By Kirk Petersen
Three senior Episcopal leaders from the nation’s capital have published a scathing denunciation of President Donald Trump’s racial rhetoric, evoking McCarthyism under a headline asking “Have We No Decency?”
Bishop of Washington Mariann Edgar Budde, National Cathedral Dean Randolph Marshall Hollerith, and the cathedral’s Canon Theologian Kelly Brown Douglas issued a news release July 30 that quickly gained extensive coverage in the secular news media. They wrote:
As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral — the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?
They described several of Trump’s recent statements as “dangerous” and “dehumanizing”:
This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here?
The Episcopal Church has taken strong positions for many years on public policy topics such as immigration and asylum, LGBTQ issues, gun violence, racism and the environment, but church leaders typically have sought to remain nonpartisan by avoiding overt support or criticism of specific political figures.
But this is the second time in two weeks that top Episcopal officials have been critical of Trump’s rhetoric, not just of some of his policies. At the Union of Black Episcopalians annual meeting last week, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry said in a sermon:
Something is fundamentally wrong when crowds chant about a congresswoman, a Somali American, and say to ‘send her home,’ and when the president of the United States says, ‘You need to go back home,’ to four congresswomen of color who have been openly critical of him.”
The National Cathedral officers ended their message on a more conciliatory note. They recounted that on the day after Trump’s inauguration, the cathedral continued a tradition of holding an interfaith prayer service.
We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”
That remains our prayer today for us all.