George Floyd death: Trump’s church visit shocks religious leaders

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Reuters

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President Donald Trump sparked controversy with his photo shoot

Last night, he held a Bible in front of the Episcopal Church of St. John, across the street from the White House. Today, he will visit the Shrine in St. John Paul II, also in Washington DC.

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But U.S. President Donald Trump's sign of religious affiliation has not been well received by several clergy as the country struggles to manage the two challenges of a pandemic and widespread political protest.

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington, right-wing Reverend Mariann Budde, said: "The president has just used a Bible, the most sacred text in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches in my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to Jesus' teachings ".

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James Martin, a Jesuit priest and advisor to the Vatican's communications department, tweeted, "Let me clarify. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo. Religion is not a political tool. God is it's not your toy. "

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said: "Seeing President Trump in front of St. John's Episcopal Church while holding a Bible in response to requests for racial justice – shortly after using military force to clean up peaceful protesters – is one of the most egregious abuses of religion I have ever seen. "

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President Trump does not belong to a particular congregation, he only occasionally attends a service and has said many times that he does not like asking God for forgiveness.

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But while he does not consider the church essential to his personal life, it may still hold the keys to his political future.

In 2016, Trump won 81% of white evangelical votes and opinion polls revealed that white Catholics supported him over Hillary Clinton by 60% to 37%.

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Media captionTrump declares himself "president of law and order"

Trump's status as the champion of evangelical and conservative voters may seem peculiar, given the use of divisive rhetoric, his three marriages, accusations of sexual assault by dozens of women, money paid to a pornographic actress, and registration of false statements made during his presidency – more than 18,000, according to the Poynter Institute's Politifact website.

But he sealed a powerful bond with religious voters, adopting his political priorities and appointing two Supreme Court judges – Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch – and federal judges with his support.

This may explain why, although he himself was an irregular congregant, the president repeatedly demanded the reopening of churches, saying, on May 22, "If they don't, I will replace the governors."

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Media caption& # 39; This is pain here & # 39; – Washington protests turn violent

Religious conservatives appear to be the most solid core of Trump's voter base, despite political turmoil and the large number of Covid-19 deaths.

According to the latest survey by Pew Research, 77% of white evangelical Protestants say they are doing a good job in dealing with the pandemic – a drop of just 4 percentage points from three weeks ago.

But while a voting bloc remains faithful, the country in general is deeply divided. According to the analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight, which gathers all the survey data, 43% of Americans agree with the president's treatment of the coronavirus pandemic, while 53.4% ​​disapprove.

Several religious leaders hope that Trump's visit to the sanctuary will encourage him to reflect on the words of then Pope John Paul II, delivered to the United Nations in 1995.

"The answer to the fear that obscures human existence in the late 20th century," he said, "is the common effort to build the civilization of love."

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