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McEnany: Trump’s Church Walk Like Churchill ‘Inspecting The Bombing Damage’
US President Donald Trump holds a Bible while visiting St. John's Church across from the White House after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

During a briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked by a reporter about President Trump’s walk to St. John’s church, which took place on Monday.

“Why did the president feel it was important to go walk over there through the park into the church?” a reporter asked.

McEnany responded, first stating that President Trump’s walk to St. John’s, as well as the photo-op, was “extremely important.”

The president wanted to send a very powerful message that we will not be overcome by looting, by rioting, by burning. This is not what defines America, and going and standing by St. John’s Church was a very important moment.

McEnany then spoke about the symbolic actions taken by leaders throughout history, comparing the president’s church walk to those actions:

I would note that through all of time, we’ve seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for a nation to see at any given time to show a message of resilience and determination – like Churchill. We saw him inspecting the bombing damage. It sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people; and George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch after 9/11; and Jimmy Carter putting on a sweater to encourage energy savings; and George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act flanked by two disabled Americans.

And for this president, it was powerful and important to send a message that the rioters, the looters, the anarchists, they will not prevail, that burning churches are not what America’s about, and that moment, holding the Bible up, is something that has been widely hailed by Franklin Graham and others, and it was a very important symbol for the American people to see that we will get through this through unity and through faith.

On Monday, following a speech in the Rose Garden, President Trump, flanked by a coterie of officials including Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, walked from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Once at the church, Trump posed for photos while holding a bible.

When asked by a reporter what his “thoughts” were at the moment, Trump replied:

We have a great country. That’s my thoughts. Greatest country in the world. We will make it even greater, we will make it ever greater, and it won’t take long. It’s not gonna take long. See what’s going on. It’s coming back. It’s coming back strong. It’ll be greater than ever before.

After a group photo with Barr, McEnany, and others, the president and his team began to leave. “We have the greatest country in the world. Thank you very much, everybody. [We’re] gonna keep it nice and safe,” Trump stated.

As McEnany noted, Rev. Franklin Graham praised President Trump’s gesture on Monday, writing on Facebook:

After his speech from the Rose Garden Monday afternoon, President Donald J. Trump made a statement by walking through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal Church that had been vandalized and partially burned Sunday night. He surprised those following him by holding up a Bible in front of the church. Thank you, President Trump. God and His Word are the only hope for our nation.

Graham then quoted Hebrews 4:12, which states: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Others have castigated the president for what they describe as a cynical photo opportunity.

Aside from expected criticisms from progressive media figures, some conservatives even expressed concern over the president’s actions.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) issued a statement, which read in part: “There is no right to riot, no right to destroy others’ property, and no right to throw rocks at police. But there is a fundamental – a Constitutional – right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop.”

Episcopal Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde has harshly criticized the president over his visit to St. John’s.

Among other comments, she recently tweeted:

The President did not come to pray; he did not lament the death of George Floyd or acknowledge the collective agony of people of color in our nation. He did not attempt to heal or bring calm to our troubled land.

Speaking with Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio on Wednesday, President Trump defended his trip to St. John’s.

“Reverend James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of a book on that church, said, ‘A church is not a photo op; religion is not a political tool; and God is not a plaything.’ He’s among some religious leaders who are very critical of that visit. What’s your response?” Kilmeade asked.

Trump replied in part:

Well, my response is simple. Most religious leaders loved it. I heard Franklin Graham this morning thought it was great. I heard many other people think it was great – and it’s only the other side that didn’t like it, you know, the opposition party as the expression goes.

They burned down the church the day before. I heard how nice and wonderful the protesters were over there. Really? Then why did they burn down the church the day before? They burned down a big section of it. Fortunately, they were able to catch it in time…

“We walked over to the church. It was very fast. I think it was very symbolic. I did hold up a Bible. I think that’s a good thing, not a bad thing – and many religious leaders loved it,” the president said.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  McEnany: Trump’s Church Walk Like Churchill ‘Inspecting The Bombing Damage’