Curry: ‘He Didn’t Say a Prayer,’ It Was ‘A Photo Op’

Screen capture from the Washington Post

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC on June 2, discussing President Trump’s photograph in front of St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square. Some excerpts, as transcribed by TLC:

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry:

“The president went over to St. John’s Church and took that picture holding a copy of the Bible…  He didn’t say a prayer, he didn’t ask for God to bless and help the nation. He could have turned around, addressed the nation, and said ‘You may agree or disagree with me, but tonight I want to ask all Americans, in your own way, by your own faith, to pray for the healing of our nation. Pray that we may find solutions to our problems. Pray that we may find a way to love each other.’ The president could have used that in a positive, spiritual, and moral way. Instead, it was used as a matter of partisan politics and a photo op. And that is just simply wrong.”

MSNBC Commentator Rachel Maddow:

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde

“Bishop [of Washington Mariann Edgar] Budde has been upset about the use of the church in the same way that you have been… and I heard her articulate it in a way that sort of took my breath away. She said that what she believed the president was doing, and I’m going to paraphrase her, was to essentially clothe himself in the symbols of a faith, in the symbols of a religious tradition, that were designed not to honor or make community with that faith or that religious tradition, but essentially to enhance his own authority.” …


“Well, I’ll tell you what, there is the outward form of religion, but it is the inward reality of it that makes all the difference. And holding up the Bible is one thing, but actually opening it and reading the New Testament and living by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who said ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ – you don’t read ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ and then have tear gas fired on peaceful protestors. The Jesus who said ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – you don’t do that and not allow people to exercise their rights as citizens to protest peacefully and lawfully.”

“You don’t read ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ and then have tear gas fired on peaceful protestors.”

“The Bible says, Jesus says very clearly, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ This is the supreme law of God. To love God and to love our neighbor. The supreme law of God. And to illustrate that, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. That’s what’s inside that Bible. That’s the teachings of the Christian tradition. That’s what the church stands for. To stand in front of it and not represent those values – values of love, and justice, and compassion, and human decency – is to violate a basic principle of the Christian faith itself, represented by that Bible, and represented by that church. And that’s part of what the Bishop of Washington was getting at.”

“Now, I would submit, Rachel, that we can do better than that. I would submit that it is time to move – for the president and for all of us to move to higher ground, which is what the Bible is about.”

“There’s a passage in the Bible that says, ‘set me on a rock that is higher than I,’ and we must go higher. We must claim the law and the way of love for each other, unselfish, sacrificial love, as the way in which we will help to bind this nation together, redress our wrongs, establish justice, and make this a land where there is equality and justice and decency for every human child of God.” …

“There is, as the old slaves would say, trouble in the land. There is no question about that. But there is a fundamental moral order to the world in which we live, that has been established by God, when God saw everything he made and said it was good. That was a moral declaration. And I believe that in the end, if people of goodwill and human decency come together and say, ‘we’re going to be a people of love, we’re going to be a people of compassion, we’re going to be a people worthy of the name American, and then, we will be a shining city upon a hill.”

“If we, the majority, the sometimes silent majority, will stand up, speak up and join hands together across racial differences, across religious, across sexual orientation, across all of our differences, join hands as brothers and sisters and siblings, and let us stand up and make this nation a loving, decent, freedom-loving, justice-reigning nation. Make America that kind of nation, and then there will be peace in our streets.”

The segment runs 8 minutes and 41 seconds.


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