounce Trump’s threat to use military force against the American people, condemn his use of violence (apparently to compensate for Trump’s cowardly retreat to a bunker) and deplore his nonstop incitement to violence and racism. He should call on all Americans regardless of party and ideology to join his campaign in defense of decency, the Constitution and democratic self-governance. I would hope Biden can in some fashion attend George Floyd’s funeral and appear (if only virtually) in church and synagogue services this weekend. He should also lay out the outlines of a robust agenda for tackling systemic bias and discrimination.
  • Governors of both parties should denounce Trump’s message and reaffirm they have no intention of requesting or condoning federal troops on their soil to engage in violence against Americans.
  • Police chiefs and unions should denounce the use of violence against peaceful protesters as well as Trump’s incendiary message. This is a rare moment when law enforcement and communities of color can link arms to repudiate Trump’s rhetoric and conduct.
  • Civil rights groups should file suit against law enforcement and those who directed them on Monday for their abusive conduct and deprivation of First Amendment rights. They should seek declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent the unlawful deployment of federal troops without consent of governors or state legislatures.
  • Social media companies must no longer tolerate Trump’s calls to violence that for any other user would violate their terms of service. Lawmakers, the public, stockholders and employees should continue to cajole these companies, not enable a president seeking to wage a war on American protesters.
  • There should be a massive voter registration effort and push at the state level to promote vote-by-mail. The answer to injustice comes at the ballot box. Trump’s blatant effort to suppress safe voting from home must be overcome.

I have no expectation that House and Senate Republicans will stand up to Trump or take meaningful legislative action. They are part of the problem. We do, however, hold out hope that others in position of authority will not let Trump’s performance go unaddressed.

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