I am careful not to take sides on political issues, unless they involve policies and inequities on which the Episcopal Church or this diocese has taken a stand, or which in my view support or run counter to the love of God and neighbor. Still less would I normally take an elected leader to task — not only because this diocese reflects a wide spectrum of views on political matters, but because our tradition has always espoused a healthy and respectful relationship between church and state.
But after our president’s behavior yesterday evening, I cannot keep silent. I am deeply offended by his exploitation of St. John’s Episcopal Church (a parish that has been a place of spiritual support for presidents of all parties throughout our national history) as the backdrop for yet another self-aggrandizing performance. I am appalled by his abuse of a physical Bible as a putative symbol of his power. I am deeply troubled by his apparent order that violence and terror be inflicted on peaceful protesters in order to secure his safe procession from the White House to his chosen stage set.
Let us not forget that the deeper issue here is white supremacy and the unrelenting pressure on people of color that remains our national disgrace. We are within our rights as a church to demand respect, but it is more important for us to stay focused on our call as a part of the body of Christ and the community of all people of faith. In the words of our baptismal covenant, that call is to “respect the dignity of every human being.”
The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal
Bishop of Southern Ohio