St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was at the center of a controversy last week after President Donald Trump posed with a Bible in front of it in defiance of police brutality protesters, has announced in an open letter that it will show banners to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Starting today, St. John’s will proudly display two banners in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that has captured the attention of America and, finally, focused its attention on the systemic racism that exists in our country,” the DC church said in a letter.
The banners quote the Bible:
And what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
“Since the senseless murder of George Floyd on May 25, we have all seen the protests that started in Minneapolis quickly spread throughout the country and around the world. St. John’s has stood as the backdrop for some of these protests,” said the letter signed by the Rev. Robert Fisher (Rector), Senior Warden Paul Barkett and Junior Warden Jeff Hantson.
The church discussed the issue and took a vote on where St. John’s and its congregation stand, according to the letter, which noted that the decision was a small step in the long tradition of St. John’s against racism.
“At the end, we put the matter to a vote. Now, we proudly say ‘Black Lives Matter,’” the letter ended.
On the evening of June 1, federal police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound cannons to disperse peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park for President Trump to walk to St. John’s Church across the street from the White House and pose for a photograph with other officials while holding up a Bible in his hand.
The demonstrations were part of the nationwide protests against the police killing of Floyd and police violence.
Following the incident, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the District of Columbia sued President Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and several other federal officials on behalf of the protesters, saying their First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
The head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Bishop Mariann Budde, also recently criticized Trump’s response to the demonstrations and the disproportionate use of force against protesters in Lafayette Square to clear the area for his photo op.