Right-wing media figures including Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked religious leaders who criticized President Donald Trump after law enforcement officers tear-gassed protestors to disperse them so he could take a photo in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. They claimed that the Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, has not “ever picked up a Bible” and that Wilton D. Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, is “a fraud” who “does not understand fundamental Catholic teachings.”
On June 1, Trump delivered a speech from the Rose Garden in which he threatened to mobilize “thousands and thousands” of “heavily armed” military personnel to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. While he was speaking, law enforcement officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square to clear a path for Trump to walk to the nearby St. John’s Church.
A day after this show of excessive force, Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited St. John Paul II National Shrine for a tour and to take photos in front of a statue of the eponymous pope.
Following these incidents, Budde, Gregory, and several other religious leaders rebuked Trump. In an interview with The Washington Post, Budde noted that she had not been given any notice of Trump’s visit and said, “Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence.”
Gregory also issued a statement condemning Trump’s visit to the National Shrine:
Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.
Right-wing media figures claim faith leaders have never “picked up a Bible” and are “clueless”
- Former Fox host Bill O'Reilly
- Fox host Laura Ingraham
- Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway on Fox News
- National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam
- Daily Caller reporter Mary Margaret Olohan
- Right-wing pundit and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch
- National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis